Sunday, December 31, 2017

Our 2017 in Summary

As another year draws to an end, we reflect upon God's goodness and faithfulness through all its ups and downs. This year has been a year of sorrow and celebration, loss and gain.

On January 22nd,  my mother-in-law, Juanita went home to be with Jesus. Very unexpectedly. We visited her the night before and she was improving. We had her celebration of life on January 30th at City View Chapel.

On March 3rd, we bought Juanita's home in Salem from her husband, Joe. Alyssa bought her first car (2006 blue Buick) from Joe for $2,350, which died on her shortly after she arrived in Texas (she left Oregon on Aug. 25th and arrived in Texas on Aug. 29th).

On April 7th, during a wind storm, the Tree of Heaven in front of the garage fell on our red Toyota. Eric was standing there two minutes earlier. We're so grateful that God saved Eric's life!

On April 8th, Josiah bought his first car (2000 green Ford Taurus) for $1,200.

On May 13th, Alyssa received awards in the morning, had a dance competition in the afternoon, and we (Eric, Annette, Isaiah, Alyssa and I) enjoyed Dining Out in the evening.

On June 17th, Alyssa graduated with a bachelor's degree from Oregon State University with a 4.0 GPA and was commissioned as an Air Force second Lieutenant.

On July 22nd, we had our annual cookout and games at Dad/Grandpa and Barbara's house.

On July 28th, Josiah bought 2001 tan Cadillac Sedan Deville for $2,600.

On July 29th, Alyssa and Eric had lots of fun doing Adventure Hunt in Portland. They were ranked 40/98.

On August 6th, Alyssa, Eric, and I went to ballroom dancing.

From August 10th to August 17th, we had our family vacation in Washington and Canada.

On September 2nd, Alyssa bought a red 2017 Toyota Corolla SE Sedan.

On September 8th and 9th, Eric and I celebrated our 26th anniversary at the beach.

On October 11th, Isaiah took his PSAT exam. His score was 1120.

On November 24th, Annette moved in with us.

On December 12th, Eric officially started his new position as the Public Works Director of City of Woodburn.


On December 21st, Josiah was promoted to a supervisor position at Wendy's.

From December 24th to January 1st, Alyssa spent her Christmas break with us.

Here are some snapshots of our 2017.
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God is always good and faithful; He walks with us whether on mountains or in valleys. He is our Anchor through any life's storms. In Christ, we lack nothing. We're thankful for His ever-present help in times of need, for His ever-sufficient grace in all circumstances, and for His ever-abundant blessings which include all our family and friends near and far. May you all have a bright, beautiful, & blessed year, growing closer to God, walking by faith fearlessly, and bearing much fruit for His glory! 

สวัสดีปีใหม่ค่ะ #HappyNewYear #Happy2018

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

CD Review: A Girl Like Me by Julie Elias

A Girl Like Me
I like to check out new Christian music albums. I was glad for the opportunity to review a new CD, "A Girl Like Me" by Julie Elias. I had not heard of her before. Julie Elias was an actress (appearing on shows like "Grey's Anatomy" and "CSI: NY") and now she is a Christian singer and songwriter. She has a beautiful voice. She wrote all the songs on this album except three. She used her own personal experiences in her songs, hoping to share with others how God has worked in her life.

Below is the list of songs:
1. Unchained
2. Only For Awhile
3. Awaken
4. A Girl Like Me
5. Alive
6. Forgive Me
7. Lost
8. Run Away
9. Here With Us
10. Wherever You Roam
11. A Wild Rose
12. In the Light

I enjoyed listening to this CD. Some songs are catchy and some are soothing. All original songs are intentionally crafted to share stories that aim to encourage and inspire young women. Unchained is a song about freedom and transformation and about praising God for His power, mercy, majesty, and holiness. Only For Awhile is an upbeat song about different seasons of life and changes that are all temporary. Awaken is a song of prayer, asking God to awaken our soul & consume our lives with His presence, to purify our hearts' desires, to put away deeds of darkness, to armor us with His light, and to give us vibrant joy. Forgive Me is a humble song about taking the first step to ask a friend for forgiveness. Lost is a song of faith about knowing that we're not alone and choosing to surrender and trust God through every trial and every tear. Some of my favorite songs on this album are A Girl Like Me, Run Away, Here With Us, and In the Light. A Girl Like Me (which is the title of this album) is a beautiful, heartfelt song that talks about how God sees all of us and yet still loves us, despite our weaknesses, mistakes, failures, and shame. Run Away is a song of determination to not run away from God anymore but to look to Him for strength and courage, instead. Here With Us is a wonderful Christmas song about Jesus Christ, Son of God & Servant King, who is our Immanuel, God with us. I've always loved DC Talk's In the Light and I think Julie did a great job doing its cover. Christmas is just around the corner. This CD would make a lovely, meaningful Christmas gift for any tween girls, teen girls, and young women in your lives.

Official Website: www.julieeliasmusic.com
Note: You can enter a giveaway to win a free copy of this CD at  https://www.blessedfreebies.com/enter-to-win-a-girl-like-me.html

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


Monday, December 4, 2017

Review: She Reads Truth Bible

I love studying God's Word. I like using a variety of different Bible versions because they help me gain a better understanding of the Bible. I was excited to receive a She Reads Truth Bible for review. It is a Poppy Linen hardcover. It is Christian Standard Bible (CSB) version. It may look plain on the outside but it is quite pretty and appealing on the inside. This Bible's key features are color-coded genre indicators, key verse arts, book introductions, maps, charts, reading plans (including supplementary passages for added context and deeper understanding), timelines, and devotionals. I'm a visual learner so I find maps and charts very helpful. I think it's great that "How to Read the Bible", "This is the Gospel", and "Introduction to the Christian Standard Bible" are included in the beginning of the book. In the back of the book, you will find a list of key verses, genre guide (color-coded), the Apostles' Creed, the Bible in a Year reading plan, topical index, maps, and table of weights & measures. 
 I'm currently studying Names of God. Yesterday, I was studying one of Christ's Names in Revelation 1:8, "the Alpha and the Omega". Isn't the key verse art (more samples below) beautiful? It serves to help us memorize key verses (theme verses selected for each book). I appreciate the concise book introductions which cover cultural context (overview of the approximate time of writing, authorship, historical context, and relevant geography), main message and purpose, and Biblical significance (each book's unique contribution to the canon of Scripture). I really like the two ribbon markers, one for the Old Testament and one for the New Testament. The Bible's layout on each page provides extra-wide margins for note-taking and journaling. The devotionals are gospel-centered and insightful. Christmas is just around the corner. This Bible would also make a wonderful, meaningful gift for any women in your lives!
I love the answer to why a She Reads Truth Bible was created: "This Bible is our humble attempt to honor the inherently beautiful gospel with the aesthetic beauty it deserves. Scripture is a glorious collision of beauty, goodness, and truth, and we pray this book you hold in your hands represents that. Our heart for the She Reads Truth Bible is not to add to or improve on the perfect and complete gift of Scripture God has given us. Rather, our heart is for everything we've included in this Bible to point back to God and His Word. Every human word and element in this book is an intentional invitation for you to both read Scripture and grow in your affection for it."  


~I received this Bible for free from B&H Publishing via FrontGate Media in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. 


Note: You can win one of 7 copies! https://www.blessedfreebies.com/she-reads-truth.html

Thursday, November 30, 2017

30 Days of Thankfulness 2017

1. I am thankful that "God works in me both to will and to act for His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13) Thank You, Lord, for fixing our electricity problems!

2. I am thankful that I am chosen, royal, holy, special (treasured), and called out of darkness into God's wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9). Thank You, Lord, for Your protection over Josiah!

3. I am thankful for God's mercy, love, compassion, and forgiveness.

4. I am thankful for God's Word and the Holy Spirit that leads, guides, encourages, teaches, nourishes, and comforts me.

5. I am thankful for childlike faith. I am thankful for God's provision.

6. I am thankful for my eyes, the gift of sight. I am thankful for restful sleep.

7. I am thankful that out of Christ's inexhaustible fullness, I receive...grace upon grace, blessing upon blessing, comfort upon comfort.

8. I am thankful for the blessings of abundant life and everlasting life.

9. I am thankful for heat/warmth, warm shelter.

10. I am thankful for my eternal Home, Heaven, and for my future glorified body.

11. I am thankful for God's healing.

12. I am thankful for God's goodness and sovereignty.

13. I am thankful for the deep joy that is found in Christ alone.

14. I am thankful for God's constant presence and faithfulness.

15. I am thankful for brain...ability to think, remember, and create.

16. I am thankful for peace and contentment.

17. I am thankful that God always meets our needs. I am thankful that "God gives us the victory (over sin and death and self) through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:57)

18. I am thankful for fun family time. I am thankful that our sons (19 and 16) still enjoy hanging out with Eric and me.

19. I am thankful that God helped Eric do well on his interviews (4 in a day) and blessed him with the director job.

20. I am thankful for my salvation...for Jesus, the Rock of my salvation, my Savior and Redeemer, my Lord and King.

21. I am thankful for God's beautiful handiwork/creation everywhere.

22. I am thankful for Who God is. Thank You, God, for being my Good, Good Father, my Refuge and Strength, my Everpresent Help, my Healer and Defender, my Shelter and Hiding Place!

23. I am thankful for my family...I'm such a blessed wife and mom. My husband and three children are my most precious, treasured gifts from the Lord.

24. I am thankful for the privilege of prayer. Thank You, Father, for listening to my prayers...for allowing me to approach Your throne of grace with confidence so that I may receive mercy and find grace to help me in my time of need.

25. I am thankful for technology (such as iphone, Facebook, Skype, etc.) that helps me be able to stay connected with Alyssa (who is currently in Texas) and friends who live far away.

26. I am thankful that no two Christians will ever meet for the last time.

27. I am thankful for the gift of Christ-centered, God-honoring, happy, faithful marriage.

28. I am thankful for all the hymns and songs that uplift and convict my heart and soul and draw me closer to God.

29. I am thankful for every breath and every new day God gives me.

30. I am thankful for simple joys like good company, good food, good drinks, good movies, etc.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Review: Worldview by Marvin Olasky


World View: Seeking Grace and Truth in Our Common Life is a collection of columns which Marvin Olasky, as the Editor-in-Chief of World Magazine, wrote for the magazine. He presents Christian/ Biblical worldview on a wide variety of current world events and topics such as government role, abortion, racism, immigration, welfare, education, economics, environmentalism, tax, movies, marriage, and more. The book is divided into 5 main sections: Basics, Changes, Institutions, Causes, and Conclusions. There are 10-13 articles/columns under each section. These columns are short (only 2-3 pages long) but packed with Biblical wisdom and practical insights. The author exemplifies how to confidently speak Biblical truths in love with grace, respect, and humility and to passionately live out conviction with integrity, mercy, and compassion. Today's culture keeps challenging our faith. How do we effectively communicate about God, the Bible, and Biblical values without getting sucked into needless arguments and/or emotional outbursts? Learn from Marvin Olasky. He understands that truth without love is like poison that does more damage. We are called to be light and salt in the world. This book will help you examine your attitude, speech, and conduct and ask yourselves whether you are helping or hindering the cause of Christ. Stay faithful to God's Word and stay grace-filled in God's love. Check out this thought-provoking, Biblically sound, Christ-centered book on social issues and Christian living! Marvin Olasky did an excellent job of balancing truth with grace.

"If neither material security nor insecurity work, what's the solution? The same as to virtually every problem in the world: faith in Christ. Since we're sinners, we're all prone to insecurity, unless we realize that our security is not subjective but objective, not dependent on what we do but on what Christ has done. We feel secure when we know deep down that all things work together for the good of those who believe in Him." (p. 37)
Marvin Olasky is editor-in-chief of "World News Group," a distinguished chair in journalism and public policy at Patrick Henry College, and the author of more than twenty books, including "Compassionate Conservatism" and "The Tragedy of American Compassion." He and his wife, Susan, have four sons and five grandchildren.
Find out more about Marvin at http://stores.newgrowthpress.com.



~I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. To read other reviews, visit here.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Review and Giveaway: Kutless’ ALPHA / OMEGA CD

Alpha / Omega
"'I AM the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,' says the Lord, 'Who is and Who was and Who is to come, the Almighty.'" (Revelation 22:13)

Alpha / Omega is Kutless' 10th studio album that is released this month. It consists of old and new praise & worship songs. Some of them are familiar songs which have often been sung in churches and/or heard on radios such as Your Love Awakens Me, Great Are You Lord, Cornerstone, Your Great Name, and King of My Heart.

Below is the list of songs:
1. Your Great Name
2. Strong Tower
3. Cornerstone
4. You Are Love
5. Great Are You Lord
6. Your Love Awakens Me
7. Shepherd of My Soul
8. Gave It All (I Surrender All)
9. King of My Heart
10. No Wonder (Roar of the Rugged Cross)

I've always loved praise and worship songs. I'm glad to add this album to my collection of praise and worship CDs. I really enjoyed it. It's the kind of CD that I can listen to again and again. Some of my favorites on this album include Your Great Name, King of My Heart, Cornerstone, and Gave It All (I Surrender All). Gave It All is a sweet song of surrender. "So I give my all to the God who gave it all. All to Jesus I surrender." I also like Strong Tower, a song about our Lord's mercy and protection. Jesus is our Strong Tower, Refuge, Hope, Fortress, Shelter, and Everlasting King. Your Love Awakens Me is very catchy. I think it's a great wake-up song :). Shepherd of My Soul is a comforting song based on Psalm 23.

This album will help listeners reflect upon who Jesus is and what He has done for us. Several songs list many of Christ's Names which help us appreciate His different attributes. This CD will lift up your soul in worship to our Savior, King of kings, Lord of lords. I highly recommend this beautiful, worshipful, Christ-centered CD! Christmas is just around the corner. This CD would certainly make a wonderful Christmas gift.


GIVEAWAY: You can win a copy of this CD! The giveaway is open to residents of the continental U.S. only. Ends 12/1 at noon Pacific time.
To Enter: Please share in the comment one of your favorite praise and worship songs.
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~ 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.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Review and Giveaway: Ordinary Graces by Lucinda Secrest McDowell


Don't we all love receiving gifts? In Ordinary Graces, Lucinda Secrest McDowell invites readers to unwrap word gifts from God's Word. This devotional book is divided into 4 main sections: Grace, Strength, Gratitude, and Life. There are 30 words/devotions under each section. Each devotion is only 2 pages long. I collect devotional books so I'm pleased to add this one to my collection. Ordinary Graces is beautifully written. Each devotional reading focuses on one word at a time. It starts with Scripture. Sometimes, the author explains the words' original Greek or Hebrew meanings. I really like that! I also enjoy the insightful quotes and interesting stories. Some of the wonderful words you will find in the book are Lavished, Treasure, Surrounds, Patiently, Thrill, Overflow, and Attend. I think it's a great idea to take time to ponder one word each day and live it out in action. I definitely don't want to miss any of God's gifts. The words/devotions under the Gratitude section are perfect for preparing my heart for Thanksgiving season. The book will open readers' eyes to a variety of God's wondrous graces for any season of their lives. They get to appreciate God's redeeming grace, transforming grace, sustaining grace, inexhaustible grace, everyday grace...again and again. Each devotion may seem short but it's deep and impactful, encouraging and faith-building, refreshing and comforting. Ordinary Graces will help you notice God's daily graces, draw you closer to God, and help you be more thankful and joyful. Christmas is just around the corner. This book would make a meaningful gift. Check this Biblically sound, Christ-centered, grace-filled devotional out and enjoy its nuggets of wisdom!

About the author:


Lucinda Secrest McDowell is passionate about embracing life - both through deep soul care from drawing closer to God, as well as living courageously in order to touch a needy world. A storyteller who engages both heart and mind, she offers "Encouraging Words" to all on the journey. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, Cindy is the author of 13 books, including "Ordinary Graces," "Dwelling Places," "Live These Words," "Refresh!," "Quilts from Heaven" and "Role of a Lifetime." Whether co-directing the "reNEW - retreat for New England Writing," mentoring young moms, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages.


~I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for 
my honest review. All opinions are my own. To read other reviews, visit here.
Are you ready to receive gifts of ordinary grace and abundant life from God and His Word? Join Lucinda in focusing on one word a day through devotional readings and short benedictions in her new book, Ordinary Graces. God has given us many gifts, such as his grace—the gift we don’t deserve and can never earn. Promises from the One who declares we are already loved, already accepted, already created in his image. The question becomes, will we truly receive that gift? Will the reality of it actually change the way we think and notice and reach out?

Celebrate the release of Lucinda's new book and grace your holiday season with a $75 Etsy gift card giveaway!

 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of Ordinary Graces
  • A $75 Etsy gift card
  • A grace bracelet
  • A set of Ordinary Graces greeting cards
 

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on November 24. The winner will be announced November 27 on the Litfuse blog.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Review: Live SoulFULL: A Music-Driven Study of How God Fulfills your Deepest Needs (Book, CD, and Album Download Card)



I love studying God's Word and I love listening to music so I was excited to review this Bible study that combines both. This unique Bible study includes a book, 13-song CD, and digital album download card. All songs were written and sung (except two) by Ginger Tabot. She's a gifted singer and songwriter. Scott and Ginger Tabot (husband and wife) both have a passion to be used by God to help people know and love Him more. They want to use their God-given gifts for God's glory and God's kingdom. It's clearly shown in Live SoulFull which is a music-driven, gospel-centered, immersive Bible study. Ginger's original songs beautifully reinforce messages in each chapter. The lyrics and text in the book present Biblical answers to some of life's common questions, such as "How can we know that God is real?" and "Why does God allow evil and suffering?" Some important topics covered in this Bible study are soul needs, creation, God's grand love story (rescue & restoration plan), newness of life, the Trinity, God's presence, spiritual growth, Christlikeness, prayer, spiritual warfare, evil and suffering, and Christ's return. The book offers practical ways to put what you learn into action: Take a Selfie (challenging questions for reflection and discussion), Reach Up (prayer), Reach Out (share the songs and lessons with others and interact with others), and Sound Waves (listen to the songs again and focus on specific parts of each song). Each chapter has a box of key idea. I enjoyed both the CD and the book. God often uses music to seal His truths in our hearts. What a fun way to study the Bible! You will learn how God, the Giver and Filler of Life, fulfills your deepest needs and how you can live a vibrant, authentic Christian life full of hope and joy. Live SoulFULL is great for either personal Bible study or small group Bible study. Christmas is just around the corner. This book would make a wonderful, meaningful gift.

Below is the list of songs:
1. SoulFULL
2. Masterpiece
3. History
4. Let Me Love You (Feat. Jason Fowler)
5. I Invite You In
6. Alive in Me
7. Ordinary Miracle
8. Beautiful Like You
9. Raining Down
10. When We Pray
11. God of Mystery
12. All Things New (Feat. Monte Hunt)
13. I Choose Joy
You can enter a giveaway to win a copy of Live SoulFULL at http://www.blessedfreebies.com/soulfull.html .





~I received a free copy of this book and CD from the FrontGate Christian Blogger 

Network in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Review: She's Got the Wrong Guy by Deepak Reju

I'm so glad and thankful that God gave me the right guy. I am blessed with an awesome husband, a man after God's own heart. We've been blissfully married for over 26 years. I chose to review this book because I am concerned about my 24 year old daughter who is single and wants to find the right guy to date and marry. She is smart and wise but her dating choices have not always reflected that. This book is just what I want her to read :). She's Got the Wrong Guy is divided into 3 parts: 1. From Problems to Faith, 2. Am I Dating the Wrong Guy?, and 3. The Quest for a Godly Man. Each chapter starts with relevant quotes and Scriptures. The author pulls no punches when he discusses about the ten wrong types of guys single women should avoid. The ten types are: the Control Freak, the Promiscuous Guy, the Unchurched Guy, the New Convert, the Unbeliever, the Angry Man, the Lone Ranger, the Commitment-Phobic Man, the Passive Man, the Unteachable Guy. As a pastor and counselor, Deepak Reju has heard and seen all sorts of dating and marriage problems. He shares from his experience why smart women settle, how to recognize the wrong kinds of guys (how to spot red flags), how to break up for the glory of God, what to do while you wait for the right guy, what to look for in an authentic Christian man, and how to trust God and rely on His grace for your relationship. Remember that being miserably married is worse than being miserably single. Marriage will not solve all your problems. Jesus is your only solution. Reju's story examples are relatable to single women and dating scenes in today's society. He backs up his discussion with Biblical reasons and wisdom. The practical advice and prudent insights in this book are truly valuable and must be heeded. The book is written with compassion and understanding. Choosing whom to marry is the second most important decision you'll every make (only second to your decision to trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior). Choose wisely! I highly recommend this God-honoring, Christ-centered book to all single Christian women! My hope and prayer is that they (including my daughter) will neither settle nor compromise but will patiently wait for God's best for them.

"Treasure Christ. Hope in him. Don't build your heart around temporary treasures, like marriage to a godly husband, raising children, or the dream of a future together. Let your heart be captivated with Christ. Make Christ your greatest of all treasures." (p. 24)

"The most important ingredient of a happy life is not finding a husband, but in giving your life to Christ. Make Jesus your greatest treasure...Pour yourself into loving Christ and let your love for him overflow in loving and serving the people around you. The best way to prepare for your future is to focus on becoming a woman whose greatest desire is Christ." (p. 30)

"Life does not go well when you make earthly things your hope and treasure. When you look for your ultimate happiness in a husband, children, a beautiful home, or a wonderful life now, you'll be disappointed, anxious, confused, or even hurt, because none of these things are meant to carry the weight of your ultimate hopes. Putting your hope in earthly treasures shows that you are not letting your heart rest in satisfaction with the Lord. An already hard life is made harder when your desire for happiness takes center stage in your life." (p. 142)

"A bad marriage is not better than struggling through singleness. For many women I know, the problem isn't so much convincing them that it's better to choose the right guy than the wrong guy. Often there doesn't seem to be a 'right guy' around. The problem is convincing them that it's better to be single than spend their life with the wrong guy. So that sends us racing back to a few pivotal questions--Is Christ enough for you? Can he be all that you need? Can you build your entire life around him?" (p. 150)

"The goal of a Christian single woman is not to find a husband, but a Savior. The ultimate destination for Christian single women is not marriage, but heaven. Build your life around preparing for heaven by growing in your godliness and love for the Savior. You will never be disappointed." (p. 162)

~I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. To read other reviews, visit here.


Monday, November 6, 2017

Review: Total Christmas Makeover by Melissa Spoelstra



I collect devotional books and I love Christmas so I was excited to review this book. During Christmas season, do you feel like flustered Martha (in the Bible)...having too much to do and not enough time to get it all done? Let's not get swept up in the hustle and bustle. Instead, may we prepare our hearts to celebrate this Christmas with joy and purpose. Christmas is about celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ; it's not about perfect planning or fantastic festivities! Pause and become more like Mary who focused on Jesus. Mary sat at the Lord's feet listening to what He said while Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. Jesus said to Martha,"You are worried and upset about many things, but only ONE thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:38-42) Total Christmas Makeover has 31 devotions that will help you pause and prioritize, ponder and pray. The book is divided into 3 sections: Ritual (Day 1 to Day 10), Relationships (Day 11 to Day 20), and Rest (Day 21 to Day 31). Each devotion starts with Bible verses and ends with a prayer, questions for reflection, and practical ideas. The author shares her own family Christmas experiences, including what works and what doesn't work. She shows how to incorporate Biblical meanings into traditions; she helps readers think why they do what they do. The book covers many important topics such as giving, serving, forgiveness, humility, patience, love languages, spiritual gifts, worship, balance, obedience, gratitude, and more. I've enjoyed reading this book and will continue to read as Christmas approaches. Total Christmas Makeover is a Christ-centered, gospel-focused, grace-filled devotional that will help you and your families enjoy a meaningful celebration this Christmas. May the activities we do help us remember what God has done for us, may the people we interact with be blessed and touched by Christ's love, and may we learn to rest in our Lord and reflect on what, Whom, and why we celebrate Christmas! 


~I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. To read other reviews, visit here.




Review: Descriptions and Prescriptions by Michael R. Emlet

In today's society, many people (including those in the Body of Christ) seem to be struggling with mental health problems such as Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, OCD, PTSD, depression, anxiety, and the list goes on. There are different opinions about psychiatric diagnoses and treatments, even among Christians. Some rely too heavily upon psychiatric labels and medicines while others totally disregard them. Neither of these extreme positions are helpful. Descriptions and Prescriptions offers a Biblical perspective on psychiatric diagnoses and medications. It's well written with a Scripturally & scientifically balanced approach. Dr. Michael R. Emlet, a Christian counselor, author, and retired physician, presents this challenging topic with humility, compassion, and understanding. The book is divided into two main parts: 1. Understanding Psychiatric Diagnoses, and 2. Understanding Psychoactive Medications. The author addresses some misconceptions, explains difficult medical terms, gives clear examples of various cases from his personal experience, talks about pros (value & effectiveness) and cons (problems & pitfalls) of psychiatric diagnoses and psychoactive medications. I appreciate his emphasis on the relevance and significance of Scripture in helping the suffering because I, too, believe that Biblical wisdom is needed for soul care. From this book, you will learn about the different diagnostic categories found in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a brief history of psychiatric diagnosis, classes of psychoactive medications, how suffering affects spiritual growth, how we should appreciate medications as God's gifts but not idolize them, and several excellent tips and advice. Descriptions and Prescriptions is a small book (only 100 pages long) but it's packed with valuable information and practical insights. Mental illness is a complex issue. Biblical counselors need to take into account spiritual, biological, relational, situational, and societal-cultural factors. Whether you are counselors, pastors, youth pastors, or laypersons who want to help those with mental distress, this book (first in the Helping the Helper series) is a useful resource for you! 

"This means that attention to both physical and spiritual aspects of our personhood is mandatory in ministry. It is profoundly dehumanizing to ignore the 'heart'--our moral-spiritual disposition and the responsibilities that go with it; and it is profoundly dehumanizing to ignore the body and the strengths and weaknesses that go with it." (p. 71)

"While relieving suffering is a kingdom priority, seeking mere relief without a vision for God's transforming agenda in the midst of suffering may short-circuit all that God wants to do in the person's life. Another way of saying this is that we should be glad for symptom relief but simultaneously look for the variegated fruit of the Spirit; perseverance in the midst of suffering, deeper trust in the Father's love, more settled hope, love for fellow strugglers, gratitude, and more." (p. 76)

"Even if we do view medication as a potential piece in a comprehensive ministry approach, we always seek to bring the riches of Christ's redemption to bear upon people's lives. Sinners will always need mercy, grace, forgiveness, and supernatural power to love God and neighbor. Sufferers will always need comfort, hope and the will to persevere. Ultimately, these blessings are found not in a pill bottle...but in the person of Jesus Christ." (p. 94)



About the Author:

Michael R. Emlet, M.Div., M.D., practiced as a family physician for twelve years before becoming a counselor and faculty member at CCEF. He is the author of many counseling articles and the booklets, Asperger Syndrome, Angry Children: Understanding and Helping Your Child Regain Control, Help for the Caregiver: Facing the Challenges with Understanding and Strength, and OCD: Freedom for the Obsessive Compulsive.


~I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. To read other reviews, visit here.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Review: Thomas Nelson's "KJV Know The Word Study Bible" plus Kindle Fire & Bible Giveaway

I love studying God's Word because I want to know God more. I like using a variety of different Bible versions because they help me gain a better understanding of the Bible. I was excited to receive this KJV Know The World Study Bible for review. It features three easy approaches to studying the Bible: book by book, verse by verse, and topic by topic. I was glad to see words of Jesus in red; they stand out as they should :). This study Bible includes a comprehensive list of theological notes, full-color maps, and concordance. It covers 21 theological topics such as Trinity, Covenant, Sanctification, Purpose, God's Will, Suffering, and Evil. I'm currently studying Philippians so I've been using this study Bible to give me a deeper, clearer understanding. I appreciate the concise book introductions which offer insight into each book's background, author, audience, purpose, and message. The Study the Book sidebars are great, too; they expound each book's major themes and teachings. The verse by verse footnotes are extensive and very helpful. This Bible is a hardback book. The overall format is plain and easy to use. If you want to study the Bible in depth but feel somewhat intimidated or do not know where to begin, check out this KJV Know The Word Study Bible. Christmas is just around the corner. This Bible would also make a wonderful, meaningful gift for anyone!

~I received a free copy of this KJV Know The Word Study Bible from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. To read other reviews, visit here.
Diving deeper into God's Word can be easy and rewarding if you break it down book by book, verse by verse, or topic by topic with the new KJV Know The Word Study Bible by Thomas Nelson. The book-by-book series of notes leads you through the main points of each book of the Bible. The verse-by-verse notes help you to dig deeper into God's Word. The topic-by-topic articles, which cover 21 theological topics, guide you through a series of insightful notes and give you a thorough biblical understanding of each topic. With the beautiful and timeless text of the KJV translation, the KJV Know the Word Study Bible offers you choices of how to study Scripture and grow in your relationship with Christ.

This fall, become a regular student of the Bible and enter to win the Kindle Fire giveaway!
One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of the KJV Know The Word Study Bible
  • A Kindle Fire 7
  • A Kindle Fire case (winner's choice)
Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on October 31. The winner will be announced November 1 on the Litfuse blog.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Driving Research and Saving Sight

I personally experienced a temporary (partial) blindness in my left eye due to vitreous hemorrhage. It's very scary! I value the gift of seeing so much. I enjoy taking pictures of God's beautiful creation. Sight is precious to me! While we care about eating right and staying fit, we should also care about keeping our eyes healthy. I'd like to encourage you all to learn more about Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by listening to the video below about AMD from a grandmother's perspective and downloading a free educational packet on AMD (provided by Foundation Fighting Blindness) from this link. AMD is a common curable eye disease. Feel free to share this post and help spread the news about the efforts that are being made to fight AMD and in some cases, reverse the disease. Please use #ffbamd when posting about AMD (Age Related Macular Degeneration). Thank you!
Every year nearly 10 million Americans go blind due to AMD or Age-related Macular Degeneration. The exciting news is that a cure is in sight! The Foundation Fighting Blindness, a non-profit organization, has provided funding for research on cures for blindness, specifically AMD, since 1971. In fact, with the research FFB has already made possible, treatments to stop and in some cases even reverse retinal disease is a reality. This is great news for people over 55 and their families. With AMD it is nearly impossible for grandparents to enjoy the little things in life such as playing games, watching movies and reading to their grandchildren. However, due to innovative research, those things are once again possible for many people…but, they need to continue this outreach, support additional research and find cures. Their campaign focus is on ‘Driving Research & SAVING SIGHT!’.



Friday, October 6, 2017

Book Review: Counseling Under the Cross by Bob Kellemen

I've always respected Martin Luther and interested in Biblical counseling so I was excited to have an opportunity to review this book. Most people (me included) know Martin Luther as the champion of the Reformation and theologian but probably not so much as a pastoral counselor. Counseling Under the Cross is a thorough, well-researched case study on how Martin Luther applied the gospel of Christ's grace to daily life, to suffering, sin, and sanctification. The book is divided into two sections: I. What Shaped Martin Luther's Pastoral Counseling? and II. What Is the Shape of Martin Luther's Pastoral Counseling? In the first section, Bob Kellemen helps readers understand the background of Martin Luther's faith journey which shaped Luther's life and ministry. Luther severely suffered soul anguish and eventually realized that his own works of righteousness only led to hopelessness, despair, and uncertainties. He discovered that man-made remedy is futile and impossible. Once he saw and embraced the light of God's infinite grace, he experienced joyful, sweet, soul-freeing peace and comfort. His view of God changed from an angry Judge to a loving Father. Luther wanted to help others experience the same so he shared with others what he found helpful to him. "Justification/reconciliation by grace through faith was the core of Luther's pastoral care--not only for salvation--but for daily Christian living." (p.26) Luther drew people back to the Cross of Christ by weaving God's Word and grace in his counseling ministry. I really admire how Luther personally cared for people's soul with compassion and tenderness yet at the same time with strong conviction and straightforward admonition. He cared not only about people's external suffering (diseases and misfortunes) but also their internal suffering (distresses and doubts). "For Luther, we must look at everything in life, including our suffering, through the lens of Christ's gospel victory narrative." (p. 68)

In the second section, the author explains how Luther approached the four areas of pastoral care: sustaining, healing, reconciling, and guiding. Luther's personal experiences of deep spiritual quest and soul torment enabled him to empathize with others who suffered. Luther showed how gospel truth transformed and freed soul sufferers. He believed in the sufficiency of Scripture and of God's grace for all our trials and sufferings. This book is filled with Luther's personal accounts, excerpts from his books and letters, and quotes from many who wrote about Luther. At the end of each chapter, you will find a tweet-size summary of the main message from that chapter. There are so many valuable lessons and practical applications we can glean from Luther's loving, insightful, hope-giving words of wisdom and ways of counseling. Counseling Under the Cross is a great resource for pastors, Christian counselors, and anyone who wants to offer Christ-centered, gospel-saturated, grace-based counseling to those who need to hear (including ourselves).

~I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. To read other reviews, visit here.