Ishtar’s Odyssey by Arnold Ytreeide

Keeping our families focused on Christ at Christmas can be challenging inunnamed the busyness and distractions of life, sadly especially during this season. Simple and fun devotions, traditions, and songs are great tools. Now I have discovered Ishtar’s Odyssey which is “a family story for Advent” by Arnold Ytreeide. It is broken up into short chapters that are meant to be read together each day of Advent. Each chapter ends with a small devotion pulling out the spiritual lessons we can learn and how we can apply them as Christ followers.

Ishtar, a 10-year-old Prince of Persia, discovers a star and grudgingly leaves the comforts of his home to follow this star in search of a new king along side his father, a Persian wise man. He learns to not complain and to appreciate the wisdom and experience of those around him. Ishtar faces many adventures and dangers and changes of heart as he throws off the identity of being a spoiled child to confidently accept the role of prince and protector.

In this book Ishtar meets up with Jotham, Bartholomew, and Tabitha – three characters that seem to be more important to the story than I would assume with how little they are included. However, then I noticed that there are three other Advent devotional written by Ytreeide – Jotham’s Journey, Bartholomew’s Passage, and Tabitha’s Travels.

I enjoyed experiencing the story myself, so I definitely look forward to sharing Ishtar’s Odyssey with my family this Christmas! Then perhaps checking out the others by Ytreeide for the next three. :)

How does your family stay focused on Christ during Christmas?

**Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Moment by Moment: a devotional journal for girls by Jennifer Flanders

I chose to check out Moment by Moment by Jennifer Flanders as a possible devotional for my girls. I Moment by Moment book coverwas a little surprised with it, because it wasn’t what I expected as a devotional. However, I guess the word “journal” clarifies it more, if I would have read closer! :) It won’t quite fit for what I was originally looking, but I am not disappointed that I decided to get it!! I know my girls will love it!

This devotional journal is divided up into seven different areas of focus. Some examples are “Childhood Memories” and “Personal Favorites” that concentrate more on the individual girl and “Prayers & Graces” and “A Heart for Service” which focus more on their relationship with Jesus and others. Each section includes thought provoking questions and applicable Bible verses with plenty of space to write, draw, paste a picture… for the girls to get creative and honest. Also the illustrations are charming and add an elegant feel to the journal.

I already know I will have to purchase a few more. :) Once one girl receives it, the others will hope to have their own!

I would recommend this devotional journal to most girls of all ages, even into college with how much journalling is starting to catch back on with the younger generation.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookCrash. I was not required to give a positive review, but to solely express my own thoughts and opinions.

More Than Just “The Talk”: Becoming Your Kids’ Go-To Person About Sex by Jonathan McKee

After a couple months of silence I’m back with a highly recommended book for parents, youth ministers, or anyone helping kids through the craziness of life, hormones and relationships…

This is a great and needed book!! It was well written and easy to read — not due to the subject matter,More Than Just “The Talk” book cover but I guess you could say in spite of the subject matter. Jonathan McKee’s humor was just the right amount to lighten the mood of the reader (no defeatist attitude here!) while not making lessing the importance of such this issue. This book was both eye-opening and encouraging. He has a chapter specifically written towards helping our daughters and another for our sons. His “How Far?” chapter has a perfect example involving a toothbrush and a toilet!! (You’ll have to check that out!!) He also helps readers as parents and leaders who are guiding kids as they understand and stay away from issues like porn and masturbation. His “Tough Questions” chapter is a good resources to address specific questions he has heard from kids and parents.

Continuing conversations, asking questions, and building relationships are huge parts of “becoming your kids’ go-to person about sex”! His tips for keeping conversations open are…

  1. Don’t Overreact
  2. Don’t Make Sex “Naughty”
  3. Keep Your Eyes Open for Natural Springboards
  4. Ask, Listen…Repeat

My husband and I want to help our kids in the areas of purity. We want them to guard their hearts and their eyes as they grow and mature. We want them to look forward to experiencing God’ wonderful gift of sex in marriage!!

Resources like this book are welcomed tools for us as parents!

I received this book for free from Bethany House in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion.

In This House We Will Giggle by Courtney DeFeo

Let me get to the point…LOVE the title, LOVE the subtitle “Making Virtues, Love & Laughter a DailyIn This House We Will Giggle book cover Part of Your Family Life”, AND LOVE the cover design for Courtney DeFeo’s book, In This House We Will Giggle!!!! :) Therefore I was really excited to read this book. I DEFINITELY want more giggles in our home!

Through love and laughter, each of the chapters focus on teaching a different virtue. The virtues included are joy, love, forgiveness, faith, patience, perseverance, respect, responsibility, service, humility, gratitude, and generosity. DeFeo presents the option of focusing on one virtue each month of the year starting with Joy in January through Generosity in December. This is a great way to not feel overwhelmed but give your family time to really learn about, practice, and embrace each virtue. The chapters include a section called “catch phrase for_(the virtue)_, a memory verse for the month, a kid-friendly definition for the virtue, questions to discuss, a Bible story to read (from The Jesus Storybook Bible), activity ideas and more.

I started reading the book around the end of January, so I didn’t want to rush to start it in January. However, I loved how some of the virtues go very well with the holidays of a few of the months, such as Love in February, Gratitude in November and Generosity in December. Therefore I decided to start implementing the monthly virtue focus in order, but starting in February with the second chapter Love: Letting Concern for Others Guide Our Behavior. (We’ll go back to January at the end. Don’t want to miss Joy: When the Reality of Life Meets a Heart of Gladness!) The kids have totally jumped on board – doing chores for each other, writing notes, ….! It’s been a sweet family experience so far and we are just starting. :)

I’ll close my review with some good questions from the heart of In This House We Will Giggle by Courtney DeFeo…

“Our home, and the environment we create within our family, sets up the impression our kids will have of faith and God. Will they believe Jesus loves only well-behaved, model children, or will they know He loves them just as they are? Will they see the Christian life as a series of rules to be followed, or will they follow Jesus because they’ve learned from us what it means to love Him and find joy in being with Him?”’ -pg. 5

More Info

Author Bio

**I received this book from Blogging for Books for an honest review.

Love Your Theme

Today’s assignment from Blogging University: try out at least three other themes — even if you’re happy with the one you first chose. Try one you’re drawn to, and one you would never use.

I did and changed my blog theme. Check it out!

Yes, short but sweet. I’m just trying to do something productive with my blog since I haven’t had time in the last week…Not sure how productive this post actually is…

but the change is fun! :)

It’s Just Me,


The Abbot’s Agreement by Mel Starr

The Abbot’s Agreement is from Mel Starr’s Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon. Actually it is the 7th book, which I did not realize. (IThe Abbot’s Agreement book cover try not to choose a book from the middle of a series. I feel that there is normally a sense of loss not starting from the beginning with the characters and seeing them grow through their experiences.) I did not have time to read the first six before ;) , but the book worked out as my first book from The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton. There was a few small references that I assumed were from Master Hugh’s previous adventures written in the other chronicles.

The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon series is set in medieval England with the main character of Hugh de Singleton, a surgeon and bailiff to Lord Gilbert. The Abbot’s Agreement starts out with Hugh traveling to Oxford to purchase a Bible. He travels with Arthur, a groom in the service of Lord Gilbert. (From my reading of this book I also assume that Arthur has been involved in the other adventures.) The body of a young novice from the nearby Eynsham Abbey is found on their journey and changes Hugh’s plans dramatically. The abbot from the abbey asked Hugh to look in to the crime in exchange for the brothers to make him his Bible. …Is this agreement worth it?!

Mel Starr includes a glossary at the beginning of the book just in case his readers aren’t familiar with the medieval terms. I read through it before I started the novel to give me a little bit of background information. I have not read any books set in the medieval times! However, I found it very tedious to go back and forth while I was reading the story. Therefore I stopped using it for the most part and I was able to follow the story and enjoy it. I did get lost in some of the titles and names.

I enjoyed seeing how Master Hugh investigated a crime in this time period, without all the technology of today. My favorite part of the book was the humorous exchanges between Hugh and Arthur when Arthur “helped” a with a couple guys who weren’t as cooperative!! While it was an interesting and entertaining read, I’m not sure I will check out the beginning of the chronicles. Maybe later…right now I would rather read a book in a setting that is easier for me to step into as a reader.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Make Your “About” Page Irresistible

Blogging University‘s 5th assignment for Blogging 101 today is to “create and publish your About page, and adapt it for a widget on your home page.”

I created my About page when I started the blog in 2006 and then I simply update it off and on. Just last week I edited my page, because it had been a few years since any changing or adding had occurred–00ps! Now this assignment leads me back to it…

“Why do this?

  • An enticing About page gives your readers an idea of who you are and what your blog is about, and shows off your unique voice.
  • A short description of your blog right on the home page helps rushed, indecisive readers decide to stick around.

…Most importantly, your About page tells your blog’s story.” (from the assignment)

My About page definitely gives a picture of me and where I come from. I’m not sure how “enticing” it is! :) However, I believe it works well. I’m a pretty down-to-earth woman, a loving & encouraging wife and mom (working on the patience though!), a loyal & fun friend, and a Christ-follower who knows she’s still learning & growing in my relationship with my Savior. Also my family is a huge part of my story because all — from my grandparents to my kids — have been/are huge parts of my story – who I am and why.

I already use a couple widgets to personalize my home page. With one I include a picture and another is used for a link that allows the reader another way to get to my About page. I hadn’t thought of adding a shorted “about” in addition to what I have. I’ll work on that through this week since I know I won’t be posting as often (back to regular schedule) – I’ll give myself an extension on that part of the assignment! ;)

In previous posts, (1) I introduced myself, (2) worked on the name of my blog, (3) checked out a few different blogs and topics, and (4) wrote to you while including a few different blog elements. Come back and check out more as the fun and learning continue …

It’s Just Me,