Friday, December 30, 2011

Appetizers by Taste Of Home

Taste of Home: Appetizers: 325 Simple Party FoodsimageTaste of Home: Appetizers: 325 Simple Party Foods by Taste of Home
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I am not a cookbook collector but I like a comprehensive and functional one when I find it. Taste of Home offers many options and this is one of them. This one is all about appetizers - hence the name! - and offers not just fancy choices for dinner parties, but tasty treats for many occasions. It is divided into various categories such as "Handheld Snacks", "Spreads & Dips", "All Wrapped Up", and more. This is a fun and functional recipe book that is both classy and family friendly.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 Most Impacting Books

As the year comes to a close I look back at all I have read and reflect on the ones that still stand out clear in my mind.  These are the books that most impacted my life in the year of 2011.  I hope that if you have not already read them, that they will impact YOU in the year of 2012!  These are my top 9 out of 75….enjoy!






















Monday, December 26, 2011

John Calvin by Catherine Mackenzie

imageimageJohn Calvin Little Lights: What is the Truth by Catherine Mackenzie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


In my endeavor to introduce my children to men and women of strong faith I turned to the Little Lights biography series and this delightful book is the seventh out of eight in the series. It is appropriate for young children ages two to three and on up. This book is about the life of John Calvin and it begins the story when he was a young boy getting a funny haircut for school. It is a full picture book with relevant and life-like illustrations that capture the child's attention while reading the simple but comprehensive story line. It also contains picture captions that sum up the paragraph on the opposing page for the young readers who browse this book alone. While it can't cover John's life in great detail, it is a healthy balance between tid-bits that attract kids and the main points of his life and ministry. And the entire book is written in a beautiful flow that is easy for kids to understand and still interesting to older readers. I highly recommend this book to anyone with young children or who interacts with young children. You will be blessed and so will they!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Martin Luther by Catherine Mackenzie

Martin Luther Little LightsimageMartin Luther Little Lights by Mackenzie Catherine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I really want my children to learn at young ages about the men and women who have poured out their lives to further the gospel for the generations to come. Martin Luther is one of those heroes of faith and this book is a perfect introduction for my children ages 4, 6, and 8.

It's a picture book and biography combined and it is fun to look at and interesting to read for both young and old. It is a fairly comprehensive overview of his life for such a small book meant for such young minds. I appreciate how it talks not just about his adult ministry, but begins with his childhood, too. This sweet book also includes captions on the picture page that sum up what is being read on the opposite page - kind of a "young reader" phrase that a first grader can read and still understand when browsing the book alone.

I highly recommend this book because it's a delightful short read perfect for any time and any age that brings to light the life of a faithful man after God's own heart.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Hunger for God by John Piper

A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and PrayerimageA Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer by John Piper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is a book I really wanted to read, but it took me a long time to finally read it because I knew I would be convicted. And, yes, I was.

John Piper eloquently and passionately explains fasting and it's Biblical basis as well as it's secular background. He digs into Scripture, both Old Testament and New Testament, to learn what place fasting has in our lives and they why and how behind doing it today in our own lives. I walked away having learned a lot, having been challenged immensely, and having been convicted of the fasting that is lacking in my own life. And most of all, I feel that I can now fast with a better understanding and purpose rather than a hastily thrown together desire "because it's the right thing to do".

I listened to the audio version of this book, but think that both print or audio are easy enough to work through. In fact, I may even lean more toward the print version since you can underline, re-read, and digest with greater thought a little easier than through simply hearing. This book is one you will most likely want to reference again and again and is worth buying for your own personal bookshelf.

I would highly recommend this book for older teens (15 and up) and adults to read if you desire to both understand and hunger for God more.


There is an appetite for God. And it can be awakened. I invite you to turn from the dulling effects of food and the dangers of idolatry, and to say with some simple fast: "This much, O God, I want you."

Our appetites dictate the direction of our lives—whether it be the cravings of our stomachs, the passionate desire for possessions or power, or the longings of our spirits for God. But for the Christian, the hunger for anything besides God can be an arch-enemy. While our hunger for God—and Him alone—is the only thing that will bring victory.

Do you have that hunger for Him? As John Piper puts it: "If we don't feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because we have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Our soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great." If we are full of what the world offers, then perhaps a fast might express, or even increase, our soul's appetite for God.

Between the dangers of self-denial and self-indulgence is this path of pleasant pain called fasting. It is the path John Piper invites you to travel in this book. For when God is the supreme hunger of your heart, He will be supreme in everything. And when you are most satisfied in Him, He will be most glorified in you.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Long Story Short by Marty Machowski

Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to GodimageLong Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God by Marty Machowski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars



I love this family devotional book that can easily be made to work for a wide range of ages. The first reason being that it ties the Old Testament to the gospel! Too many family/kid devotionals just give stories rather then truly help kids connect with the Word of God. In this book, which gives you five, ten-minute devotions per week, there is at least one day when your reading a New Testament passage that connects to the Old Testament story line of the week.

The next reason I like this family devotional is that it's easy. And very simple, too. There are some suggest object lessons, but they are simple and certainly not mandatory for the kids to get the week's lesson. If you don't do it everything will still make sense.

And the third reason I like this book is because it's comprehensive. It incorporates reading Scripture, discussion and interaction, and prayer all together in an easy to follow format that really only takes ten minutes - if that.

In the words of Emily: "This book is fun!" And our family loves it!


Christian parents know the importance of passing the gospel story on to their children, yet we live in a busy world filled with distractions. Schedules collide, there is homework and yard work and dishes and laundry, the car's oil should be changed, there are phone calls to make and before you know it, everyone is getting to bed late again.

The Bible can seem like a long story for an active family to read, but when you break it down into short sections, as Marty Machowski does, family devotions are easy to do. Long Story Short will help busy parents share with their children how every story in the Old Testament points forward to God's story of salvation through Jesus Christ. You won't find a more important focus for a family devotional than a daily highlighting of the gospel of grace. Clever stories and good moral lessons may entertain and even help children, but the gospel will transform children. The gospel is deep enough to keep the oldest and wisest parents learning and growing all their lives, yet simple enough to transform the heart of the first grader who has just begun to read.

Ten minutes a day, five days a week is enough time to pass on the most valuable treasure the world has ever known. Long Story Short is a family devotional program designed to explain God's plan of salvation through the Old Testament and is suitable for children from preschool through high school.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

At the Throne of Grace by John MacArthur

At the Throne of Grace: A Book of Prayers (Walk in My Ways)imageAt the Throne of Grace: A Book of Prayers by John F. MacArthur Jr.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Maybe it's due to my conservative roots or maybe it's just my personal preferences - I am really not sure - but books full of prayers to pray have always given me an uncomfortable feeling. Like I am plagiarizing on holy ground...or something. However, I highly respect John MacArthur and so when I saw His new release - At the Throne of Grace - I jumped at the opportunity to at least see what it was and maybe just maybe dip my toes into the pool of prayer books.

The first thing that I appreciated about this book was the introduction written by his children who share that they were the ones that begged him to have some of his prayers published into book format. This letter reassured me of MacArthur's humility in this arena and also made me a feel a little more at ease with reading someone else's prayers.

This book is divided into five topical sections with a brief appendix. Each prayer begins with an introductory passage of Scripture written out for you to read before the actual prayer. And I must add here that to my utter surprise I quickly found myself enjoying this book and all these prayers from another person. As I read I began to say the words myself and my heart was drawn into worship of our Almighty God.

So why would I recommend this book? Not because I think you should pray the exact same prayers of others per-say, but because I think as you read John's prayers they help refocus you to worship God more in prayer than just coming with your grocery list of needs for a quick session of begging. You most likely won't read this book in one sitting or straight through, but rather set it on the coffee table and pick it up every now and then and let yourself slip into moments of worship and adoration of the Creator of all.


Bible teacher MacArthur has a passion for honoring God, obeying his Word, and proclaiming Christ as Lord---and he invites you to join him! Bringing together select readings from over 40 years of his ministry, this collection of prayers and Scripture will stir your heart to pursue a deeper, more meaningful communion with God. 208 pages, hardcover from Harvest.

Monday, December 12, 2011

3 Really Good Parenting Books For Just A Few Quarters!

Are you a parent?  Do you work with children in church or interact with children in your family circle?

If so you will want to get your hands on these good deals at!

The kindle versions of 3 really good parenting books are being offered right now for just a handful of quarters!  And remember you don’t have to own a kindle to read them…you can download free Kindle apps for your computer, tablet, or smartphone.

So here they are….

  1. Shepherding A Child’s Heart for $1.79
  2. Instructing A Child’s Heart for $1.79
  3. Don’t Make Me Count To Three for $1.79




The Next Story by Tim Challies

The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital ExplosionimageThe Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion by Tim Challies
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


So many times I am find myself wondering how I managed without a cell phone...or how I would contact people without Facebook...or how inconvenient it would be without wifi in our home...and sometimes I even wonder how I learned without twitter. And this is exactly what - and so much more! - Tim Cahllies deals with in this book: The Next Story.

I "read" the audio version of this book and because it was not a book that I wanted to read but rather knew I should read. The audio format was best for me and was easy to listen to.

This is a book that will challenge you, make you think, and give you lots to continue to think about. However, while being deep and probing, I still felt that it was easy to understand and digest the message.

Tim is both gifted and knowledgeable as a communicator on the subject of technology and he brings to the table some very thought-provoking ideas and ways of determining the place for technology in the life of a Christian. I appreciate that, in my opinion, he is balanced - not willing to throw out technology but not glossing over it either - and looks at things from a realistic, and most importantly, Biblical view point. Now I don't mean that I agree with everything he' I mean wrote but I definitely walked away understanding technology better and the desire to make it serve me, not I serve it. This book was both personally and "parentally" beneficial.

I would highly recommend anyone - adult or teen - read this book (or listen to it!) as it will help you figure out the place for technology in your life.


Even the least technical among us are being pressed from all sides by advances in digital technology. We rely upon computers, cell phones, and the Internet for communication, commerce, and entertainment. Yet even though we live in this ‘instant message’ culture, many of us feel disconnected, and we question if all this technology is really good for our souls. In a manner that attempts to be accessible, thoughtful, and biblical, I address questions such as:

How has life—and faith—changed now that everyone is available all the time through mobile phones?
How does our constant connection to these digital devices affect our families and our church communities?
What does it mean that almost two billion humans are connected by the Internet … with hundreds of millions more coming online each year?

Providing the reader with a framework they can apply to any technology, I explain how and why our society has become reliant on digital technology, what it means for our lives, and how it impacts the Christian faith.

So it’s a book not just for the young and digital, but for all of us.

Friday, December 09, 2011

The MacArthur Bible Commentary

The MacArthur Bible CommentaryimageThe MacArthur Bible Commentary by John F. MacArthur Jr.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Do you want to update to a new Bible that has study notes and commentary included but don't want to let go of your notes and marks from the years past? An easy solution is to buy a single volume Bible commentary.

Regardless of the Bible you have - unless you have the MacArthur study Bible! - this whole Bible commentary is a valuable addition to your study as you dig into the Word of God. While thick and heavy physically, this book is thorough and easy to use and understand. MacArthur's verse-by-verse approach is very helpful to deeper study of any passage. There are also plenty of sidebars with topical notes and outlines as well as maps and timelines. This is a great resource for any home library and for all ages 10 and up.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

John & Betty Stam by Kathleen White

John and Betty Stam (Women and Men of Faith Series)imageJohn and Betty Stam by Kathleen White
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


While slightly difficult to read - and probably not best for readers under 12 - this book is a short biography of John and Betty Stam. It begins with an introduction to the history of missions in China and ends with the legacy their lives left behind. This book is a brief 128 pages, but filled with their short and impacting testimony of God's goodness and faithfulness in all things.

I was significantly blessed by their continuing trust in God in all things - small and large. Their lives - as short as they were - were such bright lights for Christ and truly brought glory to God both in life and in death.

This book is a great overview of their lives and an encouraging testimony of God's work in the lives of those who have gone on before us. You will be encouraged by their faithfulness and challenged by their dedication.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Free Book: Bringing The Gospel Home

Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Your Family Members, Close Friends, and Others Who Know You WellThis holiday season as you are busy preparing – buying gifts, wrapping, decorating, baking, and on the list could go – don’t forget to prepare spiritually, too.

Here is a free book – and we all love the word “free” this time of year! – that will help you plan for sharing the gospel with your family and friends this Christmas season.

Click here to go to the post where you can download it for FREE thanks to Crossway.

And here is an overview of this book:

Sharing the gospel with a family member can be an exciting experience—and often a long, painful, and confrontational one. Randy Newman recognizes it can be more difficult and frustrating to witness to a family member than to nearly anyone else. In Bringing the Gospel Home, he delivers practical, holistic strategies to help average Christians engage family members and others on topics of faith.

A messianic Jew who has led several family members to Christ, Newman urges Christians to look to the Bible before they evangelize. He writes, “a richer understanding of biblical truth, I have found, can provide a firmer foundation for bold witness and clear communication.” After a brief introduction on the nature of family, he delves into discussions of grace, truth, love, humility, and time. He also addresses issues related to eternity and end-of-life conversations. Bringing the Gospel Home will help any Christian as he seeks to guide loved ones into God’s family.

Monday, December 05, 2011

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You AreimageOne Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Stick with me okay?

I began reading this book about 5 months ago via the audio format from Audible downloaded to my Kindle. I listened to the first chapter and never touched the book again. I had heard rave reviews and chatter from bloggers and non-bloggers both about how this book changed their perspective and what a wonderful author Ann Voskamp is. However, I just could not get into it and the first few pages had me loosing focus and interest. It felt wordy and drawn out and frankly, I just couldn't see the point clearly enough.


Yes, however, I picked it back up because I knew there had to be something good in there that I was missing. After all, not every book has an app to go along with it! So I once again plugged it in and this time confined myself to baking for a whole day while I listened to this book being read by the author.

I am not quite sure why this happens, but at times there is just "a right time" to read a certain book and until that time arrives one just never appreciates such a book. This was finally the "right time" because this time I found myself absorbed into the flowing words and vivid descriptions of ordinary moments in life that - seen through the lens of grace - were extraordinary, life altering moments.

While the book could be so much shorter, and the point a lot more clearer at the outset, it would be too easily read and forgotten - leaving no lasting impact and thoughts to ponder. It was a challenge to get into at first but quickly became pure enjoyment. The more I read the more I was encouraged, challenged, convicted, delighted, overwhelmed, and in awe. Ann Voskamp paints a beautiful picture of what it is like to live in every moment - what we deem good and bad - with a heart that seeks God's gifts to us. She strips us of our idea of "good gifts" and invites us and walks with us on a journey to see every moment as a gift from God.

I feel like no words I possibly write could do justice to describing this book. At first if felt like a hard read, but now I stand at the back cover realizing it was hard because sometimes life is hard and yet there is a deep beauty that comes from hard things.

One Thousand Gifts is a perfect read for anyone no matter what your stage or phase of life is. We all need to be dared to live life more fully right where we are.

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