Thursday, July 31, 2014

Raising a PRINCESS: How to Raise Daughters of a King by John Croyle (Book Spotlight)

About the Book:

Raising a P.R.I.N.C.E.S.S.: How to Raise Daughters of a King

Child advocate, former All-American football player helps parents raise daughters well

With the success of the movie “Frozen” princesses are back in the spotlight, and much is made about
raising daughters to be a princesses, but what does that really mean? Former Alabama defensive back John Croyle,
and founder of child safe-haven Big Oak Ranch, believes the answer lies in Proverbs 31: “Her children rise up and call
her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her
hands, and let her works praise her in her gates (vs. 28-31).”

In his new book, Raising a Princess (B&H Books, May 2014), Croyle walks through the importance of raising young
women in a biblical, strong and compassionate manner. Touching on themes of unconditional love, failure and trust,
Croyle offers nearly four decades of wisdom in raising a godly woman from a dad’s perspective.

"A hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of house we lived in, the kind of car we drove or how much
money we had in the bank,” says Croyle, author of The Two Minute Drill to Manhood, which looks at what it means to
raise godly young men. “But the world may be different because you and I were important in the life of a child."

In The Two Minute Drill to Manhood, he tackles the necessities of equipping young men in the most pivotal moments of
their adolescence. However, in Raising a Princess Croyle writes with a different end in mind: womanhood. The end is a
Proverbs 31 woman and Croyle provides parenting techniques to help the reader raise their princess to someday be a
queen. Croyle’s specific approach to raising young women is spelled out through the acronym P.R.I.N.C.E.S.S:
Praiseworthiness – A princess understands she is worthy of praise simply because she is made in the image of

Righteousness – She lives according to God’s normal, not the world’s normal.
Initiative – A princess makes good things happen.
Nurture – God built into girls and women an instinct to nurture that boys and men simply don’t have in the same way.
Character – A girl of character knows what her deepest desires are and chooses accordingly.
Empowerment – Your princess needs to understand life isn’t just something that happens to her. She has the power
to choose.
Servant-Heartedness – A princess finds purpose not in being served, but in serving others.
Stability – As stability is provided for daughters, they will grow into the kind of people who help create stability for

Purchase Link:

Raising a Princess: Eight Essential Virtues To Teach Your Daughter

About the Author:

John Croyle was an All-American defensive end at the University of Alabama during a renowned title run under Coach
Paul “Bear” Bryant. Croyle declined a career in the National Football League and instead went on to found and develop
the Big Oak Ranch for Boys. Over the next few decades they worked to start the Girls’ Ranch as well as the Westbrook
Christian School. He and his wife, Tee, together have raised hundreds of young men and women, including their
daughter and Big Oak child care director, Reagan Croyle Phillips, as well as their son and former NFL quarterback
Brodie Croyle. For more information, please visit

My Note:

I haven't read Raising a Princess, but I do have The Two-Minute Drill to Manhood: A Proven Game Plan for Raising Sons on my kindle(currently only 2.99 for the e-book). I grabbed it last year, and I've done a bit of reading in it. IF I had girls, I wouldn't have hesitated to grab this one, too. My hubby is a huge fan of University of Alabama football, and we can't help but respect Croyle, so I was automatically drawn to his books.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton

Book Description:

Frontier dangers cannot hold a candle to the risks one woman takes by falling in love

In an act of brave defiance, Tamsen Littlejohn escapes the life her harsh stepfather has forced upon her. Forsaking security and an arranged marriage, she enlists frontiersman Jesse Bird to guide her to the Watauga settlement in western North Carolina. But shedding her old life doesn’t come without cost. As the two cross a vast mountain wilderness, Tamsen faces hardships that test the limits of her faith and endurance.

Convinced that Tamsen has been kidnapped, wealthy suitor Ambrose Kincaid follows after her, in company with her equally determined stepfather. With trouble in pursuit, Tamsen and Jesse find themselves thrust into the conflict of a divided community of Overmountain settlers. The State of Franklin has been declared, but many remain loyal to North Carolina. With one life left behind and chaos on the horizon, Tamsen struggles to adapt to a life for which she was never prepared. But could this challenging frontier life be what her soul has longed for, what God has been leading her toward? As pursuit draws ever nearer, will her faith see her through the greatest danger of all—loving a man who has risked everything for her?

WaterBrook Press (April 15, 2014) 402 pages

Purchase Link:

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Last year I read, and loved, Benton's Burning Sky. I knew as I finished that book, I'd pick up anything and everything Benton wrote in the future. Even if it weren't for that, I don't think I'd have been able to resist a book with such a pretty blue dress on the cover. ;)

It took me a bit longer than I expected to get into the story, though I blame that more on my reading mood at the time. Even so, I fell in love with Tamsen pretty much from the start. She faces heartache and tough decisions, but ultimately she remains strong as she runs and hides from her violent stepfather. Jesse was a perfect gentleman to get her through. There are moments of sweetness, suspense, and mystery as the story unfolds. It's a beautifully written story, and I'm looking forward to reading more from Benton.

*I was provided a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Notes From a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider (Book Spotlight and GIVEAWAY!!!)

About the Book:

Life is chaotic. But
we can choose to live it differently.

It doesn’t always
feel like it, but we do have the
freedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so that
our path better aligns with our values and passions.

The popular blogger and founder of the internationally
recognized Simple Mom online
community tells the story of her family’s ongoing quest to live more simply,
fully, and intentionally.

Part memoir, part travelogue, part practical guide, Notes from a Blue Bike takes you from a
hillside in Kosovo to a Turkish high-rise to the congested city of Austin to a
small town in Oregon. It chronicles schooling quandaries and dinnertime
dilemmas, as well as entrepreneurial adventures and family excursions via
plane, train, automobile, and blue cruiser bike.

Entertaining and compelling—but never shrill or dogmatic—Notes from a Blue Bike invites you to
climb on your own bike, pay attention to who you are and what your family
needs, and make some important choices.

It’s a risky ride, but it’s worth it—living your life
according to who you really are
simply takes a little intention. It’s never too late.

About the Author:

Tsh Oxenreider is the founder of Simple Mom), a popular community blog dedicated to the art and science of simple living. She’s
the author of Organized Simplicity and One Bite at a Time, a regular contributor to (in), an advocate for Compassion International, and a top-­‐ranked
podcaster. A graduate of University of Texas, Tsh currently lives in Bend, Oregon with her family.

For more information visit

Purchase Link:

Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World

My Note And GIVEAWAY!!!!!!

Since this is a book spotlight, I haven't read this book. My family is on the journey to living a life somewhere between simple and minimalistic, though, so I DO very much hope to read it one day!

To enter:

-Leave me a comment with some way to contact you if you win.
-Must be 13 years or older to enter.
-Winner will be picked by
-Ends August 6th, 2014

For an extra entry:

-Advertise this giveaway in any way(twitter, facebook, blog, etc) and leave me a 2nd comment letting me know you did).

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles de Lint, Illustrated by Charles Vess

The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles de Lint

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Thoughts:

Other than this book, I've only read 2 other books by Charles de Lint. Those two books let me know how much I ADORE his writing style, though. ADORE! Unfortunately, due to the profanity, I've kept myself from reading any of his other books. (My conviction in this area is *not* an easy one!) It has been one of THE hardest things to do. I've said this time and again, but do you know how hard it is to find clean Native American fantasy fiction?! De Lint writes with an amazing amount of folklore weaved into the story, and Native American characters play important roles(of the ones I've read).

I say all of that so you know just how excited I was when I heard that de Lint had written a book for a middle grade audience. I'm talking happy dancing going on, y'all!

I was even more thrilled when I read it. This book is one to be experienced. It's one of those books I firmly believe will be enjoyed so much more as a "real" copy that you can hold in your hands and smell. I borrowed the copy I read from the library(I actually requested they order it), but it's such a treasure, I hope to add a copy to our keeper shelf. Let's just be honest! I want one for MY shelf! ;) The pictures, done by Charles Vess, are gorgeous. This book is packed full of pictures of various sizes. There's even some 2 page spreads of nothing but a large picture. It's just beautiful, and I want to gush about it!

The story was a pure pleasure to read, too. Once again, I was able to enjoy the lovely writing of De Lint, and it just made me happy. There is such a mixture of folklore, I have to be honest and say I probably didn't "get" all the underlying messages/themes/etc. There is magic and witches within the story, but I love that it *seemed* to point out that God is above and beyond any of that. One little sentence in the story concerning God made me stop and smile.

In case you can't tell, I adored The Cats of Tanglewood Forest. I can't gush enough about it. It's officially the newest book on my "hugworthy" shelf, and I can't wait to read Seven Wild Sisters!

The Hope Quotient by Ray Johnston (Book Spotlight and GIVEAWAY!!!!)

About the Book:



Every once in a while a book comes along that changes the way everyone thinks. That’s what
happened in 1996 when Daniel Goleman wrote Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ. “EQ” is
now a part of daily vocabulary. But author and communicator Ray Johnston has discovered that measuring one’s
EQ may not be as important as measuring another factor: hope.
As a pastor, leader and founder of the Thrive Conference, an annual meeting for leaders in
communication, Johnston has spent years dealing with all sorts of people. In his observations, he has
noted a direct correlation between someone’s hopefulness and their success in all areas of life. Johnston
explains this connection and its importance in The Hope Quotient: Measure It. Raise It. You’ll Never Be the Same

“Unlike IQ and EQ, which are largely inherited,” says Johnston, “your degree of hope, your Hope Quotient or HQ
can be developed to any level.” In The Hope Quotient, Johnston will offer an online diagnostic test that becomes
the reader’s personal roadmap to measuring and increasing their HQ. Understanding the assessment determines
which of the seven essentials they need to improve in order to raise their score:
1. Recharge your batteries
2. Raise your expectations
3. Refocus on the future
4. Play to your strengths
5. Refuse to go it alone
6. Replace burnout with balance
7. Play great defense
The test was developed at Regent University under the supervision of Dr. William Brown, professor and research
fellow in the Department of Strategic Communication & Journalism. Upon purchase of the book, readers will be
given access to the test and can start raising their HQ immediately.
Johnston believes anyone can have hope and everyone needs it: “Regardless of your background, regardless of
your job, regardless of your personal make up of life history, the priority of staying encouraged by learning how to
increase your Hope Quotient can change everything.”

About the Author:

Ray Johnston is the founding pastor of Bayside Church in Sacramento, one of the largest churches in the nation.
Ray is the founder of Thriving Churches International and Thrive Communications, Inc. He is a veteran of both
youth and adult ministry through Youth Specialties, Ray serves on the Board of Directors at Azusa Pacific where
he graduated. Ray and his wife, Carol, have four children.

Purchase Link:

The Hope Quotient: Measure It. Raise It. You'll Never Be the Same.

My Note and GIVEAWAY:

I accepted this book purely as a "book spotlight", but they sweetly sent me a copy anyway. I have NOT read the book the whole way through. I have had the chance to flip through and do a bit of "cheese platter" reading. To be honest, I'm always a little skeptical when it comes to books like this. BUT, I like what I've seen of it *so far*. I battle fiercely with depression sometimes, and I know I'm not alone with that. I haven't came across anything so far that would make me not recommend it to you. If you're like me with depression or just "down" times, definitely put your name in the giveaway hat!

To Enter:

-Leave me a comment with a spam free e-mail address or some way to contact you.
-Must be 13 years or older to enter.
-Ends August 6, 2014
-Winner will be chosen by

For an extra entry:

-Advertise this giveaway in any way(twitter, facebook, blog, etc) and leave me a 2nd comment telling me you did so.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Family, Community, and a Free Episode of Adventures in Odyssey

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 4.54.28 PM 
 For a limited time, you can listen to a new episode of Adventures in Odyssey for FREE! Album 58, The Ties that Bind, will be available this fall for digital download and CD purchase, but if you join the Odyssey Adventures Club, you can listen to the full album now! Guess what? The $5 special held last month was extended through the end of July, too, so you can join in the fun for only $5!

Here's what part one is about (which you can listen to for free HERE):

It’s a time of surprises as Wooton becomes the celebrity guest at Comic-Connellsville and Whit finds himself in conflict over the upcoming “Let’s Get Together Festival” in Odyssey. Plus, hear an interview with writer-director Paul McCusker about the entire 14-part series.
Album 58 was inspired by Focus on the Family’s The Family Project, a 12-session small group experience that explores the theological, philosophical, and cultural underpinnings of the traditional family, and combines that information with inspiring stories and practical tools to help 21st-century families thrive.

One way families can carry out God's design for families is by serving their community—right where God has planted them, being His hands and feet together. Want to serve your community with your family, maybe make a day of out it?

Here are some fantastic ideas from some Adventures in Odyssey bloggers and club members:

  • Make scarves through the year and deliver them to your local homeless shelter at the start of winter, or regularly donate food to your local food bank. —Shirley 
  • Our family likes to help with Meals on Wheels. We also do reenactments of the Civil War and WWII to help educate people on history. I like to show my kids that we should be servers and givers by taking meals to people who need them (i.e. baby just born, someone died, someone had surgery, etc.). —Erin 
  • We have been visiting a nursing home with friends once a month. The kids just sing and then we fellowship, but the ladies love it! —Lisa 
  • We make lap blankets for nursing home residents and take the time to visit with them. We also collect food for the local food pantry. —Donna 
  • We make blessing bags to give to the homeless when we encounter them. We also donate clothes and food to a local shelter. —Amy 
  • Our MOPs (Mothers of Prechoolers) group supports our local Pregnancy Support Services with donations, gifts, and notes. We also supports the Durham Rescue Mission, which helps people break free from addictions and restore families. —Melissa 
  • We live in a very rural area. Our church serves two of the poorest zip codes in the state, and about a decade ago, they started operating a food pantry out of a closet. It has expanded since then, so we now use the closet for storage, but the pantry is basically a classroom. The kids and I serve over there a lot. My 17-year-old and I go to Care & Share (50 miles away) to get food to bring back to the pantry. All of us help unload and stock shelves. On pantry days, everyone can get involved with helping people go through the line, playing with the kids, carrying boxes out to cars, etc. There are so many hungry folks, especially in the summer when school breakfasts and lunches aren't available, and helping a bit to put food on some tables is such a blessing for us all. —Debra 
  • We pack food bags each month for the homeless and needy through a thrift store that offers an outreach to the community. We also help clean our church and our Sunday school. —Michele 
  • We work through our AHG troop to do several service activities a year. My girls just recently made bracelets they are selling, which 100% of the profits goes to Hope House in Africa to help young girls. —Sarah 
  • Our church works with a homeless shelter in downtown Atlanta. We cook food ahead of time, and when our schedules allow we ride down with the group to serve the food. My son always reminds me when we haven't been for awhile, so it's something he looks forward to. —Maria 
  • We do lots of random acts of kindnesses within our community: pay for others' meals, leave change at a vending machine, hand out Gatorade/granola bars to people on the side of the road asking for food. We also love to support Mobile Loaves and Fishes. —Kathryn
Did that provide some ideas to give your family service activity the kick-start it needs? What other ideas do you have for serving your community? Share in the comments!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What's on my Nightstand for August

What's On Your Nightstand

Last month, I read: (though I haven't posted my thoughts on most of these yet)

The Dyerville Tales by M.P. Kozlowsky(Giveaway)

The Body in the Library (Miss Marple Mysteries) by Agatha Christie

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles de Lint

It seems like I read so much more than that! I have to be forgetting something.

August Reading Plans:

I'm challenging myself to read better, and for me, that takes some planning.


The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien(This will be a reread from high school.)

Emma by Jane Austen

This is my challenge for myself as part of Annette's Summer Reading Challenge. I also just learned about Austen in August, and realized even more how perfect of a time it is to read some Austen!

A Blunt Instrument by Georgette Heyer


I read a good bit of non-fiction, but when it's not for review, I tend to do a whole lot of "cheese platter reading". Really, there's nothing wrong with that, but I want to challenge myself to read these non-fiction books the whole way through this month:

I need to finish Raising Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boysby Hal and Melanie Young. A very sweet friend gave me this book, and it's FULL of wonderful advice concerning the world of raising boys.

Parenting is Rocket Science by Beth Brown

I've already done a bit of "cheese platter reading" in this book, and it looks to be packed full of great advice, too.

When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason's Philosophy for Today by Elaine Cooper

We officially enter the world of homeschooling this school year, as Grasshopper becomes a kindergartener. I plan on mostly using the Charlotte Mason approach, and this just looks like a helpful book!

Fiction for Fun:

As far as other fiction, I'm really enjoying getting to grab whatever my mood asks me to read, so I don't want to do too much planning in that area.

I do want to finish Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters. I'm enjoying it so far!

I'd also like to read Just Jane by Nancy Moser, as part of Austen in August. I've had it on my kindle for awhile, waiting patiently.

These are a few that are especially calling my name right now, so extra reading will most likely be picked from this stack:

A Wizard of Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle) by Ursula K. Le Guin

Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle and The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlawby Christopher Healy. I read and loved the 1st book, The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, and I'd like to finish up the series soon. It's fun and humorous!

What kind of reading do you have planned?