Make Your Vision A Reality! Read Dream It. Pin It. Love It. By Terri Savelle Foy!

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I didn’t expect Terri Savelle Foy’s book, “Dream It. Pin It. Live It.”to have so such a profound impact on me but I’m so glad it did! In fact I think this is the best book I’ve read this year. With a fresh new year right around the corner this is the perfect book to dive into on those cozy snow days with a hot cup of cocoa and start envisioning your 2016! In the every day routine of life (especially as a mom) it is easy to lose track of our dreams and in many cases bury them altogether because ‘life,’ gets in the way. What we fail to realize is that our dreams and vision is what makes us thrive and feel alive!  If we choose to push our  vision to the side we do ourselves a great disservice and more importantly we disregard the plan that God has for our life. Terri plants that seed that makes you question if you are living your best life.

Terri encourages you to get clarity about your dreams.It isn’t enough to just set goals, but we need to write them down, change your habits, think carefully about what we are attracting by what we think about ourselves and finally to create a vision board. What I love about this book is that Terri isn’t telling you to put some pretty pictures on a board  and wish really hard that your dreams magically come true, instead she gives you practical advice on how to work towards your vision and how creating a vision board that reflects that vision is a crucial step in making those dreams you have nestled away come to fruition. Terri stresses the impact of the power of the pen and writing down your goals, but not just writing them down and putting them away. No, you need to read them every day and do something that brings you one step closer to accomplishing them.  This is far from a new age book as Terri weaves biblical scripture  and quotes throughout the pages that keeps it completely faith based.

Terri reminds us to have childlike faith, the kind that gives us the audacity to dream! In each chapter she gives you action steps to make your dreams a reality that you can  immediately incorporate into your life. For example, she encourages the reader to write 10 goals, to work on themselves, to be grateful for what they do have, gives suggestions on what to do while they’re waiting and how to create a vision board. If you ever feel like there is something more that you should be doing with your life or that God destined you to do something different than what you are doing now, please read this book! Terri reminds us that living happens now not tomorrow and that life is whatever you  create it to be. What would have to happen in 2016 for you to say this was the best year of my life, now once you answer that read, “Dream It. Pin It. Live It.”and get started on making it happen! It can you know, all you need is a vision, some discipline, faith and a vision board that speaks to your heart’s desire.

 

“OMG, How Children See God,” A Book That Will Put a Much Needed Smile on Your Face!

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What the world needs now is love oh love and that is why “OMG! How Children See God,” by Monica Parker is a perfect book to dive into during these turbulent times. It is also the perfect Christmas gift that really captures the spirit of the season. The beauty of children is their innocence, honesty and the unique way they view the world and in this book how they view God. Monica asks children ranging from age 3-12 several questions about God and the answers are just delightful! I found myself sitting in a coffee shop literally laughing out loud! Let me just give you an example of some of the questions and answers that will definitely put a smile on your face:

“Who is God?” I think God is a big hug that goes all around the world.-Liam 5

“Why Do We Need God?” To give us love and then we can give it to each other-Annabel 8

“What Does God Wear?” God always wears a shiny dinner plate behind his head as well as a wrinkled sheet.-Nick 9

I loved this book for it’s simplicity, sweetness and darling pictures that the children interviewed drew. Faith is a fundamental cornerstone in the spiritual development and well-being of our children. In such an uncertain world it is vital that as parents we teach our children about God and that they let us know what’s on their hearts as well. I encourage you to read this book with your kids, I did and my daughter truly enjoyed it and we had a great discussion on her thoughts about the questions in the book. “OMG,” is a fun way to have a dialogue about God along with opening up a door to talk freely about faith.  Monica Parker has given us a sweet treasure that is a gem for parent and kids alike!

Read more about this insightful touching book at http://www.omgkidsbook.com/ and Connect on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

 

“Jack Staples And The Ring of Time,” A Wild Adventure To Take With Your Kids

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When I was given the opportunity to review, “Jack Staples and The Ring of Time,” written by Mark Batterson and Joel N. Clark I wasn’t prepared for the adventure I was about to embark on in this thrilling book for young adults! It was action packed from the very first page when the reader is introduced to eleven year old Jack Staples a seemingly ordinary boy, who is anything except an average boy. Jack Staples through a series of page turning events finds out that he lives in a world where most people are blinded by invisible scales on their eyes, blinding them for the real  world. Jack however is different because he is one of the Awakened ones who sees the world as it really is, but even more importantly he is the Child of Prophecy.

Jack learns that as the Child of Prophecy he is predestined to defend the Awakened from the Assassin who wants to unseat the Author of the real world and throw everyone into darkness. Jack with the help of his friends, Alexia, Arthur, and Mrs. Dumphry along with a few others of the Awakened are in for the fight of their life. There is a twist where Jack questions if he is in fact the Child of Prophecy who will both save and destroy the world which makes him question everything about himself and his actions and soon learns that facing his worst fears and trusting in himself and his friends isn’t an option if he wants to survive and defeat the Assassin to fulfill his purpose.

If you are looking for an adventurous book to read with your kids or a book that will keep them interested for hours on end then, “Jack Staples and The Ring of Time,” is perfect. The epic battle in this book between good and evil will keep your kids on the edge of their seat. The characters are well written and rich with just the right amount of complexity. The story line moves a long quickly and is far from average with its twist and turns.  When your young reader lands on the last page they’ll be hungry for more of young Jack’s adventures and luckily they can because it is a series!

“Life is Beautiful, How a Lost Girl Became a True Confident Child of God” by Sarah Johnson is a Message of Hope

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One Lucky Reader will Receive a Kindle Edition of the Sarah Johnson’s Book, “Life is Beautiful,” by Leaving a Comment! Leave a comment by Monday, October 26th to Enter.

Rarely does a book hit me in my  core like Sarah Johnson’s memoir, “Life is Beautiful, How a  Lost Girl Became a True Confident Child of God.” Sarah’s life is a testament that regardless of how hopeless or tragic a circumstance is God is in control and can take those circumstances and still use it to make something beautiful. Sarah’s story begins with her parents, her brother Zachary and 10 other missionaries  seated in a Cessna Caravan single propeller plane on a mission trip in Guatemala to make a difference in lives of the people there, but unbeknownst to them it was their lives  that would be drastically altered  when the plane violently crashes to the ground, shattering lives and hearts. Sarah’s description of this  horrific crash left me gasping as she describes seeing her father and brother dead and trying desperately to free her trapped mother. When she writes about her mother screaming for her to help her, I had to put the book down for a moment because it was just so unbelievably tragic.  Sarah escapes the crash with minor injuries and we find out that her mother survives  although severely burned and hurt. You may be fooled into thinking that the  premise of this book is about a devastating plane crash, but the real story is of Sarah’s journey from hopelessness, alcoholism, and depression to becoming a confident child of God.

Throughout the book Sarah gives us glimpses of her life and her family’s life leading up to the plane crash. We learn about her father’s drug addiction and his road to redemption that eventually leads them on this life altering trip. We learn about her aunt dying of uterine cancer in their home and Sarah’s insecurities as she navigates adulthood. After the crash Sarah hits rock bottom. She’s drinking too much, she’s sad, angry, depressed and the relationship she has with her recovering mother is strained. You can feel the desperation in her life at that time and how she’s in dire need of peace that passes all understanding which can only happened through God. Eventually she seeks counseling and even better she begins seeking God and this is when the real miracle happens. You get the feeling that Sarah was always in some way seeking God, but was holding back and when she finally surrenders I just wanted to hug her through the book!

I loved this book because Sarah doesn’t sugarcoat her struggles or pain instead she writes about it honestly and with a completely vulnerable heart. Although I couldn’t relate to her personal loss from the plane crash, The pain she experience in the other areas of her life and her desperate need for a healing resonated deeply with me and I’m sure many other lost girls will relate as well. This is a must read  story of hope, resilience and how the love of God has true healing power. You will come away inspired and encouraged by Sarah’s testimony.

Sarah Johnson (1)

Learn more about Sarah Johnson at http://lifeisbeautifulbook.com/ 

Follow Sarah on:

 Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LifeisBeautifulBook

 Twitter at @SarahMJohnson12

Children’s Books That Speak To The Real Meaning Of Celebrations

So many moms I talk to are dismayed that the holidays have evolved into a highly commercialized time that’s goal is to fuel the economy and  skip right over the real meaning of the celebration. Soraya Diase Coffelt has written three books that give parents a fun way to discuss the significance of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Soraya graciously sent me these books to review and introduce to you guys! The books take the symbolism of the holiday and removes its attachment to the celebration.The book begins with a young child writing a love letter to the pumpkin, the turkey and Santa Claus explaining that these celebration are not about them and goes on to explain the history and background behind each of these celebrations. I would recommend all of these books for your library. “It’s Not About You, Mr. Pumpkin ,” would probably be best suited for older children and not toddlers. There are some concepts about the background of Halloween that they may not quite understand. But the other two books, “It’s Not About You, Mr. Turkey and It’s Not About You. Mr. Santa Claus,” are perfect for any age.

Visit As The Stars of the the Sky if you are interested in purchasing these books and learning more about each of them. Some of the proceeds go to help children in need and support the As the Stars of the Sky Foundation, Inc.  Cozy up with your kids with these love letters and spend time talking about what each of these celebrations mean to your family.

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“To The Sea” An Engaging Book For Children!

 

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If you are a lover of the sea and your children are too then you will adore “To The Sea,” a new board book published by Graham Blanchard. “To The Sea,” is a beautifully written and illustrated book that will make your little one swoon for the sea while admiring God’s wonderous creation. As you turn the pages of this book you and your tyke will be transported through the words and images to the ocean and all the sights, sounds, feelings and tastes that the sea evokes. I love how “To The Sea,” says so much through simple descriptive pages that reminds us of the awesomeness of the ocean and all that it embodies. What makes Graham Blanchard board books so unique is how they  beautifully bring God into your child’s world and opens the door to discussions on how God is at work in their world every day.

If you’re looking for a fun easy summer read to engage your little ones that is delightful to look at and inspires them to learn about God then I suggest picking up a copy of , “To The Sea.” 

 

My Book Pick for June! ‘Make It Happen,” by Lara Casey!

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If you are looking for encouragement to take that leap that you  know you should be taking, then look no further! You’ve got to read “Make it Happen,” by Lara Casey. A couple days ago we were at the book store, I picked up this book and started flipping through it and couldn’t put it down, but I did because I’m cutting down on buying anything that isn’t necessary. Then a day later I headed back to the bookstore because I couldn’t get it off my mind and realized that it was necessary! If you want inspiration along with practical advice on how to live on purpose and take that much anticipated leap this is the book. Head on over to Lara Casey   who is now my new favorite motivator to look at her blog, products and magazine! Yes, she publishes Southern Weddings along with some rocking products (she’s having a 60% sale off of select products). I can’t wait to do a review!

Trying to Instill Better Organizational Skills in Your Kids? Read, “Smart but Scattered.”

Anya is really intelligent and has always done well in school, matter of fact she has achieved a 4.11 for two semesters in a row. But, recently her teacher told me that she needed to work on her executive skills. At first I had  no idea what she was talking about, I mean she’s 8 what kind of executive skills is she supposed to have? She explained that is it the task initiation, the focus, and organizational and few other key skills that kids need to develop . She told me about this book, “Smart but Scattered,” by Dr. Peg Dawson and Dr. Richard Guare that gives you tools on how to help kids reach their full potential by improving their executive skills. I told my mom and I think she heard the worry in my voice and had the book sent overnight, gotta love moms right?

I was concerned, I know there are times that Anya can easily bunny trail, I mean the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. But, I didn’t want this lack of focus to become a real issue. I dived into the book and it was so informative for myself as well. The book offers assessments that you take for both your child and yourself. It was amazing how closely these assessments figured us out. Then it gave tools. One of the tools we’re using is the checklist and it is working out great, but there are others I can’t wait to try. She earns tally marks and rewards for every time she completes a task without a reminder. I have seen an improvement in our morning and night routine almost immediately. She loves using her clipboard and checklist! Her teacher  said she has already seen improvement during her  school routine as well.

If you’re facing any issues with your children in task initiation, focus, organization or other skills, I highly recommend this book and if you’d like to improve your skills read it for yourself as well!

Download (PDF, 179KB)

“Audrey Bunny,” By Angie Smith, A Book You’ll Want to Pass Down!

Psalm 139:14, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are you works; my soul knows it very well.”

Audrey Bunny
By: Angie Smith

I was given the opportunity to read, “Audrey Bunny,” a sweet children’s book written by Angie Smith. “Audrey Bunny,” is a love story to Angie Smith’s daughter Audrey who passed away just a few hours after her birth. If you visit her blog and read her story from the beginning you will understand why this isn’t just a nice children’s story about a bunny, but I forewarn you to get a box of Kleenex. While shopping with a friend before her daughter was born, Angie came across a bunny that she had an immediate attachment to, however when she told her husband the price of the bunny he suggested they try another store. Something about that bunny stuck with her so strongly that her husband suggested they go back to find it, but before they could go back to the store they discovered their soon to be born baby girl was having some serious health problems. After leaving the hospital with somber news her husband was determined that they buy that bunny. They found the bunny, the last one with it’s little ears sticking out of the barrel, they quickly grabbed it and found a black permanent mark on it’s heart, they knew God had given them that bunny. Thus the book, “Audrey Bunny” was born.

Amidst a barrel full of bunnies and toys lied a little adorable bunny who tried to look perfect so that a child would bring her home to love. The bunny however, was not perfect it had a smudge right over by her heart. This made the bunny sad because what child would want a messed up bunny? But, Caroline a little girl with a big heart did! She named the bunny Audrey Bunny after her grandma.  Audrey Bunny loved Caroline, but was worried that if she saw that she wasn’t perfect she wouldn’t want her. So Audrey Bunny did everything to hide her imperfections. One day, Caroline tells Audrey that she is going to take her to school for Show and Tell.  On the morning of Show and Tell, Audrey begin to panic when she realized she had nothing to cover her mark! Once at school, Audrey was in a panic, this was surely was the end, then Caroline pulled her out of her bookbag  and held her bunny high in  the air. Soon the children we’re pointing and Audrey was face to face with her worse fear, which was Caroline would discover she wasn’t perfect. What Audrey didn’t know was Caroline had always known about the mark, and whispered to Audrey how the spot over her heart made her beautiful to her. Caroline chose Audrey. Audrey realized she didn’t need to hide her mark, it wasn’t a secret it was why she was chosen to begin with. 

“Audrey Bunny,” was a breath of fresh air. I loved that it’s message to children is that with all of our imperfections we are still beautiful. They don’t have to hide them in order to be loved. In the story the bunny goes to great lengths to hide the mark above our heart, just as we often do with our own smudges in our life. Loving one another with all our imperfections is exactly how Jesus loves us and the author portrays this throughout the story. Angie Smith catches the tender moments between a young girl and her stuffed bunny that reminds us of how unconditionally children love and also how we should love one another. This is a beautiful book to read to your children that expresses to them that they are created by God’s design with imperfections and all and that God loves them and created them  with his loving hands.

The end of the book has a Parent Connection that gives a scripture to read and also questions to discuss with your children. But my favorite part is the, “Do,” section that suggest you give your children some nice stationary and have them write a letter to themselves from God after reading Psalm 119:73 and Genesis 1. After reading it and thinking about how God has made them they should write what they think God thinks of them. After writing their letter have them put it away in a special place and take it out when they don’t feel so special. I think the parents may want to write that letter to themselves as well!

In a world that beckons for us to judge  from what is on the outside and places an absorbent amount of value on appearances and what is considered to be , “normal,” Audrey Bunny encourages our children to accept themselves the way God created them. It assures them that in their imperfection they are perfectly created and loved. This is a book you’ll want to read, keep and pass down.

Follow Angie Smith on Twitter and Facebook

Book Inspiration Day 3: The Barbarian Way: Unleash the Untamed Faith Within

I heard about “The Barbarian Way, Unleash the Untamed Faith Within,” through an interview I saw with Lisa Whelchel when she was discussing why she want on Survivor. Well, she sold me on it and I purchased this unconventional book by Erwin Raphael McManusMr. McManus calls us to live with untamed faith by giving our heart and putting our faith into God. I like this book because it reminds us that being a Christian is a radical thing to do! We are following God, which isn’t popular in today’s world. But, he asks us to look at the disciples and how they took risks, they followed God and his plan for them by having radical faith in him. They risked their lives to do fulfill their purpose for which God had in store for them. We have to ask ourselves do we have radical faith? Are we willing to put all of our faith in him and not waver? Or are we holding back and stopping ourselves from doing what is beyond our dreams? Have we become to civilized with our faith?

Take a look at this quote from the book, “God’s ultimate end for our transformation is to unleash the untamed faith within. When his Spirit is poured into our lives, we are inspired to an extraordinary level of living. Barbarians never exist simply to survive. Barbarians wake to live land live life fully awake.”Wow, right? Barbarians do the radical by not settling, but by having the courage to live their dreams! What better encouragement for 2014 and beyond!

Check out his new book entitled, “The Artisan Soul,” that sounds inspiring as well.