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.)

Book Review: Parenting

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…


Book Cover of Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your FamilyI’m only half-joking when I claim that I was a better parent before I had kids. For a long time, I was convinced that finding the right method would give me a guaranteed result. Oh if only that were true! I still read plenty of parenting material though, and the title of Paul Tripp’s book, Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family, caught my eye.

Reading Parenting sort of confirmed that which I’ve finally started to understand: I have very little control over the kind of people my kids grow up to be. That seems pretty disheartening on the surface, and I’ll admit that it discouraged me at first too. The more I think about it, and after reading this book, I’m convinced that it’s actually a freeing and hopeful thing. It is a very good thing that the people my kids grow up to be is not completely dependent on me. I still haven’t gotten the whole life, faith, and relationships thing figured out!

Parenting is, as you might expect, broken down into 14 chapters addressing one principle per chapter. The chapters aren’t terribly long, so it’s a pretty easy read in the respect. However, this is the kind of book that you’ll need time to mull over each chapter read. I read through it quickly for review purposes, but I’m already planning to go back and read just one chapter at a time and let it really sink in before moving on to the next. The chapters are titled:

  1. Calling
  2. Grace
  3. Law
  4. Inability
  5. Identity
  6. Process
  7. Lost
  8. Authority
  9. Foolishness
  10. Character
  11. False Gods
  12. Control
  13. Rest
  14. Mercy

Whew! Those are heady topics to cover in just one book, but Parenting does it well. Honestly, what I liked the best about the book, was that it made me uncomfortable. It forced me to take a look at myself and my own sin, my own need for grace, my own failures, and my own lack of character. Ouch. Now I can see why it’s a good thing that the kind of adults my kids become is not solely based on how good of a parent I am. This isn’t a book about how to make my kids behave, but more about how both of us can grow, mature, and draw closer to God.

I don’t typically underline or highlight a book as I’m reading it, but I was tempted to more than once when going through this one! Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the chapter on Grace…

“My children don’t cause me to do and say what I do and say. No, the cause of my actions is found inside my own heart. My children are simply the occasion where my heart reveals itself in words and actions. So I need much more than just rescue and relief from my children; I need rescue from me. This is why Jesus came, to provide us with the rescue that we all need but that we cannot provide for ourselves.”

That quote should give you a taste of how appropriate the “Gospel Principles” part of the title is! This is not a formula for perfect parenting, and let’s be honest, perfect parents don’t exist. It’s a very hopeful book though. In the midst of conviction, there is encouragement too. This would be a great gift for new parents, but I’d highly recommend it to any parents, no matter what age their kids are! This principles will apply to any age range from toddlers on up.

Now, who wants to win a copy? Just leave me a comment and on Sunday, October 30th, I’ll draw a winner!

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.

Review: Family Christian Stores

Note: Because the FTC has nothing better to do than make life difficult for regular people, I’m required to disclose the following at the beginning of this post: I received a $25 coupon from Family Christian Stores in exchange for my honest review of my shopping experience with them. 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…

Bookstores are my favorite places to shop! (OK, yarn stores and tea shops are right up there too.) That’s why I was excited about this promotion. Family Christian sent me a $25 coupon to use either shopping at a physical location, or through their website. Since I live in the sticks, there were no physical stores anywhere close by. No problem, I’m used to shopping online when I need books!

Family Christian’s website had a wide selection of books, music, Bibles, and DVDs to choose from. They have a number of the new, popular journaling Bibles too! I finally settled on ordering a copy of Where Hope Prevails by Janette Oke & Laurel Oke Logan, and Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time by Jamie C. Martin. I placed my order on August 8th, but as of August 18th, I have not yet received it. Now, Give Your Child the World is a special order item, so I knew that it would take longer to ship out before I placed my order. Special order items are clearly marked as such on the product information page, and keep in mind that ordering one will slow down the shipment of your order. I received a shipping confirmation for my order on August 12th, but there is no tracking information available for my shipment.

I was happy with the selection offered on Family Christian’s site, and they offer free shipping for orders that are $50 or more. I do wish that their website had the option to filter out products that are listed as only available in stores, or are special order items. I looked at a number of items that turned out to be product that were only sold at the physical stores. It was a bit frustrating not to know that until clicking on a product and checking the description.

Currently, Family Christian is offering a buy one, get one 50% off sale on their website. This is a great sale, particularly if you have an order that qualifies for free shipping. Shipping isn’t as fast as the Amazon Prime that has completely spoiled us, so you’ll have to decide how important shipping speed is to you.

Buy One Get One 50% off Mix and Match

Overall, shopping at the Family Christian website was a fairly good experience. If you’re not willing to wait a bit for your order to arrive though, you might be happier shopping at a physical location. They do have a nice rewards program for repeat shoppers that you might want to look into, and it applies to both in-store and online purchases!

Book Review: My Mother’s Quilts

Mom was a quilter. I’m… sort of a quilter. None of my quilts will ever compare to Mom’s though, and I treasure the ones that she made! The title of Ramona Richards’ book, My Mother’s Quilts: Devotions of Love, Legacy, Family and Faith absolutely grabbed my attention because it made me think of Mom.

When I opened up this little hardcover, I was mesmerized by the full-color quilt photos that accompanied each chapter! This isn’t just a book that talks about quilts, but one that beautifully displays them. Each chapter is short, only a few pages long. They feature a Bible verse, inspirational story relating to the quilt pictured, and end with a short prayer. My Mother’s Quilts isn’t a Bible study book, so I would necessarily consider it a devotional book. Rather, something along the lines of one of the “Chicken Soup Books” for quilters. While there are no patterns in the book, the name of the quilt pattern is always listed at the beginning of the chapter for anyone who may decide that they’d like to make one of their own.

The stories Ramona shared in her book are about her own family. It was nice to hear many family stories, rather than just one or two snippets. However, I’d also love to see another book like this that included photos and stories from many families. The quilts pictured in My Mother’s Quilts aren’t typically modern colors or designs. Someone who prefers the modern look might not enjoy it as much as someone who appreciates a more vintage aesthetic. (Personally, I prefer the charm of the vintage quilts!)

Whenever Mom got a new quilt book, she always sat down and enjoyed looking at the pictures. I could easily picture her reading a chapter of this each morning with her coffee! The full-color pages, hardcover, and ribbon bookmark make My Mother’s Quilts a lovely option for gifting. It’s exactly the type of thing that I would have picked out for my own mom for her birthday or Mother’s Day. Whether the quilter in your life is your mom, grandmother, sister, or friend, consider picking up a copy for them. If you’re the quilter, then this is the perfect book to reach for when curled up under one of your own cherished quilts.


thumbnail_Win This Friendship Quilt!

Win one of the quilts featured in #MyMothersQuilts by Ramona Richards. Also up for grabs: loads of other prizes including quilting hand warmers, coloring books, and 25 signed copies of Ramona’s book. Winners will be emailed after the contest ends on June 30, 2016. Click the image to get started!


Note: I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and I received no monetary compensation for this review.