Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tell Me All About Prayer

The good....beautiful illustrations, warm, friendly, colorful, and appealing.  Includes stickers and a cd.  Scripture References every few pages.  Book Formula- What is prayer, and then answers, and an end of book review, fill in the blank that my 6 year old was able to do after one reading.

The okay... the cd music is catchy, but some may consider it cheesy.  The conductor theme is clear on the CD, but my 6 year old boy didn't catch it in the book, and thought it was a policeman, and my 4 year old girl just looked at me.

The wonders... "Magic Genie" neither of my kids grasp this abstract concept that God isn't one.  The interpretation of prayer and the concepts brought out are too advanced for kids, yet not deep enough to be accurate and maybe oversimplified and therefore inaccurate.  (example my son had the stomach flu and vomiting the week we read this, and he prayed asking God to stop him from throwing up, and based on the book wasn't sure why he still threw up 3 more times, he asked God."

I would be very curious about other books in this series. I like the premise, but this is not my favorite tool to teach children about prayer.  I was given this book as a part of the Tyndale Review Network. All opinions are mine, and mine alone.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Unwrapping the Gift an Advent Book by Ann Voskamp

As a mom to four children, a teacher to many, many children in our local church and community, and as a born again believer, I've become focused on taking our holidays and emphasizing Who God is with each natural opportunity and season.  I love when a book can be a simple tool that will help me focus on this without a lot of effort on my part.   

Pinterest has provided many, many ideas to the point that you can be dizzy and crazed trying to implement the ideas unless you plan ahead!  I have prepared some years in the summer for advent, when our lives are relaxed and unfocused as teachers on break with their kids.  But even that is daunting to accomplish most years, if you want to live life focused on your family, not 'stuff.'  

Advent is a more liturgical tradition but as a teacher, any chance to use a cultural tradition and focus on learning, I love to capitalize on it!  And since young hearts and old alike, cannot  help but focus on Christmas for the month of December (and often November too!), why not take time to focus on the real joy of Christmas, the baby born in a manger, to save us from our sins.   It's a month long teachable moment, and when you focus on God's gift, more than your own gifts, your heart is set to glorify the Lord and not yourself.  Advent means waiting-- and why not focus on waiting for Jesus to come to fix our eyes on Who God is.  

So when Tyndale offered the opportunity to review a new advent book, this reading teacher, rejoiced that she could be blessed to get a book I would have purchased mailed to me on release day! I'm review #3 on amazon no less, even though I've been sick and dealing with sick kids all week!  Reading is always a joy and refocusing for me, and even more so when it turns my heart toward my Heavenly Father, and the truth is a great truth for Christmas, but also for ANY days.   

And the book has been such a hit, it's on sale for $14.99 on amazon. Please check, as the prices change daily sometimes.   The book is a hardcover, with thick pages, for little hands to use, it's a high quality format designed to last a long time.  

Here's my amazon review:

A beautiful unwrapping of Who God is, and how His perfect plan came to be from Genesis to the birth of Christ with a focus on God's great love, His plan of salvation, and His delight in each of His people. Written with imagery and analogies as we've come to expect from Ann Voskamp. But clearly it was written with our hearts and our response in mind, many practical images in both picture and word format, discussion questions, and family activities are included with each day's scripture, her story explanation, and her personal application concepts for the listener and the reader alike.

If you are worried that as a busy family, you will not have time for a daily reading, DON'T worry. I was able to read the entire book in just over an hour. I'm sure reading aloud would add a few minutes, but it is achievable. Each day has a scripture reading (in the book), then an explanation and focus on how God's love through the plan that His Son would come to earth to rescue us from our sins and provide salvation. I think that the readings would be most appropriate for elementary age children and above, but even preschoolers would grasp the big truths and connections day to day of God's gift for each of us.

Our family has done the Jesse tree before, but never like this. Be prepared to pause in reflection, thought, and to have your heart held as you recognize through Ann's interpretation, real life examples, and connections to traditional Christmas traditions (lights, singing, celebration, family, ...) intertwined with the truth from God's Word that God's plan is one of love, hope, for each of us from the beginning of time. The ornaments are available for purchase online or you can download a set from her website.

I appreciate that the book gives real scripture from the New Living Translation before a story version with practical application, this makes it unique compared to other storybook Bibles for families. It's definitely a beautiful devotional for an adult as well as our children. Simple, poignant, and relevant to our need to remember Who God is and how He blesses us every day in all things.

I was given this book to review as a part of Tyndale's blog network, but the favorable review is my own personal opinion and delight in a new advent book to share with my own family this December! (and I'm even thinking about sharing it with our Sunday School class as it gives a beautiful timeline of God's redemptive plan).

Thanks for stopping by.  It's a pleasure to share new resources with others who want to Whisper the Word with others.  

Monday, May 12, 2014

Candle Bible Handbook...a review

I love the opportunity to review a book, especially one that could be used by children or adults.  I wasn't at all sure what to expect from a 'Bible handbook."  But I was impressed as soon as I opened it.

This book is a high quality book, a sturdy cardstock like cover that has tabs that could mark your place in the book, and the inside pages are a heavy high quality shiny paper.  So from the start it has a great look and feel.

This Bible handbook is an overview of all the books of the Bible.  Each book has an Outline, FAQ, Look out for, and Study Questions. There are also pictures throughout- some are real images and some are detailed and beautiful drawn illustrations, all have captions.

In addition there are also some solid overviews and timelines, that pull together some of the big concepts in the Bible. (like Jesus miracles, parables, the tabernacle, Jerusalem,...)  The appendix at the end shares some other helpful info like key Bible characters, key passages/promises, and key big ideas in the Bible.

I know other reviewers were puzzled as to the target or audience of this book, and I would say it is for a new Bible reader or a repeat Bible reader who wants support.  It's a nonfiction book that is meant to pull together the concepts, books, and people of the Bible together. In some ways it could be like a 'cliff notes', I think that when you start reading through the Bible, many people need support to build connections, summarize, and synthesize their reading.  Many people just give up when they read their Bible alone.  This book would definitely help bridge the gap for a lay person who wants support or guidance as he reads the Bible for the first time, or the tenth time, but with a new purpose in mind.  

This book would help you choose a theme or concept and see it across both the Old Testament and New Testament. Or if you wanted to read the Bible through in a year, it would help give you an overview and focus, even comprehension checks as you complete a book reading.

So many people who read the Bible lack formal Bible education and are afraid to seek support, or even choose a helpful study Bible. This book would fill in that gap, is a great visual resource, as well as a synthesis several layers of the Bible.  I believe it would be a helpful resource for children or adults who are reading through the Bible.

I believe that when I do a book study I will consult the overview in this book for my own personal study, and I know that when I teach Sunday School or children, this book will have helpful images, charts, and definitions as I prepare to lead a discussion.  I really enjoyed it and would recommend it.

I was given this book as a part of Kregel's blog tour, all ideas and opinions are my own.  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


We are thinking a lot about new at our house.  We have a new child living with us, and he is having a lot of firsts.... a new family (3 siblings, 2 parents, and 2 grandparents to eat dinner with every day!), a new school (and it's full day instead of half), a new bedtime (and it's earlier than ever before, but he has to be up earlier than ever before), a new routine, new doctor, new, new, new.... and all these 'new' experiences are really fun some of the day and really frustrating, especially at bedtime!

I'm recognizing how often new is fun, we have also have a new minivan. It's great. It's clean. It has all kind of fancy buttons/computerized stuff, a backup camera, and it even has a bluetooth phone connection... of course on the down side, I needed to watch my husband turn the car dvd player on and off, switch back to the front speaker cd player for 5 days straight before I could even feel equipped to turn it on, and I'm afraid I may never understand how to make the talk button computer control anything in the car! I'm on my second week of driving it, and I still push the wrong button to open or close the magic doors, and one day last week, I made my son climb over all the seats because I couldn't get open the magic door at school pick up time!  (the pressure of a new car is only pale in comparison to the pressure of a new cell phone!!)  I have known that 'new' can make me angry, frustrated and just plain grumpy when it's not one of my passions!

What I'm really realizing, especially as we  hit April 1st and enter into the "Easter Season." That new things are often celebrated, they are normally positive, fun, and make people happy.  But there are a lot of new things/events that aren't really the joyful celebration because they are new. New job, new marriage, new baby, new recipe.... all of those 'new' events actually require work, flexibility and sometimes time to really appreciate.  New life in Christ is fun to think about at Christmas when we reflect on Mary and her amazing sense of wonder as she's chosen to be Jesus mom, and at a new birth of a new baby in a new unique setting, that of a stable. But at Easter New comes with a cost, and it's one we shudder at and get emotional about, recognizing that Jesus was mocked, beaten, crowned with thorns, prayed with blood drops He was so passionate as He talked with God, and ultimately surrendered to death in the most tortureous ways, a cross. None of this part of the story, says turn me into a poster and count down til we remember the exact time of my death.  When we think about it, it says this was not fun, this was real obedience, real servanthood, real grief, and real death for a sinner such as me.  And we don't find it fun, we are speechless and in awe, that God would sacrifice His Son for me!  Thankfully, 3 days later, there is an empty tomb, there is great rejoicing, and their is a risen Savior.   Risen to offer hope that if we believe, we can have new life in Him.

Watching everything new in this 5 year old's life, and trying to experience all the new things, ideas, and events with him is a roller coaster ride. Some things like new lace up shoes that feel like skates bring great joy and celebration, but other things like a new routine are exhausting parts that even bring on meltdowns.   It's so much the same, an up and down journey with parts I wish I had recorded, and other moments that I pray I won't remember later.  

It makes me think about Easter in a whole new light! (another NEW!) We were reading some simple Easter books tonight, and they both talked about new life because of Christ, and how new life in Christ doesn't end.  
My new son, has an old stuffed caterpillar named Agatha, and when he's distraught, he wraps up in her. I, the ignorant mother figure, called it a worm tonight.  He said- not it's a caterpillar, and I like it because caterpillars turn into beautiful butterflies.  This reminded me that we are like those beautiful butterflies. I love the verse 2 Corinithians 5:17 and the image of new life as a beautiful butterfly!

So as we embrace all things new, I'm also embracing Easter in a new way.  How can I make Easter something 'normal' for my new son, and also remind my other three children how their 'normal' might be new to someone else, and most importantly remind all of us that Easter is an old story, that if we remember will bring NEW hope, grace, joy, and peace to our hearts, minds, and souls if only we let it.

We'll see how much time I can gather to process in print, but I am eternally grateful in a whole NEW way, that while I'm on the NEW roller coaster ride with this new kiddo, I have a Holy Spirit who has fresh, new provisions ready for me each step of this emotionally charged journey.  

Praying that every step, every moment, I can show that joy and hope in my love and actions because it is with Christ's redemption that I am anything at all!  And I know that this NEW journey is one of redemption and sanctification for my whole household. And that it's all a chance to bring Glory to God! Praying that with the Lord's leading, we make this NEW way more about the fun, joy, and celebration, than the downside!  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

No More Perfect Kids a pictures worth a 1,000 words and a few tweets for flavor...

If you want to hear how they introduce the book, you can read here...
If children learn to hide mistakes from their parents, they may run from God when they sin. @JillSavage @hearts_at_home #NoMorePerfectKids 

No More Perfect

quote: Kids ask a lot of questions—but not always with their words. 

No More Perfect

Today I'm committing to stop judging myself and to stop judging others. @JillSavage @hearts_at_home #NoMorePerfectMoms

No More Perfect

Children are unique gifts from God, created to contribute to this world in unique ways. @JillSavage @hearts_at_home #NoMorePerfectKids

No More Perfect

Are you comparing your insides to other moms' outsides? @JillSavage @hearts_at_home #NoMorePerfectMoms

If you buy the book by March 23rd, you get a whole bunch of amazing freebies!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Book Review: No More Perfect Kids by Jill Savage and Dr. Kathy Koch (overview)


Here's my more expanded review...

Do you struggle with perfection? Do you set high standards personally or have achievable hopes, dreams or expectations for your kids (self or husband)?  I think every one of us lack contentment with others or even yourself, and not being content steals our joy! As believers, we are made for joy, created and formed by an amazing God for more. This book helps us think through and choose to live with excellence as the goal, instead of perfection.

As a teacher, this book is full of the concepts I recognize as best practice.  It breaks down learning theory, styles and brain based concepts  into easy concepts, with real life stories/examples.  It teaches us what I've read and studied about reaching all kids where they are at for over 20 years. All in one book, and the authors added resources at the end to further equip us, as well as a website

As a parent, it's freeing to process how what we know about people, can help us be the best parents. And for me, it's just as needed to rethink, my own broken identity, goals, and ideals.  I am so thankful to have been raised by parents who said, they hoped for 'happy, average girls.' I was taught work ethic, service, family, and ministry were priorities, but always allowed to mess up or make mistakes.  I don't remember feeling the need to be anything other than me.  But yet, in my own adult life, when I'm doing something crazy late the night before, that awful perfection infection raises it's ugly head.  When I wake up and realize, it's me that is pushing the limit, and that ____ really isn't essential to the lesson tomorrow, the birthday party, or ____.  But this book really helped me process new ways to avoid this problem personally, and to be sure I don't push my children into the same awful pattern.

I really enjoyed No More Perfect Moms, and this book I hesitated to even read.  I wasn't sure that it would really enhance the cure's for the perfection infection I had already integrated into my life.  But I am so glad that I chose to review it.  It adds to that cure with ideas and techniques for the mom, dad, grandparent, teacher, and even just adults who love kids and hang out with them! I also am trying to decide if college students should be required to read it!! I believe in our review team, many adults found it self help theory personally as well as for their parenting.   Not many books reach that big an audience.
"Teach kids to change, Don't tell them to change" No More Perfect Kids (pg. 95)  Find the book on our website by clicking the image. Thank you!

I found that my fastest applications of the book's concepts were with my student teachers who want to be 'perfect' but lack experience.   It was so easy to use the concepts shared here to remind them that excellence is achievable over time, with lots of practice, and with lots of mistakes, but perfection is not!  I think this book is for parents, educators, and anyone who struggles with trying to be perfect instead of working towards excellence.

If you want a 'taste test' of the book's concepts sign up for the free 13 day email (that I may redo every few months as a reminder).  You can also visit for ideas, videos, and family activities.