Thursday, June 1, 2017

Book Review: Kid's Visual Study Bible

Wow!  Don't let the title fool you.  The new NIV Kid's Visual Study Bible is great for ALL ages!  Full of interesting facts, cross references, additional information (ie: telling when a particular prophecy was fulfilled), maps, artwork, photos of artifacts, and more!  Inside this NIV hardcover is the scripture with yellow outside margins with verse references that indicate where the connection is made.  
There are also great overviews at the beginning of each chapter.  The information is brief but comprehensive.  It is not dumbed down language.  Wording may be simplified but I felt as through to many who want to study God's word it is just the right amount without feeling overwhelming or too academic.  

This new Bible is colorful without being childish (with the exception of the cover).  This would make a wonderful gift, addition to a home library, and for us- will be our new go to family Bible during our homeschool lessons.  I'm incredibly excited to begin introducing this to the kids!

My only small complaint is that the book titles are not capitalized (I know it looks cool and 'modern', but especially for kids I like consistency in following spelling and capitalization rules).

This is a great bible for children (independent readers) and for families (but don't run away if you just need a good resource as an adult!)

*I received a free copy of this bible in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Book Review: Giving it All Away...

I don't think when David Green set out to provide a great service through arts and craft and home decor stores, he would have pictured himself not only at the center of a major supreme court case nor in the position of writing books and public speaking.  His story is an example of how God uses the unsuspecting, unexpected but faithful followers for HIS glory.

The founder of Hobby Lobby, Green and his family sued the United States for freedom to provide healthcare compensation that did not go against their own beliefs.  As a private entity, the Court agreed.  Facing $1.3 million dollar fines per day, the Green family had three choices: comply, pay the fines (which would bankrupt the company), or stand for what they believed was right and fight for their company, employees, and personal beliefs.

While many are enamored with the Green and this public case, what many fail to see is the behind the scenes, faithful, generous, and family centered way that Hobby Lobby is run and the way the Green family operates.  In his latest book, Giving it All Away...and Getting it All Back Again, David Green sheds a porthole light into the decision making process not only in the legacy of Hobby Lobby, but also in the personal aspects of their family.  Legacy, he says, is not the mere financial value passed on to the next generation- it encompasses faith, values, systems, traditions, and more.  A desire to not cripple his G2s, G3s, and beyond with power or temptation of incredible wealth, instead the Greens have set up facets of amazing generosity.  From personal giving, corporate giving/sponsorship, to the way the employees are compensated, the entire entity breeds off of unparalleled integrity and faithful, unassuming, and intentional generosity.

Giving it All Away highlights a few of the key moments in the Green family and Hobby Lobby histories that influenced how they came to defining moments of decisions that have led them on the path of incredible earthly success and yet focus on the eternal ramifications.  It is a quick read, but with the option of powerful, discussion inducing questions located in the back of the book.

This book is encouraging, empowering, and challenge inducing.  I was encouraged that the corporate world does not all have to be about the corner office and scheming profits.  There are still people who value people (it sounds ironic, but yet truthful).  It felt empowering to make intentional decisions for our own family to encourage a legacy that goes beyond what our wills and trusts outline.  What legacy are we leaving our children and grandchildren to inherit?  Our work ethic, decision making, values, and more.  How do we live intentionally day after day to have the highest probability of 'success' that honors God.  I feel challenge to redefine what our life of generosity looks like and how we can truly give more- with our minds set on eternity- not this temporal, broken life now.

Whether you have $10 or $10 million dollars to your name- I highly recommend this great read.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Book Review: The Bible Explorer's Guide

 One of the blessings of living in the modern era is access to information.  Photographs, diagrams, artifacts, and scientific research have helped illuminate Jesus followers and bring Scripture to life.  I find there can be so many resources, you are paralyzed by where to even begin or what questions to ask.  I also want to encourage my daughters to develop their curiosity for the stories of the Bible and the history of our faith.  The Bible Explorer's Guide is a new resource from ZonderKidz is a great addition to the home library to bring visual understanding and build natural curiosity on things concerning the Bible.  

This beautiful hardcover book has 80 pages of full color maps, photographs, diagrams, and descriptions.  From creation through the history of how our modern Bible came to be, the team at Zondervan have put together a resource using visual aides to help shed further light on God's story.  Glossy pages, high quality writing, and Biblically/Historically sound tidbits are also highlights in this book.  I cannot wait to use this in our homeschool lessons.

My only wish is that they included scripture references for some of the topics/characters.  For example, on the page that talks about David and Goliath have the Bible reference so a child knows where to read more from actual scripture.  

You cannot go wrong with this awesome resource.  It's a must have for every family!

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Book Review: Faith Girlz Promises for You

Detailed / adult/ mandala coloring is the latest trend in activities and hobbies that has now spread to the devotional market.  FaithGirlz has published one particularly for girls ages 8-12 (though I think teens would love this as well).  

A beautiful hardcover book with high quality, thick pages, the Promises for You: Coloring Devotional is a charming and eye catching devotional.  I have not yet seen a quality coloring devotional as nice as this one.  There are 60 verses and thoughts complete with their own coloring page and journal area. The verses point tween girls to an all knowing, powerful, loving God while leading the direction of recognizing our human weakness and need for a Savior.  The written prompts and questions lead to some great questions and options for journal response.  Because of the high quality, I could see girls using this book multiple times, finishing coloring pages over time or flipping back through to enjoy their colored pages and verses from days past.
The illustrations are varied, but all wonderful works of art.  Plenty of room to color and make it unique to their own, girls will find connection and enjoyment on every page.

This devotional is beautiful and of high quality.  It would make a fabulous gift.  If I was looking for something to nitpick it would be that many of the verses to do not have context shared within the contemplative portion.  Removing context can make the verse lack its full meaning or easily then be taken out of context.  

Overall, I highly recommend this devotional book for any older girl or even teen.  (Hey, I might even join my daughter in the fun!)

*I received a copy of the devotional in exchange for my unbiased review.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Book Review: Adult Coloring Books from Bethany House

I had the opportunity to receive and review two new adult coloring and devotional books from Bethany House Publishers.

The first is The Glory of the Messiah.  This unique coloring book is written from the Jesus following Jewish women.  The Hebrew word study and verses point the reader towards who the Messiah is.  The characteristics of Jesus and things that point us to him are all highlighted verse studies with an accompanying coloring page.  The paper is high quality so the artist can choose any coloring tool they wish without risking bleeding through the paper.  There is a variety of pages of scenes to enjoy and reflect on from abstract, animals, to people.  While the people pages are not my favorite from a worshipful coloring experience (it felt a little child Sunday school like to me), the artwork is excellent and well done. I loved the corresponding Old Testament and New Testament verses.  The coloring pages are a little large for my taste, simply from an ability to feel finished and accomplished it would simply take a busy mom like me too long to complete.  However, this allowed the artist to include lots of great details.  I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.  It would make a great gift for someone who appreciates art, coloring as meditative worship, and also the Hebrew history of our faith.

The second book is called Words of Grace.  This small devotional is set up as a daily coloring page with corresponding word of encouragement for four weeks (28 total devotions/coloring page).  The paper again is of super high quality.  These smaller pages work great for a person like me who runs out of time or desire to continue the meditation.  I love the scripture verses incorporated into the pretty artwork of each page.  There is a lot of great content jammed into the small written devotional as well.  Verses to read from the Bible, discussion questions, meditative thoughts.  This little book is jammed packed with lots of great opportunities.  A wonderful tool that would make a great gift as well!  5 out of 5 stars!

*I received these books for free in exchange for my unbiased review

Monday, February 27, 2017

Book Review: Glimmer Girls Light Up New York

There is nothing quite as exciting as getting to read another adventure from the Glimmer Sisters, at least in the mind of my 10 year old.  She loves when I receive the latest novel by Natalie Grant in the mail to review.

The Glimmer Sisters are twins Mia and Maddie and their younger sister Lulu.  Together with their Nanny Miss Julia, they tour around the world with their singing mom Gloria Glimmer.  Along the way among the famous sites of the world they learn what it means to be followers of Jesus, a close family, and even great detectives!

This fourth book takes the girls to New York City to perform in a benefit concert to bring awareness to teen homelessness.  While the lessons learned from taking part in a big concert and production for such a worthy cause, perhaps the greater lesson is that of how to solve conflict within the family, be each other's best cheerleaders, and putting other's needs first (even little sisters!).  With the 'city that never sleeps' as an amazing backdrop, the girls learn firsthand what being unified as a family and as a body of Christ can do.

As always, the Glimmer family gives a healthy dose of reality in what family dynamics can often look like, but with fantastic opportunities for sharing Biblical responses to sibling rivalry, conflict, jealousy, and more.  With loving parents and attentive adults in their lives, the Glimmer Sisters always learn what it means to LIVE for Christ, not just call oneself a Christian.  My ten year old was delighted with this book and liked it better than London Art Chase, but not sure if it beats out the Dolphin Wish one.  Any of the four (self standing) novels would be a great gift for a young girl ages 8-12 and perhaps even into late middle school.  Thanks Natalie Grant for writing wholesome, real, and exciting adventure stories that girls can relate to!

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Book Review: The Berenstain Bears Easter Fun Book

My girls (ages 4, 7, 10) love activity books.  They are great for travel, time fillers, quiet time, and even for learning that feels more like playing!  My youngest girls love the Berenstain Bears, so I jumped at the chance to receive and review the new Berenstain Bears Easter Fun Sticker and Activity Book!

This activity book (geared according the publisher for ages 4-8) is colorful and of high quality.  There is a great variety of things to do- color pages, word search, mazes, patterns, numbers, sticker matching, matching, find the difference, cross word, etc.  There are many that require reading, so a majority of this book will not be great for the average four year old without help.  I'd say its more for young readers up until age 8 or 10 depending on if they enjoy the characters still or not.

While the book is titled "Easter Fun", most of the pages are spring themed.  Out of the 32 pages, only 10 have to do with church or the true Easter Story.

This activity book would make a great addition to a youngster's Easter baskets.  I'm sure my 4 and 7 year old will love doing this book together and sharing the pages appropriate for each other.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review