Monday, February 8, 2016

Book Review: Choose Joy by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver

Choose Joy. Sounds easy enough if you are a regular person having a sorta bad day like someone took your parking space or something like that. . .However, Choose Joy was a conscious choice that Sara Frankl made every day. She lived in chronic pain for many years as a result of a rare autoimmune disease. For several of those years she was confined to her home.Choose Joy by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver tells the story of Sara's life. It isn't the story of her disease but instead it is the story of how she chose to live each day for Jesus and reflected Him in her life.

Choose Joy is Sara's words shared about lessons she learned while the disease progressed. Each lesson is pieced together with words of preface from her close friend Mary Carver. Sara blogged for several years as Gitzen Girl and was one of the writers at In-Courage. Before she became ill, Sara worked for a magazine and writing was a part of who she was. She was also a creative gal who designed her own type and made  her words into art for her friends and family. I was amazed at how she continued to share and offer herself to all she came in contact with both on-line and in person. After reading this book, I can say she truly reflected God's love to all she knew. I highly recommend it to any Christian wanting to reflect God's love regardless of what is going on in their life. I think Choose Joy would also make a good gift for someone in a similar situation to help show them look to the good in their life.

Sara Frankl passed away on September 24, 2011, but her legacy lives on. Besides reading her book, Choose Joy, you can also see her story on her blog at I didn't find her blog until shortly before she entered the arms of Jesus. At the time,  I remember being intrigued by her positive attitude and joy in life despite her struggled and pain from her disease. I was also intrigued because she's another Iowa girl.

Author Mary Carver is also a blogger besides being Sara's friend. You can find her at Dayspring's Incourage,, and

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

Friday, February 5, 2016

Book Review: The Bible Is My Best Friend Family Devotional by SheilaWalsh

Sometimes family devotions can get stale or a little boring. The Bible is My Best Friend Family Devotional by Sheila Walsh is anything but dull and boring. This bright little book offers your family a way to discuss and explore the Bible together in a fun way for 52 weeks (1 year)

The Bible is My Best Friend Family Devotional has devotions are based on a memory verse.Within each weekly devotional are several little features.The  Let's Talk section offers a question for the kids and a question for the adults. Both are intended to facilitate family discussion. My family especially liked this part and we did find that we talked about the questions for a little while with some good discussion that we wouldn't normally have had. The Family Fun Section includes something fun to do: act out a skit, play a game, run a race, make a craft, follow a scavenger hunt, and more. There were great fun things to do here. However, we wish our family were a larger family for some of the activities. We thought if we had some other children over for the night of this activity, that it could be more fun for our smaller family. Then each week concludes with a challenge to work together in some way that goes along with the verse for the week.

We enjoyed both the devotions and the activities that we did. If we could have one complaint, it would be that we would have liked to have had some more Bible verses to read to go along with the reading for the week so we could do a devotional daily. But it is a weekly devotional so this was us just wanting to get more of a great thing! At the same time, there were enough ideas in the book to jump start creativity to add your own daily devotions along with the weekly one if you wanted to do that. As a whole, we would recommend this book to any family. We thought the illustrations were fun and the weekly readings and activities were something our family could learn from in several ways. Ideally, it would be great to start at the beginning of the year since there are one years worth of devotions but it can be started any time.

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

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Book Review: Angels in the Bible Storybook by Allia Zobel Nolan

I think at some point, many children hear about angels and wonder about them. We sing about them at Christmas and people talk about loved ones turning into angels. They wonder what the truth is. Angels in the Bible Storybook tells the stories in the Bible that share about angels. Children can learn how angels interacted with Abraham, Lot, Gideon, Joshua, Daniel in the Old Testament and Zechariah, Mary, Jesus, and Paul in the New Testament, as well as many other stories. There are 30 stories total. In addition to beautiful angel stories, this story book contains beautiful illustrations to go along with them. They aren't the typical old-fashioned angel illustrations of the past, but they are beautiful and colorful. The bright colors are even more appealing to young readers, I think.

My family found the storytelling in this book to be quite good. The wording was some good prose and each story shared something different about angels in the Bible. It was a fun way to learn about angels and to hear Bible stories. Each story includes a Scripture reference and is re-told so children can easily understand it from that Scripture reference.

I would recommend this book to any family wanting a new storybook and wanting to learn about angels. It would also be a nice gift for any special occasion for both girls and boys.

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

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Book Review: The Prime by Kulreet Chaudhary, MD with Eve Adamson

Kulreet Chaudhardy, MD is an integrative neurologist. I was not familiar with her before seeing The Prime, but I found it fascinating. It was fascinating to me to read.

Dr. Chaudhardy shares how she came to the United States from India. In India, her grandfather was an Ayurvedic doctor and her family was treated through his methods. Then, after moving to the States as young girl with her family, Dr. Chaudhardy grew up and became a medical doctor.

The Prime was written so I could easily understand as a layman and it was quite readable. As I have entered Midlife, I have found a few digestive issues and brain fog crop up in my own life that are troublesome. While I have not done so yet, I think her program looks doable and could help with those issues so they don't further develop into bigger issues down the road. I would recommend this book to everyone I meet. I think we are just beginning to realize how important our gut health is to our health in general. Certainly, Dr Chaudhardy didn't even realize how important it was in her own health until she started following these principle safter suffering some health issues of her own. It was after she had her own health issues that Western Medicine couldn't entirely heal, that she turned back to her native Ayurveda. I didn't know what Ayurveda was until reading this book and she explains it quite well. In my opinion, these kind of books, written by someone who has been there and gone through it are the best.

The Prime isn't a diet book per se. Instead, Dr. Chaudhardy explains that weight loss will come about naturally after you make you body more healthy. I like that idea. I want to be healthy more than I want to be skinny so I resonate with the message of this book. After explaining how she developed the program and the science behind it, Dr. Chaudhardy explains the four stages to take back your health. First she offers a quiz to see how your body would best move through the stages and offers some advice for following the program. It doesn't seem that difficult to me and I like that it is somewhat flexible. She shares that we are all different individuals and that in taking the test, we are customizing the programs as the best fit for our body (without her seeing us as a patient). I am excited to give it a try.

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

About the Author

DR. KULREET CHAUDHARY is an integrative neurologist, neuroscientist, and the former Director of Wellspring Health at Scripps Memorial Hospital; she is a pioneer in the field of Integrative Medicine. She received her Internship in Internal Medicine at UCLA and her Neurology Fellowship from UCSD. She has participated in over twenty clinical research studies in the areas of multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, and diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Dr. Chaudhary is committed to bringing national awareness to the need for a paradigm shift in medicine that focuses on patient empowerment and a health-based medical system and as such is the co-founder of Habit Change, and now serves as the Chief Medical Officer for New Practices, Inc.  With this work, she is transforming allopathic medical practices into healing centers that use compassion-based health coaching, meditation, and integrative medicine to combat chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, obesity, coronary heart disease, depression, and more. She also oversees ongoing research in the management and reversal of chronic disease through lifestyle intervention.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Book Review: Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

Spark Joy from Marie Kondo would help anyone take the Life-changing Magic Of Tidying Up to the next level. This book is "an illustrated master class on the art of organizing and tidying up." This book relays Marie Kondo's methods in complete detail for someone interested in putting all of her methods to work in their life.

Spark Joy is divided into three parts: KonMari Master Tips; The Tidying Encyclopedia; and Life-Changing Magic. In the first section, Marie Kondo shares what her method is and why it can help you live a more joyful life. The second section is a detailed description of how to go through your house completely, including the order she recommends. The last section offers advice on how to tie everything together into your house with your family. She also shares some things she struggled with here and offers some encouragement for making a few changes to make the plan work long term for you. The KonMari method is Marie Kondo's specific method for tidying your house up once and for all so it stays that way.

I find Marie Kondo's books to be inspiring. This one is no exception for me. I am in process of finishing our move to a new house in a new town. I am almost ready to use her method to go through my house and organize once and for all. I had things quite tidy and nice when we left our other house. However, I like the idea of looking at my things as to whether they spark joy or not. I have some things that I have kept out of obligation that I know will go. Then I liked that this book explains her folding method of clothes better, although I wish I had larger illustrations to work with. There are a few other illustrations in this book, but they are small. Also, Marie Kondo shares things from a Japanese perspective. I spent a year with a Japanese foreign exchange student, so I understand a bit about their culture. I could see things from her perspective and understood some of her unique terms. However, I could see where some American readers might struggle with some of her terms and ideas. However, if readers would keep the cultural differences in mind and find a way to relate to them, I think they could learn much and easily use this method for their house. Other than that, I liked this book and would recommend any of her books to someone looking to tidy up their house once and for all. More importantly, though, I look at my things differently now and I do really feel joy in my home and my surroundings.

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

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Book Review: Whatever Is Lovely--A Coloring Book for Reflection andWorship from Waterbrook Press

Whatever is Lovely is a beautiful new adult coloring book  that mixes art time with your Quiet Time with God. This color book is geared towards peace and worship time with God. There are 46 coloring pages that all include a contemplative quote from an inspirational writer, beloved hymn, or Scripture, along with decoration  to color with the words. The pictures are all on the front of the page, which I think is different from other color books I have seen, and I like this format. The paper is thick and heavy. I used both colored pencils and markers for the two sample pages that I did and I had no problems with either one bleeding through the pages. With the blank backer pages, I also didn't have to worry about color accidentally transferring onto another picture if it wasn't quite dry..

To help set the mood for worship with creative coloring expression, Waterbrook has included a link to the Whatever Is Lovely playlist on Spotify. I did not have the Spotify app on my Ipad before learning about the playlist with this color book. However, I found it easy to download and easy to find the play list and to get started listening. There were many beautiful contemporary worship songs that did put my in a worshipful mind as I was coloring. I highly recommend downloading the playlist and using it.

While this book is great for using for your own quiet worship time contemplating God, Waterbrook also suggests that this coloring book would be great to use with a group of friends. Invite others over for a coloring night, while sharing and uplifting each other. Sounds like a great idea to me. I also think it would be a nice gift with a pack of coloring pencils for someone recuperating from illness or another type of shut-in because the pictures are especially uplifting.

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

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Book Review: God is With You Every Day by Max Lucado

Max Lucado seeks to remind you that you are not alone on your anxious days or lonely days. If you are struggling, Lucado says "You are not alone. There is One who is always with you, always available, always caring."

This 365-day devotional begins each week with a prayer and scripture, followed by six days of devotions and scripture for reflection.Each devotion is taken from one of Max Lucado's books: Before Amen; God's Story, Your Story; Outlive your life; Grace; Glory Days; For the Tough Times; On The Anvil; In the Manger; Pocket Prayers; and On Calvary's Hill.While it isn't all new material, these short readings contain some uplifting snippets from some of the best of Lucado's writing. I also like that these readings seem to work for our whole family as a family devotional, but our son is also a teenager. Even so, I think they are relatively short, uplifting and easy to relate to for various ages. They are also especially uplifting if you are going through times of grief or change in your life. I like the cover with its visual reminder of leaves changing through each season. . .It is another reminder that our seasons of life may change, but God is with us through them all. This would be a nice gift for someone facing challenges or changes, as well as any Max Lucado fan.

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