Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review: Sue Hooley's 2015 Daily Planner

Meet Sue Hooley:
The Daily Planner was designed by Sue, wife of Dan for 24 years and mother to six lovely children, two girls and four boys ages 5-21. The planner was developed after several years of motherhood and homemaking. Sue understood that a homemaker's day can rarely be scheduled and structured the same as the one before – not every task can fit neatly into the time-slot allotted by other planners. Since her first publication in 2010, thousands of homemakers have benefited from the daily planner.

2015 Daily Planner
List Price: $13.99 with free shipping on three or more
Format: 6x9 Spiral bound 
Order at: http://www.homemakersfriend.com

Features include: 
  • Two-page Weekly layout with menu planning and to-do list
  • Two-page Month layout
  • Year Calendars with place for notations
  • Perforated Shopping Lists
  • Tasks Lists and Projects & Events Sections
  • Information Section
My Review:
I've been given Sue Hooley's 2014 and 2015 Daily Planners to review. I've enjoyed using the 2014 one. I am so thankful for these planners. Can't wait to start a brand new year with the beautiful 2015 Daily Planner! As you can see in the top picture, the front cover is bright and cheery with the photo of black-eyed susans. The planner is perfect for busy homemakers who have to juggle many responsibilities and activities. It helps me be more focused and organized. I know myself that I can no longer just rely on my memory :). The planner consists of 7 sections: yearly calendar, monthly calendar, weekly planning, tasks list, projects & events, information, and shopping lists. For homeschool moms (or dads), you can use this planner to write down your homeschool schedule, too. There's plenty of space for writing notes. The 2015 Daily Planner also includes 2 additional months (December 2014 and January 2016) to simplify the transition.

What makes the planner very special to me is all the Bible verses which are God's promises and all the insightful, inspirational quotes that scatter throughout the planner. They are so uplifting and encouraging. I highly recommend this delightful Daily Planner! It will make your life easier and help you manage your time better (more efficiently). Wondering what to get for your relatives or friends who are homemakers this Christmas? Look no further; this planner would make an excellent gift :)!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

THE BACHELOR By Stehpanie Reed | Kindle Giveaway and Facebook Party!

Don't miss Stephanie Reed's newest book in the Plain City Peace series, The Bachelor. This compelling second book deftly weaves together the strands of a solid, simpler time with the turmoil of an era of change, revealing the strengths of both in its powerful narrative.

Join Stephanie in celebrating the book's release by entering her Kindle giveaway and RSVPing to her Facebook launch party on October 28th!
The Bachelor, Stephanie Reed
One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • The Bachelor by Stephanie Reed
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 11/9. RSVP for the Facebook launch party today for a chance to connect with Stephanie and Amish fiction fans and a chance to win some great prizes! Winner will be announced November 10th here.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Book Review: Yes or No by Jeff Shinabarger

About the Author:
Jeff Shinabarger is a social entrepreneur and author of two books: More or Less and Yes or No. Jeff has a vision to make Atlanta a center for social innovation and has personally engaged in over 100 start-ups solving problems through the community he leads called Plywood People. His work has been featured by CNN, USA Weekend, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Huffington Post, Christianity Today, Coca-Cola, Relevant Magazine and Chicago Sun Times. He is the co-founder of Q and creatively led Catalyst for 8 years. Jeff and his wife, Andre, live in East Atlanta Village and have two children.

My Review:
Every day we have to make choices. We know that there are consequences to our choices. Some decisions are easy to make because there are no serious, long-term consequences. But other decisions are huge, life-altering, and world-impacting. A young adult/adult's life presents many opportunities for decision-making on significant issues such as choosing a college, major, career, spouse, house, etc. We desire to make wise choices but sometimes it can be quite difficult and challenging. We don't know what to do. Too afraid? Too overwhelmed? Too indecisive? The author helps us readers explore our natural decision-making styles, identify our philosophy of choice, and employ key strategies in order to make good/right choices. He groups decisions into 3 categories: daily decisions, moments of tension, and transition times. This book focuses mainly on the last two. 

Each chapter starts with an insightful quote and ends with a "Take Action" section (how to put ideas into action) and thought-provoking questions for groups to ponder and discuss. The author shows us crucial factors to consider when making a decision and guides us through six steps in the decision-making process so that we can improve our decision-making skills, become discerning & confident decision makers and capable & courageous problem solvers. Decision-making is very important because it usually affects not only our own lives but also other people's lives. The author asks wonderful questions about our motives: "Am I loving people, or am I loving the idea of doing good? Do I desire the best for each person I come in contact with, or do I desire to feel the best about myself for the good I am doing?...Is this for the good of others, or is it making me look and feel good?" (p. 65) I think most of us (if not all) have struggled with these from time to time. The fear factor is also addressed.

The author shares his tested wisdom learned from his own experiences and offers us practical advice from a Christian perspective. I'm glad I made the right choice to review this book. When I first received this book, my 21 year old daughter needed to make an important decision so she borrowed the book and finished it in one day. Even though she still didn't feel ready to make her decision at that time, she found the book helpful. Yes or No is a great informative read for anyone, especially those in leadership. We can make a difference in this world with our decisions. We all are given the gift of choice. May we use it wisely, conscientiously, and for God's glory! 

"I believe that the words yes and no are the most powerful words in the dictionary. They define what we love, what we will be known for, and what we will do with our lives...These are definitive words: words that significantly change the trajectory of life." (p. 20)
"The difference between our lives and a page-turning book is that we can't go back and start over... Our choices determine our future." (p. 29)
"At each stage, life is meant to be lived. Wherever you are in your journey, fully embrace the experiences you live in right now, because these experiences prepare for tomorrow." (p. 34)
"As we move forward on the path God has for each of us, I can't state strongly enough that true wisdom comes with seeking God, not self." (p. 85)
"Once we begin to find God's wisdom, discern the significance of our own experiences, and gather knowledge from others, we have the tools to curate life in a meaningful way." (p. 91)
"Much of the joy of life can be found when we realize what a great privilege it is to live intentionally making choices, remembering all that God has given." (p. 154)

*If you would like to take the free decision-making style assessment, visit http://www.yesornobook.com/ .

~ I received a free copy of this book via Icon Media Group in exchange for my 
honest review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Review: Family Toolbox

Do you agree with me that parenting must be the most challenging and the most rewarding job in the world :)? My husband and I have been doing this job for over 21 years; yet we are still learning, growing and figuring things out. Our two sons who are still at home are 16 and 13. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to review the Family Toolbox, a fantastic parenting resource from National Center for Biblical Parenting. The Family Toolbox is a DVD program that helps parents and teens engage in meaningful discussions, equips parents with valuable tools, and trains teens to embrace 16 life success principles. I really enjoyed using this friendly format. It gets teens' attention and encourages their interaction. There are 8 two-minute video clips that show family members having arguments, problems, conflicts, complaints, tempers, all sorts of issues that take place in typical households with teenagers. Parents can also watch the 10-minute teaching videos for each session and learn from the two parenting experts, Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller (pictured above). The DVD comes with a Parent and Teen Discussion Manual which includes worksheets for teens and parents, main takeaway points, and relevant Bible verses. 

I appreciate the Biblically-based heart approach in this program. I agree that focus on behavior modification appeals to children's selfishness and that a true lasting transformation requires a heart change. The behavioral problems are symptoms of heart issues. We don't want to train our kids up to be a bunch of Pharisees who are perfect on the outside but rotten on the inside. This program offers practical advice and strategies that aim to help teens mature and develop heart qualities such as self-control, responsibility, thoughtfulness, respect, honor, diligence, cooperation, and more. The life success principles taught in the DVD are essential principles that will serve teens well for the rest of their lives. The lessons are filled with parenting wisdom and insights that affirm what I've been doing right and remind me what I need to improve on. I really like the emphasis in the last lesson on honoring one another above ourselves (Romans 12:13). I came up with an acronym for H.O.N.O.R. 
Humbly value others above selves
Obey with a good attitude
Never put others down
Offer others the best
Respect others in words and deeds

16 Life Success Principles:
  1. Be Respectful Even When It's Hard.
  2. Develop Internal Motivation.
  3. Develop Healthy Habits for Following Instructions.
  4. Look for Ways to Contribute to Family Life.
  5. Solve Problems Instead of Generating Conflict.
  6. Instead of Sarcasm, Develop the Skills of a Peacemaker.
  7. Learn to Value Correction.
  8. Apologize Well.
  9. Develop a Plan for Being Responsible.
  10. Take Responsibility for Your Mistakes.
  11. Train Yourself to Accept No as an Answer.
  12. Avoid Arguing.
  13. View Your Family as a Team and Look for Ways to Work Together.
  14. Learn Self-Control to Manage Anger.
  15. Practice Flexibility When Plans Change.
  16. Learn to Handle Unfairness Well.
I highly recommend the Family Toolbox to all families with children ages 10 and up and youth ministry leaders. It is one of the best Biblical parenting resources available.

National Center for Biblical Parenting: http://www.biblicalparenting.org/
Hashtags: #familytoolbox #heartparenting

Note: You're invited to The Family Toolbox Facebook Party today (10/16) from 5-7 p.m. Pacific time. There will be an opportunity for you to ask your parenting questions and win great prizes. They'll be giving away a copy of the Family Toolbox, the Christian Parenting Handbook, $50 and $25 gift cards plus other Biblical parenting resources.

Family Toolbox Facebook Party

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

DVD Review: When Calls the Heart "Change of Heart"

When Calls the Heart--"Change of Heart" is the latest DVD (#6) in the When Calls the Heart television series based on the novel "When Calls the Heart" written by Janette Oke. On this DVD, Julie Thatcher, Elizabeth's younger sister, surprises Elizabeth (Erin Krakow) with her visit in Coal Valley. Julie is accompanied by Mountie Patrick O'Reilly who becomes the new Constable of Coal Valley. He informs Mountie Jack Thornton (Daniel Lissing) that his transfer request has been granted. Instead of being happy and excited, Jack is shocked and upset upon receiving the news. His relationship with Elizabeth is blossoming but now he has to choose between leaving for his dream job and staying to pursue courtship. Elizabeth does not want Jack to leave but does not want him to stay, either. She fears that if he stays and is unable to follow his dreams, he may have resentment towards her someday. Julie falls for a handsome, sweet-talking criminal, Nate, who is a member of the Tolliver Gang. The gang consists of four bank robbers wanted by the Mounties. Abigail Stanton (Lori Loughlin) uncovers truth about the safety violations that caused the mine disaster. As usual, I enjoyed watching the DVD. I am quite fond of the characters. Entertaining and captivating! When Calls the Heart--Change of Heart" is a beautiful story of love, sisterhood, choices, honor, dreams, wisdom/discernment, truth, creative problem-solving, courage, and heroism. Check it out!

~I received a free copy of this DVD via Edify Media, Inc. in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Book Review: Ultimate Health

I believe everybody wants to be healthy. However, lots of us are not intentional about how we take care of our health. Ultimate Health is a valuable resource full of information that will help readers stay healthy and strong when they apply what they learn from it. The book starts with the Ultimate Health Assessment which covers 20 areas of our whole health (body, mind, and spirit). The authors encourage us readers to take the preventive and proactive approaches to achieve our ultimate health. We can indeed improve our quality of life and in most cases, extend our length of life by following the simple yet effective steps and guidelines offered in this comprehensive health guide. The topics covered in the book include Mental Management, Eliminating Stress, Strengthening Your Immune System, Exercise, Nutrition, Toxic Elimination, Sleep, Hormones, Vitamins, Managing Your Emotions, Spiritual Wellness, and more. Oral, vision, skin, ear, nose, throat cares are also addressed. At the end of each chapter, there's a list of main take-away points/tips from that chapter. At the end of the book, you will find the Reference Lists of 25 Healthy Foods, 25 Unhealthy Foods, 25 Terms to Know, 25 Actions to Speed Up Your Metabolism, and 25 Tools for Your Ultimate Health Tool Chest. I love these! I also like the here-and-there gray boxes that contain important facts or advice.

Most of us (if not all) would agree that we would love to have more energy and live more productively. Well, it is attainable. Reading this book is like having a personal health coach. Nevertheless, it only works if we take it to heart and take action. We must make some lifestyle changes, develop the daily healthy habits, and keep our mind, body, emotion, and spirit in healthy balance. I'm thankful for the book; I was made aware of several things that I didn't know about or think about. I also appreciate that it's not too technical; it's pretty easy to understand. One of my favorite chapters is the last chapter about Spiritual Wellness which talks about God and mentions Bible verses. I especially love this passage: "There is no Ultimate Health, spiritually speaking, without Godly Wisdom. This means seeing things from God's viewpoint and then responding by applying the principles of truth. With this frame of reference we will be able to withstand the onslaught against us in all spheres of our lives...At life's end, each one of us is forced to confront the spiritual." (p. 148) I highly recommend this educational, insightful, & practical book to anyone who cares about healthy living. Do yourselves a big favor by educating yourselves with this book!

"Ultimate Health is an active process of developing essential daily habits that are restorative and transformative--habits that lead to a vibrant, energetic life for decades to come." (p. 26)
"The difference between health care (preventative medicine) and sick care (going to the doctor after you feel bad) is testing, prevention, and a holistic mind-set about your health." (p. 34)
"The antioxidants in fresh fruits and vegetables cancel out the free radicals that damage our various body tissues as a result of routine daily metabolism, sun exposure, poor dietary habits, and environmental exposures." (p.67)
"There are four basic types of cravings: protein, sugar, carbohydrates, and salt." (p. 110)

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