Books · Health and Wellness · Lifestyle · Subscription Boxes · Uncategorized · Writing and Journaling

What I’m Into {April 2014}

 

Books:

The only book that I finished in April was A Renaissance Redneck in a Mega-Church Pulpit by Randy Elrod. {Read my short review on GoodReads by click the title link. Follow me, while you’re there!}

 TV:

I am loving Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show! If I can’t make it until 11:30 pm, I watch it on hulu.com. The following lip sync battle with Emma Stone the other night is pure awesomeness …

I am also enjoying The Mindy Project! Mindy’s one-liners are super funny. You have to be listening when she adds things like, “I zero out my fridge every night before I go to bed” at the most hilarious times.

Movies:

I saw Noah. {meh!} I clearly missed a lot of what actually happened in my Bible readings, but I have confidence that Hollywood would not make anything up! {winky face}

Music:

This is my latest favorite:

Other Things I loving…

Fat Mum Slim’s Photo a Day challenge – I have been following along since January. I upload my photo to the free Collect App on my iPhone and then add it to my Instagram (amyconcafe) feed with the tag #fmsphotoaday. Join us, it makes each day exciting!

— Instagram – amyconcafe

– Subscription boxes – Wow, this could become an obsession! Are you into this?

– Jimmy Fallon {oh really, I already mentioned him?}

-The library – I added all my future reads to my library wish list. Here is the problem, when I go in to pick up my pile of desired reads there are also other books at the library. I know! AND, all the new books are close to the check out section, so I usually have to grab a few of those too. It is a lot of reading stress!

-ALSO, the library has a little sale room where they sell donated books and magazines.The magazines run from 25 – 50 cents and some are the brand new! In other words, I will not be buying any full price anymore! Sorry, Target!

What about you? What are you into these days?

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Books · Health and Wellness · Religious · Reviews

The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast by Kristen Feola {Book Review}

 

      The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast






Description:

The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast is an inspiring resource for Christians who want to pursue a more intimate relationship with God through the 21-day commitment to prayer and fasting known as the Daniel Fast. As you deny yourself certain foods—such as sugars, processed ingredients, and solid fats—you will not only embrace healthier eating habits, you’ll also discover a greater awareness of God’s presence. Author Kristen Feola explains the Daniel Fast in easy-to-understand language, provides 21 thought-provoking devotionals for each day of the fast, and shares more than 100 tasty, easy-to-make recipes that follow fasting guidelines. In a conversational style, Feola helps you structure the fast so you can spend less time thinking about what to eat and more time focusing on God. You will also discover that “to fast” means “to feast” on the only thing that truly nourishes?God’s powerful Word. For more info, please visit www.ultimatedanielfast.com.

(from Zondervan)

My Thoughts:

Reading The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast helps learn about fasting in general and what the Daniel Fast is in detail. Kristen Feola shares how to prepare spiritually and physically as well as how to come off the fast which is also important. My favorite part of the book is the 21 day devotional to accompany one on the journey and the emphasis on God’s Word.

Enough of the book is recipes (over 120 pages), so I am considering shelving this book with my cookbooks for easier access in the kitchen. The healthy choices can be used outside the fast as well. There are also meal planning tips and helps. This really is an ultimate guide.

Have you done a Daniel Fast?

This book was given to me in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Books · Religious · Reviews

LIVE SECOND: Ownership

Who owns your stuff?  Even after all these years of living for Jesus, I can have a hard time remembering that it all belongs to God. It is all His!

This includes finances. As missionaries, our funds come from individuals and churches that sacrifice so we can do the work God called us to do. We are so grateful and I must keep that before me, so that I remember to listen to God for how that money should be used.

As I was looking through my review copy of Live Second, a new devotional that challenges us to do just that. I was reminded to live second in regards to my stuff.


 
Live Second is set up as a quick devotional. Each week starts by pointing you to one of the I Am Second videos online. After you watch the video, you are asked some reflections questions and then throughout the week, the topic is expounded upon with the ability to reflect and share (hashtags included).

When I finished reading the first book, I Am Second (linked to review), I was challenged to look at how I was putting Jesus first in my life. What if we start off 2013 seeking radical change as we walk with God. What about making time to read the quick, encouraging devotional, Live Second, that will help us put Jesus first!

I was given a copy of Live Second by the author and was not required to write a review.

Books · Religious · Reviews

Loving the Way Jesus Loves by Phil Ryken {Book Review}

 
 










Description:

Most people are familiar with the “Love Chapter” of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13, yet Phil Ryken has something fresh to say. Drawing on the life and ministry of Jesus to illustrate what love is and isn’t, Ryken brings a unique perspective to this commonly quoted passage.

Loving the Way Jesus Loves successfully integrates biblical teaching, photography, chapter study guides, and a popular-level writing style—all of which will help you understand the profound love of Christ more deeply and, in turn, learn to love more deeply in response.

(from Crossway)

My Thoughts:

When a book starts with, “There is nothing I need more in my life than more of the love of Jesus.”, you know you are in for a reality check on your own spiritual life. Just the first paragraph alone had me on my knees asking God to change the way I love. The first chapter helping me reframe the lens in which I view 1 Corinitians 13. 

We then meandered chapter by chapter through those famous wedding verses learning that the intent was so much deeper and wider then just between man and wife. It’s a challenge to live for God by living and loving like Him. Phrase by phrase, we are reminded the intent as well as challenged to love in ways that can only be accomplished because of the cross.

Loving the Way Jesus Loves was one of my top reads for 2012. If you could you see my copy, this would be evident by the underlining. I highly recommend it!

This book was given to me by Crossway in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. 

Books · Religious · Reviews

Illuminating the Darkness by Noel Dear {Book Review}

download

by Noel Dear

Description:

Are You Ready For A Change?

Every day there are new approaches and drugs to help people overcome the emotional pain of depression, stress, and anxiety. More people are being treated for these than ever before. So, one would presume emotional health and happiness would be at an all-time high. But you know that isn’t the case, not even close. In fact, the only thing that seems to be gaining prevalence faster than antidepressants is depression itself!

Is there a way of escape? Is there a different approach from the failed strategies most often presented in self-help books and the doctor’s office? Is there hope for me? Can I live a life of real peace and joy?

Yes. Lasting joy and peace can be yours!

This is no idle promise from some new-fangled philosophy or rediscovered ancient herb. This truth has the authority of the Bible, the simplicity of fruit on a vine, and the track-record of many generations who have discovered the real source of mental and emotional health.

This is not another strategy to try, rather it is the genuine truth about why people suffer from depression, stress, and anxiety, and how those pains can be replaced with joy, peace, and patience.

The truths presented here are…

  • Easy to understand
  • Practical in their everyday application
  • Powerfully effective in both the short and long term
  • Proven

This book is both a challenge to everything you have heard about the cause and cure of emotional distress, and a real offer of hope. Learn here what thousands of others have learned and, enjoy an enduring harvest of the fruit of real joy.
from Illuminating the Darkness site.

My Thoughts:

Reading Illuminating the Darkness is much like listening to Noel Dear preach. He shares personal anecdotes, supporting scripture, Biblical stories, and clear examples as he states his case for living free of depression, stress, and anxiety. What is set forth in this book may seem too simple to some readers, but it is worth consideration as we often look first to medication and outside helps before considering what is simply in the Word of God.

There is much wisdom in learning to abide in Christ and cast our cares upon him not only for those dealing with emotional issues, but also new Christians and others needing a fresh start.  You will find the salvation message, steps to drawing near to God, and other helpful disciplines for Christians within the pages.

There are times when Dear states his position dogmatically, be advised to read this as passion and not condescension (as one Amazon reviewer wrote).  I know the Dear family from sharing about our ministry in their church, they desire to help others know God and I know them to be passionate about seeing people grow, missions, and adoption.

This book is easy to read with many practical examples and Biblical references. I think it would be especially beneficial to new Christians, those who desire to walk closer with God, and people struggling with the issues mentioned in the title.

Connect with the author:

This book was given to me by the author in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write an honest review. In the interest of full disclosure, I know the Dear family, have spoken at their church, and enjoyed meals together.

Books · Religious · Reviews

I Am Second by Dave Sterrett and Doug Bender {Book Review and How My Book Was Stolen}

by Dave Sterrett and Doug Bender

Description:

Countless stories. One incredible ending.

A major league baseball player. a Tennessee pastor. A reality TV star. a single mom. A multi-platinum rocker. What do these people have in common? They’ve all hit bottom. And none of them stayed there.

Famous or unfamiliar, these are the stories of real people who reached the end of their strength, the end of their control, and found the most surprising truths. It taught them not to rely on self or substance but to lean on the only completely reliable source of love, hope, and freedom: the God who created them. Shocking in their honesty, inspiring in their courage, these testimonies are critical reminders that no one is too far from God to find him.

Join these and thousands more who have discovered the lifechanging power in putting God first and proclaiming, “I am Second.

Description from Thomas Nelson.

My Thoughts:

I Am Second is a book of stories, short glimpses into how God profoundly turned sinners to Himself. Each chapter stands alone, but a few overlap in a beautiful way just as our real lives do.

Each story encourages the reader that God is still working in powerful ways. It is a reminder to those already living second, that we are called to share the gospel and live out God’s love in our lives. Reading testimonies can rekindle our first love so we can also say with conviction, “I Am Second!”

My Book Was Stolen:

I was reading I Am Second daily, one chapter at a time. One evening, I took it with me in the car. At the last minute, we decided to stop for ice cream downtown a large city in Bolivia. The car was parked on a side street with no one watching  the vehicle which was a mistake we won’t make again. Coming back to the car, we could not get my door open and noticed papers were scattered about the front seats. We had been robbed. After a good look around, the only things missing were the front of the car stereo and my I Am Second review book. It struck me so funny, in a country where Spanish is the spoken language that someone would want my English book full of God at work changing lives. I have prayed since then that the book will land in the hands of people who speak and read English. {Lord, use that book to change lives especially the ones who took it in the first place.}

Connect with I Am Second:

I believe both the book and the I Am Second web site, can make a difference. Perhaps you can think of someone who would benefit from reading I Am Second.

Buy the book, watch videos, or follow on Twitter.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Books · Religious · Reviews

Love, Jan by Jan Bonn {Book Review}







Description:

Eighteen-year-old Hilary Bonn was just starting out in life, preparing for college and adventures beyond her small-town beginnings, when leukemia interrupted all of her plans. To help her body fight the ugly disease, Hilary required a stem cell transplant. While she endured PICC lines, pills, and endless precautions against germs, her family encouraged her and one another with Christmas lights, thoughtful words, warm hugs, soft music, action movies, entertaining books, and their abundant love.

During this time, Jan Bonn kept family and friends updated of her daughter’s treatment and progress through frequent e-mail messages. Love, Jan is a compilation of these messages. Jan’s accounts of medical consultations and procedures, the uncertainties of life-changing decisions, and times of expectant waiting are infused with humor, insight, and hope told from the heart of a loving mother and faithful child of God.

Love, Jan, Hilary’s story of faith, hope, and joy, will inspire and encourage stem cell transplant patients and those who love them.

From Love, Jan

My Thoughts:

“Death is not an ending; it is just a temporary separation. Yet, thinking about that temporary separation makes me cry.” (page 66)

Painful words from a loving mom facing months of treatment with her daughter who at eighteen discovered she had leukemia.

Email can be such a blessing for loved ones who want to be kept informed. That is exactly what Jan Bonn’s intention was as she reported regular happenings in and out of the hospital, daily events, and incidentals like buying a computer from a crazy man (which was amusing). She also encourages people to help the National Marrow Donor Program  and become more informed.

Love, Jan is a compilation of real, heartfelt emails. As Jan was being encouraged by emails people poured back and by those stepping up to help with fundraisers and needs, she was also encouraging her recipients and now the readers with what God was doing and how Hillary bravely faced her hardship.

If I am being honest, the beginning of the book was a little slow for me as I did not have personal ties to the family or situation. However, as the story unfolds it’s hard not to engage and root for Hillary. What I liked most was the insights and spiritual encouragement Jan both receives and shares as well as the joy which is apparent within the hard times.

I would recommend Love, Jan to families dealing with leukemia or any difficult path, moms, counselors, pastors, and people interested in medical stories.

This book was given to me by the author in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. {The author is a friend of a friend, but I do not know her nor had I heard her story previously.}

Adoption · Books · Organization · Religious · Reviews

7 by Jen Hatmaker {Book Review}

Description:
American life can be excessive, to say the least. That’s what Jen Hatmaker had to admit after taking in hurricane victims who commented on the extravagance of her family’s upper middle class home. She once considered herself unmotivated by the lure of prosperity, but upon being called “rich” by an undeniably poor child, evidence to the contrary mounted, and a social experiment turned spiritual was born.

7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence.

Food. Clothes. Spending. Media. Possessions. Waste. Stress. They would spend thirty days on each topic, boiling it down to the number seven. Only eat seven foods, wear seven articles of clothing, and spend money in seven places. Eliminate use of seven media types, give away seven things each day for one month, adopt seven green habits, and observe “seven sacred pauses.” So, what’s the payoff from living a deeply reduced life? It’s the discovery of a greatly increased God—a call toward Christ-like simplicity and generosity that transcends social experiment to become a radically better existence.

My Thoughts:
Simplifying is a thing these days. There are loads of books and magazine articles showing ways to cut down and live with less. Jen Hatmaker decides to take it one step further and live with SEVEN. Each month she and her family pick a theme {food, clothing, possessions, media, waste, spending, and stress} which all revolve around the number “7“. 
Gathering some friends and her family, she embarks on a journey of fasts. “Seven will be an exercise in simplicity with one goal: to create space for God’s kingdom to break through.” (from Intro of ebook) After introducing her project and friends “the council”, you get a month to month diary account of her experiment. Her goal is to be changed and transformed to follow Jesus more authentically. It seems to work.
I liked Jen’s writing. She is funny, open, engaging, and you feel like you could be sitting at a coffee shop chatting with her when you read. You meander through her months learning about the topic but also about her upcoming adoption (which I certainly enjoyed), her daily life, and some of the pop culture things she enjoys. Her failures and reality are also present, she lets you know where she falls short and what she is doing to work on these issues. I don’t know about you but that inspires me. It feels like a conversation too in that I wondered if a few sentences of what she relates would have been better left unsaid.
I was reading the chapter on giving away stuff right before we had to go through all of our stateside storage and get rid of about half. Perfect timing as I felt prepared to be less sentimental and more brutal. 
The idea of 7 is catchy. It caused me to at least ponder the possibility of following in her footsteps and it has spurred on others like this blog which my friend, Janine, (who had not read 7 and did not know I was) shared with me. I think Jen Hatmaker may have caused a little revolution here. 
I enjoyed reading 7 and would recommend it.  Do keep in mind this is her, her life, and her revelations and not a “how to” guide to living with less. Your take away may be different then mine, but you will be challenged.
This book was given to me by NetGalley and B & H Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.
Books · Children · Religious · Reviews

God Gave Us Love by Lisa Tawn Bergren {Book Review}

Description:
As Little Cub and Grampa Bear’s fishing adventure is interrupted by mischievous otters, the young polar bear begins to question why we must love others…even the seemingly unlovable.
“Any time we show love, Little Cub, we’re sharing a bit of his love.”

In a sturdy format, ideal for the littlest hands at storytime, bedtime, or anytime, God Gave Us You assures each child that he or she truly is a treasured gift from the Lord.

My Thoughts:
We have the book God Gave Us You also by Lisa Tawn Bergren and Laura J. Bryant.  It has been enjoyed and well loved especially by the youngest as he flew through his toddler years.

Not surprising, my family enjoyed this new addition to the “God Gave Us…” Collection.  The beautiful illustrations make the story come alive and allow for some delightful observations and questions. The story shares the theme of loving as God is love in various ways and situations with the gospel (“…we know God loves us because he sent his Son to save us…”) presented simply as well.
This little board book can begin some important conversations with your children. Besides learning about love, there are side themes developed like the joy of family spending time together and praying to ask God help us love. God Gave Us Love can be a helpful tool in developing character in young hearts!  I recommend it!
I was given a copy of this book by WaterBrook Multinomah Blogging for Books Program in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.
Books · Religious · Reviews

The Accidental Bride {Book Review}

Description:

When a wedding reenactment turns real, Shay finds she’s an accidental bride.

Shay Brandenberger is raising her daughter in Moose Creek, Montana, on her childhood ranch, nestled against the Yellowstone River. Despite the hard work, she can’t seem to keep her head above water—and now the bank is threatening to foreclose. She prays for a miracle, but the answer she receives is anything but expected.

Having agreed to play the bride in the Founders’ Day wedding reenactment, Shay is mortified to be greeted at the end of the aisle by none other than Travis McCoy, her high-school sweetheart—the man who left her high and dry for fame and fortune on the Texas rodeo circuit.

Then the unthinkable happens. Thanks to a well-meaning busybody and an absentminded preacher, the make-believe vows result in a legal marriage. But before Shay can say annulment, Travis comes up with a crazy proposal. If she refuses his offer, she may lose her home. If she accepts, she may lose her heart.

Shay isn’t sure if the recent events are God’s will or just a preacher’s blunder. Will trusting her heart to the man who once shattered it be the worst mistake of her life? Or could their marriage be the best accident that ever happened?

*Description from Tomas Nelson where you can also purchase the book.

My Thoughts:

When a book is published where a man and woman have to get married, finds themselves married, or the marriage is arranged; I am compelled to read it. Despite the inconceivable premise and usually because of it, I’m in. In fact, sometimes the crazier story makes a better read which is why I chose The Accidental Bride.


Just a few pages in, Shay finds herself accidently married to Travis who had left her at the alter many years before. After some debate, she decides to stay married for a time to save her ranch. Thus the story goes until the inevitable, agreeable ending which, by the way, I liked. Just so we are clear; however, I would never counsel someone to be married (fake or real or whatever) because it will be a financial help. (Sanctity of marriage, anyone?)

That said the story was an enjoyable travel companion. A light, easy read that was interesting enough. There is some romance (obviously), some inspiration, and Travis seems like a good guy. Here is your summer beach read, just don’t use it as a marriage manual!

This book was given as an e-book from NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review.