Thursday, November 17, 2016

NIV Wonders of Creation Holy Bible: Illustrations to Inspire and Color


The NIV Wonders of Creation Holy Bible explores the wonders of our created world though detailed black-and-white illustrations—each one ready to be filled with the hues of your imagination. From amazing Eden-esque gardens to the creatures God made, this Bible features over 50 ready-to-color pages alongside the full text of the New International Version (NIV) translation.

My Thoughts:

These days, I'm constantly catching my Grasshopper coloring. (At the table, in the floor, in his bed well past bedtime) He loves to color! He went through a stage where he didn't care to at all, so I was pretty surprised when I started catching him with coloring books and crayons stashed around the house. I thought this Bible might be a little treat for him.

It turns out that this thing is super girly. I'm not even the pickiest with my boys playing with "girl" things. They've all had dolls in their younger years. I share my "girly" LEGO sets and they enjoy playing with them as much as any other. They wear "manly" pink! ;) This Bible is an invitation to bullying, though(or at least "picking on", or laughing behind his back), so I can't recommend this for boys. It was hard to tell online when I first saw it, though it does look perfectly obvious now that I look again, but there's lots of pink on the front and back, and even a pink bookmark. For girls, it's nice. (Thankfully, I have a sweet niece that this is perfect for.) I would have loved for the outside(and the bookmark) to have been a little more gender neutral, though!

This is a full NIV Bible. It has 13 sections throughout with coloring pages. These sections are all two pages, front and back, and they are on thicker paper. The middle is a full two page spread, so you technically get 3 coloring pictures per section. The insides of the front and back covers are for coloring, too.

I'd probably recommend this for 7-11(on average). I imagine it'll start looking too childish for older girls, and most younger won't be able to color the complicated sections. (Of course, all children are on different levels, so that will vary, depending on the child.) I wouldn't want to give it to a child too early, especially if they just carelessly color the pages. It wouldn't end up being the treasure it has the potential to be.

Overall, this is cute for a girl!

*I was given a free copy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Radical Book for Kids: Exploring the Roots and Shoots of Faith by Champ Thornton


A kid-sized explorer’s guide to faith and life

The Radical Book for Kids is a fun-filled explorer’s guide to the Bible, church history, and life for boys and girls age 8 and up. Along with examining some of the most exciting realities in the universe, the handbook is vibrantly illustrated and chock-full of fun facts and ideas. Deep truths are communicated to elementary and middle-school aged kids while stimulating their curiosity and sense of adventure within a gospel-centered framework.

This power-packed book is “radical” in more ways than you might think! It is “radical” in the sense of the original meaning of the word, “going to the root or origin.” The Radical Book for Kids will take children on a fascinating journey into the ancient roots of the Christian faith. But it’s also “radical” in the more modern sense of being revolutionary. Kids read about men and women who learned to trust Jesus and stand for him—displaying radical faith—even when everything seemed against them.

But The Radical Book for Kids is also “radical”—meaning fun or cool—in the eyes of a child. Kids read about ancient weapons (and how to make one), learn about jewels, create pottery, discover ancient languages, use secret codes, locate stars, tell time using the sun, play a board game that’s 3,000 years old—and more.

Check out the table of contents, skip around, or read straight through. However a child chooses to explore it, The Radical Book for Kids will open new vistas for their imagination and help to make straight paths for their feet.
My Thoughts:

I really love this book! Of course, there's nothing like God's Word itself, but I truly believe books like this would have helped me as a younger person have more interest in the Bible. I had attention problems as a child when it came to lessons of any sort. (So pretty much an average child!) It wasn't fun to me, and I zoned out. I never paid attention in classes and I crammed before tests. It was only thanks to my great *temporary* memory that I did so well. (It left me afterwards, unfortunately.) This book is so engaging, I imagine most children will greatly enjoy it, and will be more interested in reading The Bible. I wish I had it as a child!

The chapters are short and interesting. They don't have to be read in order. The reader can skip around, if they chose. The chapters cover all kinds of things, from dividing the books of the Bible into their groups, to an ancient game(modified) which can be printed off, to talking about "Christian" types books like Pilgrim's Progress and Chronicles of Narnia, and even Greek letters. It combines science and history, which are really all about God("His Story"). It discusses manners and how to deal with anger. There's recipes for unleavened flatbread and salt dough for pottery. It has a page that converts money from the Bible into money today and a calendar of holidays in the Old Testament. There are features for Christian people, like Amy Carmichael, and so much more. Really, it's packed full of cool and interesting things that surround God's Word, and it ties into specific verses.

This book is targeted for children 8 and up, but I was fascinated with it, too, so even adults can learn from it and enjoy it. My Grasshopper is 8 and this book is perfect for him. He thrives on learning all things science and history. I even think it would be great for a bit younger, too. Some of it is great for my Firefly(5), but most of it is still a bit much for him.

Overall, I think this book is pretty fantastic!

*I was given a free copy of this book.

Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely By Lysa TerKeurst


The enemy wants us to feel rejected . . . left out, lonely, and less than. When we allow him to speak lies through our rejection, he pickpockets our purpose. Cripples our courage. Dismantles our dreams. And blinds us to the beauty of Christ’s powerful love.

In Uninvited, Lysa shares her own deeply personal experiences with rejection—from the incredibly painful childhood abandonment by her father to the perceived judgment of the perfectly toned woman one elliptical over.

With biblical depth, gut-honest vulnerability, and refreshing wit, Lysa helps readers: • Release the desire to fall apart or control the actions of others by embracing God-honoring ways to process their hurt. • Know exactly what to pray for the next ten days to steady their soul and restore their confidence. • Overcome the two core fears that feed our insecurities by understanding the secret of belonging. • Stop feeling left out and start believing that "set apart" does not mean "set aside." • End the cycle of perceived rejection by refusing to turn a small incident into a full blown issue.

My Thoughts:

When I first debated whether or not to read this book, I thought it might be one of those books that so many would roll their eyes at. I wondered if I'd be ashamed to be seen reading it. (Maybe, but I did read it in the privacy of my own home.) I decided to give it a try, though. I remember loving Lysa's writing style in the past, and really, if there was ever a book title that was meant for me, it'd be this one. I've made it no secret that I suffer greatly with social anxiety. At the time I decided to read this book, I was at an all time high with my suffering. I didn't want to go in public(even more so than normal). I'd force myself to anyway, sometimes in tears, because I have 3 little boys that need to be around people. I'd almost always come home in tears, full of embarrassment, with a severe headache and stomachache, and want nothing more than to curl up in a ball under my blankets and cry the pain away. I'd even had to hide in the bathroom at church a couple of times, in tears, which just made life even more humiliating. I wanted to hide from the world, simply put. (At the same time, I wanted to travel and see the world, apparently in a bubble of protection.) :P

So, that's what this book was up against, meaning it probably didn't have a fair chance to begin with. Did it help with my social anxiety? Mostly, no, to be honest, but you expected that, right? I really enjoyed the humor of the book. Lysa seems much more outgoing than me, but the stories made me feel much more normal with my feelings. We all get embarrassed and we all get uncomfortable. We all imagine that others are judging us, when maybe they aren't so much. (Though at times they are, because many people are cruel.) Reading this book reminded me that I shouldn't imagine things that aren't for sure, though. Plus, the more I'm around people, the more I realize that we're all weird in our own little ways. ;)

Despite enjoying the humor, though, I did find parts of it annoying. I just didn't connect to it like I have a couple of her past ones, and though I laughed, I also got annoyed too frequently while reading. Maybe I'm just in a different phase of life or maybe I just put too much pressure on it?

Really, the biggest thing that helped me was focusing on the fact that life isn't about me and reminding myself NOT to focus on myself. No matter what struggles I'm having, praying, focusing on God's Word, along with other people, is key to making it through my hard times. For the most part, this book has a bit more of a selfish feel to it, and focuses entirely too much on me. Sometimes that's a good thing, when it calls attention to improvements that need to be made. As far as my social anxiety, though, that's part of who I am, and always has been. I was much worse, overall, as a child. I can't change that. I need the focus to be removed from me here. (There are parts about focusing on others, just not near as much as I'd have liked.) I'm a selfish person that wants life to always be comfortable and happy, though, so that's a hard lesson to learn and apply. Plus, this post has turned into being mostly about me. *sigh*

In the end, there are great parts and not so great parts. Ultimately, I didn't connect to it quite as much as I anticipated. I do think it's a beneficial read in some ways, but maybe pair it with something that puts a much greater focus on others to create some balance.

In case you're curious, I am at a much better place now, and I pray that continues. When one escapes from a dark time, there's always fear of returning, so if you'd like to pray for me, I sure won't complain! (And, as always, I'll be more than happy to pray for you. My line is always open for your requests!)

*I was given a free copy of this book.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

All is Bright Coloring Book and Devotional by Nancy Guthrie

My Thoughts:

Any time I review a Christmas book focused on the birth of Jesus, I typically mention that I don't celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus. (Like I'm mentioning now.) I just don't agree with it. I don't mention that to be a pain. (Surprised?) ;) I do it to open those minds like mine to books like this. They don't have to be used in the targeted way. Cross out a few words to make you more comfortable, and there's much learning to be had from "Christmas" books.

This coloring book is meant to be used in the month of December. There are 31 devotionals and they each get a coloring page. If I were using this as a daily devotional, and hoping to get a page colored each day, I'd be greatly disappointed. Thankfully, with my beliefs, I can use it all year long without any problem. I color slowly, and it's a time of relaxation and fun for me. I'd feel rushed and more stressed if I hoped to get an entire page done each day.

The coloring pages are nice. They're both complicated and simple at the same time. The designs are very simple, but there's tons of little shapes within each design. You can color as intricately or as basic as you choose, though. The devotionals are also nice and simple, and I enjoyed them. There were some things said that I especially needed to hear, as my battle with social anxiety was at an all time high.

"Sometimes we wonder why we aren't happy, why we make sinful choices, why we feel distant from God. Often it's because we have small thoughts about God and magnified thoughts of ourselves, our wants, our rights, our accomplishments. Mary, the one God chose to be the mother of his Son, could have easily allowed her thoughts of herself to become larger, even prideful. But instead of magnifying herself, she magnified the Lord."

I always need to remember that life isn't about me!

In the back of the coloring book are some discussion questions to use with your family, along with some Bible verses and sample prayers. Extra coloring pages are also in the back and they're much simpler and family friendly, though still well decorated.

I've really enjoyed this coloring book, both for the devotionals and coloring pages, even though I'm a bit outside of the target audience.

*I was given a free copy of this book.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom by Wendy Speake and Kelly Stuart


Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom (Kregel, September 2016)

What was God thinking when He created you creative and then gave you children?

Creative moms often feel as though they must lay their passions down. But God had something special in mind for the creative woman during this intense season of mothering.

In this Pinterest age of handcrafted children’s parties, Instagram photos of beautifully decorated homes, and blogs filled with poetry and prose, it is clear that we are in the midst of a brand new artistic renaissance. Not one born in Italian cathedrals or Harlem jazz clubs, but rather in kitchens, nurseries, and living rooms around the world. Mothers, working in the cracks and crevices of each hectic day, are adorning the world with their gifts, and they’re showing all of us the beauty of this Life Creative.

In this book, you’ll learn:

—Why the world needs your art
—How this Life Creative begins at home
—When art can turn a profit
—Your part in this modern day Renaissance

Life Creative paints the stories of moms, just like you, who are fitting their inspired lives into the everyday, ordinary places of motherhood. Women like home decorator Melissa Michaels and jewelry designer Lisa Leonard, author Angie Smith, recording artist Ellie Holcomb, and many more.

My Thoughts:

I loved this book! It was exactly what I needed right now, and I just want to hug it tight. The writing is perfectly lovely, and it made me cry.

I'll admit here that after getting this book in hand, I was a bit skeptical about it. I was afraid the focus was going to be entirely too selfish. I think most children these days just want their parents to look up from their phone or projects or books(ME), and pay attention to them. The last thing parents need is advice on how to spend more time away from their little ones. In my case, I'm with my children ALL THE TIME, but sometimes my focus isn't where it should be and I get greatly discouraged with my lack of "quiet". I needed great encouragement here, and I got it with this book. There was really no cause for concern in that area at all. The authors make it abundantly clear that those little ones come first. There are years in a mama's life that she has to put aside interests and projects, to an extent, and just love on those children and focus on what is truly important. It's such a needed message these days. (Of course, at the same time, there's still encouragement to use those creative outlets when the time allows for it, because it's still important, too, and a part of us.)

Another thing I was a little concerned about is the fact that I have absolutely no talents. I won't be creating anything any time soon that could be sold or even admired. This book is targeted towards those women that do have artistic talents, whether it's writing or singing or baking or........ Really, though, I think each and every mama could benefit from this book, and all mamas have some level of creativity(as the authors tried to convince us of, too). I may not have talent, but I do still enjoy my moments of peace, drawing and writing in my nature notebook, or in my "random thoughts" one, even with my children right with me. Though I don't have a wide range of talents(or any at all), I do have a wide range of interests. I crave beauty and knowledge and could spend entirely too much time in my books. This book still spoke so much to me, so don't dismiss it simply because you think you might not be artistic enough for it. I can assure you that you are!

There are so many lovely stories and beautiful quotes and Bible verses held within the pages of this book, and it is full of encouragement. It really is a treasure!

*I hate to even mention it, but I didn't care for some of the things in the worship chapter, so I'm not promoting that part. I can't, in good conscience, let you think that I possibly did.

*I was sent a free copy of this book.

40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood by Sarah Humphrey


40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood: Devotions and Coloring Book to Nourish Mom (Abingdon Press, August 2016)

Nourishment for a mother’s soul through 40 days of devotion and . . . doodling!

Wouldn’t it be marvelous if mothering came with a concrete set of instructions—an easy recipe we could follow? Instead, motherhood challenges women to find their faith, their true selves, and their family through daily doses of trial and error. It is a brilliant and healing time of life that is full of joy, pain, and beauty with a small side of crisis (and humor). What mothers do not know, they learn. And through this lifelong process of learning, they nurture and care for the most precious gifts on earth: children. In a modern society where moms often have a full and busy plate, these 10 minute daily devotions focus on six key topics of motherhood:

—Reconciling with grief, hope and expectations

In addition to the devotions, these beautiful pages are adorned with handmade illustrations to help you refresh from long days or even occasional sleepless nights. So, grab your colors and a little quiet time for yourself while doodling at the kitchen table. You will be grateful you did!

My Thoughts:

I hate to say it, but I didn't like this book at all. I'd love to leave it at just that, but you'll probably be left wondering why. I really do hate being negative, though.

There are 40 devotions that include a coloring page, but there's also some extra devotionals thrown in the mix that doesn't have a day assigned to them. Some of the devotionals are okay, though a little on the shallow side. Some of them are a little out there for me, though. Right at the beginning, such a big emphasis was put on the meaning of names that it put a red flag up for the rest of the book. You're encouraged to find the meaning of your name, and your husband's name, and your children's name(s)(through various devotionals) and focus on those meanings while parenting. My name means "Palm Tree". I can't help but wonder what my parents could have possibly done with that! I just can't, in any way, parent my children based on what someone else decided their names meant. I attempted to choose masculine, old fashioned names for my boys, and don't think I even knew what meaning their names were assigned.

Out of curiosity, I did look up what their names mean, and I could focus on that for each of them, but I don't want to. There's so much more to them. (Of course, I DO realize names are important. I wouldn't have ever named my children Jezebel or Nabal, after all, but I don't think a name given by a parent should label a child.)

In defense of that method, though, this book does come off more for the very new mommies. I imagine most new mommies have just finished looking through baby name books and the meaning of names mean more to them. It's just not for me. Also, I may be blowing the name thing way out of proportion, but I've read those passages over and over, and they still bug me.

Aside from that, I just didn't like the wording so often. Here's a quote that I'll leave for you, and you can do what you want with it.

"Because of my sensitive nature, I have the predisposition to absorb every environment I walk into. Not only did I have my own life experiences and traumas to work through, but I also carried the experiences and traumas of others that I encountered. Some call it empathy, some call it hypersensitivity, some call it prophetic intercession, and some call it psychic abilities. What it is for sure is absorption, and many people are wired this way, especially women."

Now I'll move on the the coloring pages. Honestly, that was my biggest reason for wanting to check this book out. (And, of course, the curiosity of what would bring more joy to my days in 40 days time.) ;) The coloring pages are incredibly simple. I've made it very clear that I have no artistic talent, but most of these pages look like something that might be found in one of my notebooks(practice doodling), minus the handwriting, because I can't write that pretty. IF you're looking for a coloring book that could be colored with crayons, as opposed to smaller tipped colored pencils, this might be a decent choice for you. Maybe the point was to provide a quick little artistic page for those new moms to do while rocking a little one, in which case simple is better. For the average mother that is used to the gorgeous coloring books on the market these days, this one looks on the pitiful side. Also, the lines in the doodles are so bold, and the pages so thin, that it was hard to read the devotionals. The coloring page on the other side of the page was glaring through.

I really do dislike being so negative about a book, but I just can't recommend this one to anyone, unfortunately. My negatives might end up being positives for you, though!

*I was given a free copy of this book.