Book Review: All In by Mark Batterson

The Gospel cost NOTHING, but it demands EVERYTHING. It's all or nothing. If Jesus is not LORD OF ALL, then He is not Lord at all.

Mark Batterson is definitely one of my all time favorite authors. His writing challenges me to push for more, to not settle for what I'm already doing. His books always seem to find themselves in my hands at the most perfect times and minister to me in the ways I need to be ministered to.

If you have ever felt like your sacrifice is not so much what Jesus was asking from you, but it was your obedience, this book is for you. If you wonder how God asks for everything we have, yet promises to give us everything that He has, this book is for you. Be compelled to not just live your life but live it for the purpose it was given. As Batterson says, " Jesus didn't die just to keep us safe. he died to MAKE US DANGEROUS."

 I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for a review from Booksneeze.



Well, I've been kinda off the radar the past few days, enjoying some rest and relaxation at the in-laws house. Did I mention they live in the Dominican Republic? Josh, me, and the kids did a short stint here a few years back and I gotta say there's no better thing than to wake up in the Caribbean. I love the beach, the people, the weather. Plus, just getting away and doing absolutely nothing of consequence for a few days can be oh so nice.

A couple of evenings ago we were invited to have dinner at a missionary's house and partake of a traditional Dominican dinner. It was absolutely delightful with rice and beans and avocados and fried plantains. Now that I've got your mouth watering let me tell you what really got me at that dinner: the family's story. Every missionary has a story, but this one really spoke to me.

Earlier in the day I had been reading about the rich young ruler and how Jesus had told him to give up everything and the man just couldn't do that. The readers can look at that story and think that Jesus was being so harsh and maybe the guy should have seen what he was gonna receive in exchange for his worldly possessions. But to us its still just a story, somebody else's story. Well, as we sat there at the dinner table of this family from Bolivia they began telling us about how in Bolivia they had been at the top of their game. She had a lucrative career in the tourism industry and he had a PhD. in Geology. They had the nice house, nice car, nice stuff and they had kids going to school and doing well and things were pretty good. Then God began whispering in their ear to give it all up and come follow Him. Long story short they literally opened up the doors of their house and allowed people to just come in and take what they wanted. Then when the house was empty they gave away their car and the house. What got me was when the man spoke about the toys, all the toys that people just came in and walked away with while they watched. They went on to share about how the Lord led them to the Dominican Republic and the journey it took to get them here and the ways that God has provided for them day to day.

I was undone completely. I thought I might just break down and bawl right there. I mean how many times do I get caught up in my little sacrifices and things that I have to go without. Yet here was a family that gave up everything to pursue what God really wanted them to do. How convinced am I that I'm doing what God wants for me and how like the rich young ruler am I? Am I blinded by what I have to give up or can I see beyond to what I stand to gain that is so much greater? What can I complain about really?


The Quiet Girl

You know its not until you get away from the noise and bustle that you realize just how very noisy and crazy it was? I'm a quiet person by nature and somehow God saw fit to attach the other half of my heart to the loudest man on the planet. It doesn't bother me as much as it used to and even the fact that my kiddos all take after him. But every once in a while I just can't take it anymore and I have to get away into the silence.

Ministry and work are loud places as well and people in large crowds can do me in. With this all swirling around me I can have the tendency to think that there must be something wrong with me to want to be quiet every once in a while and stuff.

So, we came here to the Dominican Republic and the obvious retreat from my normally loud life was a welcome reprieve. My husband likes to hit the ground running and surf, and swim, and run here and there. But me, I was so happy when Tropical Storm Chantal blew through the island and stirred things up so that I couldn't do anything but sit around and watch the rain and listen to the thunder and sip coffee and read. How lovely! Today I'm sitting here on the balcony blissfully typing away with an overcast sky and nothing at all on my agenda. Nobody to cook for, nobody to clean up after, no phone, no noise. Ahh! Getting back in touch with my quiet was just the ticket for this girl.


Book Review: Chronicles of Dinosauria

In this all new book by Dave Woetzel you will explore the history and the mystery of dinosaurs and man.

Evolutionists try their level best to defame the Bible and creation through the existence of fossil "evidence" that man and dinosaurs did not roam the earth at the same time. Up until reading this book you may have been at a loss to even understand the possibilities and credence of evolutionists claims. However, after partaking of the proof put forth in Chronicles of Dinosauria, you will be better equipped to defend your own beliefs.

Filled with beautiful illustrations and photographs, the book keeps the attention of even younger readers. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and the detail given by the author to the subject at hand. Having loved dinosaurs since I was a kid, I always had a difficult time melding my beliefs in creation with what I had been taught about dinosaurs and fossils at school and in other books. This book is an awesome tool for Christian parents and teachers to help explain some of the more "difficult" questions about dinosaurs that children may have.

Read a sample from the book here.

I received a free copy of the book for review from Master Books, a division of New Leaf Publishing Group.


Elegance Elusive

You've seen them before. Those memes that have the contrast pictures showing what I think I look like when I ___________, and what I really look like when I __________. For me that's the story of my life. I have an idea of what I want to look like when I head out the door or sit there on the front row at church or walk around the grocery store, but that's not the reality. I'm a mom. That says it all.

Once upon a time I bought a beautiful white dress coat and was naive enough to think that it would last more than one excursion with my kids. Nope, chocolate hands and baby spit up did that puppy in. High heels to chase my son down and keep him from running in the street? Cute flippy skirt so my kids can take turns flipping it up at church? Perfectly manicured nails to clean the toilet? Don't even get me started on my vocabulary skills. I say things I never thought I'd say. Like just now as I was sitting down in the midst of this blog my youngest came out of the bathroom swinging his underwear in one hand and a piece of toilet paper in the other requesting some assistance. I had to say it because no one else would, "Poop stays in the bathroom!"

Don't misunderstand me, you can have it all together with nice things and all that and be a great mommy, I just can't seem to do it. I love nice things and start out with the nice stuff, but give up the fight to keep it pristine. I don't want to have anything that I care for more than my family.

The funny thing is I find myself wondering if there should be a meme that shows the opposite. Like I see a bedraggled mom with unwashed hair and unplucked eyebrows and God sees a warrior princess fighting the good fight.


Blog Review: Indoctrination by Joaquin Fernandez and Colin Gunn

Prior to reading Indoctrination, I was one of those "riding the fence" parents. I had utilized public schools for my children but had chosen to send them to a private school instead. My own opinions I kept to myself out of fear of offending my friends who had to send their children to public schools due to financial constraints. My own education was in both private and public schools and though I had felt the drastic change of atmosphere when my parents put me in a public school in seventh grade, I sent my own children for a short time as well. However, after reading this eye opening book, I am no longer afraid or undecided on the public school for Christian children issue.

Whether you are stirred by the revelation of what foundation the public schools are built upon, or the over medication of children due to misdiagnosis, or even the hostile environment for Christian teachers and students, this book will encourage you to pull your children out of public schools. The authors, Joaquin Fernandez and Colin Gunn, have done a remarkable job in collecting the individual stories of countless parents and teachers with the same underlying message.

I received a free copy of this book for review from Master Books, a division of New Leaf Publishing Group.

Read a sample from the book.

Check out some other reviews of the book here.


Book Review: The Outcast by Jolina Petersheim

This book caught my eye with its subtitle naming it as a modern retelling of the Scarlet Letter. I reluctantly loved the required reading in High School and reveled over the symbolism throughout. When I picked up this book I was immediately drawn in by my previous love, but quickly won over to this new telling of the familiar story. Rachel is a young Mennonite girl with a secret. She is with child and not about to reveal the father's name. So as a result, she carries the burden of the guilt of her sin alone. Then she is forced from the life she has always known while at the same time her young son becomes ill with a mystery ailment that threatens to claim his young life. Can she handle this on her own apart from the community she has relied on her entire life? Or is there a greater objective at work steering her towards the repentance that she knows she must seek?

The original story is rampant with sins that cannot be undone and as we all learn we cannot relive our mistakes. What I love about The Outcast is that as Christians we know that redemption can be found and forgiveness sought. The story told reminds us that hatred and bitterness can scar our lives, but there is a better way and regret can only cause us to live in a stumbling numb version of the life we are capable of living.

I received a free copy of this book in return for a review from Tyndale House Publishers.

Read the first few pages here.

Learn more about the author.


Book Review: I've Got Your Back by James C. Galvin

All human beings are both followers and leaders. Whether within the home, at church, on the job, citizens of a country, members of a family, or volunteers at a charity organization every person fills both roles in one sense or another. If you find yourself in the role of leader, the question you have probably never asked yourself is "Am I a good follower?" This book helps to define those roles and to encourage everyone to reach for a better way of filling the shoes we fill.

"Another book on leadership?" you ask. But this book is unlike any other book I have read on the subject. The first portion of the book is actually told in story form presenting the reader with the not uncommon predicament of four young adults who want to become more effective workers. They are mentored by a well seasoned Army sergeant who also happened to serve as a missionary and Bible translator. At the end of the book, the same principles set forth in the story are presented in more detail and with scriptural back up for further study.

I absolutely loved the concept set up by this book. Here's a quick excerpt that really got to the heart of the leadership/followership dynamic:
"This kind of leading and following is so smooth that it is like ballroom dancing. One partner is the leader and the other is the follower, but they glide across the floor as one unit. It's difficult to observe who is leading and who is following."
I have always seen the roles as distinct and separate and yet this book helps to demystify the barriers that we set up.  Whether you see yourself as a leader or a follower this book is a must read for every follower of Christ.

I received this book free for review from Handlebar Publishing.
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