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.

Gospel Formed by J.A. Meddlers

J.A. Meddlers’s subtitle “Living a Grace-Addicted, Truth-Filled, Jesus-Exalting Life” is the reason I picked this book! Yes, I want Gospel Formed book coverthat to describe me…in my everyday life…with my husband, with our kids, as I homeschool, in my interactions with family, friends, strangers…!!

Meddlers recommends to read a chapter a day. I didn’t do that. However, looking back I would echo his suggestion. I used a color for a highlighter (as a mom with 4 kids there is always at least one around!), so my copy of Gospel Formed looks more like a coloring book now! There were so many great reminders and awesome “new-perspective” moments through out the book that challenged and inspired me.

“The Lord tells us, Keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye” (Prov. 7:2). The “apple of your eye” is a love so strong that your heart hones in and will not look away. What twinkles in your eyes? What do you fixate on? Is God’s teaching the apple of your eye? How does the Bible rank in your life?” (pg. 64)

Yet, I want my heart to be effected, not just my head. I plan to go back through this book slower and then I may read it again aloud to the kids. I pray that they also will live a “grace-addicted, truth-filled, jesus-exalting life”!!

The book is broken down into five parts which all point to the Gospel in our our worship, identity, community, and mission. As Meddler explains, “Since the gospel is our message, model, motivation, and means, the gospel informs and shaped our worship, identity, community, and mission.” (pg. 28)

“What is Gospel Identity?” was my favorite section this time through the book. His reminders of our identity, how much we are loved and comforted and condemnation-free, and my role as a soldier really spoke to my heart.

From the chapter “You Are a Gospel Soldier: “Christianity’s aim is for us to experience new life in the kingdom of Christ, glorifying, exalting, and savoring Jesus. God seeks something far higher than good, clean, normal, comfy, morally upstanding people sitting in a church building on Sunday morning, nodding their heads to another great sermon. He is calling us to greatness in the environment of his grace. We are surrounded by grace, and that grace lead us to fight against our sin. Romans 8:13 is a declaration of all-our war on sin: ‘If you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the boys, you will live.’” (pg. 129)

I could share so much from this book, but I won’t because you will color your own copy of Gospel Formed by J.A. Meddlers! 😉

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

Dare U 2 Open This Book by Carol McAdams Moore

Dare U 2 Open This Book: Draw It, Write It, Dare to Live It is a devotional book by Carol McAdams Moore for boys. I also Dare U 2 Open This Book book coverreviewed her one for girls titled Just Sayin’: Write ‘em, Draw ‘em, Hide ‘em in Your Heart. (You can check out my review here.) Since my girls and I were so excited about her devo geared for girls, I thought I should check out this one too.  My son isn’t old enough yet, but I’m planning ahead. 🙂

Again, Carol McAdams Moore has created 90 engaging devotions that will appeal to a range of ages and personalities as they explore God’s truth and different ways to put them into action. Along with a topic, quote, and Scripture summary, other fun and creative activities are include, such as puzzles, doodles, quizzes, and other unique activities. The author prays that through Dare U 2 Open This Book and her other devos the kids will “discover Jesus and find Him more amazing than ever imagined!” I LOVE her heart for kids and her willingness to think out of the box in these devotions.

I pray that these will help kids grow in their faith as they express their thoughts and feelings in creative ways.

I received a free copy of this book from BookLook in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Just Sayin’: Write ‘Em, Draw ‘Em, Hide ‘Em in Your Heart by Carol McAdams Moore

Just Sayin’: Write ‘em, Draw ‘em, Hide ‘em in Your Heart is a devotional for girls. My older two daughters (9 and 11) saw an adJust Sayin’ book cover about this book in their Club House magazine and not so subtly hinted that they wanted one PLEASE, which I think is awesome because there doesn’t really seem to be much for their ages. Also the timing worked out perfectly because they will both need some kind of a new devo soon. So I decided to check it out, before I ok it and pass it along.

Reviewing a devotional is challenging because we want it to keep our kids’ hearts soft and open as they grow closer with their best friend Jesus. However, a lot of that depends more on how the devo is used and how serious the girls are about learning more of the Word and listening to their Heavenly Father.

In saying that, I believe Carol McAdams Moore has created a fun, engaging way for girls in these 90 devotions to “Read something awesome about God. Learn something cool about yourself. Then …Doodle, Write, Paint, Glue, …Whatever!” I believe the age of the girls interested in a devo book like this will vary greatly —starting with younger ones who may need a little of mom’s help to teen girls— because of the format of this book. Girls can go as deep as they want or are able to at their maturity level. Just Sayin’ may appeal to some personalities more than others. However, it has a wide variety of unique activities along with the Scriptures reading to challenge girls and get their mind thinking and faith growing. I think it can be a great tool for most to let them expression their God-given creativity as they draw (love the pun!!) closer to their Creator! 🙂

I do pray that as my two girls use this tool (yes, I approved it!), their attitude will continue to reflect this quote from the book: “Sweet! Learning to follow Jesus. Best. Idea. Ever.”

I received a free copy of this book from BookLook in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.

**Correction** Oops! Had to correct the authors name, though it’s still wrong in the web address. Sorry, Carol McAdams Moore! I’ll get it correct in my next review 🙂

Heart Wide Open by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

As I read the subtitle of Tomlinson’s Heart Wide Open… “Trading Mundane Faith for an Exuberant Life with Jesus”, the back cover summary… Heart Wide Open book cover“Shellie invites you to answer the call of your restless heart and refuse to settle for anything less than the intimate friendship of God” and the many recommendations, I knew I needed this book! So I found out what date Heart Wide Open would be available for review, marked that on my calendar and set a reminder. I purposely waited to choose a book from this publisher, making sure I wouldn’t be tied up in another book.

Once Heart Wide Open by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson arrived, I consumed it. I read, reread, and worked through the Bible Study/Discussion Guide in the back. I marked, highlighted and dog-eared page after page. I took pictures of sections and texted them to my husband, mom, mother-in-law, other family members, and friends! My husband feels like he has already read this book with everything I shared! (It is labeled as being for women, but he would also recommend this book!!) 🙂

This is a book from Tomlinson’s raw cry to the Lord, “I admit it. I don’t love You like I should, but I want to love You. Help!”. Her honesty touched my heart as I prayed along with her, her humor allowed me not to cry on every page, and her practicality encouraged me!

Just the titles of the chapters are great!! 1) When All You Can Bring Him is a Broken Want-To, 2) Courage for Us Not-So-Super Saints, 3) I Suppose CliffsNotes Are Out, 4) Does God Want Out of Our Quiet Times?, 5) Are Some of Us Stuck with Messed-Up Mustard Seeds?, 6) We Are Always on Our Mind, 7) May We Have Permission to Slap ‘Em Silly in Jesus’s Name?, 8) Till We See Him Face to Face. Also, don’t miss the Bible Study & Discussion Guide at the back.

I HIGHLY recommend this book. You’ll cry, laugh, and grow in your passion for Jesus!

“Father God loves you with a steadfast love. He wants to do life with you. You’re not an isolated case, someone who can’t find God. He is just as available to you as He has been to any other human being who has ever drawn a breath. This is His promise: ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart’ (Jeremiah 29:13).” -pg. 23

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

The Candle Bible Handbook Blog Tour

by Terry Jean Day and Carol J. SmithCandle Bible Handbook book cover

Edited and revised by Dr. Tim Smith

The Candle Bible Handbook is a very colorful and sturdy reference book that goes all the way through the Bible – book by book. It’s filled with interesting facts, information, “frequently asked questions”, and even study questions for each book. The maps, timecharts, pictures, and photos are of excellent quality and great additions to this resource. This book also has topics in the appendix that cover more on the “big” ideas, promises, and people of the Bible.

As I went through this book, God used it to inspire an increasing desire to go through His Word more regularly and deeper with my kids. This is not a devotional-type book, but would be an excellent resource to add to our learning.

I would recommend The Candle Bible Handbook for families and homeschoolers, but also for an easy go to reference book for Christians to add to their Bible studies.

 

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