Christmas Thanks

I haven't posted a thankful list since Thanksgiving, so I'm a little behind!!  I had started this post the first week of December.

I missed my thankfulness post last week.  So here I am almost a week later and I am missing a thankful heart.  This was my prayer earlier this evening...
Lord, Thank you for the chaos in my life.  For three beautiful, crazy kids.  Thank you that I can hold my dear baby when he is teething and over-tired and needing comfort.  Thank you for microwaves, so I can reheat my cold dinner.  Thank you that my 2 older ones are playing so nicely while I am distracted.  Thank you for praise music that I can play while I am walking back and forth with the little one.  Thank you for loving me even in my frustration and sin.  Thank you for your peace.

Here is my Christmas thanksgiving list:
122. my sister in Christ, Maaria
123. courage of secret believers
124. Christmas trees
125. the smell of pine
126. Christmas lights
127. the privilege of reaching out to the unsaved
128. prayer
129. Christmas eve services
130. Having Christmas on a Sunday
131. Being able to see so much of my family over the coming holidays!
132. pecan tarts
133. buckeyes
134. magic bars
135. new recipes
136. surprises
137. dollar stores
138. memories
139. Christmas music
140. shopping with Martin
141. Laughing
142. Crosby being the perfect shopping baby
143. that pink eye only got 2 of the 5 of us, and is healing quickly!
144. shopping with mom
145. good test results for brother-in-law
146. nativity scenes
147. joyful anticipation
148. children's excitement
149. the many names of Jesus
150. the mother of Jesus, Mary's faithful and willing obedience
151. Immanuel, God with Us
152. His Peace
153. and Hope
154.  Papa Claus (my dad, the kids' nicknamed him this last year)
155. freedom to celebrate Christmas
156. school vacation
...........I know that I have lots more to say, this was all written in one session!


FIRST: Everyday Spiritual Warfare

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Next Step Books (September 8, 2011)
***Special thanks to Christy Delliskave of Next Step Books for sending me a review copy.***


Amy Barkman is the Director of Voice of Joy Ministries, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and the pastor of Mortonsville United Methodist church. She and her husband Gary live in Danville, KY and together have seven children, thirteen grandchildren, and one great grandson. Amy loves to read and to travel.

Visit the author's website.


Everyday Spiritual Warfare gives practical knowledge for victorious living in a fallen world. Rev. Barkman has shared this wisdom in workshops, retreats, and sermons in several states over the past few decades. Both new and mature Christians have found the material very helpful in their walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.

“This is a helpful manual that reminds the Body of Christ of the tremendous responsibility and awesome power we have through the Holy Spirit. Enjoy this book from Amy Barkman and be empowered to step out and up in Faith.” - Dr. Stephen and Kellie Swisher, Kenneth Copeland Ministries

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 246 pages
Publisher: Next Step Books (September 8, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1937671003
ISBN-13: 978-1937671006


Spiritual Warfare Principles I

Praise the Lord for His mercy endureth forever.

II Chronicles 20:21

 I came up out of the baptismal waters with eager anticipation. Rising to newness of life - what a relief. But as soon as I got to the changing room it was obvious that my extra twenty pounds rose with me. And the straight auburn hair I’d longed for all my life had not replaced my curly brown tresses. Within an hour there was no question about the desire to smoke a cigarette passing away; it didn’t. By the end of the month the blood test proved that my triglyceride level was still as high as ever. “Hey God, what happened? I thought you said all things would be made new.”

 There’s a story in the Bible that reminds me of the way I felt after my baptism.

 The Nation of Judah settled in the land that God promised them. And most of their enemies were destroyed in battle. But one day three armies showed up to surround them.

 King Jehoshaphat called a fast and they all went to God in prayer. They said, in essence, “Hey, God, what happened? Here are three armies come to destroy us. They are from the three tribes you wouldn’t let us destroy when we came into this land. We don’t have any power against them so we’re looking to you. You do something!”

 One day, many years after my disappointing baptismal experience, I was reading this story and the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “Look up the meaning of the names of those three armies.” So I did. The three armies are Moab, Ammon, and Mt. Seir.

  Moab means “of the father,” Ammon means “tribal,” and Mt. Seir means “goat or devil.” Light dawned into my mind concerning the plight of the reborn, new creature in Christ that is the true Church.

 We who accept Jesus Christ as our savior are born again. We begin a brand new life – the promised land. And just by that act of receiving Jesus as Savior, we defeat more enemies than we can imagine. But there are three enemies that are left in our promised land. Three armies that come against us to destroy.

 Moab, “of the father," is symbolic of the genetic conditions we inherit in our bodies and personalities. When we are born again we do not get a new body but are stuck with the DNA given to us.

 Ammon, “tribal,” is symbolic of the cultural situation into which we are born.

 When we are born again, we are not transported into a perfect society but are bombarded all our lives with the evils in the world around us.

 Mt. Seir, “goat or devil,” is symbolic of the forces of the devil who comes to kill, steal, and destroy. When we are born again, we are not automatically placed out of reach of the enemy.

 We are born again children of God with the new life He promised but these three armies want to destroy us. And here they are – right in the promised land – genetic inheritance, cultural surroundings, and the devil with his destructive forces.

 You may ask, “Why doesn’t God get rid of these enemies for us?” The answer is simple. He will. God did not leave these three enemy armies here so they could destroy us. He says to us, just as He said to His chosen people centuries ago, “… Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (II Chronicles 20:15).

 His plan is to overcome them.

 Paul wrote “… we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37).

 What does it mean to be more than a conqueror? The Greek word means preeminently victorious, or a winner before you even enter the battle. Wow! That’s good news indeed. And that is what God wants us to understand and practice.

 But the way of winning battles through God is not the way of the world. “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” (II Cor. 10:4). There are some basic principles of spiritual warfare and we have to learn them if we are going to be winners in life. The first, and most important, principle is:


 This doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do. God’s Instruction Book, the Bible, is full of exhortations such as, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7) and “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). You are to resist the devil and stand against his schemes.

   But did you notice? When your battle against the devil is mentioned, your relationship with God is also mentioned. You can’t win against evil in your own strength. But God won’t win in this physical realm without your cooperation.

  When the nation of Judah sought the Lord for help against the armies that came to destroy them, they were told to present themselves but not to fight. Their response was to put a group of singers in the forefront of the army. Order of presentation was a way of protection in ancient times. The strong men, who were trained and able to fight, were at the forefront when meeting an opposing force, with the women, children, elderly and weak at the rear in the place of protection.

 This time, however, the strong fighting men were among those being protected and the singers and praisers, which may have included women and children, went out first. We are told that when they began to sing and to praise God for His mercy, the Lord Himself caused the three armies to be defeated.

 This story illustrates several principles of spiritual warfare. The first is evident and stated above … only God can successfully defeat evil.

 “Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies” (Psalm 108:13).

 The second basic principle of spiritual warfare is:


 This principle is illustrated in the story we just examined. When the tribe of Judah praised God for His mercy to them, He showed no mercy to their enemies but caused them to be destroyed. “And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten” (II Chronicles 20:22).

 King David, from an earlier time in the history of God’s people, mentioned this principle in several of his songs. He sang, “I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High. When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence” (Psalm 9: 2, 3). When David sang praises to the name of God, He showed up in person.

 What does it mean to sing praises to the Name of God? In today’s society, we have largely lost the understanding of names. When ancient men talked about the name of something or someone, they were talking about its or their essential nature or character.

 God revealed Himself to Israel throughout the centuries by His Names through His actions. He revealed Himself, His essential nature, His character, as

 Jehovah Jireh – the Lord your Provider

 Jehovah Rapha – the Lord your Healer

 Jehovah Tsidkenu- the Lord your


 Jehovah Rohi – the Lord your Shepherd

 Jehovah Shalom – the Lord your Peace


 He revealed other aspects of Himself through names and eventually revealed Himself as Jesus – the Lord your Salvation.

 When we praise His name, we are to be praising that aspect of Himself that we need to see active in our situation. Jesus quoted Psalm 8: 2, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings has thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.” He quoted it on the occasion that we know as Palm Sunday when the chief priests and scribes were upset because the children were crying out, “Hosanna to the son of David” (Matthew 21: 15,16).

 Hosanna is a word which means “Save.” By shouting out that word to Him, the children were recognizing Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior - and the religious people didn’t like it. Jesus then quoted Psalm 8, but instead of saying, “out of the mouths of children you have ordained strength”, He said, “out of the mouths of children you have ordained praise.” Jesus equated strength and praise, validating this principle that your battles are won by God as you praise Him for His mercy toward you in that area.

 Some people say “Praise the Lord!” a lot. And there is certainly nothing wrong with saying that, but think about it. If you are going to praise a family member or friend, you don’t just say “Praise Richard!” or “Praise Tracy!” You say “Richard has a wonderful sense of humor.” Or “Tracy is very generous and kind.” So it should be with God. To truly praise Him is to announce gratitude for His specific acts and attributes. And most often it will be as the army of Judah proclaimed, “Praise the Lord for His mercy endures forever.”

 One problem in our society that keeps us from understanding this principle is our picture of God as separate from us, doling out punishment or reward from outside our world. Many see God as an old man sitting on a throne pointing a finger downward toward earth and shooting lightning bolts to affect the physical realm. We can’t praise Him if we don’t really understand what He is like.

 The apostle John opens his gospel by giving us the true nature of God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). God is Spirit, Jesus tells us in John 4:24. He is Person who defines Himself by concepts and ideas. The very meaning of the word Word is “thought expressed.” WORD becomes flesh and has ever since God defined and spoke the physical universe into existence with the concept “Light!” Light energy is the basic component for all physical existence. God and His Word are the source of all Life. When we understand that, we can praise Him for being the ongoing Creator.

 This concept of God as Spirit and Word is too big for our finite minds to understand completely all at once. But when we plant the seed of understanding and let it grow, we will one day know why Jesus told us that the parable of the sower sowing the Word was necessary for understanding all He teaches (Mark 4:13, 24). God is Spirit and He defines Himself in words. Those spoken words change our circumstances. To praise Him for specific actions and attributes is to bring those actions and attributes into the physical realm. “It is the spirit that quickens; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).

 We need to recognize that the devil and his followers are also spirit – evil spirits. They convey evil concepts - ideas and concepts that are contrary to the thoughts that God expresses to you through His Word. Just as we know God is not an old man sitting on a throne, the devil is not a man in a red suit holding a pitchfork, and evil spirits are not gargoyles. The Spirit realm, both good and evil, wants to affect the physical realm.

 The more we understand God’s nature, the more we will praise Him, and the more we praise Him, the more we will see Him active in our lives.

 The story of Jehoshaphat and the battle against the three armies illustrates a third principle.


 We’ve already looked at those three fronts in the account described in II Chronicles 20. Remember that in the Bible, names are very important because a name designates the nature of something. We often miss a lot of information that God wants to convey to us in His Word by not discovering what a person or group or place symbolizes.

 The first thing I noticed the day the Lord was teaching me from this passage was that the third army is not mentioned at the beginning. “It came to pass after this also that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle” (II Chronicles 20:1).

  Moab, representing our genetic inheritance, and Ammon, representing our cultural situation are identified right away. The third army is only mentioned as “and with them, other besides.” The group that came along with the first two armies isn’t named until verse 10.

 “And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom thou would not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt …” Mount Seir comes along with those things that attack us through our birth and cultural situations in life. As we saw earlier, the name Mount Seir means “goat or devil” and represents evil spirits, devils, demons, messengers of the enemy.

 Spiritual enemies, evil spirits or devils, cannot just attack you physically – they have no bodies; they come in with the inherited and cultural enemies of your perfect happiness and your perfect good. When something has been established in you through your family heritage or cultural situation, then spiritual evil comes along with it to create and insure a stronghold.

 My father’s family has a history of blood lipid disorder so out of balance that it was reported in medical journals. My brother and sister and I were the subjects of experimental research to develop drugs to reduce blood lipids. I inherited this disorder as extremely high triglycerides. With medication and moderate obedience to dietary good sense, my triglycerides stay at a healthy level, for me. Without medication and eating right, I get very sick.

 The proclivity to high triglycerides is a genetic thing (Moab); the wrong diet is a cultural thing (Ammon); and the enemy (Mount Seir) comes along with those things to kill, steal, and destroy my life and the ministry that the Lord Jesus wants to accomplish through me. But when I praise Him for His mercy and thank Him that He is my life and my health, I receive His health and restoration, even when I have been unwise.

 When the people of Judah went to God with their plea for help, they reminded Him that He would not let them invade and destroy these three armies at the time they entered the promised land. He left these possible enemies in the land.

  In the same way, when you became a Christian you did not get a new body with a new genetic makeup. You were not translated into a perfect society with perfect cultural habits.

 You were left with your genetic and cultural situation in a place where evil spirits operate through these things to kill, steal, and destroy all that God has promised you. In other words, you are in a war against the flesh, the world, and the devil. And you can’t win.

  But God can.



Principles of Spiritual Warfare

Only God can successfully defeat evil.

Praising God brings Him on the scene.

 Evil attacks on three fronts.

Scripture Truths
“Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”    II Chronicles 20:15
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”               John 1:1

“And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord sat ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.”         II Chronicles 20:22

“Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings has thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.”               Psalm 8:2

“I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High. When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence.”            Psalm 9:2,3          

Everyday Spiritual Warfare

© 2011 by Amy Barkman

Published by Next Step Books, P.O. Box 70271, West Valley City, Utah 84170
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise – without written permission of the author, except for brief quotations in printed reviews.

All Scripture quotations are from the King James Version.

Barkman, Amy

Everyday Spiritual Warfare

ISBN-13: 978-1937671006

ISBN-10: 1937671003

Review to Come...


The Amish Nanny

By Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould

   Ada Rupp grew up with an illness that held her back.  Now she is 24, and her illness is under control.   As she travels across the US for her sister's wedding, she likes the feel of freedom. She gives up hope of marrying her life-long love, Will Gundy, and loses the teaching job that she had her heart set.  Ada then takes the opportunity to travel to Switzerland, to her ancestor's land with Daniel, a Mennonite who is fighting to save the land.  While there she meets her birth mother and tries to figure out who she is and what she want in life.  

I enjoyed this book.  I am not one to read any and every Amish novel.  I like them; I just don't seek them out.  This book gives some great historical information about Amish and Mennonites; however, it also includes travel and non-Amish activities. This makes it very unique.  The characters are very well developed, and I really liked all of them.  I loved the travel and historical information included, and the love story was sweet and authentic.  I would recommend this book without reservations!


FIRST: God Gave Us Love

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

WaterBrook Press; Brdbk edition (December 20, 2011)
***Special thanks to Laura Tucker, WaterBrook Multnomah Publicity, for sending me a review copy.***


LISA BERGREN is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than thirty books, with more than two million copies sold. A former publishing executive, she now splits her time working as a freelance editor and writer while parenting three children with her husband, Tim, and dreaming of the family’s next visit to Taos.

Visit the author's website.


As Little Cub and Grampa Bear’s fishing adventure is interrupted by mischievous otters, the young polar bear begins to question why we must love others… even the seemingly unlovable.

In answering her questions, Grampa Bear gives tender explanations that teach Little Cub about the different kinds of love that is shared between families, friends, and mamas and papas. Grampa explains that all these kinds of love come from God and that it is important to love others because…

“Any time we show love, Little Cub, we’re sharing a bit of his love.”

This sweet tale will warm the hearts of young children as they learn about all the different sorts of love, while the gentle explanations of each provide a valuable opportunity to encourage children to share with others a “God-sized love.”  Now in a sturdy format, ideal for the littlest hands at storytime, bedtime, or anytime. Would make a great Christmas gift!

Product Details:

List Price: $6.99
Reading level: Ages 0 and up
Board book: 22 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press; Brdbk edition (December 20, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307730271
ISBN-13: 978-0307730275

Here's an excerpt from the first book in the series: God Gave Us You (Board Book). (Click on images to see them larger):

This is a heartwarming conversation between Little Cub and her Grandpa polar bear.  It teaches a powerful lesson about God's love for us.  The fun illustrations follow the two bears throughout their day.  There are many beautiful reminders in the book, and it is nice and colorful to share with little ones.  I enjoyed reading this with my kids.
I received a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. 


Sneak Peak

The Christmas Singing

An Amish Christmas book is a great way to get into the holiday spirit. You can read the first chapter here.


La Belle Christiane by Lyn Cote

La Belle Christiane is set during the Revolutionary War.  Christiane is the young and beautiful daughter of a famous French courtesan.  She flees her life in France and travels through Canada and the United States meeting many hardships.  She lives on the frontier, on a farm, on a battlefield, and among both the British elite and American leadership, eventually becoming a companion for Lady Washington herself.  She is headstrong and restless: will she ever find lasting love and peace in this new world?

Lyn Cote is a talented author who not only writes stories but also paints vivid pictures of people and places.  Reading this book was like watching a movie!
Honestly, though, I did not like Christiane's character.  She is selfish and impulsive, and her rash decisions often led to turmoil for her and others.  She leaves her infant son for years, while she is searching for a better life for herself, partly because she wants certain luxuries!  As a mother, with an infant son, I cannot relate or understand that decision and at times Christiane's actions seemed unjustified or inconsistent with her character.  In the Kindle edition that I read there were some typos and other inconsistencies.  There was very little Christian theme or message.

I did enjoy the story. I loved the historical setting and the historical characters included.  All of the historical detail (about places, people, clothing, etc) is extremely interesting.  The story moves along quickly with a lot happening.  The minor characters were as vivid as Christiane, and I liked all of them.  My favorite scene is when Emma, a young lady with a hare lip, discovers that she is loved.  The conversation was honest and heartwarming.  I also appreciated the Quaker characters and the love they portrayed.
This one was good, but not my favorite. It is definitely worth reading for the historical aspect and it is only $2.99 on Amazon.  I would recommend Lyn Cote's other books as well.  See my review for Her Inheritance Forever.

My thanks to Lyn Cote for provided an e-copy in exchange for my honest review.


My Favorite Bible Giveaway

Winner Chosen December 14
With the vibrant illustrations and engaging text in this Bible storybook, you can enjoy sharing the best-loved stories of the Bible with the children in your life and encourage a life-long love for the Word of God. My Favorite Bible is a book of exciting Bible stories and activity pages that guide children through the foundational truths of Scripture.

Each story is fully illustrated and includes a simple narrative full of things kids love: repetition, rhythm, and energy, along with a key biblical theme, a key Bible verse, and discussion questions to help adults introduce children to the Bible.

The colorful illustrations will capture the imaginations of children ages 4–8, and the stories will help adults to pass along the most important truth in life—the Gospel. Families will cherish this time as they read, listen, learn, and love, growing closer to one another even as they grow closer to God.

Thanks to Donna Hausler and Baker Publishing Group for providing the giveaway copy.
To enter giveaway just leave a comment with contact info.
I will use Random.org to pick a winner December 14.


Humbug by Lee Baker: MediaGuests Tour

Lee Baker is the president of Sandman Studios, a visual effects and animation company.  He has taught courses at UCLA Extension, Loyola Marymount University and the University of Utah.  He is the author of the illustrated books "Humbug, A Christmas Carol" and "Beau and the Beanstalk," and now his latest thriller "Speed of Light."  Lee lives in Utah with his wife and five children.

When I saw Humbug, A Christmas Carol on the list to review, I was excited.  I love Christmas stories and thought this one looked like a fun one to share with my kids.  We received the book yesterday and read it as soon as we opened the package.  Mimi, a small orphan girl, comes to Winterton, a cold town with no love and no Christmas.  She brings her little friend, a Humbug.  The humbugs humming is said to attract Santa's reindeer and bring Christmas to the town, but the people must believe.  Will Mimi and one little bug be able to spread the belief and bring warmth back to Winterton?

This is a great secular Christmas story with a strong message of warmth, belief, love and caring for others.  We enjoyed the illustrations; with each turn of the page, my kids would say "look, she's smiling," or "now she's crying," and "oh no, he can't hum anymore."  I am sure that we will be reading this book over and over again through this season!  And I am sure that I won't mind.  It is a cute story with interesting illustrations.  You should definitely check it out!  
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 


Full Tilt: Mediaguests Tour

Creston Mapes's second installment of the Rock Star Chronicles, Full Tilt starts right where book 1 ends.  At the end of Dark Star, Everett Lester is free from all criminal charges and his prior bondage to drugs.  His band has dissolved, and he is planning to marry Karen Bayliss, the young lady who so faithfully witnessed to and prayed for him.  So at the beginning of Full Tilt Everett and Karen are married, and Everett has started a new band that he plans to use to share what God has done in his life.  The old man is gone; he is new in Christ and wants to show the world how Jesus saved him.

The problem is that the enemy does not want that to happen.  Lester has a powerful testimony, and God wants to use it to save more lives. This is a book about battles: spiritual battles, battles with the flesh, even battles with other people.  I haven't finished it yet.  I mixed up my dates and thought I had a couple more days to read it, so I'm still in the first half of the book.

I have to admit that although I had been intrigued about these books from the first I saw them a few years ago, I like them so much more than I thought I would.  They are just so different from what I normally read, and yet they are powerful, inspiring, and entertaining.  Creston Mapes is an author with a skill for grabbing the reader and pulling her into the story.  I empathize with the characters; they are real and three-dimensional.  The story is suspenseful, yet down to earth.  It is fast-paced and emotional with a strong Christian theme.  Again I would highly recommend this author and this series.

You can pick up the kindle editions of these books on Amazon:  Dark Star is $.99, Full Tilt is $2.99, and Nobody is only $2.99 right now as well.
Thanks to Creston Mapes and Mediaguests for providing my review e-copy in exchange for my honest review!


Holy Stable: Celebrate the Miracle

ABOUT THE BOOKHoly Stable: Celebrate the Miracle, restores the tender joys of the season! Discover how sharing the gift of Jesus’ love blesses relationships, as you enjoy the magic of children’s narration, original music and song. Mary and Joseph’s devotion to God and sublime caring for each other will bring you to experience the story of Baby Jesus’ birth as never before.
Holy Stable is more than just a Christmas “play”! It has everything an actual pageant has and is a perfect highlight to our Christmas season!
Holy Stable brings about inspired memories, the play adapts for a few participants or a larger group and for use with or without your own vocal talent. Harp, wooden flute and violin instrumentals come with and without vocals and narration and are coordinated with the innovative script, including tips, which are offered to you as a downloadable bonus gift at www.holystable.com.

Holy Stable: Celebrate the Miracle includes a beautiful booklet and CD.  I am listening to the CD as I am typing this.  It is peaceful and reflective.  The narration is clear and the child's voice is heartwarming.  It would make a beautiful Christmas play/pageant, and if my Sunday school class were just a little older, I'd try to do the actual play.  As it is, I am planning on playing the CD/story for them as a special treat closer to Christmas.  The book is gorgeous with wonderful illustrations and a poetic retelling of the birth of Christ, including poem and song.  It would make a great addition to your personal Christmas collection and to a church library.  My family and I enjoyed it, and I'm sure yours would as well.  
I received a complimentary copy of the book and CD from Heidi Hanseen and Mediaguests in exchange for my honest review.  Thank you!


Names of God Bible

I firmly believe in the premise for this type of Bible.  Everyday we need to strive to know God better.  A great way to do that is to study His name, make each one real to us.  This Bible is a great tool in doing just that. There is some great information included, but I have to explain that I have been a little bit spoiled when it comes to the names of God.  Our last pastor did a series every year about God's names and encouraged us to individually choose a name each year to study and embrace, to know Him intimately as Father, Provider, Shepherd, Refuge, Healer, etc...

Here is a list on his prayer website with around 600 names of Jesus and some related scriptures.

That being said, I was slightly disappointed with this Bible because it only addresses about 70 names.  Also, throughout the text, the English names are replaced with the Hebrew and/or Aramaic names.  This was slightly distracting because I did not know the meaning of all of the names by heart, so I would have to leaf back to the list of names and find the meaning before continuing with my reading.  The Bible is written in God's Word Translation which is very readable, but it may not be the best version for in depth study.

I do like the special features associated with the names though.  These special features include an alphabetical list of the names and a list of Hebrew and Aramaic names; reading paths--to give you the next reference with that name for studying a particular name and an index with scripture references associated with each name; introductions to each book of the Bible including a list of key names in the book; name pages--with history of name, a devotional, and a prayer associated with the name; and a topical prayer guide to help pray for specific needs using His names.

One of my favorite features are the name pages.  Each one provides a wonderful short devotional on a specific name, with interesting information about the name, promises associated with the name, a story to make it more relevant, and a suggested prayer.
I also like the prayer guide and how it associates different Names of God with common prayer requests.
I have not chosen the name of Jesus that I am going to focus on this year, but when I do I plan to use this Bible as one tool for my study.  I believe there is great insight to be taken from it.

I received a complimentary copy of the book from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.

The Brotherhood:A Precinct 11 Novel

To be honest, I didn't expect to like this one as much as I did. It seems to be quite a guy book.  In it, Boone Drake is a officer of the Chicago Police.  He has a beautiful wife and loving son.  His dreams are coming true, but then disaster hits.  He struggles with a reason for living.  After losing so much, only his career matters until that is threatened as well.  Through desperate prayers and the ministry of the local pastor, Boone seeks solace in his faith--faith that had lacked passion in the past.  Currently, God continues to show Himself to Boone and Boone lands a new assignment that can only be from the Lord.

The horror at the beginning of this book left me sobbing-to put it lightly.  The hope that Boone Drake finds then lightened my heart.  His spiritual journey is realistic and transforming.  Many of the secondary characters touched my heart as well, and I actually would have liked to know more about them.  This is the first of a trilogy of "Precinct 11" novels, which is promising.  It makes a great series.  The Brotherhood is a fast-paced story including suspense, spiritual growth, discipleship, and a little romance.  It is easy to read with descriptive language and I would recommend it.


BOOK REVIEW: The House of Hope

About The House of HopeOne couple’s powerful ministry to some of China’s most vulnerable children

Robin and Joyce Hill lived in a gated community in Beijing. Their family’s life was marked by luxury and the security of Robin's job as an engineer. Then one day, as members of their church, they had a chance to tour a state-run orphanage. Haunted by the needs of the children they saw there, for thenext four years they tried to help the institute in meaningful ways.

In 1998 the Hills planned to leave China, but instead felt a sudden call from God on their lives. They left their gated community--reserved for only non-Chinese residents--moved their family into a small apartment miles outside of Beijing and immediately began to take in foster children.

They took in any child, but especially those that needed extra care—terminally ill children that couldn't receive care elsewhere, and those that needed complicated and expensive surgeries that the Hills soon began to coordinate and sometimes pay for out of their own savings.

What began as Hope Foster Home is now New Hope Foundation. As they continue their work, theHills enjoy support from major corporations and high-profile philanthropists as well as the trust of theChinese authorities. The Hills' story is an inspiring example of God's care and provision for those whom society does not value. Learn more about Hope Foster Homes here:http://www.hopefosterhome.com.

What an amazing book!  It was wonderful to hear about how God has led Robin and Joyce Hill from the beginning: how he has provided for them and walked with them through it all.  It is like a present day George Mueller story.  This book is both heartbreaking and heartwarming.  "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world! (John 16:33)"  Many of the orphans in the book came from seemingly hopeless situations and the Hills (through God's strength and leading) were able to bring hope to them.  Not only did they touch the lives of countless orphans, but the community around them were also moved and many became involved.  You can visit their website here.  I strongly encourage you to read this book and buy it for your friends.  You will be inspired and awed.  I also encourage you to pray for the New Hope Foundation--for the orphans, for the workers, for all the organizations and doctors who help, and for the communities that surround them.  

100% of the proceed of this book go to fund the work of Hope Foster Home.  You can purchase it through their website.

The publisher is sponsoring a $50 "GET / GIVE" GIVEAWAY: One winner will receive a $50 Amazon.com gift certificate for themselves AND $50 will be given in the winner's name to HopeFoster Home. The giveaway is open to both you and your blog readers.

To enter all you have to do is send a tweet (using #HFH) about The House of Hope or share about it on Facebook!
If you tweet we'll capture your entry when you use #HFH. If you share it on Facebook or your blog, just email us and let us know (ckrumm@litfusegroup.com). Easy. 

(All Litfuse bloggers who post a review are automatically entered and do NOT need to email us.)
Not sure what to tweet/post? Here's an idea:
TWEET THIS:  Couple gives all to rescue babies in China! 100% proceeds go to #HopeFosterHomehttp://ow.ly/7qR3e RT 4 $50 to @amazon & $50 to #HFH

(must use hashtage #HFH to be entered)
FACEBOOK THIS: The House of Hope: One couple abandons a comfortable life to rescue abandoned children. Robin and Joyce Hill have helped over 1300 Chinese orphans with severe medical problems. Purchase a copy for everyone you know - the book is a gift that gives a gift. 100% proceeds to help support the work at Hope Foster Home! Learn more here: http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13438821 Share this for a chance to get a $50 Amazon.com GC and $50 in your name to Hope Foster Home! Click For Details.

All of the pictures have been taken from the New Hope Foundation Website. I received a free review copy in exchange for my honest review...but I am planning on buying a copy for at least one friend!!


Thanksgiving Thanks

Today I give thanks to our Maker, the author and finisher of our faith.  I thank and praise Him for all that He is and all that He does and all that He has given me.
I give thanks for:
100.  pizza
101.  baby food
102.  rain
103.  sanctification
104.  wisdom
105.  and understanding
106.  missionaries around the world testifying about the Risen Lord
107.  Camp Sequanota (where Martin and I met)
108.  sweet memories
109.  my loved ones who are no longer able to share holidays with us...looking forward to celebrating eternity with them!
110.  libraries
111.  panda bears
112.  happy children
113.  dancing
114.  holidays with family
115.  crisp autumn days
116.  obedience
117.  technology to keep in touch with loved ones far away
118.  Thanksgiving dinner
119.  pies
120.  fudge
121.  email prayer reminders

The Home of Thankful Thursday is Grace Alone...
It is hosted this month by Women Taking a Stand

I've also linked up with One Thousand Gifts.


FIRST: Live Abundantly and Live Reflectively

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card authors are:

and the books:

David C. Cook (November 1, 2011)

David C. Cook; 2 edition (November 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Lenya Heitzig is an award-winning author and popular Bible teacher. She and her husband founded Calvary Church of Albuquerque—one of the fastest-growing churches worldwide. She is the author of Holy Moments: Recognizing God’s Fingerprints on Your Life and also contributed to the best-selling New Women’s Devotional Bible. Heitzig serves as Executive Director of She Ministries of Albuquerque, overseeing weekly Bible studies and yearly retreats. She and her husband Skip live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Penny Rose is the award-winning author of numerous books. Penny thrives on teaching at conferences and retreats nationwide. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband, Kerry, a pastor at Calvary of Albuquerque.

Visit the authors' website.


The Fresh Life series was created for women who crave a profound experience of God’s Word without an overwhelming time commitment. Bible teachers Lenya Heitzig and Penny Rose challenge readers to dig deep into Scripture by using a directed study method that only requires twenty minutes a day. With a fresh approach to studying Scripture that gives newcomers as well as seasoned students deep insight into God’s Word, the latest two additions in the series explore the life of Moses and the riches in the book of Ephesians.

Live Reflectively: Lessons from the Watershed Moments of Moses (Heitzig) is an engaging Bible study on the life of Moses. He was saved from death on the Nile and raised as an Egyptian prince. He met his wife at a Midianite well, witnessed the birth of a nation as the Red Sea parted and watched water gush from a rock with one touch of his rod. He died overlooking the Jordan River. Through viewing the water moments of Moses’ life, readers will be encouraged to consider the moments in their own lives that shape who they are and who they are becoming.

Live Abundantly: A Study in the Book of Ephesians (Heitzig and Rose) challenges readers to dig deep into the book of Ephesians to find the spiritual treasure God has for them. The book of Ephesians is God’s “last will and testament” that bequeaths his spiritual treasures to His beloved children. Covering topics such as living in God’s will and receiving peace no matter the circumstances, it reveals the magnitude of every Christian’s inheritance—a gift “exceedingly abundantly above” what you could ever ask for.

The Fresh Life series teaches readers to:
·         Lift up...a prayer
·         Look at…God’s Word (answering questions concerning what the passage says)
·         Learn about…what the passage means (sidebars define words and profice background information)
·         Live out…what they have learned (personalizing the text and learning how it can impact their daily life)
·         Listen to…quotes from well-known figures to build on the truths uncovered in Scripture

Readers will develop a deeper intimacy with the Lord and walk away feeling inspired to move forward in their walks of faith. Live Abundantly and Live Reflectively continue the rich biblical tradition of the Fresh Life series. They offer wisdom that will leave readers encouraged in their present situations and hopeful for the spiritual journey ahead.

Product Details:

Live Reflectively: Lessons from the Watershed Moments of Moses

List Price: $17.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (November 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781405939
ISBN-13: 978-0781405935

Product Details:

Live Abundantly: A Study in the Book of Ephesians

List Price: $17.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; 2 edition (November 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434703304
ISBN-13: 978-1434703309

My Thoughts:

I have skimmed through both of these and started working through Live Abundantly.  I love what I've done so far.  These books provide a wonderful way to delve into the scriptures.  Combining prayer, reading His Word, studying it, and applying each scripture to daily living, these books add excitement to daily Bible study.  These are powerful studies, and I look forward to continuing to work through the books.  I am planning on buying more of the series as well.  A friend of mine just bought the Joshua study, Live Fearlessly.  My thanks to Litfuse for providing my review copies in exchange for my honest review.  As I finish the study I plan to post an update!

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER My Thoughts: (Click on images to expand):

Live Reflectively: Lessons from the Watershed Moments of Moses

Live Abundantly: A Study in the Book of Ephesians (Click on images to expand)