Monday, June 22, 2015

Book Review - Beyond Championships: A Playbook for Winning at Life Teen Edition by Coach Dru Joyce II


Beyond Championships, Teen Edition, is written by Coach Dru Joyce II (with Chris Morrow) and is published by Zondervan.

I have lots of books for my teenage daughter, but not so much for my son. This is a playbook of sorts for young people written by a famous basketball coach who "has been there and done that." Coach Dru Joyce has been a mentor to promising young athletes - even to LeBron James. LeBron James met Joyce at a vulnerable time in his life and, with Joyce's influence, went on to become a household name.

The center of the book has some pictures of Coach Dru Joyce and his family, along with some of the players and others who were influential in his life. The end of each chapter has questions for the teen reader to ask himself and then answer.

I enjoyed reading through this "playbook for winning at life" and feel that it is a great tool for my son to use in his daily devotional time. I especially liked the chapter titled "Discipline Determines your Destiny" because I absolutely believe that is true.

I recommend this book to others with teenagers who might or might not be interested in sports. It's a great read and a thought provoking.

*I received Beyond Championships, Teen Edition, in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Book Review - Firefly Summer by Kathleen Y'Barbo


Firefly Summer is written by Kathleen Y'Barbo and is published by Redbud Press.

In this romance, Sessa Chambers is a Christian mom who has experienced the pain of a wayward son. Not only has that been her heartbreak, but later experiencing his death as a result of his sins has torn her in two. She finds some healing when her son's girlfriend shows up and leaves a baby - Sessa's granddaughter - for her to raise. As time marches on, Sessa is once again confronted with the heartbreak of her son's death and rejection of Christ - and her own inability and failure to keep him from choosing the wrong path.

The man who killed Ross in self-defense is Trey Brown, a doctor and cowboy. When he shows up and asks Sessa to forgive him - and she reacts by asking Dr. Brown to forgive her for raising such a child as Ross - things begin to warm up.

This is a bittersweet story filled with romance, forgiveness, and mostly faith. Both Dr. Brown and Sessa Chambers model for us humanity as well as the divine forgiveness that God offers each of us through Jesus Christ. The characters in Firefly Summer are likable and real. I could relate to them, though I have not experienced jail time or the death of a child. But I have experienced feelings of failure when it comes to my children. They have not always done everything I would want them to do, but I know that I can't always take responsibility for their actions. They have to come to terms with the Lord through the Holy Spirit - it's ultimately His job to bring them to the realization that they have to rely on Him completely and trust Him for their salvation. And that's what I share with Sessa Chambers.

I have enjoyed reading this story and look forward to more from Kathleen Y'Barbo.

*I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Menu Plan Monday - June 22


So the weatherman says that we might get some tornadoes here in Michigan today. Judging from the temperatures that have not been all that warm the last several days, I doubt they will hit us. I will be praying that tornadoes do not develop at all in Michigan. We have enough problems that we don't need to add any more.

Speaking of problems, I am having a horrible time finding time and energy to make up menu plans these days. Last week, I neglected to make one. Big mistake. It took me more time to think up what to make and then actually do it than it does when I make up a plan in advance. Lesson learned.

Monday

Lasagna
Peas
Salads
Garlic Toast

Tuesday

Baked Swiss Hamburger Steak (using GF bread)
Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
Carrots

Wednesday

Goulash
Peas
Salads

Thursday

Fried Rice
Applesauce

Friday

Pizza & Pop

Saturday

Burgers & Hot Dogs over a campfire
Baked Beans
Chips & Dip
Fresh Fruit

Sunday

On Your Own

Monday, June 08, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - June 8

http://orgjunkie.com


June 8 already - where is the time going? I am wondering when the warmer temperatures are going to come to northern Michigan to stay. As it stands, it gets past 70 and then drops back into the 50's. This is the pattern off and on. I am ready for some 80's, but I seem to be the only one - sigh.

Here is a meal plan that I hope "warms" everyone's tummies.

Monday

BLTs
Tossed Salads
Left-over Gluten-free Birthday Cake

Tuesday

Baked Pork Chops
Vegetable Lover's Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Wednesday

Mini Beef Burgers & Leafy Green Salad
Oven-roasted Spicy Potatoes
Smoothies

Thursday

Fried Chicken
Mashed Potatoes
Black Bean, Corn Red Pepper Salad w/Chile Lime Dressing

Friday

Pizza & Pop

Saturday

Chicken Tortilla Salad
Soft Tacos
Chips & Salsa

Sunday

On Your Own

Monday, June 01, 2015

Book Review" If He Had Not Come by Nan F. Weeks & David Nicholson


If He Had Not Come is written by Nan F. Weeks and is retold by David Nicholson and illustrated by Charles Jaskiewicz. It is published by Westbow Press.

In this cute picture book, written in 1938 and set in the 30's, the author poses the question: What if Jesus had never come? Would Christmas, or any other day, be the same? As a little boy wanders about town at Christmas, he finds that NOTHING is the same. When he wonders what's going on, he finds signs that say, "If I had not come".  Interestingly, the world is not good without Jesus. There are no hospitals or other facilities to care for people. Why? Because there are no Christians. Without the Church, there is nothing to show that people care about each other enough to make a difference.

In the end, the boy finds that it is all a dream and that Christmas has meaning because Jesus DID come. Such joy!

This story is something that should make us all, young or old, stop to think about. The world, though it is imperfect and corrupt, is a better place that it would be had Jesus never come to redeem us. Because of sin, we had no hope. Because of Jesus, hope abounds and is REAL.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I think it is a good story to read with every young child.

*I received a copy of If He Had Not Come in exchange for my honest review.*

Menu Plan Monday - June 1

http://orgjunkie.com


Our menu for this week is:

Monday

Grilled Sausage Patties
California Blend Veggies
Mashed Potatoes

Tuesday

Vinegar Marinated Chicken Breasts
Asparagus
Rice Pilaf
Salads

Wednesday

Pork Chops
Mashed Potatoes
Lentil Salad with Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette

Thursday

Scalloped Potatoes with Ham
Green Beans
Salads

Friday

Pizza & Pop

Saturday

Burgers
Fruit
Green Salads
Chips & Dip

Sunday

On Your Own

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Book Review: An Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund

An Uncertain Choice is written by Jody Hedlund and published by Zondervan.

This is another YA book in Zondervan's increasing collection of titles in that genre. I, for one, am thrilled to see Christian young adult fiction coming into more popularity because there is so much out there that is NOT good for anyone to read. I don't think I need to tell you what the current trend in secular YA publishing has been for a long while. 

While I applaud Zondervan (and other Christian publishers) for publishing more YA titles, I have to admit that this particular story was a bit slow going for me. I had a difficult time getting into the story. Written in the first person, it begins with Lady Rosemarie being appalled at an elderly man's punishment at the hands of the lawman. When a knight in shining armor comes to help the man, Lady Rosemarie is curiously drawn to knights, and this one in particular.

Lady Rosemarie's parents made a vow when she was born that she would become a nun on her eighteenth birthday. That day is quickly approaching. Then, something happens to change that vow.

While I think the storyline is an interesting one, again I'll say that I had a difficult time getting into it. A few chapters later, however, I found that my interest began to grow and I was able to finish the book with a true passion for the story and its characters. I let my teenage daughter read the book too for her opinion. She liked it more than I did.

Historically speaking, it is interesting to learn something of medieval times. I like to imagine the dresses and other "props" of the times. I think this might make a good movie. As for the author, Jody Hedlund, I hope she continues to write young adult novels for the Christian market.

*I received An Uncertain Choice in exchange for my honest opinion. My opinion is my own.*

Monday, May 25, 2015

Menu Plan Monday - May 25

http://orgjunkie.com

Today is the one day a week that Americans set aside for remembering those who have gone before us, fighting for our freedom. My paternal grandfather fought in World War I and was very young at the time. I have a photograph somewhere of him in his army uniform. I am so proud of him. My father did not have to fight in a war, but he did serve in the U. S. Navy during peace time between Korea and Viet Nam. Other family members and friends have also served in our military. Without those valiant soldiers, sailors, and marines, we would not be where we are today - living in one of the greatest countries on earth. If you would like to learn about the history of Memorial Day, you may do so here.

Here is our menu plan for the week.

Monday

BBQ Chicken on the grill
Brussels Sprouts

Tuesday

Tacos
Zucchini Cheddar Saute

Wednesday

California Blend Veggies
Garden Salads

Thursday

Meatloaf
Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans

Friday

Pizza & Pop

Saturday

Sloppy Joes
Hash Browns
Salads
Fruit

Sunday

On Your Own

Monday, May 18, 2015


Horse in the Wilderness is written by Debbie Eckles and is published by WestBow Press.

In this book, a lot of "missings" are present. A horse goes missing. A boy goes missing. Strange things happen. Brent Travis, the new schoolteacher in the community, hesitantly gets involved in the Parker family's troubles and their "missings". Brent has been burned by church and church people in the past. The Parkers are supposed to be Christians. As Brent gets more involved in the Parker family problems, he struggles with whether they are genuine believers or just more hypocrites to deal with.

This is an interesting story but I have to tell you from the start that the chapters are long ones! I am a reader who likes short chapters so that I can read in snippets and leave the book at a clean break. This doesn't happen with Horse in the Wilderness.

Each character in the story is fleshed out and personable. I found that I can relate to more than one character as they pretty much resemble people I either know or have met at one time or another. At first, it was hard for me to keep them straight. But, as I progressed through the book, I found it easier.

Once the story was finished, I felt satisfied that the loose ends were tied up. Eckles' writing style is fun and easy to read. I think that the plot and theme are good ones that are very relevant in today's society, especially the struggle for unbelievers with the whole hypocrite issue.

*I received Horse in the Wilderness in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own.*

Menu Plan Monday - May 18

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I missed getting a menu plan up last week because my husband was on vacation and did the planning and cooking (for the most part). We had a campfire Saturday night in the state forest and cooked hamburgers and hot dogs (and sweet corn) over the campfire. There's nothing quite like that smoky smell and ticks crawling up your legs for making memories.

This week I will be gone on Wednesday and Thursday due to my son's kidney biopsy. The surgery is on Wednesday at 2 p.m. (EST) if anyone would like to pray for him. It has been a long two years of disease and hospital stays for him. We are hoping and praying that it will all soon come to an end and that he will enjoy good health once again. Our finances could use a real boost too after all of this. I am so glad that, although I can't see the future, I can trust that the God who can has it all under control and works for our good.

This is what I have planned for the week:

Monday

Roast Chicken
Mashed Potatoes
Salads
Zucchini Saute

Tuesday

Spaghetti and Hamburger
Garlic Toast
Green Beans

Wednesday & Thursday

Ryan's Surgery - Will be out of town

Friday

Pizza & Pop

Saturday

Hamburgers
Fries
Cuban Style Black Beans (vegan)

Sunday

On Your Own

Monday, May 04, 2015

Book Review: A Faight of Her Own by Kathleen Fuller






A Faith of Her Own is written by Kathleen Fuller and is published by Thomas Nelson.

I admit it. When I want to read a book that makes me feel good by the time I'm finished, I go for an Amish story. Kathleen Fuller is one of those authors who has perfected this particular genre. She doesn't explain what each Deitsch (Pennsylvania Dutch, coming from German) word means throughout the text, but rather gives you a glossary at the beginning. I like that because it makes the story flow better for me.

 A Faith of Her Own is a story about a certain young man, Jeremiah, who left the Amish community to become a veterinarian. He comes back to his hometown in order to fill in for the local vet - the one who gave him his start - after the man broke his leg. Anna Mae is a childhood friend of Jeremiah's. She has been getting more and more restless since Jeremiah left. Somehow she has to figure out what it is that is causing her distress. 

As Anna Mae and Jeremiah get to know one another again, a volume of questions and decisions to be made assault them. Ultimately, it is God's plan that will win.

As a I said before, Kathleen Fuller is a master when it comes to writing Amish stories. This one does not disappoint. I loved the sweetness of the story. The plot is solid and each word builds up to the climax wonderfully. And at the end, I had that deep sigh instant when I knew I'd read something that gave me that feel good moment that I love to have.

Religion is brought up in this book. It has to be, because religion plays a significant part in the lives of the Amish. I love how the love of God does not come across as a preaching but as an integral part of everyday life. That is how it should be in every believer's life. Is it in yours?

As an aside, I came across an interesting website this morning that easily answers some questions people might have about the Amish. You might want to check it out here.

*I received A Faith of Her Own in exchange for my honest opinion. My opinion is my own.*

 

Menu Plan Monday - May 4

http://orgjunkie.com

Spring has finally come to northern Michigan! It feels like summer to us because summers up here usually don't get much past the low 70s on good days. Today it was almost 80 degrees F. I love it! I have begun working in the garden, planting a few cold weather crops. I have little tomatoes started in the house, but won't put them out until all danger of frost is gone - and then we'll still have some frosts in June, as we almost always do. The fresh air and sunshine is good for the body. If you are able to, please get a few minutes out there! Here's the plan for the week:

Monday

Steaks on the grill
Salads

Tuesday

Salads
Garlic Toast
Peas

Wednesday

Cheesy Chicken & Rice
Roasted Cabbage

Thursday

Fried Potatoes
Green Beans

Friday

Pizza & Pop

Saturday

Veggie Burgers
 Applesauce

Sunday

On Your Own