Review of: Habits of the Heart – 365 Daily Exercises for Living like Jesus


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I am a sucker for 365 devotionals, as you would see if you could take a look at my bedside table. Even more so is a daily devotional that is not only tiny, and adorable, but uniquely beautiful both inside and out. That description hardly does justice for this lovely little devotional book. As I said, this book is not only beautiful, but it is unique in the sense that it challenges your daily devotions in a way past devotionals rarely do. This devotional is not just about taking a few minutes out of your day to dive into the scripture. It’s challenging you to act on said scripture, get up out of your comfort zone, try something new, change your routine, and through it all bring yourself all the closer to living like Jesus.

 

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Being that we are in January, the start of a new year, we can all safely say we’ve made our proclamations for the new year, whether you proclaimed them out loud to yourself, or made it known to all those around you and on twitter, most of us have decided we were going to do something new this year. We were going to make a change. Now whether you believed yourself or not, we all know deep down inside there is always something we want to change about ourselves. Really, we all know we may or may not lose that weight, better our careers, or go on that fancy vacation, odds are our proclamations are going to carry on to become next years proclamation. But not everything has to stay the same year after year. I can safely say there is one change we all can make and it requires very little effort on all our parts (unless the challenge is to work out…I can’t say for sure, I haven’t gotten that far in the devotional…apologize ahead of time if I’m wrong.)

 

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With devotionals such as this one we can at least make one change about ourselves. We can better our relationship with Christ, one day at a time. Within the pages of Habits of the Heart, you will not only being bettering your relationship with Christ, but you’ll be bettering yourself all the while. Habits of the Heart not only takes you on a journey through scriptures, it challenges you to change something about your daily habits. Such as setting alarms on your phone throughout the day so you can reflect on your devotional time, journaling your feelings after being on social media and how it changes your mood afterwards (we all know what that would look like), or simply spending some time with God just being yourself. Some of the challenges may seem silly, some may be hard for you to do, but some you may find to be rather enlightening. I love a book that asks the hard questions and pushes me to stretch out of my comfort zone. It’s only then that we can learn new things about ourselves, and that there is one step closer to change.

 
So if you want to change at least one thing about yourself this year, find a good devotional and spend some time growing closer to Jesus. If there is one person who knows you better then anyone else, and can empower you more then anyone else, and truly lead you down that path of change, it’s Him.

 

-I received this book for free through Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard, Illustrated by Jill DeHaan and Rachel McNaughton


 

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Hinds’ Feet on High Places has been a favorite of mine since I was a little girl. It had one of the greatest impacts on my then delicate spirit. I was too young to truly understand life’s struggles, but that didn’t save me from some evils of this world. I clung to this book, turning to it’s pages many times throughout my childhood and young adult years. The story of Much-Afraid gave me great comfort when I was very much afraid in my own life. I’ve held on to my version of Hinds Feet on High Places for many, many years. So when I saw this Illustrated version on the Tyndale Blog Network, I had to have it, if not just for me, for my own children who I pray will enjoy the story as much as I did.

 

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Hinds’ Feet on High Places is a beautifully written story by Hannah Hurnard. It’s about a character known as Much-Afraid and her journey to overcome her fears as she attempts to reach the higher grounds up atop the mountain, known as the High Places. There she hopes to gain a new name and be transformed into a new version of herself. Much-Afraid’s struggles come during her journey alongside her two companions, Sorrow and Suffering. Her journey is hard, her struggles as real as any, and every one of them touches at the heart of us all. Much-Afraid’s journey is meant to relate to many of us as we struggle in our own journeys to reach new heights in our own lives, whether it be physical, mental, or spiritual. We all have journeys to embark on, struggles to overcome, and fear to conquer. This book is the perfect pick me up, no matter what it is you are going through.

 

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Hannah Hurnard’s newest, special edition of Hinds’ Feet on High Places is beautifully illustrated by Jill DeHaan and Rachel McNaughton, with watercolor paintings and antique style photographs. For a book that already touches at the heart of us all, this version is not only beautiful, it now comes a space for journaling your thoughts, and how you can apply the lessons learned in this book to your own life. There are even a few scripture coloring pages for the doodler in all of us. As for me, this book will probably not be written it, but it will take place along my childhood version on my bookshelf and will be treasured for many years to come.

 

-I received this book for free through Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for an honest review.

Review of – Color Index XL by Jim Krause


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Color Index XL by Jim Krause
I have a lot to learn about using a color index, but “Color Index XL” is definitely the place the start. As an artist I often rely on my eyes and feelings to guide me through the use of colors and color mixing, but emotions and feelings only get you so far.
As our world advances, more and more art is being done online, and the knowledge of colors and their formulas is becoming more of a necessity. Even I, a painter by hand, have started to train myself in photoshop and illustrater. Doing so I’m finding a need to understand color formulas. It’s very different from mixing liquid color by hand and praying the result is the color I’m looking for.
I knew at first sight this book would be vital to my artistic library. Upon first look, flipping through the pages, I was absolutely impressed, and excited, but realized there is much to learn in order to understand all that I am looking at. Thankfully Jim Krause gives you a very useful step by step guide to understanding the color index. There will still be many days spent learning all the ins and outs, but the hundreds of pages of color palletes will make this learning process all the more exciting.
If you love color as much as I do, and want to boost your knowledge on CMYK and RGB formulas, then this book will not leave you dissapointed. There are literally hundreds of pallets right there at your fingertips. I am very pleased to have gotten the opportunity to review this book.
-I received this book through Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review.

Review of “The Power of Broke” by Daymond John


 

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The Power of Broke couldn’t have come at a better or crazier time in my life. In the midst of my own entrepreneur journey and launching a business, I was neck deep in stress and self-doubt. I bought The Power of Broke with hopes that Daymond’s story would help inspire me in my own extrepeneur adventure. I was skeptical at first, as to whether I was just buying into this book because of the name and face that went with it, and whether it’s words would be of any true value. I have to say, this was the first in a long while that I actually found myself so positively impacted by a book. Daymond John’s book was every bit as inspiring as I was hoping it would be.

Although I have to agree with a few other reviewers on the point that this book sort of stops at “inspiring” and doesn’t really touch on the “how to’s” in building your business, I don’t think that this book was ever supposed to be a guide to reaching millionare status. There is no one answer, as every entrepreneur and business is very different. Most businesses hire business and financial advisors for just that sort of thing. That’s a whole other book in itself. What Daymond did instead was reach out to us as individuals and with his story, and the stories of the many other entrepenurs that you will find in this book, he focused on “inspiring” you as an extrepenur to find strength and power in you and your own abilities.

The biggest downfall of any company is a weak foundation, and what is that foundation? We are the foundation. And yet, too many times we doubt our own strengths because we’re too small, too poor, unqualified, or uneducated. We get caught up in the idea that we need college degrees and large sums of money in order to be successful in life. It’s the biggest lie we could ever tell ourselves. A short ways into reading The Power of Broke, Daymond gives a perfect example as to how being broke can actually be your greatest asset in building a strong foundation for your business. In the long run it can be even more valuable then money. You don’t agree? Just read up on the many examples Daymond gives in the following chapters.

You will find entrepreneurs from all walks of life that will teach and inspire you from their own journey from broke to thriving. Whether they had money or little to nothing to start with, each example proves just how little money effected their climb up the ladder of success, and proves just how valuable a lesson it can be to build a business using just the skills given you. When you’re forced to get creative with those skills, you’re building up a stronger foundation. You’re building yourself up in passion and drive, in confidence and character, in knowledge and understanding, (and so much more) but even better you’re more of a peoples people and an inspirations to the many others just like you.

Yes, many may have picked up this book hoping Daymond would give you the secret key to success, so you could open the door to all the answers you’ve been looking for, and finally launch your business into a multi million dollar standing. You may not have found that, but I feel what Daymond gave us in this book is so much more valuable.

 

 

I received this book for free through blogging for books in exchange for an honest review.

Review- Lord, Have Mercy by Ellen Miller


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Lord, Have Mercy is a day by day pick me up for the “drowning” mother on her last nerve. As mothers, we all go through those rough patches in life where we feel like we’re climbing a rocky cliff, and with every step we take we slide down two or three feet. The stress just never lets up and the chores just never end. Peace and quiet can be found, but only after you’ve laid your head to rest on your pillow. At this point you have a million things you want to do with your quiet time, but you’re too exhausted to do anything. So you decide to just go to sleep, but the moment you close your eyes your mind starts reeling with all the things going wrong in your life. Sound familiar? Yes, it does, and that is how books like these get written.

 
It was for these reasons, and many more, that when I saw this book I knew I would be reviewing it. Lord, Have Mercy provides you with ninety days of stories to give help and hope to moms, through stories from a mom who’s been through it all before. Best of all, Ellen Miller is here to remind you that you are not alone, for God is with you, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant or how big and overwhelmingly impossibly your problems may be, He is here with you every step of the way.

 
What I love most about books such as this is that it takes you out of your own problems for a brief moment and puts you in the shoes of another who has been there before. I for one kept this book on my treadmill, and for a half hour out of my day I would walk, and read, and reflect on what I’ve read and how I could apply it to my own life. I was working through my problems both physical and mental. It’s always great to see that we aren’t the only women struggling to find perfection in all aspects of our lives, or feeling like we’re failing to reach our goals of achieving the “mother of the year” award. As a mom, you need to know you are not alone, and this is what Ellen Miller is here to tell you.

 

On a personal note:

 
As a reader, I go all in, and as a mother, I love my “Mom” books. I jumped right into the stories of this book, and I will say that I enjoyed each one of them. Unfortunately, I felt as though the stories were a little lacking, though it was hard to pinpoint where. Ellen Miller did go through some tough moments as a mother. She never lacked to open up about these moments in her life, whether they were heartfelt, funny, or some of a mother’s worst nightmares. I think part of it came down to the length of the stories. Each day’s thought was so short lived, about a page and a half, sometimes two. For a reader such as me, you are sort of left with a lot more questions then things to reflect on. I felt like Ellen had a lot to say, but the daily devotion style kept her from going too deep.

 
Lord, Have Mercy is a great book for the lighter readers who are looking for short pick-me-up moments. I personally am a heavy reader and I like feeling drawn into my stories. I didn’t have time during my daily reading to feel drawn in. Although this book does touch on a lot of motherly moments, and will have you giggling with a, “Oh yea, been there,” I felt I just had a hard time emotionally connecting with this book. Regardless, the stories were well written, and there are plenty of mothers/readers out there who would find this book a very pleasant read. Lord, Have Mercy is still a good book for the mother on her last nerve and I don’t regret getting the chance to review it.

 

I received this book for free through Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

Review of “When God Made You” by Matthew Paul Turner and illustrated by David Catrow


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When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner is a beautifully illustrated book that inspires children to be themselves, and to be genuine and true to who God created them to be. The poetic writings and vibrant colors bring each and every page to life, inspiring children to be true to their creative nature and whatever talents lies within each of them. It assures children that each and every one of them was made unique and special, and are loved for who they are.
Matthew Paul starts the book out describing how God created each and every aspect of our being, from our hair, to our toes,  to even our name. It helps them to understand that who they are now was planned from the beginning. What I rather enjoyed next was how they included the diverse culture of us all, how God made people of all different cultures, and races, from all different places. It goes on to encourage us to view each other as sisters and brothers, and to live by the words: love one another. I feel like we’re in a time and place when children need that encouragement to love one another regardless of our differences, be it physical, mental, or characteristic, and to remember that we were all created in God’s image.
As an artist, I’m always drawn to the illustrations almost immediately, sometimes before I even read the first page. The cover of this book definitely caught my attention, I found it beautifully done. David Catrow’s illustrations in this book start off simple, playful, and fun. I loved how part-way through the book they turn vibrant and exciting. The complexity of the colors, shapes, and designs used toward the end of this book will help awaken the imagination of young readers. Overall, it was a very adorable story, and I loved the message behind it.
-I received this book for free through Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinion are my own and given in honest.

My review of The Beautiful Garden of Eden- written by Gary Bower – illustrated by Barbara Chotiner


Review of The Beautiful Garden of Eden
-written by Gary Bower and illustrated by Barbara Chotiner-
The BEAUTIFUL Garden of Eden takes the story of Adam and Eve to a fun, playful level by mimicking  the classic rhyming style of “The House that Jack Built”. Gary Bower did an impressive job turning this well known Bible story into a fun rhyming book that will have you and your kids smiling and giggling.
I’m always on the hunt for new children stories to review, and my kids LOVE when I get a new book in the mail and it’s for them instead of me! I was instantly drawn to Gary Bower’s book covers. The artwork is similar to that of Eric Carle’s books, of whom I am a big fan, as well as my kids. The illustrations, beautifully done by Barbara Chotiner, the childish font, and the rhyming of the story made this book very appealing for me and my kids.
I will say, the fact that this is a picture book with bold, colorful illustrations, definitely gave me the impression this would be a book my kindergartner would love. Some of the words themselves, though, were on a higher level of reading then most kids her age. So, though the artwork was fun and simple, the rhyming and the words themselves were a little more difficult for a young child. Words like “upheaval” and “calamitous” were a little over her head. It didn’t change her admiration for the book itself though, and she still loves reading it with me.
I then took the book to my third grader, who was able to sound out the words, but when you’re trying to read the rhyme in rhythm and song, those big words make it harder to find a smooth flow. That being said though, it did make it really fun when mom was reading, and started reading faster and faster. My son and I got good laughs out of it, and even though kids his age are more into chapter books, he did enjoy reviewing this book with me.
All in all, this was a very cute children’s book I would definitely recommend Gary Bower’s books.
-I received this book for free through Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review

My Review of ‘The Angel of Forest Hill’ by Cindy Woodsmall


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Review of The Angel of Forest Hill by Cindy Woodsmall
The Angel of Forest Hill by Cindy Woodsmall was a very real and yet very sweet Amish romance. One that will pull at your emotions, and yet leave you smiling and laughing at the turn of each page. It was a perfect read during these chilly days, where all you crave is a warm drink and a good book. I love when I can get my hands on these wintery Amish reads, and have yet to find myself disappointed, especially with Cindy Woodsmall’s Christmas romances.
Rose Kurtz grew up in an Old Order Amish household where she helped her mother tend to her father and eleven brothers. As back-breaking as her job was, and no matter how hard she worked, Rose was almost a ghost amongst her family. If she wanted to be noticed, she only need make a mistake and her mother would be there to scold her or put her in her place. Rose didn’t think things could get worse, but that was until she found herself being shipped away to Forest Hill, without even so much as a goodbye from her family.
Joel Dienner was in shock and unaware of the woman who was brought to help aide with the care of his children after the tragic loss of his wife. With a newborn to care for, a household to tend to, and a business to run, Joel was in over his head. When the proposal comes from his father to take in Rose and make her his wife, for the sake of his kids and their need for a mother, Joel finds himself with no choice but to agree to the partnership.
As the years pass, Joel and Rose find themselves content with their arrangement, so content they become unaware of the yearnings within themselves as their relationship starts to truly take root. Before either of them has the chance to explore these feelings further, a beautiful woman who was recently widowed shows up in Forest Hill and begins to stir things up between Rose and Joel.
With their favorite time of year fast approaching, Joel and Rose find themselves entangled in drama, and unable to free themselves from assumptions and misunderstandings that threaten to ruin their Christmas festivities. Will the ghosts of Joel an Rose’s past make it impossible for them to get past their insecurities and fears, or will they make the hard decision instead to face their problems head on?
This is a book that definitely grows on you the deeper you get into it. I found the emotional trials each character faces very relatable, especially Rose with her introverted manner of approach to everything. If you’re an introvert like me, you’ll totally relate to that inner voice that over-thinks too much, and that outer-voice that never says how it feels often enough. It makes the interactions between Rose and Joel adorably frustrating!
-I received this book for free through blogging for books in exchange for an honest review.

Review of The Acrylic Painter: Tools and Techniques for the Most Versatile Medium


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James Van Patten, a local to Seattle, Washington, graduated from the University of Washington in 1965 with a BA in art education. When I first picked up Patten’s book ‘the Acrylic Painter’ I didn’t know I’d be learning from such an amazing teacher, as well as one who once lived only a couple hours from myself. It’s no wonder Patten eventually became inspired by water and wetlands, as there is an abundance of that here in Oregon/Washington! Of course, I didn’t find out I was learning from a local until the end of his book. The reason I chose Patten’s book is all in the name, “the Acrylic Painter: Tools and techniques for the most versatile medium”. Acrylic paint was the first paint I ever touched, mostly due to it being the most commonly used paint for beginning painters. Unfortunately, without doing the research yourself, you won’t realize just how complex this paint can be. Looking back now, I don’t see how I could have gone any further into my career as an artist without this book.

 
I first thought of acrylics as the easy option for artists. I mean, you look at the price alone and you’re going to get more bang for your buck with acrylics. So that is where I started, before I began to learn the many frustrations that comes with working with acrylics. As a self-taught artist, I didn’t have the schooling and teachers to grow me in the art of working with acrylics. No one was there tell me that acrylics dry so fast, or that you shouldn’t pour more then you need to work with at that time, or that there are additives you can mix into it to slow the drying process. Books soon became my teachers, and believe me, I’ve read a lot. Up until Patten’s book, almost every book I picked up felt like a really boring art class. Reading through these books just wasn’t an option as much as I tried. Patten’s book was one of two books on acrylic’s that I fell in love with from the moment I turned the first page. For an entire summer it became my life source. His book answered so many questions about acrylics that I’ve had over the years, and taught me so many tricks of the trade that have opened new doors for me as a painter.

 
What I loved first about his book was how Patten doesn’t just speak about acrylic paints generically. As an artist, the first question that runs through my mind when I meet another artist is, “What brand of paint do you use?”. I get kinda nosy and want to learn which brand, body, and consistency they prefer. Patten touches on this subject from the get go. I was soon pleasantly surprised to find my paints of choice are right up there with Patten’s. Through his teachings I have become so much more familiar and comfortable working with my paints. I no longer look at paint additives like their foreign objects, or look at the more expensive brands of paint like they’re too far out of my league. Learning to use your paint right makes a difference in whether or not you will become a successful artist in both product and profit. (Better product and less waste.) With the proper palette and formula, my paint has come to last so much longer.

 
My second biggest curiosity when I meet an artist is their brushes. A brush to an artist is like an extension of their own hand. As a beginner, your standing in the paint isle at Michael’s and you’re staring at the brushes thinking, “What does it all mean!?!” The fibers, the shapes, the angles, and the brands! Even to this day, I mostly make my decision using my own imagination and observation. I basically run the brush across my hand and watch the movement of the fibers and say, “Yup! Looks about right…” Patten dedicates an entire chapter to palettes and brushes, and it’s just beautiful! The same benefit that comes from choosing a proper brand of paint comes when choosing a proper brush. Better product and a longer lifespan. You aren’t replacing brushes every couple weeks, or finding fibers glued to your canvas. You’re getting finer, straighter lines, and less unwanted lines.

 

Just the same, I could go on and on about each chapter following, but I think you get the gist. From painting surfaces, to learning what gesso really is and what it’s used for, to color theory and finding out that the color wheel doesn’t just consist of primary and secondary colors, and finally the proper way to finish and present your art, he literally touches on everything. James Van Patten makes the world of acrylics so much bigger, especially for a small artist like myself. I honestly can’t thank him enough for what this book did for me this summer. I have a lot more confidence in my knowledge and the choices I make as an artist, and it’s already showing in my work. I’ve ventured out to Michael’s (to my husbands dismay, ha!) and have slowly started adding products to my studio. I would honestly suggest this book to any artist, even if it’s just for the purpose of a great reference book. James Patten’s advice and experience alone makes it worth the read.

 

-I received this book for free through blogging for books in exchange for an honest review.

Review of 365 Pocket Morning Prayers: Strength and Joy to Begin Each Day by David R. Veerman


 

This is the second pocket devotional I have reviewed, and I was more then happy to be getting the chance to do so. I truly adored 365 Pocket Devotions. Not only did I love the color of it, but it felt as good as it looks. I know that sounds silly, but if you own a nice leather bible you know the feeling. The leather is sturdy yet soft and flexible. I found the 365 Pocket Morning Prayers to be just as pleasing, if not more so, for this leather not only looks soft but it is soft (like suede). The color pallet of the soft blue leather with the vibrant green interior and ribbon are beautiful. The embossed palm tree and birds just make this devotional so endearing, and the size of it makes it convenient to take anywhere. It’s easy to toss into a bag or suitcase, like my first pocket devotional which went with me on a trip to Hawaii. It fit into my carry-on bag and left plenty of room to spare (which was needed since I also had two other books and my kindle as well).

 
What I enjoy about these devotionals is how personal they are. When you’re reading them, whether you’re reading quietly to yourself or out loud, it feels like the words are your own. Each devotion or prayer speaks to you in one way or another, and if it happens that the prayer for that day isn’t speaking to you at the moment, you can look through the index for one that will. So, if you have a day where you feel you’re in need of strength, you can look up a prayer that speaks on strength, and use that to start your day. There are no rules as to how you utilize your devotional book, or how you spend your morning prayer time. Whether it sits beside your bed, on your coffee table, or you toss this little book into your bag and venture out into nature to spend some quiet time with God, these devotionals are great to have at hand anywhere.

 
For me, I enjoyed the sight of my pocket devotions so much I have it out where I can see it each day, and the same will be for my morning prayers book. These books are an eye catcher as well as a great reminder when you’re running around your house to stop and spend some time with God.

-I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.