Review & a Giveaway: Bible Basics: A Baby Believer Counting Primer


As a young mom, I was constantly on the lookout for books to read with my toddlers that would affirm faith. Now, as a gra’ma, it’s as important as ever, to bring Biblical truths to my grands. Bible Basics: A Baby Believer Counting Primer fills that need! It introduces concepts that are fundamental to understanding who God is, while giving the child room to grow into that understanding.


Author Danielle Hitchen (left), a mother and talk radio producer, and the illustrator, Jessica Blanchard (right), a mother and an award-winning graphic artist have created a visually appealing, mentally stimulating work that will act as a springboard for questions, conversations and prayer time.

Many of my fondest memories of my children’s nursery days are those surrounding reading time together. It started with pointing at objects in pictures, moved to counting and number recognition and then to their own successes at efforts to read. Some of the words in Bible Basics will be a mouthful to start with, like “Commandments” and “Beatitudes,” but all communication is learned with repetition, and the model of a loving adult who presents it.

In this season of giving, Bible Basics: A Baby Believer Counting Primer is the perfect gift for every little reader on your list!


I am giving away a copy, courtesy of Catechesis Books, to one reader in the continental United States. Leave a comment on my blog about the little readers in your family, and you will be entered into the drawing, to be held one week from today, December 5.


Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through The Blog About Network book review program in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: Saffire by Sigmund Brouwer


The year was 1909, and “I was living in the prime of human advancement… There had been Kitty Hawk only six years earlier, and the Model T… there was not much left for humans to achieve.”

James Holt is standing at the precipice of all time, the digging of the Panama Canal. As events unfold involving the mysterious girl Saffire, Holt finds himself torn between his assignment from President Teddy Roosevelt and his desire to protect the young woman.

Sigmund Brouwer has taken a history lesson and turned it into a compelling story of people and the times in which they lived. The plot twists are a testament to his ability to create a page turner; Brouwer even saves a mystery for the last page of the author’s notes!

Brouwer contrasts the backdrop of Holt’s ranch in the Dakotas with the humid landscape of Panama. In his description of each, the reader gets a view of two worlds and a look at the cultures that shape them. Brouwer also throws in gems such as these:

“Each person travels his own journey to or away from God. My own belief came at a price that I was still not sure I would have paid if given a choice: the death of my wife, who in leaving this world had shown me the joy that comes with faith and how it strengthens us to endure all circumstances.” p. 258

“I smiled sadly, thinking of the woman I had loved and now mourned. Or maybe the sadness came because for the first time since her death, there was a woman that I wanted to love. I could not escape a sense that love for someone else might lead to the death of my memory of the woman I mourned.” p. 281

“’Saffire.’ I softened my tone. ‘You can’t be responsible for the bad things other people choose to do.’” p. 303

Some things we learn from personal experience, and sometimes we’re spared, and learn from others. That’s the bonus of reading a seasoned author like Sigmund Brouwer. Gain a new appreciation for the marvels of manmade wonders, like the building of the Panama Canal, and the people who masterminded the advance of the modern world!


FTC disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”

Book Review: The Romance of Redemption


Do you struggle with knowing your identity? Take a turn in the pages of Warren Austin Gage’s insightful book, The Romance of Redemption, and you will come away with confidence in who the Lord created you to be.

Warren Austin Gage’s other works include The Story of Joseph and Judah, The Gospel of Genesis, Milestones to Emmaus and There is No Greater Love. His storytelling draws you into the culture and background, enabling you to walk the dusty roads alongside the principal characters.

The tagline for The Romance of Redemption is, “Your Story as the Bride of Christ.” Maybe you would wonder at the assumption that he would know your story, but Gage masterfully weaves that proposition throughout. He uses narratives of women from the Bible who were virtuous examples, and ones who weren’t, to explain the significance of events in Scripture and to create a visual of the redemptive work of Christ.

One of my favorite chapters is the one surrounding Rahab’s escape and the door of safety. The scarlet rope hanging on her door was symbolic of the Passover blood that saved the homes of the Israelites in Egypt. And that blood is symbolic of the One who is the door to eternal life.

Isn’t God’s Word amazing? The themes of redemption began in the Garden of Eden and continued to the garden in Revelation. As Gage says, “The first Adam made a grave of his garden, but the last Adam has made a garden of his grave…”

Like me, have you ever doubted your faith and your standing before a holy God? This book brings reassurance in comparing the accounts of women in the Bible to our Savior, as He seeks His Bride; for He is the One who represents true love. The Romance of Redemption carries a needed message in tumultuous times, of the depth of His love for us and the length He went in order to show us that love. It’s a must-have for your reading list!


Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: Rooted, The Hidden Places Where God Develops You by Banning Liebscher



Is it possible to eliminate confusion, give affirmation and recognize God at work? Banning Liebscher says it is, and we can, in his book, Rooted. In fact, Liebscher says it’s his goal, and used the life of David to flesh out three different types of soil God used to root David’s deep trust in Him.

Banning Liebscher is the founding pastor of Jesus Culture Sacramento, and tells the story of the growth of a movement, but, more importantly, the growth of individuals who allow God’s Word to become rooted in their hearts.

I had to read the book twice, because

  • I wanted to make sure I didn’t misinterpret what was being said.
  • I wanted to soak in the truths laid out.

One such area I misunderstood, the statement was made that we are all made for greatness. The second time through, it clarified, greatness is expressed through humility, love and service to others. What a difference in thought! The first sounded like entitlement. The second? Like Jesus! And Jesus served. He didn’t act entitled, but led by serving.

Liebscher gives examples from his own experiences to illustrate how God developed his character in the hidden places; those times of digging into Scripture and prayer. And the book is a clarion call to both. As Christians, we are admonished to let God take His time to shape us, before we step out to lead others. He says, “The small things are preparation as you move toward what God has called you to do.”

Liebscher invites us to run hard after Jesus, so that we will finish strong. His book lays out tools for that race, and encouragement for the runners. I heartily recommend it to all who would “build their house, fulfill God’s vision, bear fruit, make an impact and step into who The Lord created us to be.”


Disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”

Leadership 101

I have an apple tree in my back yard that has never borne fruit. Year after year, we sought signs that something would come of our efforts to put it in good soil. But nothing revealed indicators of growth. How about you? Have you been feeling like there’s no fruit from your work?
Pastor Bill Hybels says leadership begins with yourself. When you are dormant, people won’t follow you. So, how will you push yourself? He suggests taking leaders to lunch and asking questions, exposing yourself to new ways of looking at things, and developing character.
If leadership begins at home, then it does matter what we do when no one’s watching. We are all managers of:
• Time
• Money
• Words
In Psalm 39, David said he would watch what he said around others. But he also affirmed in Psalm 40 he would tell of God’s goodness. He sought the Lord’s help to know when to speak and when to be silent. What would that look like for a leader? We have opportunities to speak truth into people’s lives. Will it be laced with criticism or kindness?
At The Global Leadership Summit, Leadership Coach John Maxwell challenged all to add value to people’s lives every day. He said we can learn from the way Jesus valued Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman and even children. It takes intentional living to see things from someone else’s perspective.
Let’s get back to the basics in our leadership habits. Find ways to stretch yourself and your team. Expose yourself to new ways of doing things every day. Ask questions. Listen. Put your house in order. Speak kindness into the hearts of others. Hold yourself accountable to a high standard of integrity.

apple tree from back yard
This year, however, something is different with my apple tree. The branches are heavy laden and getting ready for harvest. Maybe you’ve been waiting for the fruit of your labor that seems negligent in coming? Don’t give up. Keep building on the basics of love and faithfulness. Let integrity be your hallmark. When God’s timing is ripe, you will see a harvest of His faithfulness in your life and in your work.


In what ways is the Lord nudging you to stretch your leadership skills today?

Book Review: Breaking Up with Perfect

Breaking Up with Perfect

Do you ever feel like it’s time to break up with your tendencies toward perfection? Breaking Up with Perfect shows you how. It takes you through the belief systems that told you life had to look a certain way, to the skewed values that warped your view of life, to the actions that perpetuate selfishness, to that sweet place of freedom and fulfilling relationships. What do perfectionistic attitudes have to do with relationships? Everything. They rob friendships of the depth of caring needed to overcome obstacles in personality differences!

Amy Carroll says she wrote Breaking Up with Perfect out of her own battle with the Good Girl List. That list that makes you do everything possible to live up to an image you’ve concocted, but no one else expects. She contrasts it with her friend’s list: the Never Good Enough List. What follows is a heart-to-heart talk about the fatal flaws in each list and the devastating toll they take on a heart submitted to them.
Reading this book, I feel exposed. Amy describes me in so many ways, that I feel like she followed me around with a camera! If I ever noticed the horrible consequences of perfectionism, it was never so pronounced. So, why go through the pain of opening up your heart with all of its failures, flaws and all? Because it creates room for relationships; relationships that are encouraging, joy-giving and fill in the gaps of life.
This book provides questions to ask when relationships go awry, recipes for self-absorption and pride, and antidotes to materialism. It is a must-read for anyone who has ever yearned to move from hollowness to wholeness. Amy says, “I’m never getting back together with my do-er mentality.”
Isn’t it time to rest in knowing we don’t have to earn God’s favor? He is our Provider and wants us to trust Him for every bit of our day.
Get this book, for a journey from a difficult place, to a much better place! You’ll also want to check in with Amy’s blog, where Amy has a book club for Breaking Up With Perfect starting on August 1.
I am giving away a copy, courtesy of Howard Books, to one reader in the continental United States. Leave a comment on my blog (at the top of this post, under the title) about ways perfectionism blocks community, and you will be entered into the drawing, to be held one week from today, August 4.
P.S. Each person who leaves a comment will also receive a free pdf, “What Scripture Tells Us About God’s Love,” from Breaking Up With Perfect!
Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through The Blog Spot Network book review program in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: Sure Mercies: Hope for the Suffering

Sure Mercies

40 stories. 40 witnesses for the work of God through Christ. Sure Mercies: Hope for the Suffering highlights figures from the pages of history as well as present-day martyrs. Why is this an important book? When you’re hurting, it is a lonely place to be. Suffering feels isolated. The testimonies of others who suffered help us to see we’re not alone. They were victorious through God’s strength and we can be, too.

I started in the back with the Study Guide, and immediately liked Megan Vance’s style of writing. Her voice is easy on the ear, yet polished and carries depth of character. She describes Sure Mercies from the viewpoint of a hurting girl who connected with the cries of a hurting boy in the book of Psalms. She says David didn’t just memorize the Scriptures as a religious exercise, “he believed what they told him about Jehovah.”

And so this work continues to unfold accounts of those who believed God at His word, and stood for Him in unthinkable circumstances. William Borden gave up his family wealth to pursue missions among the Muslims of China. He died of meningitis. Corrie ten Boom came from Dutch descent and suffered in the Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. Richard Wurmbrand spent years in solitary confinement in Communist prisons. Nate Saint and his friends were murdered deep in the jungle of Ecuador by Auca Indians. Yet, in all of these lives, and more, they resolved to follow Christ knowing a life spared would not be worth a witness sacrificed.

Sure Mercies is a compilation of short stories that are tall on inspiration. They tell the back story of those who are part of “God’s chain of grace” extended across time. And they bring hope! Ever wonder if you would be resolute under trial? Megan prays, “Lord, we need not fear our own inadequacy, but only behold Your Son and His finished work. Thank You that He works as we merely yield our lives to Him.”

The Meditation Prayers lead us to remember our future is not our own. The faithful testimony of those within these pages will encourage us to remain steadfast in difficult times. And, as she remarks about Gracie Parker Rosenberger, “Watching Gracie, it’s easier to believe impossibilities can create abundant possibilities.”

Bravo to Megan Vance on a thoroughly researched, well recorded progression of God’s Message over the ages. It is a timely dose of encouragement for us all!


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Almost Home

On our return from Africa, our Mission Team flew into Toronto for the last leg of driving home to Jamestown, just south of Buffalo. The 17 hours of flight had only served to make us more homesick, as we longed for sweet sleep in our own beds.

Finally, with luggage gathered, tired bodies accounted for and vans retrieved, we settled in for the three hour drive home.

As we approached the Canadian/US Border, we noticed traffic slowing. And then it came to a standstill. We could see the flags of our own country, but could not advance to it.


In these tumultuous days, we’re watching the effects of sin take a toll on our planet. War, hatred, abuse, the sex trade, people hungry for power, poverty, drought and all sorts of evil in between. And it makes us long for our Heavenly Home. Jesus said we would face trouble. But He also promised His presence would comfort and guide us. This is the time to stand firm and pray. When you hear the news, pray. When you see bad things happen, pray. And when you think you can’t take any more, pray.

Answers in Genesis opened their replica of Noah’s Ark on July 7. One of the first visitors was Bill Nye, who claimed children are being brainwashed. As I scrolled the comments of his supporters, I couldn’t believe the bashing toward Ken Ham (who happens to have the same name as one of Noah’s sons) and his Ark. And I wondered if that was just an inkling of the mocking Noah endured in his day. We are not home yet.

Our Heavenly Home is just over the horizon and our King is on His Return Trip. Stand firm; we’re almost Home.

What helps you stand firm? Leave a comment in the link just under the title, and I’ll send you 6 Tips for Talking to God.


We are not home yet


“What is home?”

Our class had a variety of answers; places remembered from the past, or an ideal set apart for our families.  But all I could think about was a feeling.  “You know that feeling you get on Christmas Eve?  When everyone’s in bed, asleep, and everything’s done that can possibly be done?  All that’s needed at that moment is to reflect on The Day to come, and gaze at the lights on the tree.”

That’s my picture of “home.”

Anne Graham Lotz talks about our heavenly home in The Vision of His Glory.  She says the glassy streets of gold will reflect God’s glory with every step that we take.  We will not only have access to the Presence of God (as the Israelites experienced through the priest entering the Tabernacle), but we’ll live in the Presence of God.

No, we are not home yet.  But Jesus is preparing it with painstaking detail, just like a mom would get ready for her college student to come home on break.  Anne reminds us that favorite meals would be prepared, activities planned and phone calls made saying, “My daughter is coming home!”

I can’t wait for my heavenly home!


Originally published at Sally’s Words

Review & a Giveaway: The NIV Lifehacks Bible!

NIV Lifehacks

If you were offered the key to unlock mysteries, would you take it? The NIV Lifehacks Bible extends that and so much more, in the quest for understanding God’s Word.

It contains 365 articles to explain the process of becoming more like Jesus.

It covers 30 everyday disciplines.

It chronicles 8 different categories of spiritual formation (the process of conforming to the character of Christ).


That’s 365 articles for each day of the year.

30 disciplines for each day of the month, on average.

8 categories to examine one a day, plus one.

But do you need to read or apply every entry? The author, Joe Carter says, “No. This Bible contains over 1,000 tips and suggestions, and no one could (or necessarily should) attempt to apply them all. My goal in writing these articles is that every reader will find at least eight things to apply to their life, one in each of the eight categories of spiritual formation.” (Seeing Jesus in Scripture, Prayer, Engaging Scripture, Communion with God, Internal Disciplines, External Disciplines, Responding to God’s Calling and Assessing Spiritual Growth.)

NIV Lifehacks 197 become like Christ

Imagine what would happen to The Church, if all Christians took it upon themselves to make Bible study and discipleship a personal endeavor? This Bible is called “Lifehacks” because we live in an age when we’re looking for tips and tools to handle life more efficiently. Ever wish you could “cut to the chase” in the way you study the disciplines of the Christian life?

This format is a work of genius! The tools draw you into the Word of God with practical clues to texts and connections to concepts. Even the titles entice you to engage your brain… before you know it, you’ve been studying the Bible!

  • When We Should (Probably) Not Agree to Pray for Someone
  • What Lambs Reveal About Jesus
  • The Essential Vocation of Burden Bearing
  • The Benefits of Handwriting Scripture
  • How Honey Helps Us to Know God
  • How 15 Minutes a Day Can Change Your Life
  • Kill the Dragon, Get the Bride

Are you curious yet? Get your own copy today. Or, you can enter the drawing!

I am giving away a copy, courtesy of Zondervan Publishers, to one reader in the continental United States. Leave a comment on my blog (at the top of this post, under the title) about one of your favorite Bible study tools, and you will be entered into the drawing to be held one week from today, July 7. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!


P.S. Each person who leaves a comment will also receive a free pdf, “20 Prompts for Spiritual Journaling,” from the NIV Lifehacks Bible!

 NIV Lifehacks 58 (3) Scripture points to Christ

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through The Blog Spot Network book review program in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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