Book Review: May the Faith be with You NIrV Bible

Because the FTC has nothing better to do than make life difficult for us bloggers, I’m required to disclose the following at the beginning of this post: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation, and the opinions expressed, whether positive or negative are completely my own. Personally, I’m waiting for sponsorship disclaimers from all of the politicians in DC, but I’ll probably be waiting a long time…

I’m familiar with the NIrV translation because I had a copy of it when I was a kid. The readability of it made me reach for my Bible more often, and while I’ve moved on to different translations as an adult, I appreciate how much I learned from that well-worn childhood Bible!

It was initially the cover of the May the Faith be with You edition that caught my eye. I love astronomy and night sky photography, and the metallic sheen to the cover picture really stands out. The Bible is a bit more compact than most full size ones, which is ideal for kids because it’s easier for them to handle. Spaced through the Bible, there are 7 groupings of full-color Bible helps pages. The space theme is carried through in these help sections with the eye-catching night sky images used for the page backgrounds. They are sure to appeal to kids who are fascinated by the stars! The full-color pages include helps like a list of the books of the Bible, short topical index, the Ten Commandments, lists of where to find the parables Jesus told, references for finding some of the most well known people from the Bible, brief answers to questions about prayer, the Trinity, etc. All in all, the added pages are nice reference materials for kids in the target age group.

The thing that puzzled me about the May the Faith be with You edition of the NIrV, was the obvious reference to Star Wars printed on the cover. I’m assuming the idea behind it was to capitalize on the excitement over the new Star Wars movies and use that to get kids interested in the Bible. While encouraging children to read the Bible themselves is certainly a good thing, I think some kids would quickly see through the marketing tactic, as the cover title is the only real reference to the movies. I’d also tend to be cautious of anything that might imply to kids that all of the religious ideology in the Star Wars universe fits with a Biblical worldview. I’m just as much a Star Wars fan as anyone, and while I think there are some good themes and ideas to be found in the movies, I also realize that not all of it will line up with my faith. Of course, something like this could be a great way to start a conversation about that very topic with your kids!

Overall, I do like the May the Faith be with You edition of the NIrV. The translation is one that’s great for kids in the elementary age range, and the night sky artwork used is really beautiful. The helps included are right on target for this age range, but are not obtrusive when reading. I personally think it would have been a stronger product with a different cover title, but that’s my only real complaint. If you have an elementary aged child who is fascinated by space and the night sky, this would be a nice Bible to gift them. (Not to mention a fun way to start an interesting conversation with them about worldviews in media compared with a Biblical worldview!)

Book Review: In the Middle of the Mess

Because the FTC has nothing better to do than make life difficult for us bloggers, I’m required to disclose the following at the beginning of this post: I received a complimentary advance reader copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation, and the opinions expressed, whether positive or negative are completely my own. Personally, I’m waiting for sponsorship disclaimers from all of the politicians in DC, but I’ll probably be waiting a long time…

How could I not pick up a book with a title like In the Middle of the Mess? Though it was the title that initially caught my eye, there’s a lot more than a catchy title going for Shelia Walsh’s newest book.

9781400204915Shelia talks very openly and honestly about her mental health history in In the Middle of the Mess, and it’s refreshing to see this topic being discussed more in Christian circles. It’s a times shocking to read a believer admitting to deep struggles with mental illness, but it’s also encouraging to anyone else who’s been there in the past, or is in the middle of it now. It’s not just a book about Sheila’s struggles though, she shares certain concrete strategies that help her weather the hard times in life, and will help you too. While this would be a wonderful resource for anyone dealing with depression, anxiety, or grief, there’s something to be learned for everyone. All of us go through difficult times, and the advice shared in this book may be applied to anyone’s life to help us weather the storms and grow closer to God. It’s not a book of neat, easy answers, but it is a book of encouragement and helpful suggestions.

My biggest take-away from the first reading of In the Middle of the Mess was the idea of being honest in my prayers. I had never felt like I could really open up to God when praying. It seems silly given that God already knows the depths of my heart, but I always had this idea that I needed to present a “good front” to God when I prayed. I never told God that I struggled, or that I was disappointed, or that I didn’t know what to do. That just wasn’t the type of thing that good Christians are supposed to pray. Shelia’s book radically challenged my thinking in this area! I often journal my prayers, and since reading this book, I’ve noticed a much more open and honest kind of prayer written in my journal. There is something incredibly freeing about admitting that things are not the way that I’d hoped, and that I’m angry I have to deal with that. Even more than that, in the admitting, I can start to let go and let God work on my heart. I’m planning to read through this book again after the holidays because it was truly that helpful!

The church hasn’t always supported people with mental illnesses or people suffering through truly hard things, and I think it’s in part because we don’t always know how to help. In the Middle of the Mess is a must-read for anyone dealing with mental illness, and for those who walk through it with them. It’s honestly a book that’s good for anyone who has to walk through the hard things though. In addition to the book, there’s also a study guide and DVD video study. Those resources would be wonderful for a support group!

Book Review: ESV Illuminated Bible

Because the FTC has nothing better to do than make life difficult for us bloggers, I’m required to disclose the following at the beginning of this post: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation, and the opinions expressed, whether positive or negative are completely my own. Personally, I’m waiting for sponsorship disclaimers from all of the politicians in DC, but I’ll probably be waiting a long time…

One of the books that Mr. Q was reading for school this year included some fascinating history of the hand-drawn illuminated manuscripts that were created during the Middle Ages. It was the glimpse into history that made the ESV Illuminated Bible catch my eye!

I’m a little bit partial to anything that comes in a slipcase, and that’s the first thing that struck me about the Illuminated Bible when I opened the package. My slipcover did get a little beat up around the edges during shipping, but it’s a heavy enough case that it protected the Bible very well, and it looks just as beautiful as the actual cover. The hardcover is navy blue with gold lettering and illustration. (It’s available in a few different cover material and color options, so you can find something else if navy isn’t to your taste.) I love the verse that they chose to feature on the back cover of this Bible!

The margins in the Illuminated Bible are of a good size, and leave plenty of room for either regular journaling, or art journaling. Periodically, the margins feature a verse or simple artwork printed in metallic gold lettering. There are also 50 full page illustrations highlighting a particular scripture passage, and the beginning of each book includes a beautiful page as well.

The page edges are gold gilt, and the paper is a bit heavier than typical, so it should reduce bleed-through with certain pens and highlighters. I found that the Illuminated Bible coordinates nicely with my Write the Word journals too!

The larger size, heavier paper, and hardcover all add to the weight of the Bible. It may not be the best choice for travel, or for someone who would have a difficult time with a larger, heavier book. However, it’s ideal for personal study at home. The ESV Illuminated Bible would be a lovely gift for anyone who enjoys journaling or is an “old style book” aficionado. Include a journal, nice pen, devotional book, and some good tea, and you have a wonderful gift basket!

Now, who would like to win a copy? Just leave a comment and let me know which feature you like the most, or who you would like to gift this to! I’ll pick a winner on Cyber Monday, so be sure to enter before November 27th. Here’s the legal fine print that goes with the giveaway:

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Random.org has chosen Tricia as the giveaway winner! Thanks for entering everyone, and have a great day!

Book Review: 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart

Because the FTC has nothing better to do than make life difficult for us bloggers, I’m required to disclose the following at the beginning of this post: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation, and the opinions expressed, whether positive or negative are completely my own. Personally, I’m waiting for sponsorship disclaimers from all of the politicians in DC, but I’ll probably be waiting a long time…

Between Sunday School and VBS, I learned a lot of Bible verses growing up. I hate to admit that I rarely memorize any scripture now that I’m an adult though. I’m guessing that there are plenty of others out there who did a fair amount of memorizing as kids and teens and then sort of stopped once they became adults. Maybe part of it is that we are so busy, or maybe it just doesn’t occur to us to keep up with memorization. Whatever the reason, I know this is an area that I’d like to improve in! That’s why I was so interested in Liz Curtis Higgs’ book 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart.

I’ve read a number of Liz’s books, and have always enjoyed her writing style. In 31 Verses, she has written a short devotional to go along with each of the 31 verses that she’s chosen. A number of the scriptures included in her book are familiar ones, but others are surprising! The list of verses in the book are all great ones to memorize, whether you’re new to faith in Jesus, or have spent many years studying the Bible. At the end of each devotional is a tip for memorizing, and one of my favorite features, a place to write the verse in your favorite translation. (The verses already printed in the book are in the NIV translation.)

Most devotional-type books are designed to read one chapter per day. Most of us need a little more time than that to memorize a verse though! You could easily read one chapter of 31 Verses
each week and spend some time every day just working on learning the “verse of the week”. Maybe you memorize a little faster than that, or maybe it takes you longer. You can spend as much or as little time per chapter as you need, since Liz doesn’t pressure you to move through the suggested verses in a particular time frame. It might be a neat idea to make a note of the date that you’ve memorized each verse so that you can look back through and see when you memorized each one later on!

31 Verses to Write on Your Heart is an excellent book for anyone who would like to get into, or get back into the habit of memorizing scripture. It’s also a great gift idea to consider for the upcoming holidays. Bundle the book, a journal, and a nice pen in a basket! (And maybe include some good tea too.) Whether you’re shopping for yourself or for a gift, it’s worth a look!

Book Review: Cultivate

Note: I pre-ordered a copy of this book several months ago. The author was kind enough to send me a digital advance reader copy for me to peek at before the book officially launched. I paid for my paper copy out of my own pocket, and I’ve not been paid to write a review. All opinions expressed are completely my own.

You’ve heard me mention Powersheets a time or two around here, I’m sure! The developer of my favorite goal-setting tool, Lara Casey, has also published two books. I read her first book, Make it Happen, at the beginning of this year and immediately pre-ordered her newest book, Cultivate. I was thrilled to receive a digital advance reader copy a little early so that I could get a sneak peek at Lara’s new book!

I’ve always been rather vaguely aware of the concept of being purposeful with my time. Putting it into practice is a little harder for me. It seems like a million little things end up needing my attention, and some of the big things just never quite fit into my days. Lara’s example of cultivating a garden just clicked with me. Now, I’m not at all an expert gardener. In fact, plants left in my care don’t tend to remain healthy for long. I did grow up doing plenty of planting, weeding, and harvesting in our family’s garden though! Growing a garden takes time and work. It’s something that you really can’t rush! It’s also something that needs tending a bit at time though.

The chapters in Cultivate address a lie, such as, “I have to do it all,” and counter it with a truth, “I can’t do it all and do it WELL.” Lara shares parts of her own story and experiences throughout the book. She keeps pointing us back to God, which is something I find myself in need of all too often! There are questions to ponder and prompts for writing as well, so keep your journal handy when reading. I’ve enjoyed reading the digital copy, but I’m so glad that I’ve ordered the paper one! There are definitely some underlines and notes that I want to make in my book. I particularly enjoyed the Grace from the Garden sections in the book. These are stories from Lara’s own garden that help to illustrate important truths.

One of my favorite quotes from the book is, “It’s okay to grow slow.” In fact, that quote is my phone lock screen at the moment. I need the reminder that this is often a slow process. I want instant results, and I want it all to be perfect right now! That’s not the path that I’m called to be on though. My job isn’t to make my life look perfect, it’s to cultivate what matters. Sometimes it takes a lot of cultivating before you see anything come of your hard work. Perhaps this is my chance to learn more patience, right?

The discussion guide at the end of Cultivate is perfect for book clubs or Bible study groups. It’s definitely nice to have a comprehensive discussion guide included in thebook, instead of needing to buy a separate workbook to go with it!

I’m already planning to read through this book a second time this summer and do some journaling along with it. I do a lot of planning and evaluating during the summer, and reading Cultivate is a great way to help you sort out what kinds of things you really want to cultivate in your life, and maybe help you decide what things you can let go of too.

Book Review: She’s Almost a Teenager

Because the FTC has nothing better to do than make life difficult for us bloggers, I’m required to disclose the following at the beginning of this post: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation, and the opinions expressed, whether positive or negative are completely my own. Personally, I’m waiting for sponsorship disclaimers from all of the politicians in DC, but I’ll probably be waiting a long time…

Cover ArtI’ve said more than once that this parenting gig is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Now that Munchkin is right at the edge of becoming a teenager, I’ve had more than a few moment of panic. In not too many years, she’ll be an adult, but there’s so much that I need to teach her first! How do I make sure that I cover everything that I need to? Truth is, none of us jump into adulthood completely prepared for everything that will get thrown our way. Despite my efforts, my kids won’t be any different. I’d still like to make sure that I have the important things covered though…

That’s what drew me to She’s Almost a Teenager in the first place. With the tag “Essential Conversations to Have Now” how could I pass the book up? The book is broken down into eight conversations:

  1. Big Picture
  2. Friends
  3. Academics
  4. Body
  5. Faith
  6. Boys
  7. Money
  8. Tech

A few of the topics may seem like they don’t really apply yet, but as pointed out in one chapter of the book, it’s not a bad idea to discuss some topics before the issue comes into play. Thankfully, you don’t need to cover all of these topics in one big conversation! Breaking things down into smaller conversations makes it less overwhelming for everyone.

What I liked most about She’s Almost a Teenager, is that in each chapter there’s no one way of doing or discussing things that laid out as the only way that you should do it. Instead, a couple of different suggestions and scenarios are discussed. The book is less about telling you what guidelines to use, and more about getting you thinking about them and starting conversations with your daughter. Even academics discusses how differences in children will require different approaches. It’s terribly refreshing to read a parenting book that avoids the “one size fits all” point of view!

Navigating the teen years still seems a bit daunting. Since reading She’s Almost a Teenager, I feel like I have a better idea of where to start with the important conversations. This book is perfect for parents of tween girls, but it would also be helpful for parents who’s girls are already teens.

Tell me about your favorite resource for parenting in the tween/teen years!

Book Review: Safe House

It took me a long time to read and process through Safe House by Joshua Straub. It’s a great book, with plenty of useful information, but it’s not a light read!

safehouse_3dKids need to feel safe when they’re growing up. I think most of us would agree with this. Safe House delves into why it’s important, and how to create a “safe house” for your own kids. The book starts off by talking about looking at your own story and why that’s important. This was actually the hardest part of the book for me to work through. It took a lot of time, and a lot of writing to sort through that for me. Next, we move on to the important characteristics of a “safe house” and how to build those into your own family relationships.

Safe House does contain some more personal stories and examples that break up the reading, but if you’re not a professional counselor, some of it can seem a little dry. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good information to have, but mental health and childhood development is not the most interesting subject for some of us to read about! It is nice for a book to delve into some of the whys behind the hows. It did help me to understand some of the strategies discussed and suggested in the book. Do expect to do a lot of thinking and writing as you read the book and consider the questions at the end of each chapter. You may find it handy to keep a journal or notebook close by while reading. It is written from a Christian perspective, which is something I look for in parenting and self-help books!

Safe House is good reading for any parent, but I think that educators, counselors, pastors, and other professionals who work with kids and families would benefit from reading it. Parents who come from a difficult background in particular might benefit from working through that during the first few chapters. All in all, it’s a good, solid resource, but one that you’ll need to take your time reading.

Book Review: A Royal Christmas Wedding & The Beautiful Pretender

It’s a two-for-one book review today here at Teish Knits! Both of these books are ones that I purchased because I enjoy the other books I’ve read by authors Rachel Hauck and Melanie Dickerson.

A Royal Christmas WeddingFirst up in the fourth book in the Royal Wedding Series by Rachel Hauck. It’s this series that introduced me to Rachel’s books, and her books have been on my must-read list ever since! I’m not typically one to be overly enamored with modern day royalty stories, but this series has been an exception, as I’ve eagerly awaited each new release! I love the strong faith and redemption themes that are part of each story. The books seem to be less about royalty, and more about people figuring out their faith and relationships.

A Royal Christmas Wedding may be a “Christmas” book, but it’s one that you’ll enjoy any time of the year. For those of us who kept wondering whatever became of Avery Truitt and Prince Colin, we finally find out! Relationships are complicated, and when an ocean separates you, they tend to become more complicated. This story begins five years after Avery and Colin fell in love. She had her heart broken by a prince once, is it possible for Colin to win it back? Does he even want to? Appearances are made by the other characters from the series, and it was fun to see how life was working out for the rest of them. I’m not giving away the ending, but if you’ve read the rest of the series, you won’t want to miss the last book! If you’ve not read any of the Royal Wedding books, do look them up. Even if this type of story isn’t your typical choice, you might be pleasantly surprised too.

The next book is the second in Melanie Dickerson’s Medieval Fairy Tale series. I’ve not actually read the first book of this series, though I’ve enjoyed other books by Melanie. After reading The Beautiful Pretender though, I’ll definitely be looking up The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest!

Fiction set in medieval times intrigues me, though I’m glad that I live in the days of running water and electricity! The Beautiful Pretender combines this setting with elements of classic fairy tales to put a twist on the fairy tales we grew up with. The king wants Lord Thornbeck to choose a wife. Lord Thornbeck is less than enthused with the idea, but agrees to host a party inviting the noble ladies that the king suggested for consideration. Naturally, intrigue ensues! Avelina is sent to take the place of her mistress, Lady Dorothea. Avelina’s not the only one with secrets though… I did really like the main character, Avelina, and her outspoken ways. Her friend, Lady Magdalen, was delightful, and I found myself wishing I could meet her in person! Lord Thornbeck is the broody protagonist who reminded me a bit of the beast from Beauty and the Beast. There were a few predictable tropes, but that’s to be expected in any fairy tale story! I found it to be a fun read, and it’s one that I think would appeal to teen girls as well. This is another book series that will go on my to-read list as new ones are released.

Well, I hope I’ve given you a few ideas for your fiction reading list! This time of year is the perfect time to curl up with a nice mug of something hot and a good book. What fiction books have all of you been reading lately?

Book Review: Beginner’s Bible

Note: Because the FTC has nothing better to do than make life difficult for us bloggers, I’m required to disclose the following at the beginning of this post: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation, and the opinions expressed, whether positive or negative are completely my own. Personally, I’m waiting for sponsorship disclaimers from all of the politicians in DC, but I’ll probably be waiting a long time…

My sister had a copy of The Beginner’s Bible back when it first came out. (It’s one of the books that Mom used to carry on the shelves in the bookstore!) She held onto it and passed it along to my kids, and it’s been a favorite with each of them! When I heard about the updated version being released with new illustrations, I was more than anxious to take a peek!

As soon as my review copy of The Beginner’s Bible arrived, my daughter asked if she could look through it. She’s 11, so it’s been a few years since she had been in the target age range, but she was curious how it compared with the original design. She was most impressed with the new illustrations, as was I! My daughter said that there was more color on each page, so that’s what she found most attractive in the new version. Next came the real test, handing it to my 5-year-old. He’s not reading quite yet, but he still enjoyed looking through all of the pictures, and asked us to read the stories to him. As he works on learning to read in the coming year, this will be a wonderful book for us to use for reading practice!

All of the usual Bible stories are presented in the simplified way that you would expect from a story Bible aimed at the younger set. The pictures really are beautifully done, and still in a style that’s reminiscent of the original illustrations. While a story Bible is by no means a substitute for reading the actual scriptures to our children, I think The Beginner’s Bible is a wonderful tool to encourage interest in the Bible stories. It’s also perfect for beginning readers to practice their skills!

Whether you’re an old fan of The Beginner’s Bible, or have never picked one up, the new version is definitely worth checking out if you have younger kids, or if you’re involved in children’s ministries. Now, how would you like to win a copy?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway fine print: Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the
Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Book Review: Where Jesus Slept

Please Note: Because the FTC has nothing better to do than make life difficult for us bloggers, I’m required to disclose the following at the beginning of this post: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation, and the opinions expressed, whether positive or negative are completely my own. Personally, I’m waiting for sponsorship disclaimers from all of the politicians in DC, but I’ll probably be waiting a long time…

Where Jesus Slept - By: Norma Lewis I love a good Christmas book! I guess I’m becoming a bit more like Mom as I get older, because I do enjoy holiday-themed stories much more than I ever did before. Where Jesus Slept by Norma Lewis sounded like a lovely excuse to sit down with my Little Guy and read a Christmas story!

Before I get into my review of the book though, I want to share and idea from my mother-in-law that the kids had great fun with one year! She wrapped up one book per day for the days in December leading up to Christmas. Each day, the kids picked a book, unwrapped it, and we settled in to read the story. There are so many possibilities here! You can stick with just Christmas themed books, or you could just pick out anything that your kids would enjoy. You could wrap up new books, or just put together a basket of “old favorites” and read one per day. However you decide to do it, Where Jesus Slept would be a nice addition to any advent reading list!

Where Jesus Slept is a peek into the night of Jesus’ birth that’s geared for younger kids. (Though my older ones also wandered off with the book!) There’s a bit of rhyming, and a lot of repetition, the type of thing that is common in books for younger kids. The illustrations by Katy Hudson are perfectly lovely! Cartoons can be cool, but I personally appreciate children’s books that have illustrations more like fine art. Where Jesus Slept certainly does!

This is a great little book to read to little ones in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Where Jesus Slept would also make a wonderful gift! Children’s ministry leaders might also want to keep a copy handy to use during December.

We also love our Little House on the Prairie Christmas Treasury this time of year! What are some of your family’s favorite Christmas books?

Leave me a comment letting me know what book you love to read every year, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Where Jesus Slept! Hurry though! Winners will be chosen on Monday, November 21st! (Winners must have a US mailing address.)