Review: Running from Mercy

Jonah, the four chapter book of the Old Testament tells a familiar story.

Jonah was a prophet of God who was called to preach repentance and salvation to the people of Nineveh.  Nineveh was an Assyrian city and the Assyrians attacked, abused, and killed the Hebrew people.  They were considered by God’s people the epitome of evil.

 

And God called Jonah to tell them that forgiveness is offered to them through repentance and faithfulness to God.

 

Jonah did not want to go, in fact he went in the complete opposite direction.  He boarded a boat to the city of Tarshish and expected to outrun the omnipotence of God.

 

A storm comes up and the sailors are sure they’re going to die, but where is Jonah? Surely a Hebrew man of God can call on his God to save them.  Jonah was asleep, the men woke him and when lots for blame were caste, the blame fell on Jonah.  He knew the solution to their peril.  He was to be tossed overboard.

 

After Jonah was tossed into the sea a whale swallows the prophet and there he stays for three days and three nights and when God commands it, the whale vomits Jonah out.

 

Jonah, freed from the belly of the whale, goes to Nineveh and preaches as God commands, but he still expects God to destroy the people he considers vile and evil. When the people of Nineveh repent of their sins and evil ways, God forgives them, spares their city and Jonah is left with a bitter heart, wishing to die because those he hated were allowed to live.

I have always been fascinated with the story of Jonah, how God could use the most unwilling heart, so if we were willing how much more could he do with us.

As a book reviewer for B&H / Lifeway books, I received a free copy of this Running from Mercy by Anthony Carter from Lifeway Book Stores.  I was excited to read a new look at Jonah.

 

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The book is not a quick and easy read.  It’s a thinker, but Anthony Carter beautifully unpacks the adventure of Jonah in a way I had never thought about before.

We all ponder the love God has for all people because he extended his salvation to the Assyrians and he sent a Hebrew to reach them.  We say it shows that God loves everyone, not just the Hebrew nation.  We say it shows God’s mercy to save the hardest of hearts.

What Anthony Carter points out is that the hardest heart of all was Jonah and God doesn’t give up on his child when he runs away.  He chases him down, he shows him love and mercy in the most unlikely of places, the bowels of a sea beast.

I enjoyed this book and the new perspective it brought a familiar story.

If you would like to read Running From Grace, you can buy a copy at either

Amazon

or

Lifeway

 

 

 

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Review: Sacred Holidays

Another book I recently received from B&H blogger and Lifeway stores to read and review was Sacred Holidays: Less Chaos, More Jesus by Becky Kiser.

sacred holidays book cover

I can’t even begin to express how much I loved this book.  It is set up so that you can skip to the holiday you’re closest to or just read the whole book.

I loved how each holiday has it’s own sections with suggestions on new traditions, ways to make God the focus, and a space to make a plan and work through what you and your family struggles with the most during the holiday season.

This is a wonderful book and an amazing resource.  I know I will read and re read it for years to come.

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You can get your copy through Lifeway Stores (currently on sale) or Amazon

Review: The Storm Tossed Family

As a B&H Blogger I received a free copy of The Storm Tossed Family by Russell Moore to read and review.

I’ll admit I’ve been slacking on the review as I read this book over a month ago.

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This book was one that really made me think.  Russell Moore presented information on family dynamics and design that I hadn’t really thought of before.

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Our families are spiritual warfare from our relationships with our spouses and our kids to our parents and siblings.  The family was designed by God with a purpose and for a purpose, but sin in the world sends everything askew.

 

The Storm Tossed Family is not a book where you will get everything out of it you can in one read.

I can not say I enjoyed this book, because it is not a feel good read.  It is a “you need to hear this”, makes you think and opens your eyes. I couldn’t put it down and would recommend it to anyone.

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You can get yours at Lifeway Book Stores (currently on sale!!!) and Amazon

Book Review: The Minimalist Home

 

B I have been working on organizing our home.  It has been a slow process.  I have read a few books giving tips on how to best accomplish this goal.  The one I read months ago, the other I just read recently.

Through NetGalley  I received an early release copy of The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker.

Minimalism isn’t the white, characterless decorating choices as shown on TV shows.  It is a choice to live with less in order to experience more.

minimalisthome

This is something that speaks directly to me.  I want to have less stuff.  I keep trying to get rid of things I don’t need.  As I said this isn’t the only book I’ve read about the topic.

Last year I came across a book called “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo.  Where Joshua Becker’s method for minimalism is called the Becker Method, Marie Kondo’s is called the KonMari Method.  Both work along the same premise.

minimalist home 2

If our homes are filled with only the things that we love, that bring us joy, then our homes will be place of refuge and rejuvenation.

I couldn’t help but compare the two the whole time I read The Minimalist Home.

Here is how they compare and contrast.

Becker vs. Konmari

Both encourage you to enjoy the process.  Have fun with it. Make and occasion out of freeing yourself from stuff that weighs you down and takes you away from the life you want to have.

I love our little house.  We own a three bedroom ranch style house on a square acre of land.  Our neighbor owns a farm and we’re located behind his corn and hay fields.  Our closest neighbor is in the next county.  That really isn’t that far away given that we live on the county line and across the street is the next county.

But in the three years we have lived at this small country house we have filled it up quickly.

We are a family of five.  My husband and myself and our three kids, one girl, two boys.  My oldest (9) is in Girl Scouts, active in soccer and basketball and has recently taken up playing the baritone (just beginning and nightly practices still resemble the mating call of the Moose).

My oldest son (5) loves matchbox cars and dinosaurs. For a while we had a large T-Rex guarding the toilet.

Our youngest is 1 and will play with anything.  He is my adventurer, my climber, my daredevil.  I may have a full head of grey hair before my next birthday and it will be entirely of his making.

My husband can fix anything. I’m not saying he’s handy, I’m saying if he can’t fix it, it can’t be fixed!  But this means we have tools galore.  We have multiples of some tools. I’m told they are different sizes and this is important.  Given that it took me three days to put a desk together that only required an Allen wrench, I’m simply going to trust him on this.

I am a crafter. I spend way too much time on Pinterest and I have tried and succeeded in recreating multiple things I have seen on there.  I sew, knit, make jewelry, do various styles of art, and love photography.  I have an area in the basement designated solely to my crafting.

minimalist home 3

 

When I read the above quote in The Minimalist Home this struck a chord with me.

We don’t need to give up what we love, but we do need to give up what slows us down.

I still haven’t made my kids’ Christmas stockings.  I have had the fabric since last October (2017) but trying to keep up the upkeep of the house I haven’t had the time to work on them and Christmas is coming again.

I’m so busy with cleaning but not accomplishing anything that when my daughter attended her bridging ceremony, moving from Brownie to Junior Girl Scout, she lovingly got the nickname “Porcupine” because I adhered the final patches she earned with straight pins because I didn’t have time to sew them all on.

We need to own less stuff so we have the time to DO more stuff.

minimalist home 5

What I like about the Becker method is the order.  I understand why Marie Kondo tells you to go by category and not location.  The idea is to gather all like items together from all over your home so you see the excess and can gage what you need.  I hit the Miscellaneous category and I hit a brick wall in my decluttering.

There was too much miscellaneous to accurately gather like items together.  This where I fell in love with the Becker Method.  As you find items that go in another area you relocate it there until you’re done with the space.  When you go back and see I have three of these and only need one, then you can reduce, and you’ve cleared at least one whole space.

minimalist home 4

This is another point I loved.  If you spend money on storage containers, take the time to pack and label and store, and then forget about them for years, you have spent money to save items you never needed to begin with.  If I can’t decide if I should keep or remove an item, I ask myself, “if I packed this away, would I think to look for it later?”

One thing I enjoyed about this book wasn’t just it’s inspirational effect, but that it doesn’t leave you going, “that’s great, I’m not sure how to do that though”.  Joshua Becker gives directions and suggestions for tackling each and every area of your home.

 

I know I will be writing about this book again, but in the meantime check the book out for yourself on

Amazon

 

If you’re curious about more information on a minimalist lifestyle you can also check out Joshua Becker’s Blog

Becoming Minimalist

 

365 Trivia Twist Devotions

I received this book from B&H books to use with my kids and review and my kids love this.

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The devotions are short, simple and easy for kids to understand. They encourage questions and discussion, which I love. But for my kids the best part is the Fun Facts for each day of the year.

Some of their favorites

 

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I would encourage any parent to look into this devotional.  It doesn’t matter if they are a boy or a girl, five or nine (my kid’s ages), they learn something about history and faith.

 

This is one of the best devotionals we have done as a family.

 

365 Trivia Twist Devotionals

 

Just Open the Door

 

I read a review books for B&H books.  I received a book at the end of July that due to a series of events I am only just now getting around to reviewing.

 

JOtD

A simple invitation.  An open heart.  An open door. A world of difference.

This is the simple premise for Jen Schmidt’s book Just Open the Door.

 

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I have read many books that have inspired me to pursue hospitality, but this is the first one that has made me feel it was something doable.  A not just something I can attain once or twice with a well planned get together but just do.  Call a friend because I think of them, open my home to a young mother who may be dealing with what I have once dealt with.

 

The invitation to welcome people into our lives does not need to be a giant staring us down and threatening to squish us if we’re not perfect.

 

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The message was inspiring, but my favorite were the practical suggestions that allow you to put concepts into practice and make it your own.

  • Can you think of one friend or family you could invite for lunch this weekend? It doesn’t have to be in your home – maybe a local restaurant – but extend the invitation. Just Start.  (Just Open the Door: Trickle Down: Elevate the Ordinary — Jen Schmidt)
  • Busy Bee’s Night. Guests bring anything they need to work on such as addressing Christmas cards, organizing paperwork for taxes, finishing a scrapbook, writing a birthday letter to their kids, or even folding laundry. (Just Open the Door: Spontaneous vs. On Purpose: Elevate the Ordinary — Jen Schmidt).

 

These are just a small, small sampling of all the suggestions offered and these are just a place to begin.

Make a difference!

Just Open the Door

 

The Artist’s Manifesto

 

the artists manifesto

 

I was offered an early PDF of The Artist’s Manifesto in exchange for feedback.  I was excited to read the book as I am just beginning to dabble in art again.

Three words to describe Pamela Hodges’ The Artist’s Manifest are:

Simple – Powerful – Inspiring

 

Simple is the read. I set out to merely begin reading the book and finished it in less than an hour.  The message is also simple, to the point, and easy to understand.

But simple doesn’t mean weak.  The Artist’s Manifesto is a powerful reminder to follow our dreams DESPITE the negative talk we hear from ourselves and others.

Negativity should be merely a whisper in our minds;

while we allow our dreams to shout

“You can do anything!”

I found myself inspired by her mantra;

You are an artist! You can draw!

and it can work for anything

You are an artist!

You are a photographer!

You are a writer!

 

Be what you are and don’t allow the whispers of negativity and doubt stand in your way.  Don’t let the doubt shout louder than your dreams.

 

Pamela Hodges is an artist, who always dreamed about being a graphic designer but allowed negativity to veer her off course.  After years of doing something other than what she dreamed, she ignored the naysayers and pursued her degree in graphic design. The Artist’s Manifesto was her call to action for herself and for others to do the same.

For a chance to win a copy of The Artist’s Manifesto fill in your blank and share it on Instagram #theartistsmanifesto and tagging @pamelahodges.

artist manifesto

 

 

To learn more about The Artist’s Manifesto and Pamela Hodges you can visit

 The Artist’s Manifesto

and it goes on sale

Thursday, October 25th, 2018 on

Amazon

 

Be Inspired!

Create!

You Are An Artist!

 

Below are some of my inspired works

 

 

A New Face to ADHD

She can’t have ADHD, she’s not hyper

*source omitted for their privacy*

 

Kid’s with ADD don’t get enough attention at home.

                                                  *source omitted for their privacy*

 

Kid’s with ADD just need better discipline, their parents are lazy

                                                      *source omitted for their privacy*

 

The above quotes I have either heard in the last few weeks or at some time in my life and they really hit home to me, because I realize too many people do not have a clue what is ADHD, or what the difference between ADHD and ADD.

Please bare with me as I explain, because this is something near and dear to my heart.

 

ADHD

 

When most think of ADHD or ADD they think of the kid in class who won’t stay in their chair.  The one who impulsively gets up during class to go tell their friend across the room what they just thought of, even if the teacher is still in the middle of the lesson.  The child who can not patiently wait their turn and causes major disruptions in the classroom.

But that is only one form of ADHD and it’s NOT ADD.

In the DSM manual for mental health ADHD is split into three forms

ADHD hyper active – compulsive (the kind seen in the anecdote above)

ADHD inattentive (aka: ADD)

and

ADHD combination

Why do I care so much?

 

Because recently, ADHD gained a new face, and it isn’t one most would expect.

 

NEWFACE

 

This is my daughter, Alayna. Eight and half years old.  Involved in Girl Scouts, Basketball, Volleyball, and Soccer.  She has great grades, decent manners (she’s 8, we’re working on it), and a good group of friends at Girl Scouts and at school.  She’s active, she’s smart, and she’s well liked.  She doesn’t get in trouble at school, and she was recently diagnosed with ADHD Inattentive Type (aka: ADD).

This isn’t an attention issue. This isn’t a parenting issue.  This is a mental health issue.

ADD differs from ADHD in that is responds to stimulant medication (though doctors have learned to use that as a last resort in extreme cases – behavior modification and counseling tend to be tried first or in combination with medications).

Our brains are bombarded with stimulants through out the day.  Sights, sounds, smells, sensations, and it is our brain’s job to filter what is important and what is not.  This allows the non-ADD person to focus, follow and linear train of thought and complete tasks.  Our brains handle millions of these filtering tasks every microsecond.

In the ADD brain, the filter doesn’t work fast enough and the ADD person experiences everything at once.  This becomes overwhelming and emotionally draining.

ADHD inattentive is not in your face like ADHD hyperactive-compulsive, and is often missed in kids and not diagnosed until adulthood.  In fact I saw many of my struggles that I’ve had since childhood as we began this journey with Alayna and had myself tested as well.  I am still awaiting my results.

ADHD inattentive type is also found mostly in girls, whereas ADHD hyperactive-compulsive is seen mostly in boys.

ADHD Inattentive Type requires the presence of six of the following symptoms for a positive diagnosis.

*seems not to listen when spoken too

*spacey, excessive day dreaming

*difficulty organizing tasks and activities

*forgetful in daily activities

*avoid tasks they dislike or requires sustained mental focus

*difficulty sustaining prolonged attention

*hyper-focused to tasks they find pleasurable (as if the rest of the world has disappeared)

*messy

*looses train of thought while doing school work

 

She fits all, not just six.  We have only just received the formal diagnosis and are in the process of talking with her physician and with the school and figuring out the next steps to best assist her in learning how to cope with what is essentially a Mental Health Condition.

Getting to the diagnosis was a long process.  Issues came to light after, what for me, Mom, was a terrifying comedy of errors.

She was checked for an Iron deficiency, Thyroid condition, had sleep study done to rule out Narcolepsy and Petit Mal Seizures, and finally had the testing to check ADHD Inattentive Type.

So, maybe now, instead of cringing when people say…

 

She can’t have ADHD, she’s not hyper

*source omitted for their privacy*

 

Kid’s with ADD don’t get enough attention at home.

*source omitted for their privacy*

 

Kid’s with ADD just need better discipline, their parents are lazy

*source omitted for their privacy*

 

… I can direct them here and show them that a child doesn’t have to be hyperactive to have ADHD.

I can show them that these kids deserve compassion and not judgement, and their parents are working to do what’s best for them, not ignoring their behavior or struggles.

Under Contract: Life in the Middle of Dreams

I love to read.  I love books.  There is seldom a book I dislike, in fact I can count them on my fingers.  But rarely does a book touch me the way this book did.

 

undercontract

 

I was lucky enough to receive a free birthday party copy of Under Contract: Life in the Middle of Dreams to read and review.

I love the characters of this book.  Marcy Gene is a woman I would love to have a cup of coffee with and talk faith, or take and art class with her as my instructor.

My biggest take away from reading Under Contract: Life in the Middle of Dreams was to always follow your dreams.  Life has twists and turns and challenges we all face, but God is greater and when He puts something on your heart to pursue, He will help you see it through.  Never give up hope!

 

In the day-to-day life we see,

hear, smell, and touch those things

around us. What I call the middle

moments.  In those Middle

moments our hearts, mind, body,

and soul take in so much that if we

relax taking it in we skip a beat.

Our bodies long to receive

comfort.

~Marcy Gene ~ Under Cover: Life in the Middle of Dreams

What I loved most about this book was that it was verse book. It told a beautiful engaging story with characters you fell in love with, while reading with the fluidity of poetry.

Happy 2nd Birthday Under Contract: Life in the Middle of Dreams!

You can  get you own copy on

Amazon

and

Check out the Author’s Page

Ashley’s Art Closet

CSB Study Bible for Women – A Review

After serving on a couple book launches and writing many book reviews for the joy of sharing books with everyone I know, I was accepted as a blogger for BH Publishing group and Lifeway.  I don’t get paid for my reviews but I am provided a free book in exchange for time spent reviewing their product.  BH publishers provides the books through Lifeway Christian Book Store.

I was excited this week to receive my first book.

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Timing couldn’t have been better because I have been trying to be more consistent in my Bible Study time.

The CSB Study Bible for Women is not just designed for women but designed by Women.  Dorothy Kelly Patterson, Rhonda Harrington Kelley, and many other female contributors created an in-depth study Bible.

I tend to be leery of Study Bibles.  Most created for women just offer happy devotional platitudes, feel good antidotes that don’t accurately relate to the scripture they’re included with.  The CSB Study Bible for Women was a welcomed surprised.

I love the simplicity of cover, but the true treasure was found inside.

Study bible for women

Each book has an introduction page which is beautifully decorated, gives the setting and audience of the book, why it is important for women to read, and offers a timeline of events.

My favorite features are the threads; Character Studies, Biblical Womanhood, Hard Questions.  Each of these threads expands our knowledge of the people, events, and time, and poses questions that cause us to think about our faith.  Finally at the end of each book is where the words are “Written on My Heart”. This section offers encouragement and practical life applications for what is learned within the word of God.

The CSB Study Bible for Women encourages women, specially me, to dig deeper in the word of God.

I LOVE this Bible and would recommend it to any woman looking for a new Bible.

 

You can buy your own at

Amazon

Barnes and Nobles

Lifeway

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