Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Book Review : Hot Buttons (Dating, Drugs, Sexuality, and Internet)

I know that it is obvious, I love to read.  If I am not schooling my children, or disciplining them, I usually have a book in my hand!

Some books I enjoy reviewing, some I LOVE reviewing, some I say, “sure”, and with others I beg  “Oh, Please pick me!!”

Hot Buttons books Hot Buttons: Tackle Tough Issues Proactively with Tweens and Teens


This time I am reviewing 4 books, a set of books by Nicole O’Dell.  Can I just admit, after the past few weeks, and knowing what lies ahead, I begged – “OH Please pick me!!”  And I got them!  Yeah! 

We are in the middle of navigating puberty with our oldest son, and we expect to be in these here waters for a couple years.  Lovely.  So when the offer was presented to read the Hot Button books covering subjects like : Internet, Dating, Drugs, and Sexuality, you can be assured I was in!!  I sure hoped these little treasures would offer some much needed wisdom, and they did!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Book Review : Soul’s Gate

Next book up for review is Soul’s Gate by James L. Rubart.  This is my first time reading Mr. Rubart and it will not be my last!  Can I tell you, I cannot wait to read the follow-up to this book.

Soul's Gate   -     
        By: James Rubart

So, the story, well Reece is a man who has entered into the souls of others before, and we are not sure why he stopped, but we know he is starting again.  However, he is not doing this alone.  Following a prophesy that was spoken over him years ago, this time, Reece is taking the “Four” with him.

There are four other characters, and I loved getting to know the history of each of them, as well as watch their relationships grow as the story grew.  There is the Singer, Brandon, the Leader, Dana, and the Teacher, Marcus.  There is a fourth, Tamara but we never really get to dive into her past or her life.  The others are easy to identify with and seem like people you would interact with in every day life.  I like that they were all believers, yet not living like they believed, a lot like we can do too.

I loved the image that Mr. Rubart gives to intercessory prayer, because as far as we know that is the only part of this story that we can really do.   So many times when they were not sure what to do, the prayed, over and over.  They trusted in what God spoke to them during those times of prayer.  It reminded me of why we need to be constantly in prayer in our lives too.

I loved the spiritual warfare that took place in this world throughout the story and the warfare that happened while the characters were in the soul’s of others.  I know it sounds  a bit crazy, but I was pulled in by the story line and really enjoyed it. 

Here is a trailer for the book.  (Disclaimer: not my favorite trailer, does not really do the book justice, but it might pique your curiosity a bit.)

So the real message that I took away from this book, was our need to be freed from the things that enslave us, the lies we give life to by replaying them over and over. I loved how these characters joined together to wage war for each other, to help free each other from their own lies. The freedom that is gained is only found in Christ, and throughout the story when the characters were facing demons and evil, they relied upon the name of Jesus above all else. So often, in our real lives I think we fail to realize the power that is in us because Jesus is in us, if only we will rely on that power we can also find freedom.

I highly recommend this book if you enjoy action, Biblically based, spiritual warfare types of books.  This is a page turner and once I got going I was very reluctant to put it down!

To read what others are saying check it out HERE.

Enter Today - 10/25-11/13!

 Souls Gate by Jim Rubart


NOTE : I was offered a copy of this book at no cost, in exchange for an honest review,  by Thomas Nelson and LitFuse.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Crock Pot Chicken & Broth

I just have to share.  I admit, no pics to entice you, but listen if you want to save some money, time and energy!!

My favorite (new) way to cook a whole chicken, if I am making just one, is in the crock pot.  Does not heat up the house, I can walk away and not worry about it and it tastes GREAT!!  You season like you would if you were going to roast it in the oven.  Then you stick it in the crock pot – and turn it on.  That is it.  Cook about 3-4 hours on LOW,  depending on how thawed your chicken was when you started.  It should fall apart just about.

Then, when you take it out there is all that juice in the bottom and your chicken is super moist and tasty!!  Eat your dinner, or take all the mean off for whatever you want it for.

Next, put all the bones back in the crock pot, I threw the seasoned skin in too.  We served the meat without bones, except legs and so no one chewed on them.  Throw in some parsley, some celery or carrots, even some onion (the best is when you have one in the fridge drying out, it need not go to waste)

Then fill the crock pot up with water.  Yes, fill ‘er up!  Finally turn it on and let it go about 12-14 hours – as long as it is convenient.  I started mine about 5pm, and turned it off this morning about 7am.

The reward?  Beautiful golden broth, amazing flavor and cost me nothing! Well, except the tips of my celery and the dried up onion.

It is in the fridge as I type, letting the fat congeal on top, yes there is some fat in there.  But the beautiful part is, tomorrow I will scoop out the fat and either freeze or can the broth. 


Try it – and I bet you will not be able to buy that can of processed broth for $1 each anymore.

Book Review : A Farmer’s Daughter

Reading through cookbooks is kind of like a form of therapy for me.  I love to browse through recipes and I really love when the author of the recipe comments about those recipes with her thoughts and ideas!

A Farmer's Daughter by Dawn Stoltzfus

In the Farmer’s Daughter : Recipes from a Mennonite Kitchen, I loved how Dawn Stoltzfus pours her heart across each page!  She shares her upbringing in the introduction, giving you an idea of what her home looked like and especially her dinner table.

This is a typical cookbook in that it offers recipes in the usual categories : Appetizers, Breakfast & Breads, Dressing & Salads, Summer Sandwiches and Winter Soups, Veggies and Comfort Foods, Main Entrees, Desserts, Cookies, and then DIY items for your home.

What is different about this book is the personal touch you feel on every page, the reasons behind many of the recipes, and where most of them came from.  I love that she mentions having  a few short-cut types of recipes too, for those busy nights.  She encourages the home chef to cook healthy meals filled with love, but she recognizes the need for simplifying at times too.

I love the country feel of this cookbook.  We enjoyed sampling several recipes from this book, and are looking forward to several others that inspired us as we poured through the book!  The Pizza Dip, the Pumpkin Spice Latte, Cheese Burger Quiche, and the Sante Fe Soup are just a few of the ones we are sure to have again!!

If you enjoy cooking and want to be inspired to try some new dishes (to you), check out this book, I know that it would be a blessing to you and to the eaters who you cook for!

NOTE : I was offered a copy of A Farmer’s Daughter by Revell Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Book Review : Cleaning House

Sometimes I go through seasons of wrapping up book reviews, and I worry that you might get overwhelmed by so many, but I hope you take a moment and really hear what this book has to offer you!

To say that I loved Kay Wyma’s book : Cleaning House / A Mom’s 12 month Experiment to Rid Her House of Youth Entitlement, is an understatement.  This book spoke to me on so many levels!

If anyone claims their children do not struggle with entitlement issues I would have to question, how?  Because my kids have much less than most, however they still struggle with entitlement – they still think they should be able to have things their ways.

Cleaning House

This is journey that Kay takes with her family.  Each month, over the course of a year, she addresses a different subject to work on.  A few include : Kitchen Patrol, Domestic Dirty Jobs, Errands, Laundry, Party Planning, and Serving.  I learned something in every one of these chapters!

One of my favorites was the chapter on Serving and how important it was.  I loved that the more they were thinking about serving others, and finding ways to do that, the less they were thinking about themselves and what they wanted.  She was quick to show families who serve often do not even realize how much they are serving, it becomes a way of life for them.  I am not expecting that serving would really change my children’s wants, but it would help them to get the focus off of themselves and more outward looking.

I also loved hew chapter on Kitchen Patrol.  I try to keep my kids very involved in the kitchen with helping cook, always cleaning and occasionally planning.  Kay took this to a whole new level with teaching the kids to plan a meal, shop for it, serve it and clean up after it.  There were many lessons learned in that month with her kids, one of which was eating in was cheaper than eating out, and if the kids had to supplement the overhead to eat out, they planned to eat in.  What a real life lesson!

One other aspect I enjoyed about this book was the inclusion of comments from friends and blog readers that offered another bit of insight or experience in certain areas.  I enjoyed hearing others weigh in and share lessons learned!  At the end of each chapter Kay wraps up her topic with “lessons learned for the kids” and “lessons learned for her” which was also a great summary.

I tried to take my time reading this book, letting it all sink in.  I wanted to try to implement some of these same ideas into our family.  While I have not taken these tasks to heart in the sense that Kay did on a monthly basis, I have tried to emphasize more responsibility with each of my children. 

I am trying to equip my kids so that they can step into the kitchen and plan and execute a meal.  I want my kids to be able to take dirty closes in to the laundry room and return with clean folded clothes that I did not touch.  I love the independence they are learning as we implement so many of the ideas in this book and the confidence they feel because of that.

Check out these fun videos to give you an idea of what this book will help you conquer in your home!!




As I am sure you can tell, I highly recommend this book, I love Kay’s writing style, I love her wisdom and her wit!  I plan to read this book again to make sure I catch anything I missed!  I cannot imagine a family that would not benefit from the ideas presented in this book!

NOTE : I was offered a copy of Cleaning House at no cost, in exchange for an honest review, by Waterbrook Multnomah.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fall is in the Air

Finally, it is starting to really feel a bit like fall and not just a brief cool front.  The wind seems to be always blowing, sitting outside is not painful, and the leaves are not just green!  All signs of fall!

What week we have had.  After the season of beans and rice and correcting some very wrong attitudes in our house, we have had a breathe of fresh air around here.  My kids have been outside playing non-stop (aside from some time schooling, of course).  Outside play makes for tired kids, content kids and a happy mom!!  Watching them play football with Dad or without has been lots of fun this week too!


Things are still not perfect around here. Not sure they ever will be, or rather, I am sure they never will be. But things are good here. The kids seem to be acting a bit kinder, a bit. Chores are still a small struggle, but man that extra chore thing is still helping, and wow – my house is getting and staying cleaner!!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Still Swimming {not so alone}

I have read some great stuff while trying to sort out this parenting thing.  First, you really need to check out Kay’s MOAT Blog Post by Joe White.  I loved what he said.

I am so much about business in my home.  I wish it were not so true, but I would “rather” fold the laundry than play chess.  Now, listen, not really, I mean I prefer chess, but if I do that who will fold the laundry?  People will tell you, play with them – you will have forever to fold the clothes.  But really?  I need them folded and put away today – not in 15 years. 

So I struggle with the “fun” part of parenting.  Therefore, I plan it.  Yes, I schedule my fun time into my day, otherwise it will not happen.  We are back to one-on-one time daily, me and a child.  Monday, J – Tuesday, P – etc.  They all want to play chess these days which I love.  But in order to make it happen I have an alarm set to go off to MAKE me make time. 

I am seeing this feeds their souls.  I am seeing them crave that time with just me.  They love to see if they can beat me yet, and not yet – but VERY soon they will all be beating me, I can see it coming!!

I mentioned the praising yesterday.  I am so bad at that.  If you do 10 things great but miss 1 I tend to focus on the 1.  Bad mom!  So I am trying to me more positive.  But at the same time I am finding that how we praise matters, we need to praise their attitude and choices “You did great focusing on the task and getting it done without distractions” rather than “great job dusting.”

I am seeing it work, I just hope I can keep it up.  I want to be the mom that encourages their hearts, but life can simply get so busy I can hardly have a coherent thought, let alone a praising one!

Another great reminder to me to keep things as slow as possible, with 4 kids, piano lessons, 4H (2 clubs), volunteering weekly at the food pantry (2 oldest), and a few classes we do with others, school, food, life…. I am tired thinking about it all.  Keep things slow.  Less.  I know this is the key to peace, but it is so hard to live out.

I sure hope my boys really get their act together soon, I am tired of cooking beans and rice twice a day!!!

Until then, I hope to stay positive and schedule my Fun Mom time!!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Swimming Up-Stream {alone}

I feel like I fell off the blog world once I got back from Maine.  And I guess in a sense I did.  Not by choice, not really.  More by life….

Have you ever felt like you were swimming upstream?  Alone?  Or at least, almost alone?


That has defined my life for the last 2 weeks or so.  I really have felt alone in many senses – not that I do not have support, but that they are not going through what I am going through. 

So what exactly have I been battling?  Children who are disrespectful (not to others, really just to me and each other) and who do not obey.  I admit, this did not happen over night.  It has been years of sliding down this slope.  This slope of entitlement (in a sense), this slope of more and more aggression toward each other.  This slope of “WHAT!!?? you want me to do that??!!” – yeah.  This yucky, stinky slope.

And I have had enough.  I am tired of correcting one for hurting another.  I am tired of reminding to do the chores listed on the chore chart on the fridge, EVERY day.  I am tired of it all.

So, after a few days of extreme busyness, I quit.  And I am hearing that I am not alone.  Here is another mom who quit – without warning.  There was a warning here – well not a warning – more of an announcement.  Actually, I am not proud to admit I yelled it.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Book Review: When a Heart Stops

When a Heart Stops  is the second book in the Deadly Reunion Series by Lynette Eason.  The first book When the Smoke Clears was the first in the series and I reviewed it back in February. 

I enjoyed the first book and I was pleased to get a chance to follow up the story and read this book.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book too! I really enjoy how Ms. Eason has two story lines going at the same time, which we do not fully understand, still. 

There is something that happened 10 years ago when Serena (the main character in this story), Alexia (the main character in the first book), and Jillian (their friend from high school) last saw each other, the night they graduated from high school.  Now the characters are gathering for their reunion, but there is more going on that we still do not know yet. 

In this story, Serena is being stalked by a serial murdered, and her protector is the boy she had a crush on in high school, but he is all grown up now and an FBI agent.

There are many twists and turns while Serena and Dominic are trying to stay alive, solve the murders, and figure out why Jillian ran away 10 years ago.

I loved the characters in this story.  Serena is learning to trust Dominic as she faces more and more danger.  Despite the history of her relationship with her father, Serena realizes that she may just have to learn to trust Dominic to stay alive.

I recommend this book as a fun, quick paced, mystery with some romance mixed in.  I am already looking forward to the next book in this series!!

Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

About Lynette

Lynette Eason grew up in Greenville, SC. Even as a young girl, she knew she wanted her life to reflect the love of Jesus Christ.

After graduating from the University of South Carolina with a Business Degree she used for a very short time (sorry Mom and Dad), she moved to Spartanburg, SC to attend Converse College where she obtained her Masters degree in Education. During this time, she met the man she would marry—the boy next door!

She is married to Jack Eason, who speaks, leads worship, and consults ministries around the country. They have been married for 15 1/2 years and have two children.

NOTE : I was offered a copy of When a Heart Stops, in exchange for an honest review, by Revell Publishers.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Book Review : Life With Lily

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading books by Suzanne Woods Fisher, and so when she released her first book for children I was thrilled to get to review it!


Life with Lily is about Lily Lapp, and her life as a little Amish girl.  I think this is a great book for younger readers, about 10 and up, to read to learn a bit more about the Amish people and their lifestyle.  I am looking forward to passing this sweet story around to my gang of readers to see how much they like it!

Mary Ann Kinsinger is an associate writer with Ms. Fisher on this book, and the series planned.  She was raised Old Order Amish and she shares her experiences in this book.

While I would not consider this a picture book, there are several charming illustrations throughout the book.

Life with Lily Illustration

As Lily is figuring out life with new neighbors, new animals on their farm and a new baby brother, you will see the love in this family displayed in all they do.  I love how the relationship with her mother is portrayed, and the simple life that Lily leads will be appealing to children of all ages!

I highly recommend this book, and cannot wait to share it with my boys!!  To read what others are saying about Lily and her Amish Life check out Litfuse!

SFisher-96Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of The Choice, The Waiting, The Search, The Keeper and The Haven, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, W. D. Benedict, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is a Christy Award nominee and is the host of an internet radio show called Amish Wisdom. She lives in California. Visit her website www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and follow her on twitter @suzannewfisher.

Mary Ann Kinsinger was raised Old Order Amish in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. She met and married her husband, whom she knew from school days and started a family. After they chose to leave the Amish church, Mary Ann began a blog, A Joyful Chaos, as a way to capture her warm memories of her childhood for her own children. From the start, this blog found a ready audience and even captured the attention of key media players, such as the influential blog AmishAmerica and the New York Times. She lives in Pennsylvania.

Enter Today - 10/1-10/15!

 Life with Lily Suzanne Woods Fisher Mary Ann Kinsinger Nook HD Kindle Fire Giveaway


About Revell

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books for everyday life.  For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com.

NOTE : I Received a copy of Life with Lily, in exchange for an honest review, by Revell Publishers.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Book Review : You Don’t Know Me

Enter Today - 10/2-10/23!

You Don't Know Me by Susan May Warren Giveaway


You Don’t Know Me is the second novel by Susan May Warren and I loved it! 


You Don't Know Me

The story is about a woman, who is a huge part of her community.  She is the right hand woman to her husband who is running for mayor, she is at every sporting event of her children, she dotes on her mother in law, and everyone loves her.  But she has a secret and it is BIG.

Annalise was placed in witness protection as a young woman and has made a life for herself, but not told anyone else along the way.  I loved Annalise.  My heart broke for her as I read this story, the loss she had to suffer, because of the choices she made.  As a mom I really felt for her mother who had to let her walk out of her life in order to stay alive.

I loved the family who loves her, the way they took her in when they met her and when her husband and she marry.  I was able to really connect with this family, they were real and incredibly likable.

As Annalise must not decide who she will trust, as the man who forced her to leave her former life behind is after her and wanting revenge.  Meanwhile, the man who she trusted many years ago, her Witness Protection Agent, is back to keep an eye on her. 

This was a quick read for me, as I wanted to know what was going to happen and so I kept reading and reading.  I thought this was a great story about an impressive woman with a compelling story.  I highly recommend this book!

To read what others are saying check out LitFuse.

Meet Susan:
Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning novelist of over thirty novels. A five-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol Award.
A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!.
Find out more about Susan May at http://www.susanmaywarren.com/.

NOTE : I was offered You Don’t Know Me, in exchange for an honest review by LitFuse Publicity Group and Tyndale Publishers.


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