Keeping Christmas By Dan Walsh

For the first time since their children were born, empty nesters Judith and Stan Winters spent Thanksgiving without the kids, and it's looking like Christmas will be the same. Judith can't bring herself to even start decorating for the holiday; her kids always hung the first ornaments on the tree, ornaments they had made each year since they were toddlers. Sure they were strange-looking--some could be called downright ugly--but they were tradition. A tradition she's heartbroken to miss this year.
With Judith refusing to decorate the bare spruce tree in their living room, Stan knows something must be done. And his only hope for saving the holiday is found in a box of handmade ornaments. 
Fan-favorite Dan Walsh invites readers to enjoy this nostalgic Christmas story that celebrates all of our most cherished seasonal traditions, especially the importance of family. Readers will join in remembering the things that make their own Christmas season so special.

Dan Walsh? Christmas read? Yes Please!!!!! I actually just recently started reading this one as I wanted to wait until a little closer to Christmas. Dan Walsh first captured my Christmas heart in the Reunion. Love his writing style and he draws me in to the story as if I'm watching the scenes unfold as it happens. I connected with the story as a Mom of an only child and although he's only 5 I dread the day he moves out but I also saw it from my parents point of view when I moved out. I never saw my Moms sadness at the time as a result of her last child moving out and becoming emptynesters but now I do. Judith was very self centered and reminded me what not to do when that day comes for me. Stan is such a loving and kind hearted husband. His character is truly the spirit of Christmas. Loved the story. Look forward to Walsh's novels every Christmas!

Making it home By Emily T. Wirenga

Growing up in the murky space between Gloria Steinem and Martha Stewart has left a whole generation of women struggling to define and embrace the meaning of home. There is constant pressure to do things a certain way and often intense criticism from those who think you're doing it wrong. But what if home isn't really about whether or not you homeschool or have a career or make your own artisan bread? 
What if home is more about who you are than what you do?
Former subversive Emily T. Wierenga takes you on an unconventional journey through marriage, miscarriage, foster parenting, and the daily struggle of longing to be known. In this soul-stirring quest for identity in the midst of life's daily interruptions, she shows us that homemaking is much more than old-fashioned tradition; rather, it's a timeless and essential art requiring mind, body, and spirit.

A beautiful journey through Wierengas hardships and trials to the woman she is today. It's nice to read something that let's us as Moms know we are not alone in this world. We all struggle. I felt at times she could have been writing about my life and the obstacles I've faced such as an eating disorder and then about the loving, supportive husband and being a mom of a boy. I got teary eyed many times while reading her story. It gives me hope and let's the reader know that while at some point of our lives we may be broken but we don't have to remain there. So grateful for such stories and the hope that the writer found and turned her situation around for good. Thanks Graf-Martin for my review copy!

Worship Changes Everything By Darlene Zschech

An Invitation to Praise and Honor God in Every Area of Life
It can be easy to have a heart filled with worship on a Sunday morning as the church band is playing your favorite song. But then comes Monday morning's commute and Tuesday afternoon's pile of laundry. How do we maintain a heart of worship in the daily grind?
Darlene Zschech has spent her life thinking and teaching about worship. With wisdom and contagious joy, she shares her thoughts on what worship truly is and how it should invade every facet of our being. Everything we do can be an act of worship to the Lord, transforming our work, our friendships, our churches, our families. It's all about living in His presence--being aware of the Lord by our side and at work in our lives. 
Learn to live a life of worship. You will be amazed by the purpose and freedom it will bring. 

Like so many others I knew that when I saw a book on worship I should jump at the chance. I suck so much at worshiping God despite my circumstances, I tend to grovel and suck up all the self pity I can. But this is not how God wants us to be. I grew up listening to Zschech's music as a teenager and even still as an adult but I never took the time to learn her story until now. Despite hardships, such as cancer she was still able to focus on God through it all. With the quotes and scriptures along with Zschech's own writing I was touched, moved even. Just a little quote made me close the book and meditate on the words and made me think about what I do in situations where I need God most. This has certainly changed my way of viewing things and helps me to remember that even though things may not be going our way, they are going God's way for his glory. I believe if we worshiped more and groveled less then the power of God would be more evident in our day to day lives. 

The Love Letters By Beverly Lewis

Marlena needed time to let things sink in. It was beyond her how all this could possibly work out--adding the care of an infant to her daily routine. Fortunately, it would just be until Luella returned home from the hospital and was stronger.No more than a couple weeks, surely.
Marlena Wenger's life takes an unexpected turn on the day she learns she must care for her estranged sister's baby. Spending the summer in Brownstown, Pennsylvania, to assist her Mennonite grandmother, and miles from Marlena's Old Order Amish beau, she feels out of her element in nearly every respect. Yet Marlena determines to do her best and stay focused on her future, even as those hopes become drastically altered.
Well after many mishaps and a frustrating year, the book not arriving or getting lost in the flood at our home, it was finally refreshing to read something to make me feel like there's always someone who has it worse.  I love Beverly Lewis! I follow her on facebook and look forward to her updates and imagine my surprise when I was offered this book from Baker Books in exchange for an honest review! Lewis is very in depth with her descriptions, she certainly has a way of placing you in the time and place that the setting is taking place and causes you to fall in love with the characters over and over, The Love Letters is no exception. Lewis is well versed on the Amish and the Mennonite communities and causes the reader to fall in love with their simple, yet hard working ways of life. The way she tied the characters together, despite disabilities and misfortunes and how they've come to help one another shows how we must be compassionate to those that God has placed in our paths because despite differences we're all on this earth for a purpose. I find myself wanting to meet the actual characters often times because I'm so engrossed in the story I feel as though it's real. This book brings about loss, grief, regrets and how we sometimes must sacrifice our desires to help others. I think I could apply this to my spiritual life as well because how many people is God putting in our path and asking us to sacrifice our selfish desires for His will? Very in depth and thought provoking! Lewis is never a disappointment! Thanks Baker Books for the review copy!

F.I.T. Faith Inspired Transformation by Kim Dolan Leto

Achieve health the right way from the inside out! Many diet and fitness books claim that losing ten pounds in ten days will bring the health and happiness we are looking for. But the truth is that health and happiness requires more than a few weeks of intense dietary restriction or physical exertion. The journey to health isn't a sprint. It's a marathon. We succeed by combining our faith with our fitness and doing real life with God. Only in Him do we find the strength to make health a lifestyle. Everything else is just a temporary fix with an unending cycle of deprivation, overconsumption, and exhaustion. F.I.T. is different than any other diet or training plan. It calls women who are struggling with their health and fitness to a Faith Inspired Transformation shifting their focus from what the world says to what the Word of God says. With each of the ten steps, renowned fitness expert, model, and writer Kim Dolan Leto provides the inspiration and practical tools necessary to live a healthy life that honors God and brings the lasting results we all crave.

Two words to describe this book. Life changer. At 32 years old I have been a binge eater for as long as I can remember. Someone say something mean to me? I'd eat a liter of ice cream. Disappoint my parents? Eat a family size bag of chips. Bored? Drink a 2 liter of Pepsi. These bad habits just escalated until I was 325lbs. On my sons 1st birthday I vowed to be around for him for a long, long time so I decided to change. That was Oct 2011. By August 2012 I had lost 105lb. I got married, I was happy. But you know what happened? I got content. I rarely read my Bible, I didn't watch what I ate and now I'm back to 270lbs and climbing. Since reading this book I have decided I have one life to live and I must live it wholly and take advantage of every opportunity. I vow to begin today (yes, right before Christmas) making better choices spiritually, mentally and physically. With God's help I know I can be stronger, fitter, happier. I believe we need to change our minds and our hearts before we can change our physical bodies. I never was one for dieting fads or gimmicks, shakes or pills. It just takes the right frame of mind, dedication, discipline and a whole lot of faith! Definitely recommend!


Worry Less So You Can Live More By Jane Rubietta

Exchange Your Worries for Delight in God . . . and God's Delight in You
Weary of worry and its tagalongs: anxiety, discouragement, and exhaustion? Jane Rubietta invites you to leave behind your heavy heart and learn to truly live again. To experience joy and rest in the moment-by-moment pleasure of a God who delights in you--and has all your tomorrows under his control. Jane's picturesque prose offers enduring encouragement and practical tools for change. Discussion questions and journaling prompts make this the perfect book to read on your own or share with your small group and discover how to worry less and live more.

Worry less, this caught my eye before I even finished the title. Don't we all need to worry less?  I took my time with this book as there was so much I needed to let sink in. I really thought out the discussion questions and love how it can definitely be a book club product. The journaling prompts helped me to get my thoughts out and to get me to realize I was sweating the small stuff. Life is really a journey that we much embrace and let God sort out the rest.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 


Let us become more aware of your presence

Each and every one of us need to stop, take a minute and truly search our hearts and see where our longings lie. What are we desiring more than anything? Where are we spending our precious time? We need to invite the Holy Spirit into every part of our lives to just totally envelop us, so that we may be all that God created us to be. I worry that as Christians we've become too complacent, too comfortable (myself included) with just sitting back and enjoying Gods presence as spectators instead of being a part of the whole experience and allowing God to fill our body with His presence, goodness and grace, Think about it, how do you feel if you've been so busy working all day and didn't take time to eat and it's long past meal time. Our physical bodies are hungering for food. Something to fill that hole in our stomach, to satisfy our needs. We can become cranky, tired and even ill. The same goes for our soul. We have a void that only God can fill. When we let Him in he floods us with His peace, grace and mercy. We are able to think more clearly and respond in a much gentler way. So, how hungry are you?


The Beauty Of Grace

This is your invitation . . . to slow down, take a deep breath, and know that you are loved.
In this hectic life, it's easy to forget that God is always near at hand, even though He sends us frequent reminders. The beauty amid the mess, a well-timed word of encouragement from a friend, the memories that won't let go of our hearts--they're all ways God extends an open hand to us. But if we're not paying attention, we can miss it.
Combining heartfelt stories from some of today's foremost writers with Dawn's stunning photography of God's incredible creation, The Beauty of Grace is your haven of calm contemplation amid the chaos. This inspiring collection includes stories of cultivating friendship, waiting on God, choosing joy, staying connected, learning to trust, and much more.
If you're in need of a little peace, a little quiet, a little beauty, find comfort in this: you're invited to experience them all within the pages of this soul-stirring book.

"With your eyes, your mind, and your heart, enter this space where you're wanted and loved, chosen and cherished, known and held dear. Rest for a while, friend . . . and reclaim the wonder of how much you're loved."--from the foreword by Holley Gerth, bestselling author of You're Already Amazing
"This beautiful book is like a spa for your soul. Read a chapter a day to rediscover your joy, to brighten your morning, or to give yourself a dose of peace at day's end. With stunning photos and vulnerable stories from some of my favorite writers, The Beauty of Grace is a needed invitation to slow down and remember how much we are loved by God."--Jennifer Dukes Lee, author of Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval--and Seeing Yourself through God's Eyes

You'll enjoy stories on purpose, perspective, surrender, trust, hope, encouragement, worship, and lessons learned from
Kayla AimeeLisa-Jo BakerMary DeMuthMargaret FeinbergEmily P. FreemanHolley GerthBonnie GrayAmber HainesLisa LeonardTsh OxenreiderDeidra RiggsMelanie ShankleLeeana TankersleyJessica TurnerAnn Voskamp Edie WadsworthMaggie Whitley and many more

Dawn Camp is the camera-toting, homeschooling mother of eight children. She is a featured blogger at (in)courage, and her beautiful photography has previously graced their monthly calendar and currently decorates the desktops of women around the world. Dawn blogs at MyHomeSweetHomeOnline.net and is a featured photographer on Adobe's website for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom software. She lives with her family in metro Atlanta.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 


Sabotaged By Dani Pettrey

Finally Returned Home, Reef McKeenaFinds His Beloved Alaska Facing Its Greatest Threat
Growing up, goody-two-shoes Kirra Jacobs and troublemaker Reef McKenna were always at odds. Now, working together as search-and-rescue for Alaska's arduous Iditarod race, a growing attraction seems to be forcing aside old arguments. Then Reef catches Kirra sneaking from camp in the middle of the night. 
Kirra's uncle, a musher in the race, has disappeared. Kirra and Reef quickly track the man, but what they discover is harrowing: Frank's daughter has been kidnapped. Kirra and Reef, along with the entire McKenna family, are thrown into a race to stop a shadowy villain who is not only threatening a girl's life--but appears willing to unleash one of the largest disasters Alaska has ever seen. 
Pettrey is the Winner of the 2014 Daphne du Maurier Award for Inspirational Romantic Suspense

Seems I've been waiting forever for the final installment in the Alaskan Courage Series. As with the previous 3, loved it! Pettrey has a way of writing suspense like I've never seen before. Her character development was well throughout and I loved following the McKenna family's adventures, sad to see it end really. This one follows the immature Reef and his old friend Kirra as they investigate the disappearance of Kirras family member. Once again, Pettrey keeps us on the edge of our seats as we turn the page to see what happens next. I couldn't put it down. Definitely recommend. Although this is part of a series the autor gives enough background information to read as a stand alone novel.

I received this book free from Bethany House Blogger Review Program in exchange for an honest review

Blessings for the Morning: Prayerful Encouragement to Begin Your Day By Susie Larson

This beautiful devotional gift book is for readers who want to start their day with a reminder of God's love and purpose for them. So often we wake up worried about our to-do lists and responsibilities and need a reminder of how God feels about us and who we are in him. Several years ago Susie began posting daily blessings on Facebook, and since then thousands have responded and forwarded the blessings along to others.
The blessings take only moments to read, but are packed with biblical promise and perspective. Along with a blessing, each day's spread also includes a related Scripture to point readers back to God's timeless truth.

I just love everything about this book! So simple. Short scripture readings combined with a little blurb to get you thinking. Various topics that you can turn to, or just read a page a day and meditate on it. Beautiful plush hardcover and thick glossy pages. Definitely one I will turn to time and time again! Love the encouragement to begin each day fresh and new.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Baker Publishing Group on behalf of Bethany House.


Mothering From Scratch: Finding the Best Parenting Style for You and Your Family

Discover Your Personal Parenting Style

Avoiding the typical one-size-fits-all approach, Mothering From Scratch shows you how to develop a personalized mothering style that helps you become the best mom you can be. By customizing your parenting to complement your personality and background, you can enhance--and, if necessary, restore--the joy of mothering!

Full of solid biblical truth, this book encourages you to pursue the methods that work best for you and tap into the resources surrounding you. Equipped with this practical guide, you can experience freedom from the fear of doing it "wrong" and allow room for grace in your parenting.

How many times do I feel like I'm doing it wrong? Answer: Every. Single. Day. I'm sure you ask yourself this question daily, and who's to say what's right or wrong when it comes to parenting? This book reminds us that while we're not perfect, we're doing what works for our parenting style. What works for me, may not work for you. I felt like I was being given permission to keep doing what works for me without fear of screwing up my child's life. The authors talk about their own shortcoming and their honesty in their imperfections made me feel like I'm not alone. I love how they apply scriptural references and the little Lovin' spoonful sections help me to relax, regroup, breathe and pray. Such an encouragement to Mothers everywhere!

Received from Graaf Martin Communications in exchange for an honest review

Watch for the Light by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Annie Dillard, C. S. Lewis, Henri Nouwen, and many others.

There's plenty out there on the 'real' meaning of Christmas; this volume steps back further to examine more vital questions: What does it mean that God took on human form? That Mary believed? That Christ came down to earth, and will one day come again? Whether dipped into at leisure or used for formal daily devotions, this unparalleled collection gives the phrase 'Christmas preparations' new depth and meaning. Includes writing from Kathleen Norris, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Annie Dillard, John Donne, Meister Eckhart, Dorothy Day, T. S. Eliot, Gustavo Gutierrez, Eberhard Arnold, G. M. Hopkins, C. S. Lewis, Thomas Merton, Martin Luther, Henri Nouwen, Edith Stein, Thomas Aquinas, Dorotee Soelle, Philip Yancey, and others.

Writings on Kindness, Goodness and Grace are just what we need to be reminded of God's presence in the hustle and bustle of December as we wrap up another year. So often we are so rushed in finding the perfect gift we forget God gave the perfect gift when He sent His son to be born of a virgin over 2000 years ago. The reading contained within help us to refocus and set our hearts on things that really matter in the spirit of the season. It brings us back to the holiness that it was meant to be I give this 5 stars and when reading it by the light of the tree and the fireplace it gives your heart an even warmer embrace.

Received from Plough Publishing in exchange for an honest review

Home for Christmas: Stories for Young and Old By Pearl S. Buck

For readers who are tired of Christmas commercialism, or who feel that Father Christmas doesn't tell the whole story, these classic gems provide an alternative. Selected for their insightfulness, spiritual value, and literary quality (nothing moralistic here) they project the spirit of the season in a fresh, compelling manner that will resonate with readers of all ages - from children too young to read to themselves, to parents and grandparents who enjoy reading stories aloud. "Home for Christmas" includes time-tested favorites by some the world's most beloved children's authors - Selma Lagerlof, Ruth Sawyer, Elizabeth Goudge and Pearl Buck - as well as little-known European stories appearing in English for the first time.

Genuine, nice, feel good stories!! No commercialism, no overly cliched icons. I love how the stories told of times long ago when things and life was much simpler and people were kinder and much more willing to help those in need. Brought me back to the good ol' days before we were all over run with busy schedules and technology, when we actually had time for each other. I challenge each and every one of you to take some quiet time and read and really absorb the meaning behind these short stories. I'm sure it will warm your heart as it did mine. 

Received from Plough Publishing in exchange for an honest review

Evening Prayers: For Every Day of the Year By Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

We want to turn to God at the end of each day, but often don’t find the words to express our deepest feelings and longing. This collection of prayers is one of the few daily devotionals especially intended for use in the evening.

Blumhardt’s words bespeak a certainty in God’s nearness. The peace that flows from them comes from an unshakeable conviction that God’s kingdom is indeed on the way. In stormy and challenging times like our own, most of us need this reassurance frequently, if not daily.

This seemed a bit dated to me, then I read that the author lived in the 1800's to early 1900's so that would explain it. It wasn't exactly up my ally but that's not to say others would not benefit from it. Just wasn't my cup of tea but I will be sure to pass it on to someone who would appreciate this piece of literature.

Book received from Plough Publishing in exchange for an honest review

365 Moments of Peace for a Woman's Heart: Reflections on God’s Gifts of Love, Hope, and Comfort

365 Moments of Peace for a Woman's Heart offers inspiring psalms and meditations to calm and comfort you throughout your day. In these pages you'll . . .

· rest in the loving presence of your God
· find a haven from the pressures of daily life
· learn that God's perfect peace can be yours in the midst of any circumstance

What a great little devotional! Comes bound in a nice leather/suede hardcover. 365 days gives women hope and encouragement for the everyday through insight through scripture and promises from Gods word. Gives you a whole new perspective on verses and what God is saying though them to us. Just when we think we are alone and frustrated in a hostile world we are reminded that we are not alone, God is with us and wants to work through us. Nice short entries for the Woman on the go. Gives us time to connect with God daily on such a busy schedule. A great comfort! Book received from Baker Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review