Book Review: 30 Days to Understanding the 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…

30 Days to Understanding the Bible by Max Anders caught my eye for a couple of reasons. First, I liked the idea of brushing up some of the basics that I’ve learned over the years in a way that put the bits and pieces together into a well-ordered overview. Second, I thought this could be a great resource to use with some of my older kids in their studies.

30 Days to Understanding the Bible is part book, and part workbook. I’m not typically one who writes in books very often, but this is one book where you really should do the exercises and the self test at the end of each chapter. Because of this, if you’re using the book as part of a group study or homeschool class, you’ll ideally need a separate book for every participant. (I preferred FriXion pens for the exercises because they are erasable and didn’t bleed through the pages.)

The chapters are short, and you really can go through them in about 15 minutes on your own. If you’re going through the chapter as part of a group though, there’s easily enough material to discuss in a chapter to make a longer session though! In addition to the 30 chapters, there is a section with extra information, teaching helps, and several bonus chapters. (The one comparing the four gospels is interesting!)

Starting out with a list of the books of the Bible and what genres they can be grouped into, 30 Days to Understanding the Bible truly does start with basics and build from there. Even though I’d memorized the books of the Bible and knew the key events and people of the different time periods, I appreciated seeing those things brought together in this manner. I’m also glad that he included geography as part of the book. It’s never been my strongest suit, and going through it in this book finally gave me a better grasp of exactly where things happened.

Whether you’re completely unfamiliar with the basics of the Bible, or you’ve been in Sunday School all of your life, 30 Days to Understanding the Bible is worth going through. I definitely plan to add it to our curriculum plan for homeschooling!

Book Review: Ellie Claire 365-Day Devotional Journals

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…

There’s something about a fresh year that makes me want to start a new journal, and a new devotional book! All three of these Devotional Journals are softcover with beautiful cover art and coordinating color artwork throughout the book. Each one features a ribbon bookmark and elastic to keep the book securely closed. The Devotional Journals feature a short devotional for each day of the year, and lines for journaling your reflections. They are dated, but you could still begin using it at any time by simply flipping to the current date.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus may be my favorite out of the three! The floral cover art is a watercolor style and I like the hint of floral art in the corner of each daily page. The devotionals are based on a concept from a hymn or Christian song, and so each day starts out with a line from the song.  A short devotional reading follows with a suggested scripture passage to read. The bottom half of the page consists of blank lines for journaling. The paper is a nice, thick quality with a smooth finish, and should hold up well to most pens. As much as I enjoy music, I love the idea of the daily entries being based on hymns and songs! This one would be ideal for the music lover on your list.

Peace Begins With Me starts right out with a devotional titled “A Promise of Peace”.  Many of the devotional readings have to do with finding our peace in God, and resting in His promises. Each page begins with a scripture passage, devotional reading, and short prayer. The bottom part of the pages is ruled for easy journaling. The cover art for this one is more of an abstract watercolor of varying shades of teal, and the page edges include the same design. The paper quality should hold up well to pen ink. This would be a nice option for someone who struggles with worry, or for someone who prefers a less floral artwork option.

The Earth Is the Lord’s, and Everything In It is the Devotional Journal with a nature theme to the entries. The cover artwork featuring peacocks is just beautiful, and it’s carried throughout the book. Each page begins with a scripture, devotional reading, and a short prayer before the lined portion for journaling. All of the devotional readings have the theme of seeing God reflected in His wondrous creation. The paper is the same heavy quality as the other two journals. Nature lovers will appreciate a devotional journal that ties into their love of creation!

Any one of the Ellie Clair Devotional Journals would be a lovely gift for someone who enjoys journaling and devotional books. Pick the theme that fits best for your recipient, include some nice pens, and maybe a box of tea and you have a gift basket ready to go! 

Top 8 Books for Gifting

I love books! I love receiving a book as a gift, and I love giving them too! If you’d like to purchase any of the books mentioned, just click on the book cover! Here’s my list of top 8 suggestions for books to gift this year:

I’m starting off with a 3-book Space Drifters series by Paul Regnier. Reading the series was the such a fun adventure! It wasn’t just me who loved the books though, my geeklings all thought it was a hilariously good series. Captain Glint Starcrost has become one of our favorite spaceship captains. Nothing ever goes quite to plan for Glint, but one of the things I love about his character is how he just rolls with it when everything goes wrong and tries his best to talk his way out of anything. He has mixed results with this approach… Speculative Fiction Comedy isn’t a huge genre, but this fits in with things like the TV series Eureka and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Fans of sci fi who appreciate something that can make them laugh will read this series over and over. Since it’s a clean read, I’m find handing it off to my tweens and teens for them to read. (Even my 7-year-old liked it when I was reading the first book aloud to the kids!) If you do pick up any of the Space Drifter books as a gift, be sure to include a pair of red checked pajama pants. Trust me on this one!

Another 3-book series that just released the final book this year is Joshua Johnston’s Chronicles of Sarco series. The worldbuilding and the fascinating cultures created for the story pulled me in, and I was hooked! This reminded me in many ways of Star Trek, with various planets and people working together, and spaceships crewed by a diverse cast of characters. Naturally, the series starts with a new threat to the people of the universe… or is it an ancient threat? Uncovering the details of a nearly-lost religion that may hold the answers adds an element of mystery to the series too. If you have a Star Trek fan on your gift list, pick up the Chronicles of Sarco trilogy for them! This one is also a clean read, so I’d be comfortable handing it off to teens. I think it may be a little advanced for some tweens, but as always, parents should use their own judgement since they know their child better than anyone else.

Morgan Busse’s Soul Chronicles series is a set of just two books, but these stories pack a lot of punch! This series is what made me fall in love with steampunk stories. I’d never read anything from that particular genre before, since I’m usually more of a space opera fan, but Morgan did such a fantastic job with these books that I couldn’t put them down. Kat Bloodmayne is the main character, and my heart went out to the girl who wanted to be noticed by her father. Unfortunately, Kat has a secret that she must hide from everyone – especially her father! There are twists and turns aplenty, and who doesn’t love a story that involves airships? If any of the adults or teens on your list are fans of all things steampunk, then Soul Chronicles is perfect for them! This is another clean read that I wouldn’t hesitate to give to a teen, but some of the concepts explored would be a bit too much for tweens in my opinion.

For someone who prefers action with a futuristic twist Man Behind the Wheel by Steve Rzasa is a great pick! It imagines a future where not only have automated vehicles become the norm, but where few humans are even allowed to drive a vehicle themselves. Roman Jasko is one of the few authorized to drive because he’s one of the people who keeps an eye out for unauthorized drivers on the road. The story takes an interesting twist when a gang of criminals starts to rob people while they are “safe” in their automated vehicles. I thought the imagining of a time when folks no longer do the driving themselves was interesting, and it did make me ponder whether it would drastically reduce instances of serious car accidents. Still not convinced that I’d be OK with the idea of my car driving itself! While Man Behind the Wheel is technically speculative fiction, I think it would appeal to anyone who enjoys action stories and thrillers, even if they don’t usually go for spec fic. There are a few mild swear words, but they are infrequent and pretty tame.

I’m not typically a big fan of YA books. I do like Jason Joyner’s new book Launch though! It’s the first book in a series, and currently the only one that’s out. If you have a young person on your list who loves superhero stories, then this is exactly the kind of book they would enjoy! I’ve read some YA books whose teenage characters only annoyed and irritated me. That’s not the case in Launch! I’m finding the characters to be believably imperfect humans, but still interesting and likeable. The mystery surrounding Alturas Collective and Simon Mazor adds an interesting angle to the story. I appreciate how faith is definitely present in the story, but fits seamlessly into it. This is a very clean, Christian story, and I would be completely comfortable with a tween or teen reading it. Honestly, Launch would make a nice family read aloud. The only real downside is that there’s just the first book out, but if you gift it to someone and they love it, you could always gift them book 2 next year!

No list of recommended books would be complete without the Firebird series by Kathy Tyers. It’s absolutely my favorite space opera series, and I’ve read it over and over. The first three books follow Firebird and the last two continue the story with her children and grandchildren. This is a brilliant example of Christian speculative fiction because the story is well written, and the elements of faith absolutely belong in the story. I own a few editions of the books in both print and e-book format. (Basically, if they publish a new edition of any of the Firebird books, I’m going to buy it!) Enclave Publishing released the first three books in the series with new covers a while ago, and now they are re-doing the covers of the last two books to match! Those will definitely have a place on my bookshelves! This series is ideal for Star Wars fans, and good for adults and teens. While there’s nothing objectionable in the books, some of the themes and topics touched on are a little more mature, so I wouldn’t recommend it for tweens, and suggest caution with younger teens.

In a similar vein is Anne Wheeler’s Asrian Skies series. It’s a two-book set, and a lovely space opera story. Avery Rendon is the main character, and since she’s a pilot, I liked her immediately! The story includes intrigue, political plots, betrayal, twists that I didn’t see coming, and a good romance to boot. While not explicitly “Christian” there are faith/religious elements that I appreciated and made me think at bit. There was one character that I just didn’t know whether to like or hate until the very end! Asrian Skies is a clean read and overall appropriate for teens and adults. One caution though: there is a character who is imprisoned and tortured. It’s not depicted graphically, but use caution when determining if your teen is ready to take on what is a somewhat more mature issue.

The last book in my list is the only one that doesn’t fit into the speculative fiction genre, but I loved it anyway! I enjoyed all of the books in Tamara Leigh’s Age of Faith series, so I pre-ordered the first book in her Age of Conquest series: Merciless. It’s set in medieval England during a time period that I honestly don’t know much about the history of it. It’s set in the aftermath of the Norman invasion of England, and does a good job showing the conflict between the Norman and Saxon people. I had no idea the prejudice that both sides held for each other, and Merciless does a good job of showing characters on both sides without vilifying one or the other. Most of the medieval stories that I’ve read are set during the later years of that time period, so this book makes me want to do more reading about the earlier years and learn more of the history behind it. As always, Tamara created memorable characters and did a fine job of making me feel like I was in the middle of the story. It is a romance, but a clean read with elements of faith throughout.

All of the books mentioned are ones that I bought or won freely in a giveaway. I received no compensation in any form for including them in my list, so rest assured that all of the opinions I’ve written are my honest views on the books. I compiled this list based on newer books that I enjoyed reading, and I think that other spec fic fans would like them to! (OK, so Firebird isn’t exactly new, but it’s still awesome, and if you haven’t read it, you should go read it now!) Just click on the book covers to follow a link to Amazon and purchase. It’s not an affiliate link, so I receive no compensation if you buy via the links on my blog.

Beloved Book Review

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…

Today’s book review is a collaboration with my favorite blogger – my 13 year old daughter! Munchkin writes over at The Gerbil Keeper, and she’s brand new to blogging this year. Since the devotional book I’m reviewing, Beloved by Lindsay Franklin, is targeted towards young women, I thought I’d get an expert opinion:

Are you a teenage girl who needs a Scripture-based daily devotional that encourages you to be your best? Then Beloved by Lindsay A. Franklin is the book for you! Every day begins with a Bible verse and then discusses it on page that only takes 5 minutes at the most to read. The page ends with a few lines of journal space. It even has a ribbon bookmark!

I love the flowery theme and pink colors. I’m also glad it includes an extra day in case of a leap year. I like seeing how far along I am and the numbered days do just that. The ribbon bookmark is a nice touch, and so is the journal space. It’s cool how every day begins with a verse. The patterned page edges add a touch of elegance.

I wish the ribbon was pink instead of red; it would have matched better. I also think more journal space would have been helpful. Other than that, I love it!

If you’re a teenage girl who’s confused about who you’re supposed to be and how to act, and also loves Jesus, you’ll love this!”

Books are always a great stocking stuffer in my opinion, and if you have a teen or even tween girl on your list this year, then Beloved is worth a look!

The hardcover binding makes it durable enough to hold up to being tossed in a backpack, and the compact size won’t take up too much room in her bag. Each day contains a scripture, short devotional reading, and four lines for journaling. The color theme of the book design is definitely pink, but it’s the floral print along each page is pretty and fits the target age range well.

Being a girl today can be hard and confusing, and being a Christian girl even more so! Even as an adult, I still struggle to figure out my place in the world and what it means to be not just a woman, but a woman of faith. Lindsay uses the stories of women in the Bible to delve into this topic in Beloved. 365 numbered devotionals will carry your teen girl through a whole year of quiet time, and since the entries are numbered rather than dated, she can start any time of year, and not just on January 1st.

If you do pick up a copy of Beloved for your daughter, you may just want to take a peek at some of the devotionals yourself. There’s some good stuff in there for girls and women of any age!

Book Review: Ellie Claire Art Journals

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 my favorite things to give (or receive!) is a great journal. Ellie Claire has released three unique journals that might be perfect for someone on your Christmas list!

The Faith and Lettering journal is the one that caught my daughter’s eye right away. The hardcover is beautifully embossed with foil accents. The journal includes step by step instructions for artistic lettering, with plenty of room to practice, and room to journal too. The paper is heavy enough quality to hold up to most pens and some markers. The journal includes a pen loop on the spine and a ribbon bookmark, and my daughter appreciated these little details. The interior includes ruled pages, graph pages, and dot grid pages, so there are plenty of options for both journaling, and practicing your creative lettering techniques. The heavyweight paper has a smooth finish that would work well with most pens. There are plenty of beautiful full-color art lettering examples for inspiration, as well as “pro tips” scattered throughout the journal. This would be ideal for someone who is interested in art journaling in their Bible, or their journal.

My middle son has been learning about illuminated manuscripts from medieval times, so when the Illuminate Your Story Journal came out of the box, he was quick to claim it! This one also has an embossed hardcover with foil accents. There’s a pen loop on the spine, a ribbon bookmark, and an elastic to hold the journal closed when not in use. There’s a heavyweight paper pocket in the back for storing small keepsakes. The introduction in the journal gives a nice overview of the history of illuminated letters, which we found interesting! The instruction pages do a great job of breaking the intricate letters into easy steps, with room for practicing. These pages have a dot grid background on both the examples and the practice spaces which is very helpful! Interspaced with the instructional pages are ruled pages with inspirational quotes at the top of the page. My son has had a wonderful time replicating some of the illuminated letters, and has decided to use the journal for his daily copywork assignments. He’s used both pens and colored pencils in the journal, and both have worked beautifully on the smooth paper. This would be a wonderful gift for artists, or anyone with an interest in medieval history and art!

The Illustrated Word Journal is the one that I kept for my own use! The hardcover is embossed with foil accents like the other two journals, but this one does not include a pen loop or ribbon bookmark. The ruled pages are accented with real examples of illuminated medieval art and every few pages is a line drawing replica of the featured artwork that may be colored. I tried a couple of different pens, two kinds of markers, and watercolors on the line drawing to test out the various mediums. Only one kind of marker had much bleed-through, but this brand is one that I’ve had bleed through cardstock, so I was not surprised that it did bleed through the pages a bit. The watercolor didn’t bleed through at all, nor did the page wrinkle from the wet paint. There’s a bit of texture to the pages that works well with the watercolors, and that was my favorite medium to use in this journal. Colored pencils would also work nicely with the paper’s texture. It was a little too textured for my fountain pen, but I didn’t have any ink bleed-through, so the paper is a good weight for most inks. I enjoyed seeing the small full-color photos of medieval artwork throughout the journal, and there’s a good balance of art, coloring pages, and ruled pages for writing. Anyone who enjoys intricate coloring designs would likely appreciate this journal!

All three journals are excellent quality, and I’m very picky about my journals! The price point they are offered at makes them a great value. Because of that, they aren’t just the kind of journal that you’d give to an adult or older teen, but is affordable enough that they would be a thoughtful gift for an older child or tween who enjoys journaling and art. Put any one of these in a gift bag with an assortment of pens or pencils and maybe some tea or hot cocoa and you’ve got a lovely gift basket!

Just click on the title of any of the journals to find them on Amazon. Thanks to Ellie Claire for sending me the journals for review!

The Brave Art of Motherhood (And how this book helped me pick a NaNoWriMo project…)

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…

When I had the chance to be part of a launch team for a book called The Brave Art of Motherhood it was the word brave that caught my eye. The tagline sold me: Fight Fear, Gain Confidence, and Find Yourself Again. I’d never heard of Rachel Martin before, but oh man, I want to be brave so badly. Fighting fear to boot? I’ve never quite grown out of being that scared kid sitting on the floor of my room next to the closet. I need all the brave and fear fighting I can get.

What I didn’t expect to get from Rachel’s book was the push I needed. I’ve read the suggestion a few times that someone who went through abuse or trauma during their childhood may find writing their whole story down to be helpful in the healing process. I’ve written bits and pieces here and there, but no matter how many times I tried to write the whole story, I just never could. I kept giving up. I knew that it was something I needed to do, eventually. Reading The Brave Art of Motherhood is what it took to make me decide that this year for NaNoWriMo, I’m not writing a completely fictional novel. I’m writing my memoir. I’ve set an end date, made the commitment to do this, and I’m not going back. Whether or not I’ll ever let anyone else read it is something that I haven’t decided yet. I’m not writing this one with an eye for publication. I’m writing it so that I can let go of some of the past and finally, finally let some of the damage start to heal.

Why did I decide to use that for my NaNo project though? Why not just write it? I need the end date. It was this excerpt from The Brave Art of Motherhood that made me see the importance of that, “Don’t listen to the voice of fear of the unknown and let that override the bravery it takes to write the end date. This is the moment when you get to decide your path. You must have a date you want this done, completed…. Keep it in your head and you risk it staying there. Write it down and you risk it happening.” All those failed attempts at writing the whole story, and the one thing I never did was set a time frame.

There’s something healing about writing for me; it’s how I’m able to process the things that I can’t make sense of or come to terms with any other way. I’m tired of my past holding me, of it hurting me, and I want to break this cycle of being stuck in the memories.

“… in Haiti I made a conscious and powerful decision never to return to the mindset of victim. I was no longer going to allow others or circumstances to limit my ethos or potential.” — Rachel Marie Martin

That’s what I want. I want to stop being the damsel in distress, and start being the protagonist of my story. I want to be the brave one. The one who – despite all of the setbacks, struggles, and many mistakes I’ve made – keeps moving forward. By the grace of God, this farmgirl is going to find her voice.

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!