Friday, April 29, 2016

Unstuffed by Ruth Soukup

Unstuffed  isn't your usual type of decluttering book as the subtitle says, Decluttering Your Home, Mind and Soul. Unstuffed offers advice on improving life in your home and with friends along with improving your spiritual and physical health. As I think about it, that is a tall order for this book.

Unstuffed is divided into three sections. Part one shares information on creating the home you want to live in as well as dealing with all the stuff that you fill it with. It isn't full of how to declutter because Soukup says she wrote another book on that topic. Part two shares information on how to slow down your schedule and clear up some of the paperwork that comes through your home. The last section of this part also contains a chapter on dealing with other people's stuff, whether it is given to you or you inherited it. The last part of the book offers information on how to cultivate real friendships and release those that are not serving you well or are toxic. It also offers advice on taking time for your own personal wellness in both body and soul.

 The chapter I found most helpful in Unstuffed was the chapter on dealing with stuff from other people. I haven't found another decluttering book to really tackle that struggle head on like Soukup. As an only child, I struggle with heirlooms and things to keep that I don't really care for but feel guilty if I get rid of. The book doesn't have me getting rid of anything yet but I can see where it offers valuable advice on having conversations on the topic with loved ones.

As a whole, however, this wasn't my favorite decluttering book. It was very broad in its topics although it did offer some great advice. I would recommend Unstuffed if you are looking for advice on how to make life improvements all through your life. However, I would recommend Joshua Becker's book, The More of Less, or Marie Kondo's book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up if you just want a book to help you best clean out the house. I did enjoy the last chapter in which Soukup sharing her spiritual journey and how she came to know Christ, which also sets this book apart as clearly a Christian book. All in all, I would give it 4 out of 5 stars.

I received this book from Zondervan. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for the book.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Looking For Lovely by Annie F. Downs

I loved Annie Downs first book, Let's all be Brave, so I couldn't wait to read Looking For Lovely. This book was another fast read for me, just like her first book. I enjoyed reading her personal stories as well as the Biblical truths she shared along with them. . .and at the end of most chapters, Downs encourages her readers to think about the lovely in their own lives and to take some sort of action to collect moments that matter of their own.

Looking for Lovely is divided into three sections. In the first section, In the Absence of Lovely, Downs shares some of the difficulties and challenges she faced in her life. In the second section, In Search of Lovely, Downs shares how God met her as she worked to heal from her hurts and looked for God in every area of her life. The Third section, When I Found Lovely, Downs shares how she changed her perspective on life. . .How she doesn't feel like she has to be perfect just because the book is ending here. I enjoyed the whole book, but for me, I especially liked this third section as Downs reminds us that God works in our lives when we let Him in on the process. He will take the broken pieces of us and make them into something beautiful for us and for those to see that we do life with. Downs shares that no matter who we are, God will help us to see the lovely on whatever path we are on when we look to Him and look for it. Since reading this book, I continue to look for the lovely in my own life. I would encourage any woman to get a copy and do the same. There is also a Bible study that accompanies this book so it would be great to do in a group of women.

I received this book from Broadman and Holman Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for the book.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Wellth by Jason Wachob

Wellth is truly a wealth of holistic health tidbits(pun intended). I subscribed to MindBodyGreen for a long time so I was familiar with this website that author Jason Wachob founded. I enjoyed their brief articles geared to helping readers improve their health in all areas. Wellth: How I Learned to Build a Life, Not a Resume is part health information from MindBodyGreen experts and part autibiographical information from author Jason Wachob.

This book is divided into chapters with titles: Eat, Move, Work, Believe, Explore, Breathe, Feel, Love, Heal, Thank, Ground, Live, and Laugh. It offers a broad holistic look at all of these areas of our lives with some tidbits to help readers improve those areas. In fact, at the end of each chapter, there are a few summary ideas to take and apply to your own life. At the same time, in each of these categories, Wachob shares some of his own story of how he has grown or made improvements in his own life. While my life and Wachob's life stories are vastly different, I found I could relate to some of what he was sharing and I could learn from him. Some our stories weren't all that different too, as I find like Wachob, that I also heal best with a mix of Western medicine with some alternative medicine mixed in. The stories he shared felt like something you would glean from a friend over a cup of coffee. Grab a copy of Wellth, take away what you need and come away refreshed at having spent time together with Wachob.

I personally liked this mix of personal stories and health tidbits in Wellth. For me it worked well and was a quick, enjoyable read. I would recommend it to anyone. There are also several quotes throughout the book that were uplifting to read by many of my favorite health experts. At the end, I felt both encouraged to tackle some of my own health challenges and uplifted by this information.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Author Information:
JASON WACHOB is the Founder and CEO of mindbodygreen, the leading independent media company dedicated to health and happiness with 15 million monthly unique visitors.  He has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and Vogue. Jason has a BA in history from Columbia University, where he played varsity basketball for four years. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, and loves German Shepherds, Chuck Taylors, and guacamole.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Think and Eat Yourself Smart by Dr. Caroline Leaf

An incredible amount of research went into the book, Think and Eat Yourself Smart. This information resonated with me along with the Bible verses she shares with it. I appreciated those two things combined.  Dr, Caroline Leaf is a neuroscientist who has spent many years doing research. She also is a Christian and looks to combine her love of brain science with her faith.

This book is divided into three parts: Admit It, Quit It and Beat It! In Admit It, Dr. Leaf shares information we need to know, if we don't already, about the Modern American Diet (MAD). She documents where all of her information comes form in an extensive end notes section. I especially like that. If you have a question about something, it makes it easy to find the source and check the facts for yourself. I was familiar with many of the sources she quoted and I heartily agree with the truth that the MAD isn't so good for us. In the second section, Dr. Leaf shares how our minds play a large role in what we eat and how we eat. In the last section, she offers ideas for changing your diet for the better in today's world and making the best choices that you can for you. I especially like that she gives a basic blueprint for eating but she doesn't tell you exactly what diet to follow. She encourages you to pray and look for the answers to your best health with God's help. She also shares how we need to watch our stress, our thoughts, and our exercise along with our diet. She truly encourages Christians to follow a holistic plan to health with God's help.

I didn't find this book to be a quick read because it is so packed full of information. I read it in small bites and let myself absorb what she was saying so I could apply it to my life. I would encourage you to do the same. I knew many facts that she shared because I often read and study nutrition books. My husband has a degree in Animal Science and Agricultural Engineering so we discussed some of her information on farming practices today. We both would agree that it is a changing arena from what our grandparents saw when they were farming. It is good to discuss what you are learning in the book with those close to you and make changes together if at all possible. Dr. Leaf also includes some of her family's favorite recipes in the back of the book to help you make dietary changes. At the same time, she encourages your family to cook together and find your own favorite recipes. I would encourage anyone and everyone to read this book and consider how they can make changes to their mind and/or body that would be best for them as they seek to honor God through their lifestyle choices. Dr. Leaf doesn't TELL you what to think, she helps you think things out for yourself as she helps you know HOW to think through diet and lifestyle choices.

I received this book from the author and publisher. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for the book.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Wonders of Creation adult coloring book

The Wonders of Creation coloring book is a beautiful 96 page coloring book for adults. I have a few of the new coloring books and I have to say this one is especially nice. There are no words or verses in this book but instead the book is full of a variety of the animals God created. A few of the animal pictures included are a platypus, lion, rhinoceros, flamingos, monkey, penguin, sea horses in the ocean, and wild horse in the desert. Some of the pictures look true to life and some of them just look fanciful. Some are in fine detail and others aren't quite as intricate. I like that this book has variety all the way around.

I colored one 2-page spread with colored pencils:

The picture on the backside, I used both markers and colored pencils:
I do think you need sharp colored pencils to do the intricate lines. Also, I had a little trouble with the markers smearing the black lines on the rooster page. I think you especially can see it in his feet. For that reason, I would give this book 5 stars for the content, which I think is great, but I would give it 4 stars for that smearing quality. Also, the way the seams are on the two-page-spread pictures, it is a bit of a challenge to get into the creased area. However, on the plus side, these page are heavy duty so they did not bleed through on the backside when I used the markers. As a whole, I would heartily recommend this great color book, but I will probably use more colored pencils than markers based on my sample experiences.

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

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Longing In Me by Sheila Walsh

The Longing In Me touched my heart deeply. This very personal book from Sheila Walsh is one of her best, I think.

In The Longing In Me, Sheila shares some of the personal parts of her story that she has not shared before in her books. I found her story to touch parts of my story as I could relate to many of the things she shared even though my story is different than hers. I think this book would touch many women's hearts as she opens up and shares from her heart. As always, in the midst of her sharing, she brings her relationship with Christ in with her story. . .and by doing so encourages me to keep living each day for Christ in the midst of my own hard things. She also relates the story of David and his life as we know if from the Bible to her story. . .and again, to many of our stories. She brings David's story to life and helps me see him as a real person and not just a Bible character. As she weaves her story and David's story together through the book, I am reminded of how we can all long to be people after God's own heart and still make mistakes at times. At times we crave something from this life that isn't the best for us, when we are really longing for God's heart. God uses our earthly longings and mistakes to teach us, to help us grow, and to minister to others if we choose to let him.

The Longing In Me is highly readable. . .and it was difficult for me to put it down. It was a compelling read for me. I highly recommend it to anyone, but especially to those with hurts in their past or upbringing.. .hurts that may be leading you to long for the wrong things in this life.

I received an electronic version of this book from Thomas Nelson. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for the book.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Pressing Pause by Karen Ehman and Ruth Schwenk

I know some days I just want to press pause on life. I imagine most of us do have those days. It seems like most of us juggle some sort of hectic day in our modern world. Add to that a dose of guilt for not reading God's Word and I am left feeling tight in the shoulders and stressed. Pressing Pause is the answer for time with God in the midst of your hectic life.

Karen Ehman and Ruth Schwenk have written devotional readings that are down to earth and easy to relate to. For example, I know I can relate to occasionally envying those I follow on social media when it seems they have perfect days. Karen's devotional, "The Joneses are Overrated," hit home with me the other day. Another example that I could relate to as someone who recently moved is Ruth's "Creating Community." Each devotional has a Bible verse, a short story/essay to relate to, a prayer, and a question or two to help you relate it to your life. There is also space to write the answers down so you can look back at them later and so you can continue to pray about those things in your own life. I know my days go much better when I start them with some time alone with God.On those days when my son was up early and that wasn't possible, it still helped to pull out a devotional and a Bible and get some God time in the midst of those stressful days.

Both of the authors regularly minister to women. Karen Ehman is a Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker. Ruth Schwenk is a pastor's wife who created, These ladies know how to relate to women and it shows in their writing. This book would be great for any woman, really any age or stage in life, wanting a new devotional. Since it doesn't have dates on the readings, it is one that could be started at any time during the year. It would make a great gift for a tired out mom. The cover is also beautiful! I could see myself putting this in a gift basket along with a coffee shop gift card and some other personal items for a personal time out. I highly recommend it.

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