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Lauren DuPrez

0 In Book Reviews

Book Review // Graciousness: Tempering Truth With Love

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The premise of Graciousness: Tempering Truth With Love, the latest book by Pastor John Crotts, is Ephesians 4:15 which states, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”

Pastor John begins the book with an analogy that I found to be very convicting and simultaneously, very helpful. He asks readers to consider an area in which they might need help (he includes examples such as finances and golf). Readers are then asked to consider what it might be like if the expert in that area happened to approach them and offer to come to their home and extend help in that area. Naturally most people would jump at such an opportunity but Crotts adds to the scenario that the expert, while speaking truth that is necessary and helpful, has terrible breath to the point where it’s unbearable to even listen to what they are saying. This, he explains, is what it’s like for Christians to speak the truth without love.

He states that Christians, especially those who hold to reformed doctrine, tend to speak truth in this manner often. Those who identify as Calvinists are even known for going through the cage stage, a time in which they become so zealous for truth but lacking in love that they are akin to cage fighters. Crotts argues throughout the book that this type of speech is actually contrary to God’s design for how believers ought to speak to one another.

While zealousness for truth is important, it doesn’t accomplish much without love. Having gone through my own cage stage a few years ago, I could readily identify with the scenario Crotts described and I’m thankful for the hope he offers readers to grow in graciousness through Christ alone.

I really appreciate that Graciousness: Tempering Truth With Love is full of Scripture and draws many examples from the Bible as to how Christians ought to speak. One of my favorite points that Pastor John makes is that gracious speech is a way to demonstrate trust in God as we hope for others to realize certain truths or even come to salvation. I’ve experienced instances as a Christian in which people were so worried about others needing to know the truth that they left love out of the equation. I was sad and discouraged by this and to see it mentioned in this book made me realize it probably happens more often amongst believers than we realize and it welcomes the opportunity to speak the truth in love as we remind others that God alone is the one who truly changes hearts.

Another point of the book that I enjoyed is the brief commentary Pastor John offers on Ephesians 4:29, “The Bible’s standard for speech is incredibly high. Every word that comes across a Christian’s lips must be infused with grace in order to build up the people who hear. There are no vacations or even coffee breaks permitted to unleash harsh, critical, unkind or harmful speech – a believer’s mouth must always be on duty, speaking good words in good ways at the right time,” (pg. 16).

This statement greatly encouraged my heart and made me want to shout a hearty, “Yes!” in agreement.

In addition to being encouraging, Graciousness: Tempering Truth With Love is also very practical. A helpful aspect of this book, that Pastor Crotts includes examples of how we as Christians can approach certain conversations in such a manner that glorifies God and shows love toward those we are sharing truth with. He even takes up the difficult task of reminding believers that, “Theological controversies often breed quarrels,” (pg. 20) – a statement that deserves much emphasis in a day and age where it is all too easy to bash people with truth via social media, which, unfortunately, occurs often even amongst Christians.

I can only imagine that writing a book for Christians about how to balance speaking both truth and love must have been incredibly difficult but I’m thankful that Pastor John Crotts was willing to take on the task and do it well.

As Christians, the heart behind our speech ought to be peacemaking as we consider the peace Christ made with God on our behalf at the cross. Our hope and deepest desire ought to be for others to come to this knowledge or to grow deeper in it and one of the best ways we can further this Gospel goal is by speaking the truth in love.

My heart was greatly encouraged by Graciousness: Tempering Truth With Love. This quick read is a necessary addition to every believer’s library and it receives my highest recommendation.

I received Graciousness: Tempering Truth With Love compliments of Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for my honest review.

To learn more about Graciousness: Tempering Truth With Love, be sure to check out Episode 194 of the Shaun Tabbatt Show!

0 In Book Reviews

Book Review // Real Life Romance

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Prior to reading Real Life Romance, I had never heard of Rhonda Stoppe so I decided to perform a quick Google search to learn a bit about her. One of the first resources I stumbled across was a podcast interview in which Rhonda was discussing how to raise Godly children.

Hearing about Rhonda’s love for Christ, grew in me a great excitement to read Real Life Romance. I initially thought the book focused on looking at marriage from a Biblical perspective and while it does, indeed, do so, it does so in a manner that is not traditional to Christian books on marriage. In Real Life Romance, Stoppe has recorded the love stories of 25 Christian couples to show the world how marriage should look according to Scripture. Even as Christians, we often take some ideas from the world and attempt to apply them in our marriages and are left disappointed. Only when we follow God’s plan from Scripture, are we able to have marriages that are sweet examples of Christ’s love for His bride, the church (see Ephesians 5).

Stoppe is faithful to communicate the goodness of Christ in each of these love stories and they were so encouraging for my heart because they allowed me to learn about ways other Christian couples have remained faithful to Christ even in the midst of difficult seasons in their marriages.

This book was fun too because some of the couples interviewed are famous – you might recognize Bill and Pam Farrel and Nick and Kanae Vujicic – and there are elements unique to this book including pictures of each couple in their corresponding chapters and videos featuring the couples on Stoppe’s website.

In addition to the real life romances provided in the book, Rhonda also asks compelling and encouraging questions at the end of each chapter. I found myself being sharpened and challenged by many of the questions and I’m thankful for her heart to encourage others to grow in their love for Christ and their spouse.

Some of my favorite questions from the book are:

  • Do you know God’s character so well that you will trust Him if you find yourself without work?
  • If you’re not married, are you willing to honor Christ in your relationships as you seek His will for your future?
  • Would you say your marriage honors God?
  • How have you prepared yourself for the war against the flesh?
  • How might you adjust your life to take your focus off looking for a husband and learn to find contentment in loving and serving Jesus?

Overall, Real Life Romance is very solid theologically, but there were a few instances in which the author reported that she heard God speak to her and recorded stories in which God spoke to those she interviewed. In the first chapter, while describing a time in which Rhonda was experiencing a break up and was considering pursuing valuable opportunities with her career, she stated, “. . . yet a still, small voice often whispered, This is not who you are. This not what I created you for.” The idea of a still, small voice is taken from 1 Kings 19:11-13 in which God speaks to Elijah. There is no command in Scripture to listen for a still, small voice. In fact, God’s very own word tells us that if we want to hear God, and know what He wants for us and from us, we simply need to read the word (see Deuteronomy 4:2, Deuteronomy 12:32, Proverbs 30:6, Hebrews 1:1-2, Revelation 22:18). The concept of God speaking appears in a few other chapters (Chapters 11, 18) so be aware of this as you read and be careful how much weight you give to the concept.

Aside from this caution, I really enjoyed Real Life Romance, so much so that I finished it in three days. Rhonda’s faithfulness to share truths from Scripture with each love story made it so hard to put the book down. I appreciated that these weren’t just ordinary, Christian couples – there was a wide variety who have been through different hardships but all prevailed because their marriages were Christ centered. When it comes to love stories, more of these real life romances are needed to show us what relationships really look like in a world marred by sin. Toward the end of the book, Rhonda wrote, “As a Christian, anything you do in your life should be filtered through this missional statement: To know Christ and make Him know,” (Chapter 25). I couldn’t agree more and highly recommend Real Life Romance.

I received Real Life Romance compliments of LitFuse in exchange for my honest review.

 

0 In Grace

Don’t Forget the Singles

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My encouragement to you today and every day is to remember the single people in your midst. As today is Valentine’s Day, I think of my single friends who will endure what I did while single: The many social media posts exacerbating the sting of my hope deferred, the office talk of how everyone was celebrating with their spouse later (except me) and having red and pink everything thrown in my face while performing even the simplest task of picking up my groceries.

There is much to be said for guarding one’s own heart against bitterness and discontent but my focus today is not there. After a recent conversation with a dear single friend, I feel compelled, on behalf of my single friends, to urge those of us who are married to not forget the value that our single friends contribute to our lives, communities and churches.

I am thankful for the single young ladies who have graced me with their presence in my home this past year. While I typically have the mindset of being the older woman that Titus 2 mentions, I’ve actually been the one sharpened in many ways by these Godly young ladies. When opportunities to serve arise, these ladies are the first to volunteer. This group is faithful to pursue younger believers and encourage them toward Christlikeness. They are kindhearted, faithful friends who love Christ and His bride and I’m afraid of what our churches might look like without their love and service and what my own life would be without their impact.

I’m thankful too for the guys who step up and serve in any way they can. I’m thinking of two of my husband’s friends who although they are further along in their singleness (mostly by the world’s standards), they have refrained from pursuing meaningless relationships. At a time when worldly pressure to do so is at an all time high, I’ve admired their pursuit of God and His will for their lives.

Considering the group of single friends I have, I realize this year that there are those who are experiencing the pain of singleness in different ways including:

• Being single longer than anticipated
• Hard and painful break ups
• Being divorced by a spouse for unbiblical reasons
• Feeling overlooked and undervalued

My hope as a married woman is that we will remember our single friends and care for them in a Christlike manner. Rather than encouraging them toward marriage and relationships, I pray that we will remind them of the best and truest marriage relationship, which Ephesians 5:32 reminds us, is between Christ and His bride, the church.

Everyone has been single at one point including Jesus, our great High Priest. He experienced singleness and its challenges on behalf of a sinful people that He would later die for to reconcile to Himself. Knowing that my Savior not only took the punishment for my sin but left His heavenly dwelling to become a man and experience the temptations of this life, on my behalf, was a constant encouragement to my heart in my own season of singleness.

Marriage, while a sweet blessing in this life, is not the prize.

Jesus is the prize.

May we seek to honor Him as we love our single friends today and every day.

“For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name;

and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.”

Isaiah 54:5

 

Resources for Singles

Articles

Caring for Singles

Books

 

 

 

Podcasts
Practical Counsel on Singleness

0 In Book Reviews

Book Review // Sacred Rest

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In her latest book, Sacred Rest, Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith seeks to help readers identify areas of their lives that may be contributing to rest deficits. She brings her medical experience to the table as well as personal experience and empathy for those who are lacking rest physically, emotionally and spiritually. Sacred Rest begins with Dr. Dalton-Smith describing a time in her life where she was overwhelmed by the weight of the responsibilities her various roles demanded. In her personal account, Dr. Dalton-Smith relates how she was on the edge of burnout as her Type A personality loves to always be on the go. As a Type A personality myself, I could totally relate to her story.

Since the genre of Sacred Rest is Christian Living, I was really interested to see how Dr. Dalton-Smith would encourage fellow Christians to find their best and truest rest in Christ alone.

I expected Sacred Rest to have lots of medical advice since the author is a doctor but the book was actually full of personal philosophies about the effects of rest deficits. I do believe that there is much truth to the growing emphasis on the need for rest, but the advice offered in Sacred Rest leaves much to be desired.

Much of the advice in Sacred Rest is very self centered.

Evidences of this include the opening quote of chapter 2 by author Douglas Pagels which states, “Sometimes it’s important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it’s essential to take time off and make sure your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow.” While this may be heartwarming to some, I found it to be sentimental nonsense and I’m still not sure what it means to slide down a color of the rainbow or how one would even accomplish such a task.

On page 63 of the book, readers are encouraged to, “Take an inventory of the people in your life who drain you and those who refresh you. Then take the initiative to end or limit toxic relationships and intentionally surround yourself with those who have a positive effect on your life.” As a Christian, I was appalled to find such advice in a book on “Christian Living.” This sentiment is directly opposed to the commands of Christ in Scripture including fulfilling the Great Commission and living a life that is others oriented (Mark 10:45, Philippians 2:3-8).

Considering that we were at all one time dead in our trespasses and sins, we have all at one time been “toxic.” However, as those whose hearts have been changed we have a responsibility to glorify God by making Him known and if we are only around those who we consider to have positive effects in our lives, I question how this great task will be accomplished. Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” – one may choose to limit relationships they consider to be “toxic” but this verse is warning that doing so is unwise because those who only tell us what we want to hear are actually doing us a disservice. Faithful wounds from friends allow us to see sin we need to repent of and create relationships that allow us to encourage one another to keep our hearts from being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Having such relationships is imperative to growing as a Christian.

It is also imperative that Christians find their identity in Christ alone, yet page 64 of Sacred Rest, tells readers, “It’s time to stop hustling to find your worthiness. Instead, rest in the self-awareness of your unique quirks and propensities.” Again, this sounds great and encouraging but it is truly very self centered. If you were to perform a word search of the entire Bible, you would fail to find the term “self-awareness” because this idea is not Biblical. Self-awareness is a theory that was developed by two psychologists in the 1970s and has to do with giving oneself an internal inspection and evaluating oneself according to your own personal standards. Scripture tells us that when we look inside, we see that, “. . .the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick,” (Jeremiah 17:9). The only hope we have is found in Christ alone. Once we turn from sin and trust in Him for salvation, we are a new creature and thus, have a new identity rooted solely in Christ’s righteousness.

Along with a huge emphasis on self centeredness, Sacred Rest also contains many theological errors.

On page 67, Jesus is referred to as a “. . .two-thousand-year old Messiah.” I believe Dr. Dalton-Smith has confused who Jesus is with the belief widely held by New Testament scholars that Jesus was on earth approximately 2,000 years ago. In John 8:58, Jesus identifies Himself as God as He refers to Exodus 3:14, “. . . Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” In Revelation 1:4, John refers to Jesus as, “. . . him who is and who was and who is to come. . . “. From these verses it is clear that Jesus has always existed. It is believed that Jesus lived to be about 33 years old as a human before ascending into heaven but even then, He still existed prior to coming to earth to die on behalf of those who would turn from sin and trust in Him. This may seem like a minor, unimportant detail but if we don’t know who Jesus is, then we are left without hope for salvation. It is crucial to recognize that Christ is God and while He did dwell on earth for a while, He has always existed and has no end. Were He to have an end (whether it be 33 years or 2000), He would not be God and would not have been able to fulfill God’s demand for a sinless sacrifice to reconcile a sinful people to Himself and accredit to them His righteousness.

Another theological error can be found on page 74 where readers are falsely told that that holiness takes a backseat to loving God. The book states, “As much as He would love for us all to be holy, His first request is simply to love Him.” This idea may sound really heartwarming but is actually contradictory to Scripture. Christians can’t actually love God until they have been made holy by Him through Christ. In reference to life before Christ, Ephesians 2:1 states, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked. . .” Since we were dead prior to Christ acting on our behalf, there is no possible way we could have loved God. Furthermore, since Christian faith is proved by works, it follows that living a life of holiness, which is commanded multiple times in Scripture (Leviticus 11:44, Leviticus 11:45, Leviticus 19:2, 1 Peter 1:16), is one way that we can show God we do love Him.

In an earlier paragraph on page 74, Dr. Dalton-Smith said, “Allow room for the creative nature of God to reveal specific ways you feel most connected to Him.” This idea is very concerning to me because it sounds much like the unbiblical practice of contemplative prayer similar to what Sarah Young encourages in her book Jesus Calling. The Bible doesn’t instruct believers to do any of this nonsense. It’s also dangerous to rely on feelings as an indicator of one’s “connection” to God because feelings don’t determine truth and the truth of Scripture is that if you are truly saved, it was God who accomplished your salvation. Feelings are fickle and often the result of circumstances but the Gospel is such good news because no matter what your feelings may tell you, your position in Christ is secure and nothing can change that.

The same section of this book also encourages readers to, “Explore the heart of who He (Jesus) is until you get to God,” but a few sentences prior, readers are told there is “No prerequisite to read a chapter in your Bible or do any other ritualistic behavior.” I find these ideas to be not only misleading but heart breaking. First of all, Jesus is God (John 1:1) and we can’t know Him apart from the Bible (John 1:1, Hebrews 1:2,Revelation 19:13). Scripture also shows us that our attitude towards the Bible ought to be such that it is a treasure, the joy and delight of our heart, so we can infer that our approach to Scripture should not be viewing it as a ritualistic behavior.

On pages 74-75, readers are encouraged to practice communion – “In the privacy of your secret place, lift both hands high above your head and simply profess, ‘I need help.'” In the same section, Dr. Dalton-Smith wrote, “If you start shouting and cursing God at the top of your lungs, that’s OK . . .” Although the word “communion” isn’t actually in Scripture, the practice that most churches implement today is found in 1 Corinthians 11. A look at this passage on the Lord’s supper reveals that Paul wrote this to the Corinthian church (verse 18 says, “. . . when you come together as a church. . . “) so we see that communion is not a private act but rather a corporate one involving the local church body. A quick dictionary search reveals that the word “communion” comes from the Latin word “communio” which means mutual participation.  Communion is a time, “. . . to proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes,” (1 Corinthians 11:26) which demands a heart of repentance over sin and rejoicing over what God has accomplished for us in Christ. Cursing at God is sinful as it involves unrighteous anger and allows the one cursing to assume the false position of judge when that position is reserved for God alone.

The ideologies in Sacred Rest are so opposed to the concept of rest described in Scripture. It makes no logical sense that this book is marketed as Christian in genre. However, when I learned that the publisher, FaithWords, has also released books by popular false teachers including Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen, I was not at all surprised. My hope is that this review will encourage you to steer clear of the secular philosophies disguised in this “Christian” book and to avoid all other books released by FaithWords.

Of even greater importance is my desire that you would cherish the Word of God – that like Ezra, you would study, know and do it, that like Job you will treasure the word of His mouth as more important than food and like Jeremiah, you will see His words as the joy and the delight of your heart.

If you are looking for a Christ centered, Biblically based work on rest I encourage you to check out my list of suggested resources below.

A Brief Theology of Sleep


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0 In Life

Realistic Resolutions

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I’m not much into making New Years resolutions but thinking about the start of a new year, I realized that there are a few areas in my life in which I desire to see growth. I’m thankful that God’s mercies are new every morning so even when I fail, I don’t have to wait until the start of a new year to make changes in my life. I thought it would be fun to share not only what I’m hoping to accomplish but how. Here are the five ways I’m hoping to grow this year, if you see me in person, please feel free to ask how I’m doing!

GROW IN MY LOVE FOR CHRIST

My plan for growing more in love with Christ is to read the entire Bible in chronological order using this plan. My conviction is that as believers, we need to know ALL of the Bible since, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

I also plan to wake up before my daughter each day so I can spend time reading and praying. I am aiming to join the 5 O’clock Club or at least a version of it that will work for me in this season. Discipline in this area is a top priority for me. I did the same Bible reading plan in 2017 and was able to complete it but praying consistently was an area where I was lacking. This year, my plan is to take 7 3×5 cards and write down things I want to pray for on each card. Each card will correspond to a day of the week, for example: Monday – Family, Tuesday – Marriage, Wednesday – Friends, Thursday – Ministry, Friday – My Heart, Saturday – Parenting, Sunday – Church Leadership. Hopefully this will help me reestablish consistency in prayer. I also have a little key ring full of 3×5 cards that I take out while reading so I can write down any verses I want to memorize. Typically, these cards stay in my purse so I can pull them out when I have free time. I’m hoping to make these Scripture memorization my go to rather than checking my phone.

GROW IN MY LOVE FOR DEREK

2017 was a rough year for our little family as my husband lost his job twice. Once he finally obtained the job he has now, we learned that his hours look different day to day and we never know what hours he’s working until the day prior to each shift. This month, my husband will begin his shifts at midnight for 3 weeks in a row. Although he never complains about working crazy hours, I can tell that it takes a toll on him because his days and nights get mixed up. A few ideas I’m tossing around are scaling back on commitments, creating a (loose) cleaning schedule, investing in my health and simplifying our meal plan. Again, in this season of having a toddler, I often have many interruptions but I want to get creative about how to work around the constant chaos to hone in on the things that matter most to my husband. I know too that it’s important for me to not do so much to where I can’t sit down with my husband when he comes home from work and actually hear what he tells me about his day. So often, I make eye contact while he is talking and nod my head at the appropriate times yet my mind wanders. I’d really like to grow in my love for my husband by hearing him and demonstrating that I truly care about what he has to say. Essentially, I’d like to become an intentional listener.

GROW IN MY LOVE FOR ADDIE

As Addie will be two in March, and our relationship is very young right now, I’ve come up with two ways I’d like to grow in my love for her. The first is to ask the Lord to help me be a Spirit filled parent. Often, I find myself quickly growing impatient and angry when she doesn’t obey or when she’s not acting in a manner that is most beneficial to me at the moment. I quickly forget that God is so patient and gentle with me and by being kind, gentle and patient with her, hopefully He will use me to point to Him. The second way I’d like to grow in my love for Addie is by getting down on the floor and playing with her. I am easily overwhelmed by my priorities for the day and seek to be as productive as possible. In the midst of this, I forget how fleeting childhood is. I think there is definitely a balance that can and should happen when children enter the picture because they are valuable image bearers of God and little sinful souls in need of a Savior. I want Addie to know that I am able to love her because of the love I’ve been shown by God in Christ and one of the ways I can do that now is by considering her interests above my own.

DISCIPLINE MY BODY

While emphasizing the ultimate value of godly training, 1 Timothy 4:8 states that, “. . . bodily training is of some value.” Rather than aiming to lose a certain number of pounds or fit into a certain size of clothing, I’m pursing healthy living for the sake of bringing God glory in all areas of my life. Romans 12:1 states, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Currently, I’m making sure I get enough macronutrients in my diet each day. Macronutrients, or macros, is a fancy way of saying protein, carbs and fat which is the fuel our bodies need to be healthy. I used an online calculator to determine the amount of macros I should consume each day and I’m using the MyFitnessPal app to track them. I followed Kacey Luvi’s Visual Tutorial to help me get started. As far as exercise, I’m still trying to figure out which program will be best for me. I’m considering Lindsey Brin’s Postnatal Slim Down, The Stoked Method, and a few HIIT workouts that are available for free on YouTube.

CULTIVATE CONTENTMENT

My process for working on this is simple really – get rid of stuff I don’t need or use and don’t buy anything other than what we need. I believe that employing my first resolution will help greatly with this because Jesus Himself is the only One worth treasuring, the only One who is able to satisfy my heart. I’ve also decided to participate in the #theunreadshelfproject2018 . There are so many different annual reading challenges but I like this one because it makes sense for me. The first assignment for this project was counting how many unread books you own. I used the Book Buddy app available in the iOS app store and my total came to 102 not including e-books. Some of the 102 unread books I have are gifts, some were purchased at discount stores and some are review copies that I received free of charge. Regardless, seeing the number of unread books I actually have has been a wake up call for me. I realized that I don’t need more, I need to be thankful for what I have and I need to steward it well. The two books pictured at the top of this post are both on contentment so I’m hopeful they will be great encouragements. I’m the girl that has more books than clothes and I like it that way. However, seeing how much I really have has convicted me that self control truly is the fruit of the Spirit. I believe that self control will also play into my cultivation of a healthy lifestyle and using my time wisely so I can care for others as God has called me to.

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0 In Book Reviews

Book Review // Imperfect Justice

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When presented with the opportunity to participate in the blog tour for Cara Putman’s latest legal thriller, Imperfect Justice, I couldn’t refuse. Growing up, I read all of the original Nancy Drew mystery novels and have always loved the challenge in employing my deductive reasoning. I tend to heavily read non-fiction so the opportunity to read fiction was very compelling for me.

Imperfect Justice is the story of attorney Emilie Wesley who works for an organization that helps women leave abusive relationships. Throughout her career, Emilie has been very successful until one client, Kaylene Adams, is reported to have killed one of her two daughters and winds up dead herself. Having counseled Kaylene through the process of leaving her harsh, controlling husband, Emilie suspects that when it comes to the deaths, there may be more going on than what meets the eye. The evidence presented to the public appears convincing, but Emilie is not sold.

Prior to her death, Kaylene left a few boxes of personal items with her brother Reid Billings and firmly instructed him not to go through them. Upon her death however, Reid disregards Kaylene’s instructions and discovers a letter directing him to reach out to Emilie for assistance. Reid and Emilie begin examining the evidence of all that has occurred with the deaths of Kaylene and her daughter and work together toward Reid acquiring custody of his one remaining niece. Romance begins to blossom between the pair and what they ultimately discover in search of the truth is shocking. (Naturally, you will need to read it for yourself to learn what that is!)

The main characters in Imperfect Justice are Christians which is really refreshing because while the novel has hints of romance, it isn’t the least bit trashy. Imperfect Justice is a compelling and enjoyable read. I  highly recommend Imperfect Justice and look forward to reading more legal thrillers from Putman in the future.

Imperfect Justice is available now at all major booksellers.

I received Imperfect Justice compliments of Litfuse in exchange for my honest review.




0 In Christmas

Toddler Gift Guide

Regarding purchasing gifts for Christmas, my friend Brittany recently posed these insightful questions in an Instagram post:

“. . . have you thought about who you’re buying from?

What you’re supporting with your purchase?

Does that company care about the people who makes their product?”

Although we had purchased Christmas gifts for our one year old prior to my reading this, I realized that I was able to answer these questions affirmatively. I’ve been unsure what it would look like for our family to begin our own Christmas traditions, including gift buying. The want, need, wear, read idea is one that I really like and hope to employ in years to come however, it didn’t seem applicable to this season with an almost two year old whose wants and needs have, for the most part, been met. 

I wondered what we could give Addie that would truly be meaningful yet affordable. After having experienced unemployment twice this year, and living out of one bedroom in the process, we don’t want to acquire stuff for the sake of materialism and tradition.

Truly, ultimately, the only thing Addie needs is salvation from her sin through Jesus alone. She needs to be made right with God through Christ and while I can’t save her, I can point her to the One who does. This holiday season, I’m so thankful for the plethora of resources designed for children that assist me in the process. You will find our favorite resources/gifts in the list provided below.

SIDE NOTE: We aren’t weird parents that just buy “Christian” gifts for our kids. We are (a tiny bit) normal too! Some of our favorite stocking stuffers are from Dollar Tree and the 99 Cents Only store and include:

  • Bubbles
  • Plastic Disney character figurines (we got Goofy and Donald Duck for Addie)
  • Balls
  • Stickers
  • Balloons

I also saw this at a local discount store yesterday and since Addie’s favorite show is Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, we may just have to get it for her!

Do you have a gift giving philosophy? If so, drop a comment below, I’d love to read all about it!

If you want to learn more about the resources pictured and mentioned below,

simply click on the title or the image.

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0 In Book Reviews

Book Reviews // 30 Days to Joy & The Daily Question

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Recently, there has been an abundance of journaling type products available most likely resulting from the popularity of adult coloring books. There are so many different types of journals and creative type products available that it can become overwhelming to determine which ones are actually helpful, meaningful and worthy of one’s time. I had the opportunity to be on the WaterBrook Creatives launch team and am excited to share with you today two of their latest journaling type books that fall into the three criteria mentioned above. The first journal I received from WaterBrook is titled, 30 Days To Joy

This small books is just under $10 from Amazon and is great for anyone who wants to creatively explore what it means to be joyful according to Scripture. What I appreciate about 30 Days To Joy is the different Scripture passages about joy that are included within it’s pages. There are also quotes about joy from various sources. 30 Days To Joy includes prompts that ask questions and allow readers to answer via written response or drawing. Overall, I found the prompts to be helpful and intriguing although there were a few that leaned more on the fluffy side including ones that ask readers to journal about their favorite dessert and favorite color.

For women wanting to think about what it means to have joy in Christ, 30 Days to Joy is a great starting point. I also recommend Lydia Brownback’s 30 day devotional titled, Joy, for a further in depth look at the subject according to Scripture.

 

The second creative book I received from WaterBrook is The Daily Question: My Five-Year Spiritual JourneyPersonally, I have never seen a journal quite like this before and am excited to begin my five year journey with the start of the new year. There is a prompt for each day of the year and each page has five spaces to record responses over a five year period.

Some of the prompts included are, “What in Scripture are you grappling with these days?” (Entry for June 28th) and, “What is one of your favorite New Testament verses or stories?” (Entry for September 24th). Overall, I’m excited to answer The Daily Question and since the response space is short, I believe filling this journal is something that is attainable even in the busy season I’m currently in. I’m truly excited to begin writing in this journal and look forward to reviewing my entries from years past. 

30 Days To Joy and The Daily Question are available now at all major booksellers.

I received 30 Days To Joy and The Daily Question compliments of WaterBrook in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review // Unwrapping the Names of Jesus

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With the plethora of Advent devotional books released in recent years, it is becoming more challenging to find one that is just the right fit. For me, I’ve found that Unwrapping the Names of Jesus by Asheritah Ciuciu is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I became familiar with Asheritah as she followed me on Instagram and I returned the follow. When I saw that she had written a book designed for Advent, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

In Unwrapping the Names of Jesus, Asheritah begins by stating, “We spend much of the holiday season creating our own little winter wonderlands: cookies and cards, lights and decorations, carols and get-togethers. But what exactly are we doing to prepare spiritually? Most christians agree that Christmas is all about Jesus, yet few of our calendars would reflect that priority” (pg. 10).

From this point forward, Asheritah’s daily readings and weekly activities take readers through the various names of Jesus presented in Scripture and reminds them of who Jesus is and the importance of what He has done for those who trust in Him for salvation.

Each daily reading is Christ centered and Scripture saturated which to me, is much needed and so encouraging, especially during this busy season. I also appreciate that the book is beautifully designed and have enjoyed placing it on display with my other Christmas decor.

As I read through the book, I noticed that since the daily readings are all about Jesus, this devotional truly could be use apart from Advent if one were desiring to study what the Bible has to say about who Jesus is.

If you’re interested in receiving a 3 day sampler of the devotional, be sure to sign up here.

I highly recommend Unwrapping the Names of Jesus and look forward to reading it annually.

Unwrapping the Names of Jesus is available now at all major booksellers.

I received Unwrapping the Names of Jesus compliments of Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review // First Bible Basics

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First Bible Basics: A Counting Primer is the first in the Baby Believer series created by Catechesis Books. This small and simple board book is geared toward children three and under and focuses on simultaneously teaching them to count while learning about God and the Bible. Through the use of aesthetically appealing illustrations, this book is sure to capture and keep the attention of little ones and guide them in learning how to count to ten.

The heart of the series, as explained on the back cover of First Bible Basics is, “Baby Believer Primers help you teach your children the central tenets of the Christian faith that they may never know a day apart from the Lord.” Considering this, I am really excited to see First Bible Basics join the growing number of theologically sound books for young hearts.

 

Although this book is for babies, it is rich with truths from God’s Word and I look forward to reading it to my daughter and purchasing her the upcoming books in the series.

I received First Bible Basics compliments of Harvest House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

 

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