Monday, April 21, 2014

Book Review: Smart Money, Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze

I was thrilled when I was notified that I was on the Launch Team for the new book from Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze called Smart Money, Smart Kids. Their new book is out today, April 22. Visit the website to found out more:

My husband and I graduated from Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University about 4 years ago. We continue to apply the Ramsey Principles as we see to "change our family tree" and live debt free. We aren't where we want to be yet but we are continuing to move in the right direction.One of the ways I was excited about being on this launch team, is that I can have a resource to teach our 12-year old son how to be a better money manager than we were before he leaves home.

Smart Money, Smart Kids offers a dialogue throughout the book with voices from both Dave and his daughter, Rachel, as they share their stories of life in the Ramsey family as Rachel was growing up. According to Dave, "Normal in American is broke. This books isn't for normal people. It's for people who have figured out that normal isn't good enough. It's a book for weird people." I want to be one of the weird people who teach our son to stay out of debt, to give, to know the joy of doing a job well done and earn a living, to know how to budget, how to go to college debt-free, and how to be content with what he has. All of those topics, along with others are covered in this book. It is a comprehensive look at teaching your children to manage money well, no matter what the age. Of course, it would be better to start when they are younger, but both Ramseys say that teenagers can still be learners when it comes to money management.

I would recommend this to any parent or caregiver of children. It is a book that can be useful to yourself as you seek to tighten up your own money management skills. Primarily, though, this is a book that could help anyone encourage the young people as to how to develop their money skills to a level that they can avoid many of the pitfalls that I have seen in families today. I recently saw a young couple on our local news that is deep in debt with college loans sharing how hard it is to make it. Get a book and help your young people live a life of financial freedom.

I received an electronic copy of this book as a part of the Smart Money, Smart Kids Launch Team.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Book Review: The Nesting Place by Myquillin Smith

 This past year we moved to a new house in a new town for my husband's job. I had lived in the same house for 12 years. . .so leaving wasn't easy for me. We purchased a house in a different flavor than our first one. . .so when I saw this book was available for review, I knew it was just what I needed to inspire me. Going from a 1920s two-story house to a 1970s ranch was an adjustment in tastes that I felt needed to become evident in my decorating style. I'm so glad I read The Nesting Place because Myquillin Smith inspired me in several ways.

Myquillin Smith is a blogger and self-taught decorator. Her book, The Nesting Place, is full of inspiration on how to make your house the home that you want and need for you and your family. . .regardless of your budget, your living arrangements (even if you are renting!), or most anything else that you think might stand in the way of making your place beautiful for your family. Smith helps you see that "creating a beautiful home is a journey, not a destination." This book "isn't about decorating a house. It's about crafting a beautiful, meaningful home that you love. . .right where you are." One of the things I especially appreciate about Smith's book is that she encourages you to give up perfection and create a home that you can use even with mistakes and imperfections. Smith says, "my home is a reflection of our life, and life's mess can be gloriously beautiful." Another thing she said that resonated with me is that "apologizing for our home declares that I'm not content."

This book offers encouragement to decorate in your own style. . .Plenty of photos of her house, and a few others, to give you creative ideas to draw from and some general guidelines on how to get started making changes so you feel more at home in your home, wherever that may be. I appreciate Myquillin sharing her journey of living in 13 different houses in 18 years. Her style left me feeling like we were just sharing ideas over coffee/tea.

She also shares her story of sponsoring a  Compassion child in Tanzania and shares more about her trip to visit him and the house he lives in. . .I  found that to be inspiring in it's own way. . .We sponsor a Compassion Child in Guatamala and I encourage anyone who is able to do the same. What a joy it is to get letters from them. . .and to make a difference in someone else's life.  I would love to visit our Katherin.

I received this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Book Review: Think 4:8 by Tommy Newberry with Lyn Smith

Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." (NIV) Today on April 8th, my son and I just finished reading Think 4:8 together. We used this 40-day devotional to get our homeschool mornings off to a positive start.

Think 4:8 is sub-titled: 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life For Teens. My son is 12 so in the tweenage years, but most if it fit his life just fine. We both benefited from how the book turned our thoughts in a positive direction each day. Each day's reading begins with a Bible verse, followed by a reading on the day's topic. At the end of the reading are a few activities to do: "Work it," which offers ways to put the reading into action; "Talk it," which offers some guidance in talking more about the daily topic; "Stick It," which offers a short phrase to write on a post-it note as a reminder throughout the day; and finally, "Pray It," which is a short prayer to end each chapter. We found it all helpful although since we were using the book together, we often expanded on the daily prayer.

We needed a positive start to our homeschool day and this book fit the bill well. I would recommend it to anyone with teenagers, or close in age. It would also be great for an individual devotional for a teen. It could be a good gift for someone needed some encouragement. I highly recommend it. I also recommend Tommy Newberry's book, "The 4:8 Principle," to anyone wanted to change their life in a more positive direction.
I received this book at no charge from Lyn Smith as a prize from her Facebook party. I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Book Review: Smitten Book Club by Colleen Coble; Kristin Billerbeck; Diann Hunt & Denise Hunter

The Smitten Book Club offers the light romance that you might expect from this book of 4 novellas about the Smitten Book Club members. Woven throughout the four romances in this book, is also a mystery.

The book begins with Heather finding an old book, The Gentlewoman's Guide to Love and Courtship written by Smitten native Pearl Chambers, a few generations ago. . .Heather finds the book while organizing a book sale to benefit fellow book club member, Molly, whose facing some pretty big challenges. Pearl's advice from generations back seems to have some interesting effects on Heather and her friends' romantic exploits. . .and there may be more to Gentlewoman's book then first meets the eye. Are some of the notes in the book clues to find hidden treasure, which could help Molly with some of her problems? That is the mystery the book club ladies seek to find the answer to.

This book was offers the same great romance as the first two Smitten books in the series. . .and if you haven't read those and you want to read this one, it isn't necessary to have read those first to follow this one. This book also flows well from one story to the next--you would never know four authors took part in this project, as their voices blend well together. I enjoyed the mystery. It was a pleasant relaxing read--just what I needed. It had been far too long since I'd read fiction. The back of this book also contains a Reading Group Guide with some questions to discuss with your own book club, if you are a part of one, or you could think about them on your own.

I received this book at no charge after I won it from the Facebook Smitten Book Club party. I was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Book Review: Rewired by Brandon Cox

I have been on Facebook, Blogger and Twitter for awhile now. . .but lately I wasn't sure how that fit in with God's plan for my life. I wasn't sure how I could use today's technology for good and not just be wasting time on-line. Brandon Cox, founding pastor of Grace Hills Church in northwest Arkansas, shares his view of how Christians can use technology to grow relationships and spread the gospel in his new book, Rewired.

Rewired offers advice for both church leaders and church members on how to use technology in today's world to both grow churches and grow church members in relationship with one another, and with God. I found this book to be helpful in offering advice on using social networks, both in theory and in practice.Cox offers reasons why he thinks Christians should be involved in social media. He also offers advice on the specifics of how to use social media. He asserts it is God's nature to be social and that we should use the latest technology in the best ways possible to be social in the world today. Through the latest technology, we can be sharing Christ's love over the computer in several ways. I especially like that he includes two appendixes: 25 Websites to Help You Learn More and Tools to Make You More Effective and Productive. Both were helpful to me as someone who has done some work on the internet, but has a lot more to learn to be a more effective communicator. This book is probably most helpful to someone who knows nothing about how to use internet resources but it offers something to learn, I think, for those who have been involved on-line for awhile too. Brandon Cox also served at Saddleback Church, with Rick Warren's Pastor's Toolbox, one of the world's largest online communities of church leaders, as well as being an on-line leader for other blogs and websites. I'd recommend it to anyone wanting to know how to use the internet to better reach people with the love of Christ, but especially for church leaders looking to create the best tools for their church to use on-line.

I received this book at no charge from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Book Review: The Storm Inside by Sheila Walsh

Sheila Walsh is a Woman of Faith speaker (as you probably already know). . .and she hears the voices of many women. . .women who've faced challenges in their life She is also a woman who has been through a few of her own storms. She brings her knowledge from both listening to others' stories and sharing her own, along with God's Word, to write a book geared to remind you that God is with you in all of those storms, The Storm Inside:Trade the Chaos of How You Feel for the Truth of Who You Are.

The Storm Inside offers so much encouragement to anyone facing a life storm full of swirling emotions such as:

Sheila helps the reader see that God is always with us in the storms. With His help, we can "navigate by what we know is true no matter how we feel." Each chapter is full of examples from a real life and from the Bible. The chapters all close with some things you can think about on your own and questions to ask yourself to get through the storm. A short prayer also ends each chapter keeping the focus of facing the storm foremost between you and God. Sheila reminds us that while we are likely to face storms in our life, we also have a God that is with us and gives us strength to make it through each day, without giving way to our emotions.

I would encourage anyone who is struggling and in the midst of a challenging struggle in their life, some sort of storm for them, to pick this book up and soak up Sheila Walsh's encouragement. I believe this book will be easy for most women to relate to. . .and it is geared towards women, although men may benefit too.

I received this book at no charge from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for the book.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Good-Bye Hope Chest. . .Hello Freedom from Too Much Stuff!

I'm not sure other girls my age had a Hope Chest, but I come from an old-fashioned family. I got my blue Hope Chest sometime when I was a teenager. My mom got this old chest, lined it in blue fabric painted it up for me. The trunk matched my room that had carpet in varying shades of blue (the shade of the trunk), pink and purple. . .

Now I had a beautiful blue trunk Hope Chest. . .and it was time to begin filling it. ..  We filled it with pillowcases I had embroidered in 4H, doilies and sheets that were heirlooms inherited from a great grandparent, Ralph Lauren pillowcases and wash clothes I gleaned while working at a department store internship, and other household items. We shopped sales, auctions and rummage sales back in those days to find things we knew that I would NEED to make a house a home. . .Then, to add to my stash, we put aside "Hope Chest" items like dishes, silverware, glasses, and that sort of thing in more boxes tucked in my parents' basement to use when the time came to leave home and the moving van hauled them to my new place.

The thing is I don't remember using a lot of these things over the years. Mostly I have just carted this stuff from one place to the next. . .some displayed and some left in boxes or the Blue Trunk. . .Then 2 years ago, I felt God telling me that it was time to lighten my load. . .to simplify and make my life easier for my family. We had been in the same house for several years and we weren't using this stuff. Stuff wasn't making us happy.  Instead, the stuff was making more work for us. I have given away things and e-bayed, sold on consignment, auctioned and Craig's-listed stuff. .As a result, our house became easier to clean and it was easier to find things in. . .However, we moved almost a year ago to a new house in a different town, still using a large moving truck. We still had more than we needed. Since moving several months ago, I have continued to get rid of things we don't need. We have looked at the things we brought with us, and ask ourselves, "Is this worth the effort to take care of and move around?". . .And, most recently, it was time to sell the Blue Trunk. I just didn't need it anymore. I was no longer hoping in "stuff" to make my house a home.

Instead, I realized my home is made up of my family whom I love and friends who come to visit. My dreams revolve around my God, my family and new interests and activities. I have started to feel so much lighter. I now think long and hard before I buy anything as to whether I really need it or not. I have not yet arrived to minimalist status completely yet, but we are continuing on the path. . .and I am enjoying throwing unnecessary  things off on this life journey and buoyed by the freedom of living with less.