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Teach Me to Feel Book Review

Ever feel let down? In pain? Weary? Helpless? We never want to feel like this, but sometimes life just happens.

Courtney Reissig, author of Teach Me to Feel, says “I’ve always been a feeler. From a very early age, I experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.”

Can you relate to that? Can you relate to despair, pain, and helplessness?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

If so, you might like this book. Reissig mentions how Christian women aren’t always given the support or encouragement to fully feel their negative emotions.

Can you relate to that? Can you relate to not being able to be authentic in your life, for whatever reason?

This book is a safe place to feel your negative emotions. Each chapter is dedicated to something like grief, envy, fearing death, and how the Bible can help. There’s some space at the end of each chapter for journaling your thoughts.


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POSSIBLE- free Batiste hair products!

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Start Spring Cleaning, Get Paid

Need some extra cash? Kick off your spring cleaning and get paid for it! ThredUp is an online consignment and thrift shop. Care about the environment and sustainability? Recycling is built into ThredUp’s mission! Purge your closet of the clothes that you no longer want, need, or wear- try selling your clothes on ThredUp! Check it out here- it’s easy!


Make Their Day Book Review

“If you ever need anything, let me know.” It’s a phrase often uttered to a hurting person, but for those in the midst of a struggle, it’s hard to ask for help, and it’s hard to sometimes say WHAT you need help with.

If you want to be a blessing to people in your life – people you know, or even people you don’t know – Karen Ehman has lots of ideas. Her book Make Their Day is packed with ideas of how to encourage, build up, and brighten the lives of people in your life. Best of all, you don’t have to be talented, gifted, or particularly good at anything to pull off the feat of making someone’s day. All you have to have is a heart for seeing others. Noticing them. Seeing that they matter and that perhaps you can make their day a little brighter.

Disclosure- I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Who in your life deserves having their day a little bit better? A friend? A neighbor? A spouse or your boyfriend/girlfriend? Karen Ehman has ideas for all of these people and for the people you might not even have considered as being part of your life. Think your postal worker, the person doing road work, or the person who might be part of your community that you don’t know very well.

This book is written from a faith-based, Christian perspective, but you can adapt some of Karen’s ideas to multiple situations. (If you like free stuff, check out Karen’s website here where she has FREE gift tags you can print out! She also has FREE recipes!) If you’re looking for ways to practice the art of hospitality and show appreciation for people – in a way that’s real and that can work in a variety of situations – you might get some good ideas from this book.


The Only Answer is Prayer

Today’s book review is The Only Answer is Prayer by William McDowell, Jason McMullen, and Caleb Grant. All three authors work together at Deeper Fellowship Church in Orlando, Florida. William McDowell is the lead pastor, Jason McMullen is the executive pastor, and Caleb Grant is the associate pastor. In other words, they’re all affiliated with the church in some high-level fashion.

For me personally, I think of prayer as kind of a mysterious topic, so I was interested in starting this book.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

There are, of course, some basic nuts-and-bolts facts about prayer that most Christians know. Things like maybe you might have been told what the Lord’s Prayer is, or you might have been told that you can pray anywhere and God will hear you, or you might know things in your brain about prayer and yet… prayer can be a mystery, right? How does it work? Why do some prayers get answered and others… it seems like not a peep? Again, for me, the actual practice of prayer is kind of elusive and how it works is kind of a mystery…

Which is why I really liked this book. At one point, the authors had me skipping around a lot of different passages in the Bible, because they were going into different ideas about prayer, different examples of prayer in the Bible… in other words, they were giving illustrations and really backing up what they were saying.

Another HUGE surprise about this book: slight spoiler alert: I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard in a Christian context the word “manifestation”… but these folks do it. Usually, when I hear people talk about manifesting something, it sounds like something along the lines of the book The Secret, and the whole idea that if you can dream it, you can do it… but this book uses the term differently, using manifesting to talk about how things can come to pass when people partner with God through prayer.

Overall, this book was a very good book on prayer, and I would highly recommend it.


The Military Guide to Armageddon

The preface of The Military Guide to Armageddon begins with these words:

“I AM PERSUADED that things on this planet are about to change dramatically, and that we need to prepare for coming earth-shattering events.”

Change – negative, uncertain, dramatic change was the theme of 2020, and is continuing to be the headline for 2021. There’s still so much that remains unknown, and while we might attempt to try to figure it out, the truth is that we are not all-powerful, and there is only so much we can know.

The Military Guide to Armageddon

The Military Guide to Armageddon gets to the root of unrest in the world- the why behind these things. Have you asked yourself why there is a global pandemic? Why is there massive social unrest – not just in America, but in other countries right now, also? In 2020, the entire continent of Australia caught on fire, and yet, many of us forgot about it, because 2020 was such an awful year. It’s not a joke – it speaks to the current state of affairs – the world is getting bad…

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Military Guide to Armageddon takes strategies from the military and ties it in with Christian strategies. How can you survive a world like this? How can you survive a world that’s going to get worse? What is the future going to look like? If you thought 2020, or 2021 so far was bad, hold on, because there are predictions for the future, and the authors want you to be ready.

The military perspective in this book is very interesting. Colonel David J. Giammona is a retired chaplain, so he has lots of stories from the battlefield, but he also has the spiritual perspective. He explains to civilians what R&R means in a war context, and talks about how difficult some of the training is in the military. There’s a lot of military jargon in this book, but it isn’t so complicated that you’ll get lost if you don’t have a military background. Colonel Giammona explains things well to those of us in the civilian world. (His co-author makes an equally good contribution.)

Overall, this was a really excellent book. It’s not a “gloom and doom” book, and the authors don’t want you to be scared or to act irrationally. They want you to be calm, cool, and level-headed. This is a great book for any Christian who sees how world events are escalating. If you’re interested in seeing how current events connects to a Biblical perspective, you might really like this book. There are a lot of great tips and Biblical insight for how you and your family can mentally and spiritually ready yourselves for a world that will grow increasingly violent and hostile towards Christianity.


The Boy Who Shared His Sandwich!

Today I’m reviewing another children’s book. This one is from The Good Book Company author Steph Williams titled The Boy Who Shared His Sandwich!

This is part of Williams’ Little Me, Big God series. You can check out my review of her book The Easter Fix here.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

This is another cute picture book for young readers. Taking a look at the story of the feeding of the 5,000, Williams looks at how the people were fed. One of the things that stood out to me in the choice for illustrations was how similarly the people were dressed, and how human Jesus looked… we often picture Jesus as majestic, royal, righteous, but in The Boy Who Shared His Sandwich! Jesus is dressed just as normal and plain as the other people in this book, which made his humanity really pop out to me. I don’t know if this was a conscious choice, but I thought it was really interesting.

Another interesting point is when the story asks HOW Jesus could have fed all the people… the illustration is done to pose a child asking this question… and it’s amusing the way this is done… it’s almost like there is frustration in this question, the way a kid might be frustrated when they can’t figure something out… or loudness…

I think this is a cute book and I think it’s a good choice if you’re looking for a book to add to a children’s collection for Bible stories you’d like your child to learn about.


The Easter Fix by Steph Williams

Is it too soon to talk about Easter? I say no, because today, I’m talking about another book that focuses on, you guessed it, Easter. Forget about Peeps or that shredded stuff you put in the bottom of your Easter baskets, or the Easter chocolate I could eat anytime. We’re getting down to the story of Easter…

This is The Easter Fix by Steph Williams. Steph Williams wrote another book titled The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross (which is a great book that I reviewed here.)

The Easter Fix by Steph Williams

There is no age range labelled on this book, but the publisher’s site says it’s part of the Little Me, Big God series. That being said, I would say that this is for young readers – any who are being read to, learning how to read, or developing their ability to read. If you’re a reading nerd or literacy junkie, check out some sight words from this book: that, this, had, come, he, fix, gave… so as far as what “grade level” that puts this book, it’s hard to say.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

On to the good stuff. Was this a good book, that’s what you want to know, right? The pictures are great. The story is accurate. The pictures line up with the story being told, and it made me smile. The way the illustrations told the story actually shocked me (in a good way) at one point. Will your kid like this book? Yes, I think so. Will this be a good addition to your library? Yes, I think so. It could be a nice addition to an Easter basket.


The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross

The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross is a new book for toddlers that explains the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The one I’m reviewing today is a “board book” – remember those when you were a kid? They don’t have the cover that a hardback does, and the pages are thick… like a board! The pages of this one shine. This book is written by Carl Laferton with illustrations by Catalina Echeverri.

This books starts with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and how the fall of mankind occurred. I noticed that the author pointed out that “the people” decided not to do what God wanted, and that they were both at fault. This important detail/truth was not lost on me, and I thought it was great to explain it to kids this way.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The story goes on to show kids the temple, the cross, and reconciliation with God… all in kid-friendly terms. The illustrations are great and they really compliment the story. I think this is a great book that kids will enjoy over and over again. Highly recommended!


In Search of Wisdom

What’s the most valuable thing you can possess but cannot buy? Wisdom. In this new book, Joyce Meyer takes us on a journey In Search of Wisdom.

In Search of Wisdom explores all 31 chapters of the Biblical book of Proverbs. The way the book was structured surprised me in its simplicity, because the author could have picked her own title for each chapter, but she didn’t. She kept things really simple, and each chapter is simply named after the Proverb that will be covered. Chapter One is called “Proverbs 1,” the next chapter is called “Proverbs 2,” and so on. It seems so simplistic, but it makes sense once you dig into the contents of the book.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions here are my own.

If you’ve never read any of the book of Proverbs, you’re missing out. There’s so much practical life advice that the book of Proverbs gives. Heeding the words and warnings of this book of the Bible can help anyone. Proverbs gives advice about marriage, money, parenting, friendship, and the types of people you should avoid in life.

Joyce Meyer breaks down each Proverb, giving it its own chapter. She expounds on it, introducing her own perspective, opinions, and even stories from her life and from people she knows of. She also easily introduces verses from the New Testament and connects it to the Proverb being discussed, without causing any confusion. This is a positive feature, especially for people who may not have any Bible knowledge, to help them build their knowledge of the Bible.

In Search of Wisdom could be a great book for women’s groups to use and build discussions around. It’s not designed to be a book of discussion, but I could see lots of points in this book that give ladies the opportunity to discuss the relevance of the Proverbs in their lives.


Live with Intention

Ever think about how you’re living your life? Ever think about what really matters? Mary Anne Radmacher wants us to Live with Intention.

This is not your typical self-help book. While it does have a table of contents that would, at first glance, lay out a plan for how to live on purpose with your values or goals in mind, this is not a straight-laced, buttoned-up, get-your-life-in-order-in-thirty-days kind of book. Far from it!

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Radmacher’s style is part whimsical, part personal, part friendly. She uses stories that seem to be randomly pulled from a personal diary or journal, and I enjoyed these stories. At first, you don’t know where she is going or what kind of point she may be trying to make, but it’s entertaining. Then, at the end of a story, she quickly makes her point as to why the story connects to her idea of “living with intention.” This book is kind of like someone sitting down with you to have a chat over a cup of tea or coffee, and just sharing their thoughts on life with you. I enjoyed it a lot, but I would not call it self-help or instructional. This book is more of an inspirational read. This author is the only one I can think of that is the closest thing to reminding me of a modern day Helen Steiner Rice with her encouragement and essays. If you could use some encouragement or a friend, you could love this book.


Book Review: The Bible Recap

Have you ever read the Bible from cover to cover? The Bible Recap is a one-year guide to help people understand the Bible. Sometimes, the Bible can be confusing. Sometimes, we don’t always understand it. Tara-Leigh Cobble wants to help change that with this new guide.

The Bible Recap

This book made me think about what it takes to really write a good commentary or guide on the Bible. What is it that I want or need on any book that attempts to explain the Bible? What are the basic requirements? I’ve boiled it down to two:

  • Clear: I need to be able to understand what the writer is saying. Seems simple, right? Any points that are being made need to be clear. If the author is referring to a Bible passage, it needs to be clear so I can find it for myself.
  • Correct: Any opinions that an author might give should be based on what the Bible says, not just a popular opinion that is given because it’s what people want to hear.

This book uses a chronological approach to reading the Bible. In other words, the plan is not for you to grab a KJV or NIV Bible, plow through Genesis and then keep on trucking until you get to Revelation. This Bible reading plan actually breaks up the book of Genesis – the very first book of the Bible – and you are supposed to start reading the book of Job BEFORE you finish reading all of the book of Genesis. I did not stick to this reading plan, and I question why this would be the planned method. (Why not finish one book at a time?)

Looking at the author’s commentary about some of the readings that focused on the book of Genesis, it could be really confusing if you’ve never read the Bible before. On “Day Three,” there are places where the author mentions a book of the Bible that you would not have read yet… we’re talking as far ahead in the Bible as 2 Peter, Ezekiel, Revelation. The ability to tie together other books of the Bible would be fantastic, but at this point in The Bible Recap, this was confusing and off-course.

Ultimately, my recommendation would be to grab your Bible, read what you will daily, make your questions in the margins, and you will have a plan for a clear and focused study.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


FREE Bee Paper Mask

Making fun out of masks? It’s true! Have some fun by making a paper mask with this paper mask created by ReadAloud.org. Read Aloud is a non-profit organization dedicated to childhood literacy. Today’s mask is a bee… plus it comes with a suggestion for a book you can read.

Click here to download the PDF of the FREE bee paper mask coloring page


FREE Carnival Paper Mask

Ever been to Carnival? This paper mask/coloring page is the perfect intro to learn about this festival in Italy. Created by ReadAloud.org, a nationwide organization dedicated to promoting childhood literacy.

To download the FREE Carnival Paper Mask PDF, click here.


FREE Scuba Diver Coloring Page

When I grow up, I want to be… a scuba diver? Yup, there’s a coloring page for that!

Get this FREE coloring page in the shape of a mask! Created by ReadAloud.Org, a non-profit organization committed to child literacy.

Download a free PDF copy of the scuba diver coloring page here.


FREE Fall Reading Tracker

Did you know that just 15 minutes of reading every day could make a huge difference in a child’s life? Whether reading on their own or being read to by you, 15 minutes could help your child gain confidence and skill. Get this FREE reading tracker, created by Read Aloud.org. Read Aloud is a national non-profit organization that promotes child literacy.

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Free Penmanship Book

Teaching your child the lost art of penmanship? This book from Shine-a-Light Press is free! Designed for grade levels K-2 .

Get the FREE download by visiting Shine-a-Light Press here.


FREE Dalmatian Coloring Page

Cat person or dog person? If you Must Love Dogs, you’ll love this paper craft/coloring page! Created by ReadAloud.org. Read Aloud is a non-profit organization that promotes reading.

Click this link to download the page.


Homeschooling Solutions Found in Hands-On Learning

My friends at Oak Meadow have released the Fall 2020 edition of their journal, Living Education. Oak Meadow is a school and curriculum provider for homeschooling families.

This issue is chock-full of fun. There’s some money-saving tips that can help you, especially if you’ve lost money during the pandemic. Are you feeling burnt out from homeschooling? (I see you, new to home-learning crowd.) You’ll get some help from Oak Meadow co-founder Lawrence Williams.

Plus, I’m thrilled to offer up my tips for Solutions Found in Hands On Learning. (Yes, you can do this! No, you don’t have to be a teacher. Hint: there are games and fun involved!)


Need Some Help Homeschooling?

Need some help figuring out back-to-school this year? My friends at Medi-Share are always offering advice on Christian living, financial advice, how to be healthy, and more. If you’re like many families across the country, you could use a little help figuring out how to homeschool this year. You can check out my tips for Homeschooling Help During COVID-19 on the Medi-Share blog here.


The Money Challenge for Teens

Are you comfortable talking with your teen about personal finance? If you’re looking for a starting point for how to teach your teen about money, or if your teen is already curious about how to manage their money, The Money Challenge for Teens by Art Rainer could be just what you’re looking for. Art Rainer previously wrote a book for adults called Find More Money, but I actually enjoyed this book more. Adults who are struggling with personal finance could actually learn something from this book, even though this one is targeted for teens.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Similar to the format of Find More Money, it uses a parable style to give its advice. The Money Challenge for Teens takes two teens working at a fast food joint and a mentor who gives them practical money lessons. These lessons are realistic for teens and adults alike. If a teen can absorb and understand only a tiny slice of what’s in this book, he or she will be ahead of their peers in so many ways. This book is a great resource for anyone interested in the topic of how to teach personal finance, or even for young people starting college to teach themselves what they wish their parents would have taught them about money.


5 More Questions Answered With Jerald LeVon Hoover

Ever wanted to pick an author’s brain? Ever been curious about an author’s life, creative path, or struggle to get published? Author Jerald LeVon Hoover has been published multiple times and is no stranger to the path of struggle that goes with the dream of being published. He is the author of A Hopeful Hero, My Friend, My Hero, and He Was My Hero, Too. If you missed out on the first set of questions and answers with Jerald LeVon Hoover, you can check them out here.

Today, Jerald LeVon Hoover answers five more questions for readers, fans, and aspiring authors.

You were raised in Mount Vernon, New York. At one point in He Was My Hero, Too, you make it clear that the book is set in Mount Vernon. Was it emotional for you to place the story in your childhood town, given everything that happens in the book?

Actually no it was a lot of fun do that because I was connecting the dots from book 1 to book 2 and the title He Was My Hero Too has a certain meaning to it which I don’t want to give away right now I want you to read the book to see why I named as such but the emotional part is more of a carryover from book one but it wasn’t emotional in a negative or sorrowful way it will sort of joyful because it was a continuation of what I want to think is a great story.

You’ve written several books. How was writing your second or third book different from writing your first book?

Well for this one it was more of an accomplishment because I did not want to be deemed a one hit wonder. I wanted to be viewed as a serious writer and so when I wrote the second book I felt good emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually because I was able to take something from scratch and stretch it out to where it was a series. I guess that is why I got greedy with it and wanted to add a fourth book, “Hoop Hero.”

You’ve mentioned that you were turned down many times [42 over an 8-year period] before finally getting published. During that time of rejection, what kept you going?

What kept me going was the belief that I had a particularly good story and a story that needed to be told. I felt back then when the first book was even in manuscript stage that it was very much in need. But currently, I feel that it is more a necessity.

Did you ever think about giving up?

Of course, I did but something within me wouldn’t let me. Not only that but there were external forces so to speak, that made it hard for me to quit. It seems like the times when I fe like throwing in the towel, someone that knew of me being in the writing phase would ask me how was coming along with it. It would come from people of my church, neighborhood, job, you name it, I was asked. Those were the signs I used that led me to believe, ‘Jerald, this is your calling.’

What types of books do you enjoy reading? Who are your favorite authors? 

My favorite all-time book is the Bible. I’ve read it from cover to cover about three times. The first time it took me a little over a year to do it, but it was an amazing experience as well as accomplishment. I particularly love how-to books and non-fiction about leaders of our society. I draw inspiration on their triumphs on how they got to where they arrived.

Are you working on any projects that you’d like to tell us about?

I’m working to make the books that I have in the series into a curriculum series where each book will have its own workbook to go along with it. This way the readers, particularly teenagers, can draw upon the lessons and messages that permeate throughout the book. I want to really do that so that not only do I entertain them, but I educate and empower my readers. Literacy is especially important to me.


He Was My Hero, Too by Jerald LeVon Hoover

He Was My Hero, Too is part of The Hero Book Series. In this book, by author Jerald LeVon Hoover, we revisit Kirby, a young man whose life has changed after a heartbreaking loss of a friend. We get glimpses into the life of Simon, another young man, whose life has also changed. We can observe how a tragic event can make a person feel out of control when there are no answers for a senseless loss, or determined to do their best to make the most out of a terrible situation.

Just as the books A Hopeful Hero and My Friend, My Hero are designed to impart a moral message, so is He Was My Hero, Too. For such a serious book, this one did make me chuckle a few times when it mentioned celebrity legends from the past, because I wondered if the youth of today would even know who these celebrities are. This provided some comic relief for me in a book that was otherwise very serious, very heavy, and centered on difficult circumstances.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


One Night Two Souls Went Walking

Working the night shift, a chaplain walks the line between what is human and what is holy. What is sacred and what is ordinary? What is of this world and what is supernatural? One Night Two Souls Went Walking explores the world of a hospital chaplain and how she has connected with those she shepherds and this is more than a job to her; it is her vocation.

Cooney’s writing is smooth and almost melodic, if a book can have a melody. The narrator has her own moments of longing. The tone is full of melancholy for her own loneliness; perhaps what she has seen has added a weight onto her voice. The writing is smoothly executed as each chapter transitions. There is no struggle to understand what is taking place. Cooney is skilled at crafting her story.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Coffee House Press, in exchange for my honest review.


Day 6: Camp Read Aloud

Today is Day 6 of Camp Read Aloud!

In case you missed our first week, Camp Read Aloud is an all-online, totally free, virtual summer reading camp. Every day, we have a fun schedule planned, and today is no exception.

Today’s Craft: Sponge Boats, a DIY Craft for Kids

Today’s Book: Lightship by Brian Floca

Lightship by Brian Floca

Today’s Activity: Row Your Boat


The Book of Awesome Women Writers

Does it seem like a defiant, rebellious act for a woman to write? It might seem crazy to think that there was a time when women couldn’t express themselves with a pen and paper without getting in trouble. For the young girls growing up today, thinking freely and expressing their thoughts shouldn’t be outside the norm, but some of the ladies featured in The Book of Awesome Women Writers by Becca Anderson had much different circumstances to contend with.

This book is for anyone who loves reading, loves books, loves writing. It’s divided into chapters like a fiction book would be, and it has a fun cover, like you would expect for a fiction book. The material makes it more like a reference book, because there’s so much information, except it isn’t dry like a reference source can be. It’s the closest thing to an encyclopedia that I’ve touched in a long time. This book was fun, interesting, and one that has earned a place on my bookshelf.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.


Day 5 at Camp Read Aloud

It’s Friday, and we have lots of fun planned at Camp Read Aloud.

We’ve had a lot of fun this week. What was your favorite thing so far? Maybe it was making friendship bracelets, or maybe it was enjoying the story of Clark the Shark. Today will be just as fun!

Here’s our schedule for today.

Today’s Craft Is: Jellyfish Cupcake Liner Crafts. Ask an adult if you can have one or two cupcake liners used for baking. There’s some more stuff needed, but that will be the most important for this craft.

Today’s Book Is: The Joyful Jellyfish by Jamie Bryant

The Joyful Jellyfish by Jamie Bryant

Today’s Activity Is: Water Balloon Towel Catch (You’ll need a beach towel for this!)


Praying for America

Praying for America by Dr. Robert Jeffress

Does America need prayer? Many Christians would agree. Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of a megachurch in Dallas, Texas, has turned his answer to this question into Praying for America 40 Inspiring Stories and Prayers for Our Nation. Each story concludes with a prayer of how to ask God to intervene in America’s problems. Jeffress advocates that so many people need prayer. Some of those on his prayer list are not a surprise including our troops, our president and leaders, and first responders.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

However, Jeffress includes some people you might not have thought of. He wants us to pray for the fatherless, those in prison, for fellow Christians who are “completely wrong”, and for Christians to do their jobs as unto the Lord. He makes a case that creating quality art is a godly endeavor, and that it pleases God. Using a legendary celebrity’s story of redemption, he explains that God invented art and that Christians should be committed to creating only the highest quality of art.

I loved all of the examples I read in this book. Jeffress does a good job of acknowledging that people have different views, but that as Christians, we should show love. This book has a great historical perspective; any history buff would probably love this book. I also loved the spirit of unity behind this book; Jeffress really encourages people to think as brothers and sisters of one family and that so many people need prayer.


My Friend, My Hero

My Friend, My Hero by Jerald LeVon Hoover

Young basketball player Bennett Wilson has talent, a college scholarship waiting for him, the love of his family, and the respect of his friends. What could possibly be wrong with his life? My Friend, My Hero by Jerald LeVon Hoover celebrates its 25th anniversary in this edition. Readers get a look inside the world of high school student Bennett Wilson. Adults who are unfamiliar with the struggles of today’s youth may be surprised at the situations Bennett faces. Bennett shows strength of character when tempted with a life-changing situation and the determination to be an overcomer when things are not going in his favor.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

My Friend, My Hero is highly recommended as a realistic, fun read for young adults. This book wouldn’t exist if Bennett wasn’t a basketball player, so kids who love basketball will probably love this book. My Friend, My Hero is also a great book to teach about the power of choices. It shows that while Bennett Wilson was facing a lot of negative things that were out of his control, he still had the power to make good choices. My Friend, My Hero can teach kids about the power of making good choices; an adult does not even have to say a word.


Leadership by the Good Book

Leadership by the Good Book by David L. Steward with Brandon K. Mann

Can Christianity relate to the business world? If you’re a Christian, how can you work your faith into the workplace? Can a business leader be successful in their role while also living out their faith? David L. Steward is the founder and chairman of World Wide Technology (WWT), a company that generates more than $12 billion in annual revenue. His business partner and friend, Brandon K. Mann, is the CEO of Kingdom Capital. They believe that yes, it is possible for a Christian to live out their faith authentically and to be successful in business, and that being a committed Christian does not have to be in conflict with being a successful business leader.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Leadership by the Good Book is written from the perspective of David L. Steward, who, by his own accounting, came from humble beginnings. As a child, he went door-to-door selling Christmas cards to pay for summer camp. After college graduation, his grades weren’t stellar. Years later, Steward says, when he was job searching, he sent hundreds of resumes, and only landed a few interviews. Steward wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth; his struggles are real, relatable, and relevant. His company WWT is a multi-million dollar company today, but throughout the book, Steward’s voice seems to be that of a humble servant leader that anyone would be lucky to work for.

Leadership by the Good Book provides numerous examples of how a Christian can integrate their faith into their work life. This book is geared toward leaders, and would be good for anyone who wants to start their own business. Steward cites a lot of Scripture, but he is also good at connecting it in a practical way. For example, he cites a Bible verse stating that Christians are to love others. To apply this to the business world, he says that some ways to “show love” are by showing appropriate boundaries in the workplace and by giving employees opportunities to advance in their jobs. He cites a verse in Proverbs that states without vision, people perish. To connect this to work, he advises leaders to have a vision and to share it with their teams. These are just a few of the very practical, realistic suggestions he gives for how Christian leaders can excel in their work, increase in their leadership abilities, gain the respect and confidence of their followers, and, hopefully, gain a “well done” from the One whose opinion matters most.


The Abundance Mind-Set

The Abundance Mind-Set by Joel Osteen

How do your thoughts impact your life? For Joel Osteen, the mind is where success begins and where the idea of abundance should be. This is a short book, taken from material from two of his previously published books. It’s a perfect size to take with you to fill some time if you are waiting during an appointment or if you’re flying and you like to read. To me, it’s a “travel size” book that can be read very quickly.

Osteen does not dig deep into the Bible, and he might not even name a specific Bible verse even once. Instead, he often states “the Scripture” when referring to a Biblical concept. The main concept he seems to want to drive home in this book is that it is not unChristian to want to have nice things or to want more in your life.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Osteen tries to be a cheerleader and tells his readers that you don’t have to be stuck where you are, but that you can have a bigger vision for your life. Comparing his life with his father’s life, he states that his father was a pastor and his father’s church paid him very poorly. Osteen emphasizes that poverty is not a measure of how holy a person is, but that God can bless us in creative ways we would not think of. Overall, this was a very motivational book, and if you are not used to this type of thinking, you can try to keep an open mind and give these kinds of ideas a chance.


Five Questions Answered With Author Jerald L. Hoover

Ever curious about how published authors got their start in writing? Interested in what their creative process looks like? Jerald L. Hoover is the author of The Hero Book series. The 25th anniversary edition of his book My Friend, My Hero, was published in 2017. In this Q&A, he explains his creative process, what he does about writer’s block, and what it was like seeing his first book published.

Jerald L Hoover, author of The Hero Book Series

How did you get started writing?

I actually started writing when I was in the 3rd grade. I wrote (unbeknown at the time) as a means of escape. My mother and father had split and he wasn’t around much and I missed having a father figure in my home like I saw my other friends. I had written a book on a note pad that I titled, “I Was A Said Boy.”

What inspires you?

I am inspired to write now to invoke positive change and positive thinking habits. My books that make up, The Hero Book Series: My Friend, My Hero, He Was My Hero, Too, A Hopeful Hero, and Hoop Hero all have within them a measure of thought provoking elements. 

Tell us about your creative process.

I normally number on at least 4 pages in a notebook the numbers 1 through 250. Then I take or allow myself between 2 to 3 weeks and just brainstorm ideas of what I may want to have within the story. The beauty of that is I make sure that I’m not trying to come up with the ideas in sequential order. Meaning, if I decided to write how I want the story to end, then I write down the elements of how I want my story to end. What I do is trust that as long as I do not lose the notebook then the ideas are safe within the line items between 1 through 250. Do I have to have 250 ideas? No. I can stop anywhere where I feel that I’ve exhausted my creative flow for that time being. From there I come up with how many chapters I’d like to have. Then I start to build the story around what I may want to happen and where. I’m safe with the ideas and thoughts as the more I write down, the less my 250 ideas become. It’s a fun process with me because it allows me to feel accomplished within the entire scope of writing each book. It’s a mind game for me but I’ve been doing it for so many years that I’ve mastered the way of doing it. Besides, to me there’s nothing more authentic than to write down ideas and thoughts by hand as opposed to always using a computer or recording device. 

When you get writer’s block, or when you have an idea but you can’t seem to execute it, how do you solve those problems?

Writer’s block isn’t something that I normally have or get. Why? Because as I go through the creative 1 through 250 ideas process, I have more than enough in the way of ideas. Now, there are times when I will get bumrushed with ideas and I have to get up from my chair or if I’m laying in bed where I have to get up and pace around and talk aloud to me myself. I love that flow, it’s an incredible feeling. 

What was it like seeing your first book published?

It was somewhat scary I would say. My first book, My Friend, My Hero was first published in 1992 after being at it since 1984, yes I was rejected over 40 times during a nine year period from when I first started the novel in 1983. I love telling that story to young people, especially those that think and operate in a microwave world where everything has to be done and completed within 3 minutes. So when the books arrived on a Tuesday in November, I didn’t open my complimentary set of 25 copies of my book until that Thursday. I wasn’t sure if it was really real. Once I summoned the courage to finally open the box of books, I was over joyed. Now heading towards 30 years later, I’m still going strong with it, by the Grace of God.


A Hopeful Hero

What happens to a young man still struggling for answers after his friend dies? When the perpetrator is still at large, how can any resolution be found? This is the story of A Hopeful Hero by Jerald LeVon Hoover. Kirby, the main character, is still struggling, years later after the death of his friend Bennett. Sadly, Bennett’s killer is still at large, due to the crime being unsolved. A Hopeful Hero shows how Kirby is dealing with this loss, many years later.

A Hopeful Hero by Jerald LeVon Hoover

There are a lot of flashback stories in this fiction book. Lots of these scenes are set in Kirby’s high school days, which makes this book appealing to a young adult audience. For kids who don’t want to read, if they love sports, the basketball references might catch their attention. Teachers can use that to their advantage if they need to get their students motivated to read.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The writing in A Hopeful Hero gets boldest at the end. Everything in the book leads up to this point, which is the most powerful part of the story. No spoilers here, but the strongest, bravest writing in the book is at the end. A Hopeful Hero is part of a series, so I’m interested to see what will happen next.


A Mother’s Love

How many moms do you know? How many ladies come to mind when you think of mothering? These ladies have their hands full. You may know the old saying about a woman’s work never being done.

A Mother’s Love doesn’t just celebrate those that have birthed kids. This book celebrates, encourages, and praises those that raise, nurture, care for, love on, cook for, and pray for kids that aren’t their own. This book includes all kinds of moms including bonus moms, step moms, aunts, grandmas, and even “spiritual moms” – meaning those who have no kids of their own but are mentors to younger women in their lives.

A Mother’s Love

I love how encouraging this book is. Each section includes excerpts from the Bible and a story from a mom from today. There’s also space for the reader to write down her own thoughts and feelings. The illustrations are beautiful and they pair well with the writing. The stories from today’s women are honest, real, and supportive. (It’s a judgment free zone, no pretenses!) A Mother’s Love is a great gift idea for the mom (or mom figure) in your life….that is, if she actually has time to read!

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Where is Wisdom?

Where Is Wisdom?
By Scott James
Illustrated by Hein Zaayman

How do you explain the concept of wisdom to a child? Where can wisdom be found on the earth? On a journey throughout the world, author Scott James and illustrator Hein Zaayman give us the mind of a child on a quest to find wisdom. In Where Is Wisdom?, we search high and low throughout God’s earth to find wisdom. While written for kids, Where Is Wisdom? offers timeless Biblical truth for everyone. This is a beautiful picture book that will be greatly enjoyed by kids and adults.

DISCLOSURE: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

L.E.A.R.N.E.R Finding the True, Good, and Beautiful in Education by Marita Diffenbaugh

How can teachers measure success? What does it look like when kids are doing well in school? What does “success” look like in education? If the traditional approach of grading kids on an A through F scale seems to be lacking, Marita Diffenbaugh would agree with you.

What is true, good, or beautiful in education? This sounds like a question the ancient philosophers would have asked.

True, good, and beautiful. Doesn’t this make it possible for a house or a painting to be admired centuries after its creator has passed?

True, good, and beautiful. Aren’t these some of the traits that make a person respected while they’re living or remembered after they’re gone?

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Diffenbaugh offers her idea of what the “job of a learner” is in this process, and it makes sense. She also offers up ideas for how to communicate with parents on progress reports to show how students are progressing towards this true, good, beautiful journey. She mentions online learning and the challenges of the current public health situation, and believes that adapting to circumstances is important.

Regardless of your approach to teaching and learning, here’s a quote from the author that makes a lot of sense:

Learners seek more learning when they are experiencing success. (pg. 117)

I’ve enjoyed all the books I’ve read from Connect EDD, so if you’re looking for something to give you more to think about as an educator, you may want to read this one.

Everlasting Joy

Isaiah 35:10 (NKJV)

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,

And come to Zion with singing,

With everlasting joy on their heads.

They shall obtain joy and gladness,

And sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

The Beauty of an Uncluttered Soul

Have you ever thought that minimalism and Christianity could be connected in some way? Author Carla Gasser and Vivian Kammel have teamed up to create The Beauty of an Uncluttered Soul from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group. The back cover teases that: “The Bible teaches us how to apply the principles of self-care and minimalism to the clutter within. Using the fruit of the Spirit…”

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, goodness, self-control… it is quite a checklist of traits for one person to have all at once. People don’t always say the right things or do the right things…

In every section of this book, a significant portion of Scripture is laid out for the reader to ponder. There is also a fair amount of thoughts from other famous theologians/Christian thinkers presented for consideration. Questions are presented to the reader for consideration, in a way that any traditional devotional would.

Choosing a devotional that will help you grow is a very personal matter. What helps one person grow and thrive may not work for another person. What helps one woman may not help another. One of the things I really did not get about this book was the connection to minimalism; for me, the connection simply was not there. For me, this book was a very beautifully designed devotional book, but it also struck me in a way as one that would not be helpful for some women for a variety of reasons.

One example: telling women to “control your feelings” – this is not practical advice. Feelings arise, and we can control how we respond to them. We don’t have to let our feelings be the only thing that controls us. I would recommend rather acknowledging your feelings, and working on a productive, healthy way to make your next move or decision based on the situation and the facts. Human beings have feelings, and that is part of how we are made.

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