Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

CWA Review: Memory Cross

About the product:

Memory Cross features origami cards that have several applications.

The Bible Memory cards simplify the learning process by breaking the verses into 4 smaller parts.

Memory Cross outreach tracts are great tools for evangelism, capturing attention with their unique, never ending, fold so that people are more likely to read the entire tract.

Memory Cross Bible story cards help children learn various Bible stories such as the 10 Commandments, birth of Moses, Christmas story, Jesus feeding the 5,000 and many more.

I was so very excited to receive the Memory Cross cards to review through Christian Women Affiliate and my children were super excited when I showed them the cards when they arrived – crafting and the Gospel in one easy product – awesome. As the description says these are origami cards that seek to bring the Gospel to children in a fun way or to help aid in memory verse retention. The simple black and white lined images are easy to color for both the youngest or older child and even adults who want in on the fun or for the Sunday School teacher who wants to have them done before church. I wish I had remembered to take pictures before leaving on vacation and left our cards at home, so I will be updating this review with some of my own pictures soon.

They are easy to figure out and begin using – I can think of many uses for those who are ‘churched’ and those who are ‘unchurched’. There are also other products like those that can be passed out to trick or treaters instead of plain boring tracts that will be tossed away – the memory crosses or coloring cards will grab and keep the child’s attention. The Memory Cross blog also gives ideas in using the Memory Cross both at home and on mission trips as well as showing their other products and how the Gospel and other Bible stories fit in to our world today. They offer different daily deals but prices usually range from $8.95 and up, which is quite affordable and a great price for the quality of the product you’ll receive.

You can also connect with Memory Cross on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube – these additional social media outlets will allow you to more fully experience what Memory Cross is and what their other products are and what they have to offer and how to use them. I highly recommend this product and it’s many uses for children and adults alike as we all strive to learn and teach the Gospel and reach more souls for Him.

To see what other bloggers thought visit The CWA Review Crew Memory Cross page.

The CWA Review Crew- Christian Women Reviewing

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Litfuse Publicity: The Finishing School by Valerie Woerner

About the Book:

The Finishing School:How One Book Nerd Began Living What She Learned (Nyree Press, August 2015)

Are you tired of waiting for change to happen in your life? Do you feel stuck, even though you want to live more intentionally?

In today’s world, our most precious pursuit of a life well lived gets squeezed out by the silliest of things: binging on Netflix or ice cream, shopping trips for things we don’t need, bad habits we can’t seem to get a handle on, and so much more. Valerie has been there despite knowing what she wanted for her life. Actually do it? That’s the challenge.

After gobbling up all the non-fiction and self-help books her donut-filled belly could handle, she decided it was time to put her knowledge to good use and start actually living it out. You will hear about her journey through victories and plenty of failures and find practical tips to apply to your own pursuit of holiness. You will find homework at the end of each chapter that includes a worksheet to put real change in motion for your own life as well as recommended books to further study those topics that really test you.

Purchase your copy here.

About Valerie:

Valerie Woerner is owner of Val Marie Paper. She and her husband, Tyler, live in Louisiana with their daughter, Vivi Mae. The Finishing School is her first book.

You can visit Valerie on her website, Twitter and Instagram.

My Opinion:

I’ll admit I was intrigued by the cover and the title more than actually wanting to read the book by the description because I really don’t have the time to add more books to my TBR pile, but I’m so glad I got sucked in to this book. As a fellow “book nerd” or more scholarly, bibliophile I liked that instead of just reading Valerie wanted to actually live what she was learning. I think one thing we tend to forget is that we all, or most of us read, self help books but do we turn to the real self help book? The Holy Bible, as our true and right and honest self help book? Not usually – we tend to think it’s dated or not relevant to our world today, which in these last few months I have realized how wrong that really is, using Scripture and insights from other books Valerie gives us helps in becoming women who really live their faith.

I really enjoyed the chapter on having a truly rest filled Sabbath, whether it’s on Saturday or Sunday – I’d really like to try to implement some of her ideas because besides church on Sunday the rest of my Sabbath is just like every other day and it shouldn’t be. The other chapter that really spoke to me was, “Not a Tchotchke in Sight: A Guide to Minimalism”, this has me wanting to go home and really pare down our belongings – as must I enjoy having all the books around me I know it’s not feasible to keep every. single. one. At the end of each chapter is the homework where you are guided to either download, for free, the worksheet from Valerie’s website or purchase the workbook to correspond with this book – I will admit I haven’t used either but will more than likely be going back to download the sheets, other recommended resources are also suggested.

As much as I loved this book I will mention that Valerie does cite Anne Voskamp’s One-Thousand Gifts book and The Message para-phrase of the Bible, however this wasn’t a huge concern but I am putting it out there for my readers who may not like those two books. One thing that did bother me was in the chapter, “Sermon Hall Pass: A Guide to Forgiveness” where the whole “judge not, lest thou be judged” is used. That said I’m all about not being offended at everything anyone says or does – Christian and non-Christian’s alike, but we are told to be aware of other people’s sins and to use the outline in Matthew to bring them back to fellowship and some Christians don’t like that (in regards to those who are true Believer’s, not for those who aren’t). Overall, this is a great book and I would so like to lead a study at my church for the women and older girls who would like to attend so as our church’s motto says, Love Christ, Love Others, Make Disciples we can learn to live and do that.

For more information and to read more reviews please visit the Litfuse Landing Page.

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Litfuse Publicity: Israel’s Mission Becoming a Kingdom of Priests in a Prodigal World DVD with Ray Vander Laan

About the DVD:

What’s your mission?

God gave the assignment to His people thousands of years ago: to bring “lost sheep” back into the love and safety of His kingdom. He said to become a “Kingdom of Priests,” and put God on display to show the world what He is like. It’s still our task today. In this thirteenth volume of the That the World May Know ® film series, you’ll glimpse the urgency and rewards of welcoming the strangers and prodigals the Lord longs to embrace. Discover the mission that can give your life – and the lives of those around you – greater meaning than you ever imagined.

Join renowned teacher and historian Ray Vander Laan as he guides you through the lands of the Bible. In each lesson, Vander Laan illuminates the historical, geographical, and cultural context of the sacred Scriptures. Filmed on location in the Middle East and elsewhere, the That the World May Know ® film series will transform your understanding of God and challenge you to be a true follower of Jesus.

Designed to be used with That the World May Know: Israel’s Mission Discovery Guide.

Filmed on location at these biblically significant sites in Israel and Jordan:

-Back to the Father’s House – Negev Desert
-Show Them the Way – Timnah
-Prodigal Sons and Daughters – Qatzrin
-Return from the Far Off Country – Jerash
-Welcome Home – Qatzrin
Purchase a copy at Christian Book.

About Ray Vander Laan:

Ray Vander Laan is the founder of That the World May Know Ministries and creator of the Faith Lessons video series with Focus on the Family. An ordained minister, he holds the chair of biblical cultural studies as a religion instructor at Holland Christian Schools in Holland, Michigan. He and his wife, Esther, have four children and fifteen grandchildren.

Visit Ray at his website.

My Opinion:

I love when I can pair a DVD study with a book and this one is awesome – since it takes the reader into the Middle East to see and try to experience what those patriarchs may have been experiencing and then relates it back to modern Christians in our mission to spread the Gospel. The DVD comes with a leader’s guide that will guide you in how long it should all take broken down into the separate segments such as watching the DVD, DVD discussion, small group study, faith lesson and closing so the leader will know how to plan their time. The total length of the DVD is 175 minutes split between the five episodes, and range from between 30 to 33 minutes a piece. The Discovery Guide is a definitely a great tool to go along with the study as it includes further study into the Scripture used in the DVD, maps, photos, and also questions to further aid in the study and group discussion as well as personal reflection.

As one watches the DVD they can tell that Mr. Laan is passionate about what he is teaching and it seems from watching and reading what I have he strives to remain solely based on Scripture, not just his opinion, or feel good preaching. There are times his passion almost came across as yelling, which to me was a bit of a turn off but I still enjoyed watching the DVD. As I watched I could almost feel the heat of the dessert, what the Israelites might have felt like as the wandered or what Abraham and Sarah felt in their tent in the heat. This is #13 in the That the World May Know series of studies, there are many more and I hope to get to use them all at some point. The studies don’t have to be done in a group setting, they are also great for your own personal Bible study.

If you’d like to know what other bloggers thought please visit the Litfuse Landing Page.

Our task as Christians is to bring “lost sheep” back into the love and safety of His kingdom. How are you doing at welcoming the strangers and prodigals the Lord longs to embrace? Learn how to work on your task with Ray Vander Laan’s Israel’s Mission, volume thirteen in the That the World May Know® DVD series. Discover the mission that can give your life—and the lives of those around you—greater meaning than you ever imagined. Filmed on location in the Middle East and elsewhere, the series will transform your understanding of God and challenge you to be a true follower of Jesus.

Celebrate the release of Israel’s Mission by entering to win the entire That the World May Know® series—perfect for working through with your family, Bible study, or Sunday school class!

israels misson-400

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • All 13 DVDs in the That the World May Know® series

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 18th. Winner will be announced September 21st on the Litfuse blog.

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Litfuse Publicity: A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn (Amish Brides of Pinecraft Book 3) by Shelley Shepard Gray

About the Book:

In the third book of New York Times-bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray’s Amish Brides of Pinecraft series, a wedding brings together two young widowed parents . . . and gives them a second chance at love

Emma Keim was heartbroken when her husband, Sanford, passed away, leaving her to raise three young daughters alone. Though several years have passed, her relatives have made it no secret that they expect Emma to remain a widow, mourning Sanford indefinitely. But when she meets Jay Hilty—a handsome widower with three young sons of his own—Emma is delighted to have a new friend who understands her struggles. Still, she is dismayed that her family is so opposed to their friendship—and the idea of it ever becoming anything more. She honors her husband’s memory every day, but is she destined to be alone forever?

Emma’s gentleness with Jay’s boys stirs something in his heart that’s been quiet for far too long. But when his oldest son becomes engaged to a local woman, suddenly Jay, Emma, and their children are swept up in wedding preparations. Witnessing his son’s joy, Jay wonders if it’s time for him to move forward, too, and find happiness again.

Once again, love has come to Pinecraft. But can these two parties of four become a happy, healthy family of eight?

You can purchase a copy of the book at Harper Collins.

About the Author:

Shelley Shepard Gray is a two-time New York Times bestseller, a two-time USA Today bestseller, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time Holt Medallion winner. She lives in Southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

Find Shelley online at her website, Facebook and Twitter.

My Opinion:

I have enjoyed the other two books in this series and as difficult as this one was for me to read, the main characters are a widow and widower, this one was also fantastic! Emma and Jay have been a widow and widower for several years and both have three children – Emma has girls and Jay has sons – and Jay doesn’t want to betray his wives memory and Emma’s family and in-laws want her to stay a widow the rest of her life. There isn’t much suspense like I felt in the other two books, if one wants to call the conflict suspense, but it was an engaging, quick read. As a young widow myself with three young children I could sympathize with their struggles, the feelings of loneliness of not having a spouse who will be there but also knowing that there is a process to grieving, everyone’s feelings need to be taken into account (namely the children and the surviving spouse – not so much the extended family) and not wanting to betray the beloved’s memory.

I noticed though that neither seemed to have an especially cozy marriage – and both recognize that – Jay recognizes that he loved his wife’s way of managing the household and their boys but also realized that there wasn’t much lovey-dovey feelings and the same for Emma and her husband. Then again the characters have been alone for a couple years versus my nine months. I think reading this book was a bit cathartic for me in a way to see that there can be life again whether it’s having just a friendship or something more – one never knows what God has in store for us – even if family wants us to do something different. I do recommend reading the first and second books first as there are several characters that also play a sizable role in this book and it’ll be helpful to get to know them first but regardless this could easily be a stand alone book if you enjoy Amish or Christian fiction with an inspirational theme.

To see what other bloggers thought please visit the Litfuse Landing Page.

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CWA Review: Dance with Jesus From Grief to Grace by Susan B. Mead

About the book:

ISBN: 978-1-63047-308-2 I List Price $9.99 i Format: eBook I Page Count 130
ISBN: 978-1-63047-307-5 I List Price $12.99 I Format: Paperback I Page Count 130
ISBN: 978-1-63047-309-9 I List Price $34.99 I Format: Hardcover I Page Count 130

Grief hits each one of us and can come from so many difference directions…

Have you lost someone dear to you? A brother, sister, parent, grandparent, family member, friend or a child? A relationship? A body part to cancer or an accident? Do you want to experience the joy of moving from broken to blessed? From GRIEF TO GRACE? Do you want God to take your hand and teach you how to dance…with Jesus? Yes?

Then devour the words in Dance With Jesus: From Grief to Grace! Expect to laugh through the tears and experience a deepening of your faith.

Purchase your copy of Dance with Jesus From Grief to Grace at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, BAM, Powell Books or look for it at your local Christian book store.

About the Author:

Susan B Mead is a woman in AWE of God and how much He loves each one of us. Her desire – share stories of hope so we can see God’s hand at work in our lives. Dance With Jesus: From Grief to Grace was written as her answer to “what does God want you to do right now?” in the Experiencing God Bible Study.

Susan spent 22+ years with Johnson & Johnson prior to losing her youngest son. She realized that things get broken, discarded or replaced, yet people matter. She chose to retire early to make time for the people who matter most to her, including you, a dear reader.

Susan’s credentials include BS, MT(ASCP), MBA and IFOC Sr. Ordained Chaplain. She holds certification from the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) for Individual Grief, Group Grief and Grief following Trauma.

You can find out more about Susan by visiting her at her website, book website, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Amazon and YouTube.

My Opinion:

When I saw this up to review through CWA I knew it was something I needed to read, I’ve experienced people before passing away – I’ve lost an uncle, Great Grandparents, all of my Grandparents but losing a husband is something I thought I’d do when I was much, much older or maybe I’d go first because what do I do without my love? Also losing our first baby, then almost losing our oldest two years ago after major surgery, then hubby’s hear issues and eventual pacemaker surgery, losing our home – yes, I’ve had my share of various grief and these were just in the 13 years of marriage. This book was a quick read and did have comforting words in them, some of the ideas aren’t all Biblical but they definitely were a comfort, so one needs to be careful even in the midst of grief when reading this book. Susan intends for the book to be short because she recognizes when one is in the grips of grief their attention span isn’t long and so spending time on a long book not written for non-professionals isn’t what one needs. I appreciate this. Susan, herself is no stranger to grief losing close family members to cancer, to suicide and a lethal combination of alcohol and drugs – she knows grief.

As I said though there are some things I do want to caution about this book and the first is that Jesus sent Susan ‘visions’ – I’m in no way saying Jesus doesn’t give us words and dreams to comfort or guide us but I’m as yet undecided in regards to how He handles suicide. This may bother some of my readers but I’m no stranger to depression and suicidal thoughts or attempts and I do know God is anti-murder. She receives several visions that Jesus assures her that people who lost their lives to suicide are His. She also uses “Heaven is For Real” which is a book I cannot recommend however I won’t enter into that here. She also mentions that she is with her sister in law as she is on her death bed and she tells her that she is once again going to be with her husband, Allen, and Susan tells us that she doesn’t want to get into a religious debate on whether we’ll be re-united with our spouses and/or loved ones in Heaven.

Even while I have some reservations about a few things in the book, this was still a good read for me, the questions at the end of each short chapter allows for a bit of reflection but not so much that one going through the grieving process will be even more emotionally taxed. One of the questions was “Have you felt God’s hand in your life” and another “Do you have a tattoo or know someone who does” – it helps in evaluating where you are and how you view things. There isn’t a lot of Scripture except maybe a verse at the beginning of each chapter, I would have liked more of that sprinkled through out. Overall, it was a quick read and one that I would probably give to a friend who is going through grief especially a friend who is well grounded in God’s Word.

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Handlebar Review: Home for Christmas; Stories for Young and Old by various authors

**This review has affiliate links if you click on the linked text and purchase it I will earn a small percentage of the sale which will help me as I raise my three children alone.**

About the Book:

For readers who are tired of Christmas commercialism, or who feel that Santa Claus and reindeer don’t tell the whole story, these classic gems provide a winning alternative. Selected for their insightfulness, spiritual value, and literary quality (nothing moralistic here) they project the spirit of the season in a fresh, compelling manner that will resonate with readers of all ages – from children too young to read to themselves, to parents and grandparents who enjoy reading stories aloud.

Home for Christmas includes time-tested favorites by some of the world’s most beloved children’s authors – Pearl Buck, Selma Lagerlöf, Henry van Dyke, Madeleine L’Engle, Elizabeth Goudge, Rebecca Caudill, and Ruth Sawyer – as well as little-known European stories appearing in English for the first time.

You can purchase Home for Christmas: Stories for Young and Oldon Amazon.

My Opinion:

**I’m late in getting this review done – it was due around the time of my husband’s passing – and I couldn’t bring myself to even read the book until now.**

Christmas……it’s a favorite time of year for me, the mystery of the Lord’s birth, the shepherds, the wise men, stars and all that comes with it. I tire of the commercials that scream, give me, give me, give me and the even less said, thank you. I sat down to read this in the summer and thought it would give me some peace and have me looking forward to the upcoming Christmas season that was so dear to me. With authors like Pearl Buck, Madeleine L’Engle and others one would expect this to be a high caliber reading of Christmas stories that one could indeed read to their children as well as maybe in a Sunday school setting, and some of the stories were that – some were quite good and pulled me in such as “Brother Robber” by Helene Christaller or “The Guest” by Nikolai S. Lesskov but some well, left me disappointed and skipping the entire story.

There were two stories in the book that used the liberal usage of d*** and h*** and I promptly quit reading those, I don’t care to use the language in my speech and therefor do not care to read it either. If you want to read this book to a younger audience I would definitely suggest pre-reading it and marking which stories are appropriate. Also of note for some of my readers there were a couple stories where the ‘bad’ people were drunk and/or drinking. Also, I want to say some do revolve around the Roman Catholic faith in which some ideas are strictly not Biblical (in no way saying Catholics aren’t Christian but there are so theologies I disagree with) such as works based salvation, Jesus showing up in a cottage to play a game of chess and statues of Mary and Jesus bleeding.

While there were a few stories I enjoyed, overall this is not a book I would highly recommend – especially if you’re looking for something as a family read aloud or to read in church – unless you do a lot of heavy editing. I enjoy tales that are almost forgotten and I do enjoy a good European author but this was not what I was expecting for Christmas stories, I wanted a good, theologically sound tale and most didn’t offer that even if a few did.

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I will overcome…..

**Please note, this post does contain affiliate links, if you purchase from these links I will receive a percentage of the sale. This will help my children and I with meeting monthly bills and financial obligations.**

If you search my blog you’ll see I’ve worked at and been successful at losing weight before – I’m also type 2 diabetic and being treated for high blood pressure (which may be genetic). So I decided to go back to Trim Healthy Mama and bought the new, updated and “less chatty” book, Trim Healthy Mama Plan: The Easy-Does-It Approach to Vibrant Health and a Slim Waistline as well as the new cookbook, Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook: Eat Up and Slim Down with More Than 350 Healthy Recipes. THM has worked before for me and so I started back in May or June, my memory fails me as to when I started back exactly and I’m not 100% on plan – meaning I still get my S’s and E’s mixed up but I’m losing. I’m down 20+ pounds – 4 pants sizes and 2 shirt sizes.

Although my goal is no longer just about losing weight, as I said in another post, it’s about health – and since I’m a widow and needing to be healthy for my children it’s all that more important to me and them. Granted losing weight and looking nicer, being able to wear smaller sizes is a great thing but getting the word from the doctor office that your A1C is down is almost better. Having post meal numbers within normal range is awesome, still not quite figuring out why my fasting is so high though – guess it will come in time.

This is a dress I haven’t worn in years, yes, years and I can now wear it and it’s almost too big!

Many people have heard, especially moms in the homeschooling community, of Trim Healthy Mama and while there is good and bad with everything it’s actually a very lifestyle friendly way of eating and you can still enjoy eating – restaurants, gatherings, etc. I will be the first to admit that some people, take it too far, some not EVER wanting to stray from the plan, and that is okay but don’t make it seem like those of us who aren’t going to turn away a cooked dinner from a friend that isn’t on plan as somehow less dedicated. Of course, it’s not just THM that some people make feel cultist, that can happen in anything that us humans mess up.

It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. Learning HOW and WHAT to eat. Yummy pancakes with a bit of all fruit spread, three slices of Canadian bacon and coffee – just one breakfast I get to enjoy.

As I look for ways to improve my life, such as maybe pursuing college and looking for part time employment to supplement our survivor benefits – I need to make sure my health is optimum, even just getting my children to all their activities each week, homeschooling and caring for the house means I need to be in tip-top shape. Back in 2013, I lost almost 30 pounds with counting calories and carbs – that wasn’t bad but there wasn’t any change regarding my blood sugars and it was because I was still eating carbs and mixing foods with others that shouldn’t go together. Then when my oldest had her surgery and we almost lost her and then my hubby began to have issues with his heart – I just ate what I could, when I could and it didn’t matter what it was, all that weight and more piled back on.

My son and I at Bob Evan’s, yes I can eat out and enjoy myself – steak, steamed broccoli, side salad w/ranch and water to drink. Do you notice a difference in this face and the one on my side bar?

Normally, the last couple years I dread September and October as it seems I usually get pneumonia but right now I’m looking forward to enjoying the fall again – because I believe with my health being restored I can remain healthy and pneumonia free. I’m gaining confidence – oh if I had only had this confidence when hubby was still here, he’d be delighted! So back in February or March my A1C was 7.1 and now……it’s 6.6 so it’s going DOWN which is the right direction. I’d love to see it go down another 1.5 so it’s normal and my doctor will be apt to take me off the oral medication I’m on. Also of note my blood pressure was normal at the doctor office visit yesterday, that hasn’t happened in years either. I don’t know if it was a combo of the weight loss or the BP meds or what but it was normal – so I’d like to hope that I can eventually come off the BP med as well.

Yummy, dinner! Meatloaf, faux mashed potatoes w/chives, and home canned green beans. Yes, even my children love faux mashed taters!

I really hope that these small victories keep me going – even the pants I bought two weeks ago seem a bit too big now – so, we’ll see……but I highly recommend whether your diabetic or just wanting to lose a few pounds, prevent diseases like type 2 diabetes, or just get healthy and heal your body check out Trim Healthy Mama Plan: The Easy-Does-It Approach to Vibrant Health and a Slim Waistline. I’m getting excited as the new books release on the 15th, actually I got an email saying my copies should be in my hands on the 15th including the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook: Eat Up and Slim Down with More Than 350 Healthy Recipes. Also of note, and I didn’t realize it till just recently Serene and Pearl also have One Hundred Days of Inspiration: Devotional for Women of All Ages & Stages (Trim Healthy Mama)which I’m considering purchasing once I can afford to do so.

(c) 2015, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws


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