Monday, July 21, 2014

Bible Review: NIV God's Word for Gardener's Bible from Zondervan

I'm a gardener and I come from a family of gardeners. I also married a gardener and connected with his family of gardeners. When the NIV God's Word of Gardeners Bible came out, I knew I needed to get one. I was not disappointed.

Shelley Cramm had the inspiration to write a gardeners Bible from her background in architectural and garden design, along with her involvement in local Bible study groups, Moms in Prayer and Moms of Preschoolers. I think Cramm did a beautiful job of putting it all together in this Bible.

According to the back cover, The NIV God’s Word for Gardeners Bible will inspire you to seek God in a personal way through informative essays, devotional readings and prayers that explore the nature of the gardener’s work, the rewards of gardening, the influence of seasons and weather, and the joy of the harvest. This Bible contains 260 daily and 52 weekend readings throughout the bible that explore gardens/gardening aspects in God's Word. There are also special sections that focus on the Garden of Eden and other gardens mentioned in the Bible. A topical index focused on garden-interest topics for 52 weeks is also part of this Bible that will "grow your faith while growing your garden." (from the cover)

This Bible is not only interesting from a Christian and a gardening perspective. It is also beautiful. The hard cover has a gorgeous photo of purple flowers, garden gloves and tools all done in shades of purple and green. My husband and I both thought this would be a great gift for a gardener we know put into a basket along with some gloves, seeds, tools, etc.

If you have an interest in gardening and want to learn more from a Biblical perspective, or know of someone who does, I highly recommend this Bible.

I received this Bible from Zondervan at no charge. I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Book Review: The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate

I was thrilled to be part of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Books this year. . I am a members of Circle 17. . .a group of 5 sisters who committed to reading Lisa Wingate's book, The Story Keeper, and sharing our thoughts with one another. . .a traveling book group. I loved this idea and was truly tickled to get to read an advance copy and partake in all of the fun. I also received a pretty notebook from the sister before me to keep my stories in.

First of all, I need to share that this year God has had a running theme in my life that "my story matters." It has shown up in my art journal class, in an on-line Bible study, I received a "Your Story Matters" necklace for Mother's Day from my hubby who is my greatest encourager and then I received my chance to read, The Story Keeper. I know it is no co-incidence.

Jen Gibbs is an newly hired editor at Vida House publishing in New York. She has worked in the industry 10 years and Jen knows the ropes and has been on the move to bigger and better things. . .when mysteriously a manuscript appears on her desk. Jen opens the manuscript and is drawn in to the story about Sarra, a mixed-race Melungeon girl trapped by dangerous men from a by-gone era in Appalachia. The manuscript also draws Jen back to the Blue Ridge Mountains where she grew up. . .a place she thought she would never go back to. As the Story Keeper goes on, Jen's story becomes more interesting and so does the story of Sarra. I enjoyed both stories. . .and the lessons they teach. One set in days gone by and one set in modern days. One set in days gone by and one set in modern days. Both were page-turning stories. This book was also one that lingered in my mind for awhile as my heart sorted out the lessons it had for me. I don't want to over share and spoil the plot, but I would encourage anyone wanting a good read to get a copy of this book when it comes out on September 1. For me, it was a reminder that all of our stories matter and maybe we make more of a difference than we think we do.

I received a copy of this book to read and pass on to the next sister as part of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Books. I was not required to write a positive review.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bible Review: NIV Life Journey Bible with Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

The NIV Life Journey Bible exceeded my expectations when I received a hard copy to review. It is a beautiful Bible with dark print. I especially liked that it was easy for me to read although the print is not too big.

I have been making changes towards growing in emotional wholeness over the past few years. The sub-title on the bright eye-catching cover of this Bible "Find the answers for your Whole Life" caught my eye. This Bible offers helps in addition to the Bible text to help you stay on track for emotional and relational health. There are "Insights" on various pages from the doctors that share glimpses into Scripture to show how it can bring emotional growth and development.  There are profiles of Bible characters like David, Esther and Paul which illustrate life lessons from their lives that support emotional and spiritual health. Themes of emotional health and wellness are also highlighted in the Book instructions before each book. Various essays are also included throughout the Bible dealing with various topics: How Should we Deal With Guilt and Shame? What Are Boundaries? and Why Do We Need Other People?

At the end of the Bible, reading plans, subject index and Where to Find it index are included. . .along with some blank lined pages to make your own notes and observations.

I have been working on making some changes in my life that I felt this Bible could be supportive I was. If you are looking for a Bible with supplemental information in it as you seek to live a better life, then I would recommend this one.

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

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Book Review: God Is Just Not Fair by Jennifer Rothschild

As you can see, the cover page of the latest book from Jennifer Rothschild proclaims in bold letters God Is Just Not Fair, while the smaller subtitle states, "Finding Hope When Life Doesn't Make Sense." That bold title grabbed me! For me, this book seemed timely. I'm not sure I was feeling God wasn't fair when I picked up this book to read, but I have been struggling to make sense of life lately.

I found this book to be engaging from the beginning. This is the first book I've read by Jennifer Rothschild. I liked her style. . .she seems conversational and down to earth. I also found I laughed a few times and I shed a few tears. . .she knew how to reach me where I am. She should understand those who are hurting as she has been through a thing or two in her life. At the age of 15, Rothschild lost her sight to a devastating disease. She has also face Depression five years ago, which caused her to wrestle with God.

In God Is Just Not Fair, Rothschild asks six questions of God: Are You Fair?; Do You Err?; Do You Hear Prayer?; Do You Care?; Are You Aware?; Are You There? Rothschild uses a variety of illustrations from her life, the men and women of the Bible and some other people's lives to help the reader draw some conclusions. At the end of each section, she shares verses under the heading Threads of truth for a blanket of faith. She invites readers to go to her website and download free Scripture cards of the verses. Rothschild's book helps readers as they face their own unique struggles, to wrestle with these issues. I would encourage anyone who is struggling, to read this book.

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

Monday, June 2, 2014

Book Review: The Power of Hope by Dutch Sheets

The Power of Hope by Dutch Sheets is a small book that is full of help to renewing your hope if you are in a place of needing hope. This is my first book by Dutch Sheets and I did find it encouraging. I have been going through several challenging life situations lately and my hopes were indeed dwindling.

I found this book to be a good source of encouragement and inspiration that is solidly based on Scripture. Sheets shares encouraging stories of real life people in both today's world and Biblical times. I liked that each chapter was fairly short because I needed to reflect on his words after each chapter. I liked that this book offers journal pages in the back of the book. Each chapter then offers specific advice on what to reflect on from that chapter in the journal, how to apply truths from the chapter, and a prayer to pray. I especially liked that the prayer was all ready for me to pray because there were days I just wasn't sure how to pray. Also, there were a list of Bible Verses to read that went along with each chapter. I read it in the morning and used it as my Quiet Time ready with the Bible verses. I also took my time going through it to gain insights in God's Word and my situation through the book.

I would encourage anyone to read this book who has faced some challenges and is starting to feel overwhelmed or spiritually dry. I think I would also feel comfortable giving this book to Christians that I know who could use some encouragement. As I mentioned above, I would encourage anyone to take their time and let the lessons sink in, in order to glean the most from the book.

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

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Book Review: The Extravagant Fool: A Faith Journey that Begins Where Common Sense Ends by Kevin Adams


The Extravagant Fool by Kevin Adams is the story of an underdog who overcomes many obstacles to honor God. It's a book full of essays in which Adams shares his story of losing his business, investments, rental houses and just about everything he owned in a short period of time. During that time, however, he gained a trust in God and dependence on Him that most of the world today would consider quite "foolish."

This book was encouraging in that in the end, the family overcame a lot of challenges and difficulties through their dependence on God as provider.The entire book is a memoir of his experience. I truly found the faith and trust of Adams to be inspirational. . and I felt my own faith grow as I rely on God during some personal challenges. In that way, it sounds like the author's goal was met as he said in the end of the book, "My only hope for this book is that it be compelling real-life evidence that God can be trusted with everything." I am glad I took time to read this book. At the same time, I honestly found parts of this book to be redundant and a bit confusing. My review copy was on Kindle so maybe a hard copy would have been easier for me to follow. In this book, there is the general narrative story to read and then throughout the book are journal entries. I didn't really see how those fit in until I got closer to the middle of the book. Again, maybe not a problem in a hard copy version of the book.

I received a copy of this book at no charge from Zondervan. I was not required to write a positive review. Kevin Adams blogs at

Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Review: Hope Quotient by Ray Johnston

Hope. I don't know about you, but some days I struggle to keep my hopes up. Pastor Ray Johnston's book, Hope Quotient, is full of information on how to raise your Hope levels, or Hope Quotient, as Johnston calls it.

When you purchase this book, it contains a special code so that you can take an on-line test to find out your Hope Quotient. According to Johnston, there are 7 factors that affect your Hope Quotient. The test takes about ten minutes to take. Results are then available instantly and also e-mailed to you. When I took the test, I tried to answer the test as accurately as I could to get honest results. I felt they were, indeed, accurate. I do have some areas I need to work on, which was no surprise to me and why I chose this book to review. The results are both totaled for the entire test and for each of the seven areas so you can see which areas you need to work on. I can see where this is helpful in improving your life. I took extensive notes as I read this book so I can put all of the information to use. I would encourage anyone reading this book to take their time and do the same. If you want to get the most out of the book, you wouldn't want to read it through quickly or skim along to get by. The author said that he invested seven years of his life studying people to write this book, full of potentially life-changing information.There are also many stories from the author, and from others, that share how they became more hopeful or used hope to help their life become better.

The Seven Factors affecting your Hope Quotient:
Factor 1: Recharge Your Batteries: Nobody does well running on empty.
Factor 2: Raise Your Expectations: You don’t get what you deserve; you get what you expect.
Factor 3: Refocus on the Future: It’s time to throw away your rear view mirror. No one goes forward well when they are looking back.
Factor 4: Play to Your Strengths: Be yourself; everyone else is taken.
Factor 5: Refuse to Go It Alone: Never underestimate the power of support. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto.
Factor 6: Replace Burnout with Balance: Burning the candle at both ends isn’t as bright as you think.
Factor 7: Play Great Defense: Avoid these five toxic hope killers that can threaten your future.

I would encourage anyone to read this book, taking the test and taking their time to learn how to improve their Hope Quotient. It would be great to do this book with your spouse, or a friend or mentor, or in a group, to work together to raise your Hope Quotient. I think this would also be a great book to give someone feeling down or on the brink of a life change such as graduation. I give it 5 stars.

I received this book from Thomas Nelson publishers at no charge. I was not required to write a positive review.