Category Archives: Book Review

How does a godly marriage relate to Christ and His body of believers?

I intend to go more in-depth about some of the concepts listed in this book during the following year, but for an overview, here is the review I left on Amazon. Follow my blog and visit this page if you are interested in hearing what’s coming up: 

The book is available here (just released today!), if you’d like to read it and contribute to the conversation:

The Eden Concept: Marriage God’s Way, by Dana and Kimberly Williams, is an honest look at God’s plan for every marriage. It wouldn’t matter if you had been born in the dawn of creation, the dark ages, the 50s, or this millennium, this book give ageless advice because it is based on something that never changes: scripture. Within its pages, you will not only find great advice about how to proceed with your own marriage (taking many different situations into account), but you will learn how the Biblical concept of a physical marriage is God’s object lesson to help us understand our relationship with Him (our spiritual marriage) — specifically, Christ’s relationship to the body of believers as a whole. If your marriage is struggling, you will find much needed help by reading this book. If you are looking to improve an already fantastic marriage, you will find deep truths and eye-opening concepts that will help you analyze the dynamics of your marriage so you can keep it going strong for a lifetime. Above all, if you desire a closer walk with the Lord, this book offers keen insight on how to put our love for Him into action. It is full of practical things you can try right now to make a difference in your life, and would also make a great Bible study tool for individuals, couples, or groups who are longing to make a deeper connection in their physical and spiritual relationships.

This book hits on some interesting topics: equality of the sexes, gender roles in marriage, the affects of sin, the importance of the foundation of scripture for all aspects of our lives, humility, jealousy, the command to love one another (which I am convinced must manifest itself in the way we treat one another, not in the way we feel toward one another), forgiveness, finances, gossip, honor, raising children in a godly home, hypocrisy, our witness to the lost, and more. As I read through the book, I took notes that I thought would make interesting bouncing-off points for blog posts later on, and so I have my own in-depth notes concerning each of the items in the list above. What I’m trying to say is that this book is very deep, very practical, very interesting. It is definitely worth a read and some deep consideration of the many truths found within.

Some of the other strong points in this book: it does NOT fall into the category that I like to label “fluffy” Christianity. In other words, this book is not in existence to help Christians feel better about themselves even if they are living a life of sin. It exists to exhort us to good works, and it accomplishes that very well. Another thing it has going for it: it doesn’t just give you a scripture reference and leave you to look it up for yourself. We know that very rarely happens in the real world. Instead, the book includes the full text of the scriptures as they appear in your Bibles. Another strong point is that the book often goes all the way back to the Old Testament, to the very root of our beginnings to build a foundation that points us toward godliness and understanding of the age-old concept of marriage. Anyone who knows me knows how highly I value that single fact alone. Our God’s righteousness doesn’t change according to differing people groups or with the passage of time. What was right for Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, or the Israelites is still right for us today. Read this book; recommend it to your friends; you’ll be happy you did.

This book was provided to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Homemaking, as Promised

Yesterday I asked you to stay tuned. Here is the first post about homemaking, as promised. It’s more of an appetizer for the ideas that are coming. 🙂

My Homemaking Journey

When I got married and found myself trying desperately to keep house, I discovered that I knew almost nothing that a married woman would be expected to know. (That was back in the days of feeling good about myself if I actually “cooked” a 3-course meal: Rice-a-Roni, canned corn, and bagged salad.)

I have always loved learning from books, so when I realized how miserably I was failing, the first thing I did was order the book Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson. This was my first experience with, and I was thrilled when the $35 book showed up in the mail 2 days later. The price might seem a little steep now, but believe me, the book was worth every penny. Besides, nowadays, you can buy the paperback for a third of the original cost.

I read the hefty tome from cover to cover. Much of Mrs. Mendelson’s advice changed the way I approached housekeeping and stuck with me over the years (such as rinsing dishes in extremely hot water to avoid water-spots).

I am now reading it again, 17 years later, and her advice is just as appropriate today as it was then. Even more so for me in particular, due to my age and the activities I pursue. I find that I am no longer looking for shortcuts, but the right way to do things in order to enjoy the process and be more satisfied with the results.

Lately, I am finding housework pleasant. And it’s not just the pleasing air of living in a straightened and clean home, but it’s the pleasing activity of actually doing the work, and taking pride in a job well done.

I am finding that I am not as obsessive compulsive as I was in my early twenties. I know this because I am primarily rereading the relevant-to-me sections, skipping over things such as dishwasher use and maintenance because I don’t even own one. (I didn’t own one then either, but I still read every word, lol. I guess I was afraid that someone would ask – “Did you read that entire book?” And some silly part of me wanted to respond with a resounding yes. But no one ever asked…)

Even though I am skipping a few paragraphs here and there, I am still enjoying the book immensely. There are just some books in existence that have to be described as a breath of fresh air. Anne of Green Gables and Little Women come to mind immediately. Few non-fiction books have earned this place in my mind, but Home Comforts is certainly one of them. In fact, it might be the only one. At the moment, it’s my favorite book to read with an early morning cup of freshly-brewed coffee, completed by poached egg on toast and a few blackberries.

It’s a great way to kick off my day and get myself into the homemaking mood!

Awesome Hummus Recipe!

Jesse and I recently watched Forks Over Knives (you can stream it on Netflix), and we decided to try the Esselstyn diet. …Well, now, that’s the wrong choice of words. Yoda would get on to me. We’re not going to try it; we’re going to do it. By the way, I mean diet in the following sense: “The kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.” Not: “Restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight.” I think the second definition is the one most people generally think of when they hear the word “diet.” (I used the Google search to find these definitions, but I didn’t see a page to give them credit. The definitions just showed up in the search screen. So my apologies to Mr. Webster, or whoever coined the definitions.)

e2book-MAnyway, for those of you who would like to try some nice and easy vegan meals, I would recommend the Engine 2 cookbook. We’ve had it for 10 days, and we’ve already tried seven recipes. I think that’s a world record for me. (I usually get a cookbook and try one or two recipes.) :/ I had two more picked out to try today, but we decided that we need to eat some of our leftovers before trying anything new. Honestly, I’m running out of storage containers!

So far, all of the recipes have been fantastic! (They have reheated well too, but since we got rid of our microwave, we’ve been reheating in a skillet, so take that into account.) Unless you count my ineptitude at chopping vegetables, nothing has been difficult or less-than-tasty. In fact, we have found ourselves asking the same question over and over again this last week-and-a-half: If it’s so easy and yummy to eat healthy, why in the world would we want to eat any other way? We did have to buy some of the ingredients at Whole Foods Market, but we’ve been buying the bulk of our food there anyway, so this wasn’t really a problem for us.

My advice: take $200 of your tax refund and invest in some shelf-stable health foods. Look at some recipes to get an idea of what you’ll want to purchase. It’s not that much more expensive to eat healthy, especially considering the facts that we rarely eat out any more, we buy zero convenience foods, and our stomachs are shrinking so we consume less than we used to. Even if it is a bit more expensive, money shouldn’t be an issue here anyway because it is cheaper BY FAR to maintain a healthy body than it is to have your symptoms treated by a doctor. (We just found this out the hard way last month, which is what prompted the paradigm shift in our thinking and lifestyle.)

Here’s my favorite recipe so far. (Actually, it’s between this one and the Raise-the-Roof Sweet-Potato Vegetable Lasagna, but that one has too many ingredients to type out!)

Healthy Homemade Hummus, The Engine 2 Diet, pg. 236Screen-shot-2012-10-18-at-6.10.00-PM

This is the most basic of the spreads. You can find a variation of this recipe in almost any grocery store, but 95 percent of them are made with either olive oil or tahini (sesame paste), which pushes up the fat content. Your best bet is to take three minutes and make a batch on Sunday that will last you for the week.

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon Bragg Liquid Aminos or low-sodium tamari

3 tablespoons water or vegetable broth.

Blend all the ingredients into a thick past, using a small amount of water as necessary to achieve desired consistency.

The book also goes on to list several hummus variations, such as roasted red pepper.

I used dried, cooked beans instead of canned beans, vegetable broth instead of water, itty-bitty whole lemon pieces (rind and all – I just dropped the whole thing in my blender, and I’ve been using bits of it in different recipes all week. I just guessed at the amount to use – maybe 1.5 teapoons – and it turned out great!), and Bragg Liquid Aminos instead of tamari (both of which can be found near the soy sauce at your local health food store, such as Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods Market. You can also order them from Amazon. Make sure you get non-GMO soy products.) I also took out a piece of pita bread and tore it into chunks and popped it into my toaster oven at 350° for about four minutes. Actually, that’s what I’m munching on as I type this up – hummus and pita chips!


Sugar Creek Gang: Swamp Robber

I met Heather Idoni on my birthday this year – on FaceBook! She happened to notice it was my special day, and popped on over to say “hi.” And, boy, am I glad that she did! When I asked her how we were acquainted, she remembered that I had been to visit her website,

I checked out her delightful site (more thoroughly this time), all the while regretting the fact that my son has shown little interest in audio books. That is, until we received our copy of Sugar Creek Gang: Swamp Robber. It came in the mail on two CDs. Each is about an hour and twenty minutes long. I immediately dug out an old CD player, and we began listening to them!

I must admit, I allowed myself to become distracted while these CDs were playing in the background, so I couldn’t possibly give you every single detail. I write a lot, and I totally lose myself when I am reading or writing; I never hear what’s going on around me. I know I’ve been like this since at least the 6th grade, when I looked up from my book to find my teacher sitting at her desk smiling at me. The rest of the classroom was empty. And where had all the kids gone? To recess! I was so busy reading, I didn’t hear them leave.

Anyway, while I couldn’t give you a book report on the story, I do have several things that I want to say about this audio book:

First and foremost, this book clearly communicates the gospel message to children, or to anyone who might be listening for that matter. While nothing can replace a child’s own parents setting a godly example and taking the time to instruct him in righteousness, this book will help your diligent teachings to gel in your child’s mind.

Second, the narrator is phenomenal! I kid you not. No matter how long I sit here and try to explain to you how fantastic he is, there is no way you can possibly wrap your mind around it without listening to him for yourself. He portrays little Bill Collins so perfectly, it’s impossible to imagine that an older man was actually sitting in a studio somewhere reading from the book while being recorded. He does a great job with the other characters as well.

Third, this book is not only parent-approved, but kids like them too. My son wanted to listen to the story over again, and that’s a first for him. Also, even though I was zoned out most of the time, my son could actually play with his toys and pay attention at the same time. He came up to me several times while the story was playing to remark on something he heard. The book spawned several very good conversations between him and me.

Forth, Beloved Books offers great customer service! (Or is it friendship?) When I mentioned to Heather how much we were enjoying the CDs, until our CD player finally gave up the ghost, she sent me a couple of links to download the MP3 files for free. I downloaded them without telling my son what I was doing. I then pressed the play icon and waited for his response; he was so excited when he realized just what was coming out of my laptop.  We were so grateful to Heather for helping us out.

The only thing I could wish is that the other books were available individually. It’s going to be difficult to save up the money to buy a whole volume at a time (6 volumes in all – 32 different books), but considering how perfectly amazing the first book was, how can I skip this opportunity? I can’t imagine, now that I know what we would be missing, not having these CDs around for years to come. If you’d like to read more parent reviews, check it out:

Conclusion: order the sample for $4.95 plus free shipping. You can do that here:


Be the Mom

Earlier this month, I read Be the Mom, by Tracey Lanter Eyster. Tracey is a blogging mom who writes about what it’s like to also be a full-time mom. In her book, she describes the different traps that moms can easily fall into, how to recognize where you are in regard to those traps, and what to do should you discover that you’re in over your head. She gives very practical advice on how we should think about being a mom, as opposed to how others believe we should think.

This was a very helpful read. Lately, I’ve found myself encumbered by far too many things, mostly self-afflicted obligations, and I’ve lost track of how to truly enjoy motherhood. I’m so busy most days that I find it difficult to pull away from the things that I believe must be done, in order to make room for those moments that I truly desire to spend with my son. But I’m learning to reprioritize a bit, and instead of procrastinating when it comes to hanging out with my son, I’ve been pushing off the “important” things to carve out some quality time with him. I know I’ll get those things done; I’ll just make the time somehow, but I also know I’ll never get these few precious years of my son’s childhood back.

If you want to find out more, check out the product page for this book.

Note: In exchange for an honest review, Tyndale House Publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book.

Dominant Race

Earlier this month, I read Dominant Race by Elisa Nuckle. It was a new experience for me, because I don’t remember ever reading a novella before; however, after I got used to the pacing, it was extremely enjoyable. The book itself was very interesting. It focused on a group of humans that are descendants of people who were genetically modified with animal DNA. It was a fresh twist on all of these extra-human novels filling our bookstore shelves. I must admit that at first I was nervous, because I try to stay away from reading anything that precludes the existence of God, such as vampire and werewolf novels. But I’m happy to say that this novella was very believable, and could maybe even actually happen… a very long time from now. The differences in the humans were based in science, and not super-natural powers of any sort. The main character of the book deals with coming-of-age, love, betrayal, and prejudice, and I was impressed with how the author addressed each of these issues. All-in-all a very enjoyable read. I can’t wait for the sequels to come out!

Check out this super-cool ebook on Amazon!

Five Miles South of Peculiar

Sunday, I finished reading Five Miles South of Peculiar, by Angela Hunt. The story focused on three middle-aged sisters, their relationships with each other, and the changes that they all face when life steers them in new directions. Fear, betrayal, and anger are countered with love and forgiveness in this heart-warming tale that centers on the difficulties of living in a small town, where every woman’s history is well-known, and her decisions and mistakes can haunt her for the rest of her life.

This was a nice read. While I was never bored, it did seem to take me a while to get “into” the story. I think it was mostly due to the fact that the story is best suited for a middle-aged audience. The main characters are believable and well-developed, and I grew to care for them throughout the course of the book. A couple of times, I shed a few tears out of the empathy that I felt, as their hearts were torn, and then healed. This is a fantastic book for teaching all of us about forgiveness – a trait that’s becoming more rare as the years go by. Overall, this book really left me with a sense of hope, and an overall feeling that “life begins at fifty.”

If you want to find out more, check out the product page for this book. Or you can preview it here.

Note: In exchange for an honest review, the publisher provided a complimentary copy of this book through Glass Road Public Relations.

Treasures of Healthy Living

Tuesday I finished Treasures of Healthy Living, written by Annette Reeder and Dr. Richard Couey, and I am so pleased to review it for you. When I received this book, I expected it to tell me all about healthy foods and how to improve my diet. Well, it did all of those things, but it is so much more than a book about food; it is a manual for living a well-balanced, all-‘round godly lifestyle.

Even though the book contains a twelve-week course intended for study groups, I read it in just a few days. Because I am already trying to eat better and exercise, the faster pace didn’t overwhelm me. Instead, I made notes to myself for later and implemented several changes immediately, such as: excluding unclean meats from my diet, making a conscious effort to purchase healthier animal products, laying down a plan for fasting, implementing scripture memory into my exercise routine, purchasing plants for home and office, taking greater care in food preparation and storage, becoming aware of the ingredients in topical lotions, cosmetics, etc, and intentionally increasing the happiness factor in my relationships. From this list, I don’t want you to get the idea that the book doesn’t cover food in-depth. It does! In fact, the first half contains information and ideas for eating food in the way it was designed to be eaten.

– I only had two issues with the book. First: references. I wish there had been more (mostly because I’m a newbie, and although many of the statements made in the text may be common knowledge for those who have been studying healthy living for a while, I would prefer to see more proof). I also would have liked for those references to be listed at the bottom of each page, instead of at the end of the book. Secondly, I wish that all of the scriptures had been printed in-full within the text. One non-issue: I expected the book to have recipes in it, but I discovered that it is basically a text-book/study-guide, and that recipes are included in a companion book that I will be ordering very soon. This was not an issue because the book was already long enough, and I am more than happy to order a separate recipe book, but I just thought I would throw that out there for those of you who may have had the same expectations.

If you want to find out more, check out the product page for this book. Or you can preview it here.

Note: In exchange for an honest review, the publisher provided a complimentary copy of this book through Glass Road Public Relations.

After All

I truly enjoyed reading After All by Deborah Raney. It tells the story of Susan Marlowe, a recently widowed woman who tries her best to run a homeless shelter in a town where nobody wants her shelter, or the “kinds” of people that it attracts. In the midst of it all is a fire chief who feels responsible for the death of Susan’s husband, a secret that her husband carried to the grave, and perhaps even a conspiracy.

This book was a pleasant read. I was touched by the emotional turmoil that Susan felt, dealing with her husband’s secret, her grown son, and her relationships with the fire chief and others. She truly seemed like a genuine woman trying to do her best for her community and family, while remaining true to herself and her ideals. This book does contain a love story, and it’s always a pleasure to read about new romance. I do think, however, that Susan should have been more careful in her choice of whom to date. In real life, things don’t always turn out as nicely as they do in books, and Christian women need to be extremely careful about men they hang out with. If he’s not a strong Christian leader, don’t get close enough to accidentally fall in love.

If you want to find out more, check out the product page for this book. Or you can preview it here.

Note: In exchange for an honest review, the publisher provided a complimentary copy of this book through Glass Road Public Relations.

River’s Call

River’s Call by Melody Carson tells the story of Anna, as she struggles to overcome the difficult relationships in her life. For years she has borne the verbal abuse of her former mother-in-law, Eunice, and she is currently trying to resolve the wedge that Eunice has driven between herself and her own daughter, Lauren. Things become even stickier when Anna discovers that Lauren is pregnant, and does not intend to keep the baby.

This book was a little different than the other book I have read by Melody Carlson. Personally, I enjoyed the set-up of the Diary of a Teenage Girl series, and it was hard for me to make the switch to a more conventional method of storytelling, especially since I knew that it was written by the same author. The writing wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t as much fun! That being said, the book is heart-felt, and brings to into question many modern relationship problems, along with potential ways to resolve them. I did not always agree with the protagonists’ opinions – I happen to think that Anna should have taken her daughter in hand rather than let her figure things out for herself, and the feminist views of Anna’s new, more desirable mother-in-law, Hazel, got under my skin a bit. I don’t mean to be critical though, because everything else about the book was good! I enjoyed spending time on the river with Anna and her friends, and I will most likely read the other books in the series.

If you want to find out more, check out the product page for this book. Or you can preview it here.

Note: In exchange for an honest review, the publisher provided a complimentary copy of this book through Glass Road Public Relations.