Saturday, January 29, 2011

Book Review: iShine Bible NLT

(Click on the image above to link to Amazon's website.)

The iShine Bible NLT is geared to tweens. The Bible is available with a boy or girl look and is a small size that can easily be carried in a purse, backpack or on its own. Interwoven with the text of the Bible are colorful sections written to challenge tweens into reflection and deeper thought. The beginning of the Bible includes several sections, such as "What is the Bible?", "Finding Your Identity in Jesus" and "Growing in Faith". Even more impressive is a section dedicated to biblically answering some of the questions or topics tweens think about or wrestle with, such as "appearance", "anger", "cheating", "discouragement", "eternal life", "fear", "forgiveness" and much more.

The publishers of this Bible have brilliantly incorporated technology to connect to
tweens through the use of QR codes. When scanned, the codes lead to a website with either a music video or message, which has also been beautifully produced.

I am giving this Bible 5 stars and will gladly hand it over to my 10-year-old. The publishers have masterfully blended appearance, information and technology to produce a very impressive Bible for tweenagers.

*This book was provided to me by Tyndale House Publishers for the purpose of review.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

New Book: One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

I am looking forward to diving into this book by Ann Voskamp. The pre-sales of this book soared prior to its recent release. If you are interested in joining an online book club, check out this site. Word on the street is this book will change your life!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Highly Recommended: iHome iHM60 Rechargeable Mini Speakers for iPod!

Click on the image above to link to Amazon's website.

I just received this speaker in the mail yesterday. I am sharing this with you because I haven't been this impressed by a product in a long time! I ordered this myself and was not asked to write a review, but because I was so impressed with the quality of this small, very portable speaker, I added the following review to Amazon's website this morning... (I also just ordered a second one!)

This speaker speaks volumes for "great things come in small packages." I thought this would just be a way for my daughter to listen to her iPod without earphones and wasn't too concerned with the quality, especially knowing I was only paying a little over $20. WOW! I am amazed at the sound this speaker puts out...great quality, great volume, great battery life. I am going to order a second (& maybe a third!) one. If you are looking for a portable speaker that is small and has a great sound, don't spend more money on fancier contraptions. This speaker is all you need!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Worship Upside Down

Our church showed this cool! One thing our pastor said that has stayed with me is, "Worship is NOT about personal preference". Oh, how we have made it that, haven't we? Well, I "prefer" hymns or I "prefer" the pastor to wear a suit or I "prefer" contemporary music or I "prefer" a certain version of the Bible. Why don't we ever say I "prefer" that the Lord's name be glorified and that my worship is pleasing to him. Worship should not speak to "me" but to "Him"!

Friday, January 14, 2011

L.O.V.E. - Genesis 18

Genesis 18

L (Learn) -
Genesis 18:14 - "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"

O (Observe) -
I have a cross that has hung by my back or front door for the past 15 years that has this very verse inscribed upon it. Taken from a different translation, the word "hard" is substituted with the word "difficult". "Is anything too difficult for the Lord?" This verse has been an encouragement to me for 15 years on a daily basis as I read those words before heading out to begin the day. Many days, these words have been exactly what I needed as the tasks that awaited me were difficult, but not too difficult for Him. These words have encouraged me through times in my life of waiting and not knowing. Being reminded that my challenges are not above His power has been a great comfort on many worry-filled occasions.

V (Value) -
God's power is beyond my comprehension. There is not anything that will occur in my life that is beyond His covering. Matthew 11:30 says, "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Going back a few verses, Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." I praise you, Lord, for your amazing power and love!

E (Express) -
Thank you, Lord, for your constant presence in my life. When times are challenging, may I find comfort in the knowledge that nothing is too difficult for you and that you work all things for good. Help me to trust in you daily and not in my own ways.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Book Review: The Purpose of Passion (Dante's Epic Vision of Romantic Love)

(Click on the image above to link to Amazon's website.)

"The Purpose of Passion" by Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware is a walk through Dante's "The New Life", "Inferno" and "Purgatory and Paradise" that extracts the themes of romantic love and dissects them in relation to Biblical romantic love. Bruner and Ware thoroughly illustrate how the greatest emotion humans can experience can become the very thing that brings one closer to our Creator or the very thing that drives us as far away from our Creator as possible. This book challenges the reader to reflect upon and evaluate personal romantic relationships, be it marriage or dating. "The Purpose of Passion" is the newest published work of Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware and is an interesting and thought-provoking read. A reader who is not familiar with Dante's works might be inspired to read them for the first time. Otherwise, readers might be inspired to re-read Dante's work with a new perspective. The theme that rings loud and clear throughout the book is that man/woman cannot find the completion of love in another man/woman and in doing so, will actually hinder the heights of love the man/woman are able to reach. True completion of love can only be found in a relationship with the One True God and his Son Jesus Christ. Through this completion and through this ultimate relationship, romantic love is free to thrive.

*This book was provided to me by Tyndale House Publishers for the purpose of review.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pouty Faces...

They're even cute when they're being rotten...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Book Review: I Lift Up My Soul by Charles Stanley

(Click the image above to link to Amazon's website.)

Charles Stanley is a well known author in the Christian realm. His words have encouraged many people for over 20 years. Stanley has a way of applying God's Word to every day life and helping the reader connect personally with the ancient Scripture.

"I Lift Up My Soul"* is an excellent tool to begin your day. The devotions are one page in length and include a Scripture passage, key verse for focus, and an applicable reading written by Stanley. Each day concludes with a short prayer. This book would be great as a stand-alone Bible study when time is an issue or can be combined with other Bible studies to enhance your devotional time. The book is divided into 365 readings, dated for each day of the year. Included is a section for adding personal notes at the end of the book.

I recommend this book for the new Christian as well as those of you who have been believers for any length of time.

*This book was provided to me by Book Sneeze for the purposes of review.

Monday, January 3, 2011

IGNITE: Read 365 Key Chapters in the Bible

Our church has challenged us to participate in a Bible reading plan in which we will read 365 key chapters in the Bible. Just one chapter a day...simple! And yet, simplicity is not the word that describes what God will do in you if you spend this time in His Word each day. I am continually discovering new things in His Word. It's amazing how I can read a story over and over and each time, see and hear something that is new.

Feel free to print the images below. If you print it front and back, it will fold into a half sheet that will fit inside your Bible.

If you want to add a little extra to your reading time, this book will do the trick (also recommended by our church).

(Click on the image to link to Amazon's website.)

If you want to go a step further, consider journaling. Focus on one or two verses in the passage for the day that have spoken to you. Also suggested by our church, follow the acronym L.O.V.E. and journal just a few sentences for each. I've written an example from today's reading below.

Genesis 4

L (Learn) -
Genesis 4:7 "You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master."

O (Observe) -
The words "sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you" stir uneasiness inside me. Of course, my sins are the disobedient choices I make that separate me from God, but this is the first time I've considered sin to be a presence waiting to control me. I must be on guard. One sin can escalate so quickly into more sin, causing such rubble in my life.

V (Value) -
Praise be to God that He is a God of forgiveness! While He is always just, He is also always loving. Sin doesn't have to control me as I have a God who forgives me when I repent. In repentance and forgiveness, my sins are washed away and my relationship with Him is restored!

E (Express) -
Thank you, Lord, for your constant gift of forgiveness. Help me to be obedient in all things and to trust Your ways above my own.

I'm so thankful to be in a church that equips us with great tools for Spiritual growth. I pray these tools will also be a blessing in your life as you seek to be closer to the Lord in 2011!

Saturday, January 1, 2011


The Lord will give strength to His people;
the Lord will bless His people with peace.

~Psalm 29:11

One of the best things about living in Ohio is getting to experience the four seasons as they should be. Growing up in the south, I knew first-hand of one-and-a-half seasons; summer and sort-of-not-summer. I love how the seasons change here; four times a year we start a new chapter and four times a year, a chapter comes to an end. It's very easy to mark time by the seasons; there's definitely a beginning and an end and each to his own looks forward to one of those things and, in some cases, maybe both.

The seasons are a great reminder to me of how our Lord is a God of new beginnings. Each day is a new day in the Lord, a chance to love Him more than the day before, a chance to serve Him in bigger and better ways, and a chance to experience Him on a new level. I'm not usually one to make New Year's resolutions, as a year is a long time to try and stick to something new. Amen? However, I am feeling a "tug" in this new year to make 2011 a year of more of Him and less of me.

I struggle with the sin of passivity, the sin of the "I shoulds", the sin of the "maybe laters". I am as busy as the next person and definitely use my busyness as an excuse to not do more. I am also one that feels as if I need time alone on a regular basis and am very protective of "my" time. I am a perfectionist through and through. (I mean, really, I came from two perfectionists, it's not my fault; I can't help it!) It's easy for me to place importance on things that may not necessarily be that important.

But, I want this year to be different. I feel a "holy stir" in my soul and I'm not quite sure what it is just yet, but I know that God is beginning something in me and I better get myself ready for the job!

Well, ok, if I
were to make a list of New Year's resolutions, it would probably look something like this:

Spend more time in the Word and in prayer.

Serve my family with a greater willingness and greater gladness.

Get involved in something that will make a difference in someone's
eternity and point them towards Christ.

These are truly what I long for, not just goals to check off with a gold star at the end of 2011. Authenticity is the word that keeps ringing in my head. I don't want to just have all the answers, I want to live them. I want to feel them. I want to share them.

I pray that 2011 is an exceptional year for you. 2010 has been a difficult year for many people. Cancer is a frequent word spoken around our dinner table as more people than I ever hoped to know personally with cancer have cancer. I pray that 2011 is the year of healing for those near and dear fighting this dreaded disease.

Here's to 2011! May it be a year of richest blessings!