Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Review/Giveaway: Jesus Today: Devotions for Kids

Giveaway below! Scroll down and comment on this post for a chance to win!

We've been talking a lot about plans lately. Is there a perfect plan for your life? Can you veer off the plan and then need to figure out Plan B since you messed up Plan A? And then Plan C and D and on through ZZZZZ?

Or does God know you so intimately, having formed you as you are, that He knows exactly what choices you will make, and lovingly sets up the events that will shape your life for His perfect purpose? Can you trust Him with each moment and not stress over whether you've messed it all up when you turned left instead of right?

Lots of stuff to think about, especially for our kiddos who have their whole lives ahead, their dreams all within reach. How do we keep them grounded in Christ, an integral part of each day of their lives?


Synopsis of Book
Jesus is the Friend who is always with you. Jesus Today: Devotions for Kids will pour this powerful truth into your children's hearts as they learn that He knows everything about them and loves them more than they can imagine.  Each devotion is based on Scripture and is written as though Jesus is speaking directly to you, assuring that He is in control, that He is good, and that an amazing future awaits all who put their hope in Him.  Adapted from the ECPA 2013 Christian Book of the Year-winner Jesus Today, this devotional has the same themes as the adult version, as well as written-out scriptures.  It is a great choice for families to read and discuss during devotional time together.
About the Author
Sarah Young's devotional writings are personal reflections from her daily quiet time of Bible reading, praying and writing in prayer journals.  With sales of more than 14 million books worldwide, Jesus Calling has appeared on all major bestseller lists.  Sarah's writings include Jesus CallingJesus TodayJesus LivesDear JesusJesus Calling for Little OnesJesus Calling Bible StorybookJesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids, and Peace in His Presence -- each encouraging readers in their journey toward intimacy with Christ.  Sarah and her husband were missionaries in Japan and Australia for many years.  They currently live in the United States. 
Genre:  Christian; Devotional: ages 6-10
Physical Description:  Hardcover, 368 pages
List Price:  $15.99, currently $11.53 on Amazon
To Buy: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0718038053/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1452613533&sr=8-1&pi=SY200_QL40&keywords=jesus+today+for+kids 


Mom’s Review:

Organization. There are two pages for each of 150 days; a devotional, written in first person as if it is Jesus speaking, followed by three scripture references. The days are not dated, so you can pick up the book and start at any time of the year - a big plus for me! There is a scripture index at the back, so this could be used as a reference book while reading through the Bible, as well as a daily devotional.

Appearance. This is a durable hardback with bold color. The graphic layout is fun, even cute, but gender neutral. A nice, attractive book that should stand the wear of being picked up and read 150 days in a row.

Bible Verses. One of my favorite parts; it gives Biblical context to the devotion and can be used for further study if desired. Scriptures are taken from the International Children's Bible, so they can be easily understood.

Devotions. In fairly simple language, though the concepts might be complex for a 6yo, these devotions personalize Jesus for a child.

Overall, a nice addition to encourage and enhance your child's daily encounters with  God!

Giveaway!

Yes, I can offer one blessed reader a copy of the Jesus Today: Devotions for Kids We’re going simple with giveaway entries here: just enter a comment of any kind on this post, along with your email address or other way for me to contact you. A winner will be randomly selected on February 12. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller/Flyby Promotions in the last 30 days, or have one the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win. You must have a US or Canada mailing address to win.

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"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting for coordinating this book for review and providing the giveaway prize. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win this giveaway!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Review/Giveaway: The Plans I Have for You

Giveaway below! Scroll down and comment on this post for a chance to win!

So my sister and I had a little conversation around Christmas time about being intentional in helping your child spend time with Jesus every day. Sure, Miss Esmé knows the Bible stories, we read a devotional and other books about Christian values each day, she’s got the head knowledge. But does she spend time with Him, talking and listening and just being?

Along comes a sweet devotional/journal combination that helps with that very purpose! The Plans I Have for You provides the inspiration for that daily time.

Synopsis of Book
The devotional is an illustrated 90-day devotional written by bestselling children's book author Amy Parker and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, teaching and inspiring kids to dream about their future, to focus on faith, love, and joy, and recognize that God has a plan and purpose for each and every one of us.
The journal prompts creative thinking and exploration of the talents and personalities that make us special, and then helps explore how God may use our unique traits to spread love and joy and make the world a better place.
About the Author
Amy Parker has sold more than thirty books for children, teens, and adults.  She has also collaborated with authors ranging from New York Times bestsellers to her very own son.  Two of these collaborations are recipients of Christian retailing's Best Awards, and she has also won three Mom's Choice Awards.  But Amy's greatest reward is being a wife to Daniel and a mom to their amazing sons, Michael and Ethan.
About the Illustrator
Vanessa Brantley-Newton is a self-taught illustrator, doll maker, and crafter.  Her passion for children's books began when she came across The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats as a child in the 1960s.  Growing up in a musical family who love to sing, Vanessa's illustrations are as fun and whimsical as a beautiful melody.  Vanessa currently makes her nest in Charlotte, NC with her husband of 20 years, their daughter, and a very rambunctious cat named Stripes.
Genre:  Christian; Devotional: ages 8-12; Journal: ages 11-14
Physical Description:  Devotional: hardcover, 160 pages; Journal: stationery, 208 pages 
List Price:  Devotional: $14.99; Journal: $12.99 
To Buy: Devotional: http://www.zondervan.com/the-plans-i-have-for-you-devotional; Journal: http://www.zondervan.com/the-plans-i-have-for-you-journal 
ZonderKidz Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Zonderkidz/
ZonderKidz Twitter: https://twitter.com/Zonderkidz


Mom’s Review:

This is one of my favorite review products ever! I keep wanting to steal it for myself! Seriously, it’s absolutely perfect for the desires I have for my kid at this point in her life, where she’s starting to imagine the future and her role in it. Sectors include:
  • I’ve Got Big Plans for YOU!
  • I’ve Given YOU a Purpose
  • I Don’t Do Things Small
  • There’s Nothing YOU Can’t Do!
  • Find That ONE Thing
  • What I Created YOU To Do
Focus. Kids are born self-centered. I’ve been trying to fight it, but it’s natural. This devotional/journal taps into that self-centeredness, making it appealing to kids, and uses it to shift the focus to the power of God and what He can do in you and through you.

Bible-Rich. Each day’s devotional includes a Bible verse or story, and the focus is on that Bible reference. Both the devotional and journal invite the child to contemplate what God is saying to her through that passage.

Illustrations. Love love love. Everything about both the devotional and journal is just visually appealing. The devotional is full color, while the journal is muted to allow the child to add the color. It compels the child to spend longer thinking through the Bible passage.

Journal. You absolutely need the journal to go along with the devotional. This is my favorite part! The very first page is perfect for my daughter, who is all into secrets and locks on diaries at this point, with a request: “…if I don’t know you are looking at at my journal, put it down and go get your own. Please. And thank you.” Verses are repeated from the devotional, with awesome illustrations that invite the child to draw, doodle, contemplate, and think through how the verses are relevant to her.

This is an absolutely terrific, hopefully life-changing gift for the tweens in your life!

Giveaway!

Yes, I can offer one blessed reader a copy of the The Plans I Have for You devotional and journal! We’re going simple with giveaway entries here: just enter a comment of any kind on this post, along with your email address or other way for me to contact you. A winner will be randomly selected on February 1. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller/FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, or have one the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win. You must have a US or Canada mailing address to win.

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"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to FlyBy Promotions for coordinating this book for review and providing the giveaway prize. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win this giveaway!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Review: The Lion Comic Book Hero Bible

Another year! Another beginning! Another opportunity to read the Bible through…

We’re down sick this week – all of us in the household – but it’s a good weekend to cuddle down and listen and read. To focus on the important instead of the mundane – in between blowing noses and trying to minimize germ spread.

So we’ve got this fun book to review – it says “Bible” in the title, but while it walks through the Bible nicely in chronological order, it’s more of an introductory brief – a great way to inspire interest and to get one looking deeper into the Book.

Synopsis of Book

A stunning new comic book version of the Bible now given the superhero treatment by the team behind The Lion Graphic Bible and The Manga Bible.
The story of the Bible is a unique tale of origins and cosmic powers; of the ageless battle between good and evil; of human potential and human treachery; and of a Messiah--a savior for the world. This is indeed the stuff that graphic novels are made of. Superheroes are the biggest comic genre of all, with many heroes having their origins in biblical characterization and imagery. This is the first Bible retelling to engage with and challenge the superhero genre.
The Lion Comic Book Hero Bible is a dynamic expression of the Bible's depth and power, produced in the style of Marvel™ Comics. You've heard of Spiderman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Now meet Earthman, Lawman, Warrior Man, and many others. With dynamic illustration using a range of styles, Siku (Old Testament) and Jeff Anderson (New Testament) bring the Bible stories alive for a new and graphically sophisticated generation.
About the Authors
Siku--artist, author, theologian, and musician--is one of Britain's leading comic book/concept artists, having worked for 2000 AD producing titles such as Judge Dredd. He has also worked for Marvel UK and COM X.
Richard Thomas is an artist, designer, and writer. He was the publisher at End Time Comics and his work includes projects for UNESCO, a graphic novel (Riddler's Fayre), and best-selling comics for Scripture Union. He is also the illustrator on the Book by Book Series of Dr. Paul Blackham and Reverend Richard Beives.
Jeff Anderson is a leading graphic novel artist, best known for his work on the Judge Dredd and Transformers stories. Readers of Comic World voted him runner-up in the best artist category for his Legends of Larian books. He lives with his wife and five children in Durham, England, and is a licensed Lay Minister in the Church of England.
Genre:  Children’s Christian Story Book ages 10+
Physical Description:  Hardback, 192 pages 
List Price:  $19.95
For More Info/To Buy: http://www.kregel.com/bibles/the-lion-comic-book-hero-bible-2/
Mom’s Review:
  • Great Overview. The book is chronologically organized and covers many stories – far more than most children’s Bible storybooks I’ve seen – albeit in very condensed form.
  • Bible References. There is a page of Bible references in the back.That makes it easy to read the Bible passages that go along with each chapter for more context.
  • Quality Graphics. The graphics are very well done. Lovers of comics will appreciate this.
  • Creative Names. I’m loving the superhero names the authors have given Bible characters! Rainman becomes Rainbow Man after Waterworld (you can guess who that is), and then there are Earthman, Star Girl, Star-Men and Sheep-Men, Outsider, Deliverer, Rainmaker, Watchman, and many more heroes.
  • Dark Side. We’ve dabbled in graphic history books for a bit to meet my 8yo daughter’s nonfiction reading requirements, and she’s noticed that there are often “dark” illustrations, scary even, with shadows and sinister-looking beings. You’ll find the same in this book. While she doesn’t appreciate it, it doesn’t stop her from reading.
  • A Softer Side to the New Testament. After seeing the sharp shadows of the Old Testament heroes, I was pleasantly surprised to see a softer side to the drawings of Jesus. I realized later that a different artist did the New Testament chapters. Not that I don’t appreciate the Old – and perhaps it’s fitting for the darker time period that existed before the Light of the World was born?
Overall, this book isn’t for everyone, and it’s not a standalone Bible. The littles, unless they are already comic book lovers, could find it a bit scary. However, it’s a well-designed, entertaining book that can inspire Bible study, and at the very least, encourage readers to see the familiar Bible characters in a whole new light.


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"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Kregel Publications for coordinating this book for review. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Review: The Midnight Visitors

Christmas. It’s all about Jesus.

Since we want the focus at our house to be on Him, you’ll see a lot more nativity books in our house right now than Santa books (nothing personal against Santa, mind you). It’s easy for those books to blend together with the same storyline every time, though. So I’m constantly on the lookout for books that tell the story from different angles and with different twists.

Here’s a sweet book for the littles that tells the story from the cow’s perspective.

Synopsis of Book

Midnight VIsitorsMiriam was glad to be warm and cozy. There were so many people in the town but it was nice and peaceful inside her cowshed. Little did she know that she would soon be joined by Midnight Visitors . . . and not just any old visitors!

Snuggle up and enjoy the warm, soft feel the art and narrative bring to this delightful Christmas picture book with a difference.

About the Author

Juliet David has written many children's stories and Bible activity books. Her other interests include painting, music, and travel to Israel and other Bible lands. This experienced author lives in London with her family.

About the Illustrator

Jo Parry trained at Bournemouth Arts Institute before becoming a full-time artist. She illustrates mainly greetings cards, fine art, and children's books, adapting her fun, colorful style to each of these genres. She creates her characteristic style using an Apple Mac, and is fulfilling a lifelong dream working as an illustrator. Jo lives in Bournemouth, on England's south coast.

Genre:  Children’s Christian Story Book ages 2-6
Physical Description:  Hardback, 32 pages 
List Price:  $14.99
For More Info/To Buy: http://www.kregel.com/childrens-story-books/the-midnight-visitors/

Mom’s Review:

  • Adorable! This book is pure sweetness!  Adorable animals making adorable sounds, climaxing with a special sweet baby. The words and colorful illustrations work very well together.
  • Read-aloud Sounds. Many pages highlight simple sounds that make this a fun read-aloud for the littles. “Ruff Ruff,” “To whit – to whoo,” Knock, knock!” to give a few.
  • Humor. There’s some good humor in the book to make it fun for the olders, as well! For instance, the innkeeper tells Mary and Joseph, “It’s the best I can do.” This is followed by the main character cow’s, thoughts: “What a cheek. There’s nothing wrong with my cowshed!”

Overall, a terrific book to add to your Christmas collection. It’s about Jesus, and it’s written in a fun, sweet way that is guaranteed to appeal to your little ones.

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"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Kregel Publications for coordinating this book for review. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Review: Ishtar’s Odyssey

The Christmas story. We’ve heard it over and over. If you’re looking for a way to make it fresh and meaningful this season, here’s a story for you.

Synopsis of Book

IshtarA new Advent family devotional from the author of Jotham's Journey! Fourth in a set of Advent adventure books for families, Ishtar's Odyssey follows the ten-year-old son of a Persian wise man as their caravan follows a star across the desert. Ishtar would just as soon stay in the comfort of the palace, but slowly he learns that there's much to see, do, and learn in this world that can't be experienced in school. He eventually meets Jotham, Bartholomew, and Tabitha as he follows his father and uncles in their search for a newborn king.


Arnold Ytreeide's family advent devotionals have become a much-loved Christmas tradition, enjoyed by multiple generations. With over 100,000 in print they include Jotham's Journey, Bartholomew's Passage, and Tabitha's Travels.

About the Author

Arnold Ytreeide is a fine storyteller who cares deeply about spiritual growth in families. Ytreeide is the founder of Storyteller Productions and lives with his wife and two children in Nampa, Idaho.

Genre:  Children’s Christian Story Book 
Physical Description:  Paperback, 176 pages 
List Price:  $15.99
For More Info/To Buy: http://www.kregel.com/arnold-ytreeide/ishtars-odyssey/

Mom’s Review:

We’ve loved all of Ytreeide’s advent books! They are a great way to travel through Christmas season with a regular moment each day to remember Christ.

  • Adventure! Cliffhangers make you excited to continue the story the next day. As a prince, Ishtar has a unique set of adventures that run into some of Ytreeide's other characters’ adventures from time to time. There is mystery, death-defying excitement, scary moments, character transformation, and more.
  • Bible Tie-Ins. Esmé loves how the adventure is tied to Bible scriptures and truths. At the end of each chapter, the author ties the story’s events to a Bible text in a way that makes one think. These go beyond the nativity story to a better understanding of who Christ is and why His coming is so important to each of us even today.
  • Schedule. The chapters are spaced out nicely to fit into an advent schedule, and the story climaxes with Christ’s birth on Christmas day.
  • Persian Food Outline. This book has a neat Making Connections feature – an outline of foods and common kid-friendly substitutes that Ishtar enjoys during each chapter of his odyssey. To make the book come alive, plan your menus around the list.
  • Cultural Experience. The book does a great job of helping the reader understand the culture of the time, with historical tidbits, landmarks, and more. I was particularly intrigued with religious discussions – the concept of multiple gods versus one singular God, etc. in context of the predominant religions of the time.
  • A Child’s Perspective. It’s fun to travel throughout the nativity story from a child’s perspective that your children can relate to. The characters all have flaws; Ishtar is far from perfect. But he grows and becomes transformed through the truths he learns, and ideally your child will make a similar journey in the reading of this book.
  • It’s All About Jesus. The nativity story is beautiful straight from the Bible, but Ytreeide has mastered the art of retelling it from different perspectives to discover new truths each time.

Ytreeide’s advent books have become a staple of our Christmas season, and this one does not disappoint. You don’t need to have read the others in order to appreciate this one, but having that context adds to the enjoyment of reading as you see how the main characters’ stories intersect.

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"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Kregel Publications for coordinating this book for review. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Review: The Ology

God always was and always will be. God is all-powerful. God is in control. God is perfect. Jesus paid it all. The Word of God lives forever.

Truths. The most important things you want your child to hang on to. Everything else in educating your child is secondary.

How do you fit these truths into the busyness of home education? You can live them out each day, but if you want an organized approach with biblical references for sharing these truths, here’s a good resource for you…

Synopsis of Book

Image 1A page-turning storybook of theology for kids

In the cellar of the old stone cathedral, Carla and Timothy uncover a life-changing treasure, a carefully wrapped ancient book known as The Ology. What adults might describe as a beautifully illustrated storybook of systematic theology, the kids discover to be a story of adventure, mystery, and wonder that leads them to the truth about God, themselves, and the world around them.

Truth is for kids, not just for adults! So The Ology gives kids of all ages a beginner’s theology book to help them understand who God is and how we, as his children, relate to him. Arranged within a traditional systematic theological framework, each truth in The Ology is also connected to the larger redemptive story of Scripture. The doctrine of God, for example, is presented in the larger framework of creation, where the attributes of God are more clearly on display. The Ology takes abstract theological concepts and makes them easier to understand with the use of creative examples, illustrations, and analogies. The goal is not to say everything that could be said about a theological topic, but rather to share the key thoughts behind a theological concept. The Ology is a starting point to learning theology and aims to create a hunger and desire in children to learn more as they grow older.

Designed for six-year-olds through preteens, this flexible resource includes built-in adaptations for use with younger or older children, so that entire families can enjoy it together. Read The Ology to preschoolers, read it with grade-school kids, and let older kids discover the “hidden” truths by reading the corresponding Scripture passages for each section. However you read it, The Ology will give your children a gift that will last a lifetime—a solid foundation of life-changing biblical truth that will point them to the God who loves them and gave himself for them.

About the Author

Marty Machowski is a Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, where he has served on the pastoral staff for over twenty years. He is the author of the Gospel Story for Kids series, which includes The Gospel Story Bible, Long Story Short, Old Story New, and the Gospel Story Curriculum, as well as the Advent devotional and curriculum Prepare Him Room. He and his wife Lois and their six children reside in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Genre:  Children’s Christian education (ages 6 – preteen)
Physical Description:  Hardcover, 224 pages 
List Price:  $29.99, currently $25.49
For More Info/To Buy: http://stores.newgrowthpress.com/the-ology-ancient-truths-ever-new/

Mom’s Review:

  • Introduction and Conclusion. This book has a fun little intro and conclusion that kids can relate to and that excites them about what is inside.
  • Organization. The book is neatly organized into 71 chapters that logically walk kids through the major tenets of the Christian faith. The table of contents allows you to easily jump to a topic if needed.
  • Bible References. Each chapter includes scripture supporting scripture quotes, in addition to scripture references if you’d like to read more on the subject.
  • The Relatable Writing. The chapters include object lessons or anecdotes that make it easier for a child to relate to the topic. For instance, in describing the animal sacrifices, it says, “They were a little like cleaning your room by shoving everything under the bed. The bed covers the mess but the mess is still there,” and describes the need for Jesus’ ultimate cleansing sacrifice.
  • Illustrations & Design. The subtle colors of the attractive artwork and graphic design add to the appeal of the book without overwhelming the topics being addressed.
  • The Questions at the End of the Book. Both the scripture references and the questions/answers at the end of the book (one for each chapter) make it easy to use this book as an educational resource or component of a homeschool curriculum.

I would make the suggestion that the book be read by parent and child together. While most of the writing is universal for Christians of all denominations, there may be some doctrinal differences or variances. While I personally found variances on the topics of death and baptism, I see this as an opportunity to explore and discuss the topics more deeply with my child.

Overall, this book is a great resource for Christian parents.

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"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group for coordinating this book for review. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Review/Giveaway: Christmas Time: It’s All About Jesus!

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  Comment on this post for a chance to win!

From the beginning, I’ve been looking for ways to make the Christmas season about Jesus for Esmé. The Jesse Tree, Truth in the Tinsel, Why Do We Call It Christmas?, Melk the Christmas Monkey – we’ve done them all, some several times. And I’ve always been on the lookout for books that tell the classic Nativity story in new and interesting ways.

So I was pleased to find the book, Christmas Time: It’s All About Jesus! This cute, meaningful book is a great addition to a Jesus-focused Christmas collection.

Synopsis of Book

Christmas Time (Web Front)Since Christmas is such a captivating time of year, it’s the perfect setting for telling children about the miracle of the Lord Jesus Christ’s birth. Using selected passages from the first chapters of the gospels of Matthew and Luke, Christmas Time – It’s All About Jesus tells the story of Jesus’ birth in a delightfully poetic and child-like way. The sensational illustrations create an unforgettable image, so a child can always remember the true meaning of Christmas.

As an added bonus, Pastor Russ and Sue have developed devotionals to be used by families to enrich their Christmas celebrations. These are complete with attributes and names of Jesus, questions for discussion, and activities to do as a family to share Christ with those around them. Coupled together, this story and devotionals will enhance your celebration of Christmas during the season and all year long!

About the Author

Sue BarksdaleSue Murray Barksdale has been a pastor’s wife, mom, and educator for over 30 years.  She and her husband Russ live in Arlington, Texas, where Russ pastors the multi-site The Church on Rush Creek, a multi-site church. Sue has a BS in Elementary Education from The University of Houston and enjoys teaching at a public charter school in their neighborhood.

Russ and Sue consider their relationship with their grown children and spouses and their six beautiful grandchildren as one of the greatest blessings in life! Their desire to leave a legacy of Christ-centered lives motivated them to write this book for their own family and all the children in their sphere of influence. This is Sue’s second book, her first being G.I.F.T.S.: A Prayer Book for Kids and Those Who Love Them.

Genre:  Christian children’s book 
Physical Description:  Paperback, 28 pages
List Price:  $12.99, currently on Amazon for $11.69 
To Buy: http://goo.gl/sMk2MQ 
For More Info: https://anekopress.com/christmas-time/

Mom’s Review:

Focus. It’s all about Jesus. The story, the devotions, the activities, all help point a child to Jesus at Christmastime.

Illustrations. The gender-neutral colorful illustrations are cute! Perfect for about the 3-6yo range.

The Writing. The story is the classic nativity one. You won’t find any surprises in it, but the poetry is easy and fun to read aloud. It’s great for the Dr. Seuss-age crowd.

The Devotions with Family Activities. These are my favorite part of the book – what makes it stand out from others. There are five – one topic for each letter of the word GLORY.There is a short devotion and prayer on the topic, followed by a typical Christmas activity that correlates with the devotion. It’s a great way to tie some of the fun things of Christmas to the center of it all – it’s all about Him!

If you’re looking for a simple way to make Christ the center of your child’s Christmas, or would like to add a fun Nativity story to your Christmas collection, this book is for you.

Giveaway!

Yes, I can offer one blessed reader a copy of the Christmas Time: It’s All About Jesus! We’re going simple with giveaway entries here: just enter a comment of any kind on this post, along with your email address or other way for me to contact you. A winner will be randomly selected on November 21. You must have a US mailing address to win.

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"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Aneko Press for coordinating this book for review and providing the giveaway prize. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win this giveaway!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Review: A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest

Africa. The sights: children running, run-down buildings, animals, orderly plantations, wild jungle. The smells: Overwhelming florals, sweat mixed with fire, markets with overripe tomatoes and dried fish. The sounds: horns blaring, dogs barking, a language you don’t understand, laughter. The tastes: juicy mango, maize from a pot. The feeling: jarring roads, crowds, awe.

Water. A precious commodity transported on the heads, or in other creative ways, of many a child, many a woman. Not too many years ago, when Esmé was a baby, it was our privilege to experience Africa. To play a small supporting role in the creation of more water sources, wells, for various communities.

So here’s a book that grabbed us from the first page…P1130641

Synopsis of Book

A Chameleon, a Boy, and a QuestA Boy Named Mu, an African Journey, and You

Mu, a ten-year-old orphan, has lived his entire life in the heart of Africa. For as long as he can remember he has served in the household of a great-uncle where he is unloved and ignored. In his drudgery-filled life, Mu has little hope of happiness, and little hope that anything will ever change.

But one day, everything does change. On his way to draw water one morning, Mu is astonished when a chameleon greets him by name and announces that they will embark on a quest together. And what a quest it turns out to be! Mu faces danger and finds unexpected allies as they journey through a fascinating and ever-changing landscape.

A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest blends magical realism with a compelling story. The exciting story line combines an orphan's journey to find a home with the plight of child soldiers and the dangers of the Ebola virus and, along the way, highlights universal themes of integrity, loyalty, faith, and love. Written by long-time medical missionary J. A. Myrhe, the artful story is laced with subtle gospel themes and handles cross-cultural issues with grace and sensitivity. Kids will encounter good and evil and learn the truth about hope, happiness, and what it means to be human in this page-turning first book in a new series.

What you'll find in A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest:

  • A page-turning children's action and adventure story set in a fictional African land
  • Blends magical realism and compelling storytelling with gospel themes to draw kids gently into the truth
  • Deals with real-life but (seemingly) faraway themes like the plight of orphans, the duties of child soldiers, and the reality of the Ebola virus
  • Written by a long-time medical missionary to Africa who handles cross-cultural issues with grace, sensitivity, and love

About the Authors

J. A. Myhre serves as a doctor with Serge in East Africa where she has worked for over two decades. She is passionate about health care for the poor, training local doctors and nurses, promoting childhood nutrition and development, and being the hands of Jesus in the hardest places. She is married to her best friend and colleague Scott, and together they have raised four children for whom many of her stories were written as Christmas presents.
Find Jennifer online:
website

Genre:  8-14 year olds, Christian adventure 
Physical Description:  Paperback, 128 pages 
List Price:  $15.99, currently $13.59
To Buy: http://bit.ly/1NDAPy1
For More Information: http://litfusegroup.com/author/JAMyhre

Mom’s Review:

Africa. This book had me at Africa. The chameleon (we had one in our yard), the jerry can of water, the poinsettia bush, the description of clothing, the outdoor school, the hospital wards, the jarring roads, the dog, the family relationships. I could just visualize it all. It’s fun to remind Esmé of her past there, to share the experience with her through the vividly described setting of this book.

The talking animals. Miss Esmé has been a fan of talking animals ever since I’ve been reading to her. A talking chameleon? Right up her ally. Great for imaginative kids.

The adventure. This is a fun read! There is mystery. Every chapter ends with a desire to find out what happens next. With lots of animal action as well, this is an adventure for both boys and girls.

The allegory. Betrayal. Courage. Redemption. You can find the story of Good and Evil subtly woven throughout this book.

Overall, this is an exciting read-aloud (though of course your child may want to read on her own) adventure with great cultural and redemptive qualities. I highly recommend it.

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"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group for coordinating this book for review. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Melk the Christmas Monkey

So it’s November. That means we can start planning for Christmas, right?

Melk Collage

I asked Esmé if she wanted to have Melk come back this year, and she was adamant that he should, so Melk and I are planning some new (and repeating) adventures. He’s got a surprise sidekick this year – a critter who will be focused on spreading the love to others…

So who is Melk? Short for Melchior, Melk the Christmas Monkey is kind of like the Christian version of Elf on the Shelf. Each day of the Advent season, he’s got something new going on – always with a note that points his friend to Jesus. Some of you followed his adventures on Facebook last year, and I decided to put them all here in one place for handy dandy reference.

First things first – credit where credit is due. The inspiration for Melk comes from Paradise Praises. If you want a nicely packaged ebook with Bible lessons & activities for 30 days, printable notes, supply lists, etc., here’s where to get it: http://paradisepraises.com/melk/. Many of Melk’s activity ideas came straight from this ebook.

Our Melk took on a life (and voice) of his own – so consider this as a supplement to the original ebook. Because I don’t want to infringe on copyright, I’m summarizing our activities very briefly here without a lot of direction on printables and devotions. If you have questions on anything, feel free to comment or message me, and I’ll do my best to answer offline.

To note: There was no special order to Our Melk’s adventures. It really depended on what I had available at the time and how much time we could spend on activities. It bothers my OCD a bit that it wasn’t more sequential or organized, but the main thing was a focus on Jesus each day. And, on more than one occasion, it was amazing how things came together beautifully and more perfect than I could have possibly planned.

So here we go:

Day 1: Introducing Melk

Melk made his debut by getting involved in a snowflake ballerina craft Esmé and I had already been working on. We had been waiting for the coffee filters to dry, but he couldn’t wait until morning so got right into making those snowflakes. Just his way of letting us know (along with his note) that he was taking over the season’s festivities.

Day1

Here is the finished result:

Day1a

Day 2: Music (Isaiah 51:11)

Esmé’s favorite group, 1 Girl Nation, had just put out a Christmas CD. Melk got first listening rights to this gift… We pulled out all the other Christmas CDs, too.

Day2

Day 3: Angels (Psalm 91:11)

Melk got himself into a glittery mess. Later on, Esmé was a bit more proficient with her angel.

Day3

Day3a

Day 4 (December 1st): Advent Promise (James 5:8)

Melk started in on an Advent chain.

Day4

Day 5: Light (John 8:12)

Melk needed some help getting untangled so we could put the new lights in the windows. This was also the day that Esmé decided to become nocturnal so she could assist Melk with his adventures. Couldn’t get her to sleep for anything.

Day5

Day 6: Pleasure (Revelation 4:11)

Melk was all ready to enjoy a nice cup of hot cocoa, but first he was creating some “happy” artwork with his extra marshmallows.

Day6

Day 7: Star of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:2)

Melk was supposed to be making a star with beads, but he got beads confused with Froot Loops and decided it was snack time.

Day7

Day 8: The Nativity (Luke 2:10-12)

Melk started in on a sculpey clay nativity scene (using a new pack of clay).

Day8s

Esmé helped him out and made a pretty awesome lamb!Day8a

Day 9: Refiner’s Fire (Zechariah 13:9)

Never let a good flame go to waste! It’s marshmallow roasting time, which means, of course, s’mores.

"There burns a fire with sacred heat
White hot with holy flame
And all who dare pass through its blaze
Will not emerge the same
Some as bronze, and some as silver
Some as gold, then with great skill
All are hammered by their sufferings
On the anvil of His will"
~Steve Green lyrics

Day9

Day 10: The Bible Story (2 Timothy 3:16)

This was the day Melk pulled out all of our Christmas books for Esmé to enjoy the rest of the season.

Day10

Day 11: Gift of Sight (Matthew 12:22-23)

Melk rocked a pair of new sunglasses and checked out a spider in his new bug magnifying glass, while looking forward to using his gift of sight to watch all our Christmas movies.

Day11

Day 12: Miracles (Luke 18:27)

Melk planted a candy cane “seed” in hopes of growing an award-winning candy cane – but paperwhites work much better.

Day12

The paperwhites just happened to open their blooms on New Year’s Day.

Day12a

Day 13: Gifts of Gold (Matthew 2:11)

Time for a gold color box!

Day13

Day 14: Creator (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Melk celebrated being a unique creation by making his own unique creation – a gingerbread man craft.

"Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You." ~Dr. Seuss

Day14

Day 15: Sweetness (Psalm 34:8)

He got his hand stuck…

Day15

Day 16: Merry Heart (Proverbs 17:22)

Melk had a bunch of photo props to try out for funny selfies. Though he looks rather distinguished in this one…

Day16

Day 17: Healer (Isaiah 53:5)

A gift of a brand new first aid kit for budding medics in the house.

Day17

Day 18: Lost Sheep (Luke 15:1-7)

So Melk scattered 50 or so printed Christmas jokes all throughout the house while shepherding his marshmallow sheep. Surely, Goodness, and Mercy tend to stick with him pretty well, but Seek is a different sort of sheep... We are still finding the jokes (and “rejoicing” every time).

Day18

Day 19: Clothing the Naked (Matthew 25:36)

It was all about things to wear. Melk was sporting the gift of a new pair of slippers while working on princess paper dolls.

Day19

Day 20: Snow (and a Comforter) (Isaiah 1:18)

Since we didn’t have any real snow to play in, Melk got things ready for a Borax snowflake. Because the thought of snow makes him cold, he wrapped up in the gift of a new comfy blankie.

Day20Day20a

Day 21: Fragrance (& Frankincense) (2 Corinthians 2:15)

So Melk wasn’t impressed with new girlie perfume, but he was happy to help make cinnamon ornaments.

Day21

The finished fragrant cinnamon ornaments.

Day21a

Day 22: Foundation (Psalm 118:22)

Melk had the icing ready to go on a gingerbread house kit. I won’t say whether he ate any of the décor before Esmé to up.

Day22

Foundation or not, this house isn’t going to last long with these two around.

Day22a

Day 23: Legend of the Candy Cane

Look at the Candy Cane
What do you see?
Stripes that are red
Like the blood shed for me
White is for my Savior
Who's sinless and pure!
"J" is for Jesus,
My Lord, that's for sure!
Turn it around
And a staff you will see
Jesus my Shepherd
Was born for me!

Day23

Esmé helped Melk make a sweet wreath.

Day23a

Day 24: The WORD (John 1:1, 14)

A gift of fine new art pens, along with writing pages.

Day24

Day 25: Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5)

Sonny the Lion helped Melk with this gift of the Chronicles of Narnia audiobooks, as well as a paper craft lion.

Day25

Day 26: Breakfast in Bethlehem

Melk made breakfast. We kept it simple because he doesn’t have opposable thumbs.

Day26

Day 27: Love (1 Corinthians 13:1-8)

A “gifts for Jesus” box, a sapphire necklace, and a valentine’s note from Melk.

What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
if I were a wise man, I would do my part.
Yet what I can I give him--give my heart.

Day27

Day 28 (December 25): Happy Birthday!

Day28

Happy Birthday, Jesus,
I'm so glad it's Christmas.
All the carols and bells make
The holidays swell
And it's all about You.