Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Top 13 Reads of 2013

This year I read about 35 books. Here are my top 13 reads of 2013 (not in any particular order).
You can click on the titles to read my reviews or to get more information about the books. What are some of  your favorite books this year?  Please share.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Top Ten Highlights from 2013

We are thankful for what God has done for us, in us, and through us this past year and are excited for what He has prepared for us in 2014!

1. Alyssa was awarded a full 4 year AFROTC scholarship (Type 7).
2. Josiah made 87 out of 100 free-throws (in February)!
3. Eric and I celebrated our 22nd anniversary in September. We had a sweet weekend getaway at the beach (Lincoln City). Actually, this year we managed to have 2 beach getaways. We also had a memorable time at Salishan Spa & Golf Resort at the beginning of April. So thankful for God's unexpected blessings! For some (unknown) reason, all their premier rooms were all booked (even though we made a reservation in advance a few months prior) so they upgraded us to one of their suites, the most romantic suite Salishan has to offer (with an in-room Jacuzzi and more :)). We had so much fun! This was our first time ever being alone as a couple away overnight since we have had children. Feeling like newly weds ♥!

4. Isaiah raised $ 1,550 for Steps for Life this year.
5. It was fun for us to watch Monsters University 3D, Planes, and Frozen at the theater (free advance screenings for review). 
6. I got a new pair of eyeglasses in June. I like its purple rim :). And in Oct., I got a haircut for the first time in years.

7. This summer, our family signed up for membership at YMCA.
8. Our family had a blast at Mt. Hood Ski Bowl Adventure Park on August 12th. Scenic Sky Chairs. 1/2 Mile Alpine Slide (numerous times). Human Hamster Ball (Zorb Ball). 9 Hole Mini Golf. Summer Tube Hill. Bungee Trampoline.
9. Alyssa became a freshman at OSU and a first year cadet in Air Force ROTC. She attended a Cru girls' Bible study on campus this last term and she hopes to become involved with Valor, which is the campus partnership of Cru's military ministry, this upcoming term.

10. Josiah took his first PSAT (just for experience) in October.

This year, we didn't send out any Christmas cards; we sent an ecard, instead :).

May the joy, peace, love, and hope of CHRISTmas stay with you and your loved ones throughout the coming year!

Celebrate Christ continually,
The Liljequists

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Book Review: The God Puzzle by Valerie Ackermann

About the book: The God Puzzle is a colorful, easy to use tool to help you communicate to your child the rich truths about God, His ways, His will and His love. The God Puzzle will help you address doctrinal themes of the Christian faith in a kid friendly way, present Bible lessons in an interactive way that will hold the child's attention and deliver quality teaching with no preparation needed. 75% of children leave the church when they leave home. Something isn't working. Sunday School isn't doing it all. Kids need answers, good ones. And they need them from you, the parent. This book enables you to give them simple, clear answers.

About the Author: Valerie Ackermann has a BA in Theology and has been a full time Children's Ministry Director at Parkwood Community Church in California for over 10 years. She is also a weekly Sunday school teacher, wife, and busy mom of two boys ages 9 and 11. She has hands-on experience as a children's ministry professional, teaching and leading children of all ages. Growing up in a Christian family in the small town of Saskatchewan Canada, she has wonderful memories of knowing God from an early age. She has a passion for kids to know the deep truths of God.

Find out more at

My Review:
What's the most important and most loving thing we can do for our children? I believe it is leading them to Christ. But how? It's obvious that we should be praying for them & with them and reading the Bible to them. Having a Biblically sound resource can be quite helpful in getting good discussions started, answering questions, and explaining. The God Puzzle is a wonderful tool to help parents teach their children about God & the Christian faith and instill into them a solid foundation of Biblical truths. The book consists of 36 lessons which start from "Who is God?" to "What are we Looking Forward to?" The author shows how the Bible fits together from beginning to end as one redemption story that points to Jesus Christ as our Savior/Deliverer/Redeemer.

The lessons are filled with fun activities (such as matching, crosswords, drawing, and filling in blanks) and Bible references (yes, children get to learn from God's Word itself). Each one includes "Get the Facts" (how different puzzle pieces fit together), "Read It" (read what God's Word says), "Talk about It" (questions for discussion), and "Talk to God about It" (this is where your child can write down his/her thoughts in a prayer letter back to God). The book covers creation, sin, sacrifices, salvation, the New Covenant, the Trinity, worship, baptism, communion, spiritual gifts, missions, and more. At the end of the book, you will find Appendix 1: Books and Divisions of the Bible, Appendix 2: The Names of God, and Appendix 3: Where Do I Read in the Bible when I'm Feeling____?. The book is vibrantly colorful and easy to use (no preparation time required). I really appreciate the correct theology and how the author makes it approachable and understandable for kids. I'm using this book with my 12 year old son who enjoys puzzles :). I highly recommend this book to all who have children from ages 7 to 12.

~ I received a free copy of this book via Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review. You can find more reviews of this book here.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Book Review: How Did They Do That? by Deborah Tompkins Johnson

About the Author

Deborah works full-time as a regional government affairs manager for a major U.S. energy company. Prior to joining the utility industry, Deborah worked as a radio news director, television reporter, anchor and talk show host.

For five years she wrote inspirational and book commentary columns for newspapers in northern Virginia.

Deborah serves on boards of directors for community, education and leadership organizations.

My Review:
Have you ever wondered how successful people do what they do to get to the point where they are :)? The author interviewed 12 successful people in various fields and from different backgrounds such as a songwriter, actor, teacher, minister, dancer, soldier, governor, and entrepreneurs. They share their career highlights, triumphs, and challenges. I'm glad that they boldly share how their faith in God/their relationship with God/their reliance on God has helped and influenced them. You will find valuable insights and practical advice throughout the whole book. Certain decisions and choices lead to certain consequences. You will see again and again how crucial it is to seek God and to make wise decisions.

Each profile is very interesting. I've always enjoyed reading biographies and autobiographies so this is like reading mini-biographies :). One of my favorites from the book is the centenarian teacher, Ruth Haymon! Wish all teachers were like her! Topics covered in the book include work ethic, leadership, accountability, persistence/perseverance, integrity, the importance of education, among many others. I really like the WOW (Words of Wisdom) and What Can YOU Do Now? sections at the end of each profile. There's also blank space at the bottom of those pages for readers to write down their notes, thoughts, steps to take, or how they can apply what they learn in their own lives. Don't ever give up your dreams/passion that God put in your hearts! Keep pursuing God's will and God's purpose for your lives! Check out this encouraging read filled with nuggets of wisdom! It would make a great Christmas gift for high school and/or college students, especially those who have aspirations for the same occupations mentioned in the book.

~ I received a free copy of this book via The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Book Review: Daily Reflections on the Names of God by Ava Pennington

I collect devotionals :)! So happy to add this new one to my collection. I think Daily Reflections on the Names of God is now one of my favorite devotionals. This devotional book covers 122 names of God. In the Bible, names are very important. They often reflect the characteristic attributes about the persons. Even more so, God reveals His character by referring to Himself by different Names. He wants us to know and understand Who He is, what He does, how He relates to His children, and how we should relate to Him.

Who is God to you? Elohim (Creator God). El Shaddai (The All-Sufficient God/God Almighty). Abba (Father). You may be familiar with these. But God is so much more! He is also the Jealous God (El Qanna), the God Who Sees (El Roi), the Lord Our Peace (Yahweh Shalom), the Lord Who Heals (Yahweh Rapha), the Lord Our Righteousness (Yahweh Tsidkenu), and more. The author offers 3 devotionals for each name. The first one ("look up") explains why God describes Himself the way He does. The second one ("look in") focuses on how the particular name applies to our lives and affects our relationship with God. The third one ("look out") talks about how we can apply what we know about God to how we treat others. At the beginning of each day's devotional, you will find a Bible passage's reference and a verse. Each devotional concludes with a prayer and questions to help us reflect upon how we can apply what we learn in our daily lives.

I enjoyed all the Biblical truths, Godly insights, and thought-provoking questions. Prepare to ponder God's attributes in fresh ways, grow closer to God, and experience Him more intimately! It will enrich your understanding of Who God is, will strengthen your faith in Him, and will deepen your relationship with Him. Check out this refreshing read! It would also make a wonderful Christmas gift for any believers in your lives!

"Pursuing good works to fulfill our own agendas results in right actions done for self-serving motives." (from page 30)

"Jesus understood that real peace does not ignore conflict. True peace addresses the cause of the problem to remove it permanently. For us to have peace with God, Jesus dealt with the problem of our sin with finality and in the most violent way possible." (from page 61)

"When our goal is to be as inoffensive as possible by keeping quiet about our Savior, then He is the One we will offend! We are to live in a way that refreshes and soothes; we cannot do that by being lukewarm." (from page 342)

~ I received a free copy of this book via The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.