Sunday, November 27, 2016

NIV Holy Bible For Girls, Journal Edition

NIV Holy Bible for Girls, Journal Edition
Zondervan Publishing
Price: $29.99
Ages: 12 and up

From the Website:
The NIV Holy Bible for Girls, Journal Edition is the prefect way to apply Scripture to your everyday life.  Designed with the thoughtful writer in mind, a whimsical cover and journaling lines inspire reflection in God's Word.  This Bible contains the full text of the bestselling New International Version (NIV) translation.

Features include:
     * Lines on each page for journaling and notes
     *Thick paper perfect for any writing utensil
     * A presentation page for gift giving
     * A "How to Use This Bible" page to get started on the right foot
     * Ribbon Marker
     * The complete text of the bestselling New International Version (NIV)

What I thought...
First, I am not sure what I was expecting, but this was a surprise for me...I sort of thought there would be space to write your own notes and doodles, but I thought there might be a few things you could color.  NOPE...there are just lines on all of the margins.  The lines are grey, so they don't POP out at can definitely see them, but it is not the focus.  The margins are NICE AND WIDE!  I LOVE this feature.  From the edge of the text to the edge of the page, there is potentially 2 1/8 inches of usable space.  The lines are about 1 5/8 inches wide.  Some books have more potentially usable space because of the layout of the passage...say Psalms, for instance.  In one place, there is about 3 1/2 inches of space between the edge of the text and the page.  This is a HUGE bonus if you like writing in your Bible.  I have notes crammed in all over the place in my Bible.

The website says that the pages are thicker, perfect for any writing utensil.  I would test this before I went crazy with this.  They do feel SLIGHTLY thicker than a normal page, but not by much. I tested it with a Pilot Precise Rolling ball pen and can see some from the back...I don't think it bled through the page, but you can definitely see shadowing.

There is a page in the front, giving a few journaling prompts to help you get started, a presentation page and a table of weights and measures.  The cover is beautiful with some foil detailing...elegant, but not over the top girly!  There is an elastic band to keep all your things from falling out.  There is not a concordance in here.  I personally find a concordance so helpful, even if it is small.  That is the one thing I would change about this Bible.

Overall, I am very happy with what this Bible offers!  This one is going to my daughter...Shhh...don't tell!

* I received this product in exchange for a frank and honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Your results and/or opinions may vary.

NIV Wonders of Creation Bible

Wonders of Creation Bible
Zondervan Publishing
Price: $24.99
Ages: About 7 and up

From the back of the Bible:
With detailed black and white illustrations of amazing animals, landscapes and other wonders of creation, this Bible features over 50 ready-to-color pages alongside the full text of the New International Version (NIV) translation

Features Include:
     *Lay-flat binding made for the perfect coloring experience
     *Over 50 pages of black and white illustrations ready to be colored
     *Key verses called out of each coloring page
     * Full text of the bestselling New International Version translation
     *Presentation page for gift giving
     * Ribbon marker

So, what I thought about the Wonders of Creation Bible
First, I am much happier that this is an NIV edition.  I am not a fan of the NIrV translation...and while the NIV can be controversial, it is the translation that I have found the most helpful for my children's needs.
Then, the next thing I noticed was the colorful cover.  This Bible grabs your attention with the cover.

There are a LOT of coloring pages in this Bible.  They are sprinkled in sets of about 4 every so many pages throughout the text of the Bible.  Each picture has a verse on it, but the verses do not line up with where the picture is in relation to the text.  In one chunk, you might have one verse from Philippians and another from Genesis...and that set might be placed in 1 Samuel.  The binding of the Bible does seem to lie flat, no matter where you are in the text.  I really appreciate this feature, not just for coloring or writing in the Bible, but just in case you are juggling a Bible, sermon outline or Bible Study paper and don't have a table to lay it on.  The coloring pages, on the other hand, might stick up at first and you may need to smooth them down a little by running your hand across the inside of the spine.

The coloring pages appear to be pretty intricate, so it is difficult to attach an age to this.  I selected 7, because I think it would appeal to that age, but they might become frustrated with the detailing.  I know that I am not able to color on pages like this for long periods of time myself, and find I need to come back to a page another time.  I think that middle school students would enjoy the coloring, but might find it a little embarrassing to carry this Bible in a public setting if their friends give them grief about it...that should not be a marker for what we do, but I just thought I would mention it.  Again, it was hard to put an age on this.

The text of the Bible is a good size for younger eyes...even my older eyes could read without much trouble.  The margins are VERY NARROW it does not appear there is much room to write in it.  I am not sure how much those who would use this actually write in a Bible, so I don't think this is really much of a problem.

There is a table of weights and measures in the back, but NO CONCORDANCE or DICTIONARY.  I think these features would greatly add to this Bible.  I use the small concordance in the back of my Bible ALL THE TIME!
The text of the Bible has paper of the normal weight of regular Bible pages, the coloring pages are slightly thicker.   This does cause you to turn to passages in chunks as the coloring pages are placed.  The illustrations are on both sides of the paper, with the middle pages being a two page spread.

Overall, I think this would be a good Bible for a girl (because of the colors/design on the cover) who loves to color!

* I received this product in exchange for a frank and honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Your results and/or opinions may vary.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Garden of Eden Coloring Book

Garden of Eden
Beautiful Bible Scenes to Color and Inspire
Zondervan Publishing
Illustrated by Paulo Ney Debs
Cost: $12.99
Ages: 8 and up

Coloring has been proven to be a stress relieving activity for so many, it's no wonder that coloring books abound in the stores.  Many enthusiastic artists relish the feeling of cracking open a new box of crayons or picking up a box or tin of colored pencils.  If that describes you, you might really enjoy this book.

Garden of Eden: Beautiful Bible Scenes to Color and Inspire is a collection of  80 drawings that give one artist's idea of what this classic Bible account would look like.  Beginning at Genesis 1:1 and going through to Genesis 3, there is a wide variation of drawings to color for all ages.  Some of the drawings are simple and realistic, others are more detailed and artistic.  Most of the pages include a Scripture reference.

 Illustrations are on both sides of the page and the pages are about 10"x 10".  While 10" x !0" is not a traditional frame size, with a mat, you could make a 12x12" frame work if you wanted to frame...BUT, the pictures are on both sides AND SOME LAYOUTS are two page this might be difficult if you enjoy framing pages.

Also, the paper is a nice thickness...but because the drawings are on both sides, bleeding might occur if you are using an art medium that is more wet...say markers.  You should not have any troubles if you plan on using crayons or pencils.

Another thing that was a little bit of an issue for me was the binding...being a lefty, the binding felt a little chunky and the book didn't stay open unless I cracked the binding a little by running my hand over the inside of the spine a little.  Coloring close to the binding could be a little bit of an issue as well.

* I received this above mentioned product is exchange for a frank and honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Your results and/or opinions may vary.

Miracle in Music City

Faith Girlz: Glimmer Girls Series
 Miracle in Music City
Written by Natalie Grant
Illustrated by Cathi Mingus
ZonderKidz Publishing
Ages: about 7-12
Cost: $8.99

Miracle in Music City is Natalie Grant's third book in the Glimmer Girls series, and my favorite so far.  The Glimmer girls seem to stumble upon a mystery of some sort each time we join them on their adventures.
This time, the story takes place in Music City and centers upon the historic Grand Ole Opry.  The Glimmer family is heading up a benefit to raise money for a local homeless shelter.  Mr. and Mrs. Glimmer bring their children, Maddie, Mia and Lulu, in to show them they they are not too young to give back to their community.  Gloria Glimmer is a singer who travels around the world. The girls often get to accompany their parents and experience things other children never get the opportunity to do.  Miracle in Music City brings up the issue of homelessness in a way that makes if personal for these young girls.
The Glimmer Girls have a motto: "Glimmer girls sparkle and shine...but most of all, they are kind."  That message of kindness is really a theme in this book and I love the way that so many difficult issues are dealt with in the book.  I won't give any spoilers, but if you have a tween girl...I think they will enjoy this book. Probably my favorite message in this book has to do with having the right heart attitude for all we do in life.
The illustrations are simple and sweet, but there are not a lot, so it doesn't detract from the story line.  This could be a pro or con, depending on your preference.

* I received a copy of the above mentioned product to help facilitate the writing of a frank and honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Your results and/or opinions may vary.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Blessings & Gratitude

Blessings & Gratitude

During November in the United States, we tend to be more intentional about being thankful. We KNOW it is something we should all do more often, but in the busyness of life, what is urgent is what often gets our attention. I want to challenge you to look for ways to be grateful to God daily, rather than at one time of the year.
Here are four ways you can begin to implement gratitude into your routine.
Gratitude: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

In Song:

Sing Praises to the Lord, thankful for His loving watch care over you. Matt Redmond’s song, “10,000 Reasons” is a great example of this as it encourages the listeners to name God’s faithfulness in praise each and every day of their lives and recall the many reasons to keep recounting His praises forever.
“You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find…”

In Word:

There is a popular book out (actually it has been out for a while now) called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, that challenges us to “Live Life Fully Right Where You Are.” In this book, we discover that as we “express gratitude to God for what we have, we find that we already have the life that we have always wanted.” I haven't read this book, but I know it is pretty popular with many.  A couple of years ago, I took Ann’s Joy Dare and chronicled 3 gifts for each day for one year. Some of those things were VERY EASY to jot down. Some needed more thoughtful reflection, but some came with many tears as it was a season of hard things. Through that exercise though, I found peace, I found a deeper relationship with God as I recounted His faithfulness to me, I found great joy and a stronger faith as those became memorial stones for me.

In Deed:

Do something kind for someone or fill a need just because of what God has done for you.   Prepare a meal, send a card, make a phone call, buy a gift, or help with a chore. There are so many ways this could be done…think about what you do well or pay attention for what is needed and then bless another in Jesus’ name and for His sake. Sometimes, just knowing someone cares or is thinking about us helps us in ways we might never really understand. I try to keep stocked up on Freezer Meals, just so I have something prepared if a need arises. Taco Soup is one recipe that is easy to get into the freezer and most people have really enjoyed it

In Prayer:

My prayers can get dry, repetitive and all about me. A tool I use from time to time is the acronym ACTS to help me get my eyes off of myself and focused on worshipping God. You can use this method to pray using Scripture as your starting point or you can just use it as you step through your prayer time. Another method is to use your fingers to step you through your prayer. I have seen a few of these through the years, but I liked this one from Bob Young.
  • Thumb: pray for those closest to you
  • Pointing finger: pray for those who guide us: teachers, doctors, counselors, mentors
  • Middle finger (tallest one): pray for those who lead us: government, civic, and business leaders, police and firefighters
  • Ring finger (weakest one): pray for those who are weak: the poor, sick, disabled, infants, homeless, the powerless, the persecuted
  • Pinkie (the smallest, the least): Pray for myself
This year, let us be a people of God, filled with gratitude; and when people ask why we overflow with such joy, we have the opportunity to share with them the wonder of our Glorious God!

Originally Posted at Home and School Mosaics

Monday, October 3, 2016

This Beautiful Life

This Beautiful Life

One of my dear friends is just so very lovely that I want to be her when I grow up! She makes her home so warm and inviting, is an amazing hostess, she’s creative, plays the harp, and is just plain fun! My dear friend has written a book that is just so amazing that I wanted to tell you about it! It is so lovely to look at and is so useful in helping me keep my priorities in place. Let me just walk you through it.
The book is called This Beautiful Life: A Priorities Journal for the Christian Woman. It is divided into five main sections: Vision, Nurture, Focus, Growth, and Celebrate. Chloe takes you from the big picture of what you want your life to look like, has you break that into things you want to intentionally work on, and then has you document the growth steps taken each month. I knew this was a FANTASTIC tool for me as I wanted certain things to be areas that I purposed to continually work on throughout the year. It is so easy to set goals and then never revisit them. This tool has me frequently revisiting the things that are important to me. I will give some brief glimpses into this marvelous book and hope that it is something that you might find useful as well.
So we begin with a prayer of dedication. You might be able to sit down and know exactly what you want to say or you may prayerfully consider it for a few days or even weeks. I got one of these books in February and just got around to writing mine down in early April. While this is a vital step, I felt like I hit the ground running with a bit of a late start so I dug right in to the places that were easier for me and really tried to prayerfully consider what I wanted to say here.
In the Vision section, there are many sweet tidbits, but the meat and potatoes of it for me is The Big Five page. This is where you list the five priorities that are those areas you want to focus on. Why five you ask? Chloe has an amazing post on this hereI had already chosen my five areas, but this clarity helped me solidify that these were the right five for me for this year. Who knows…this list could change or it could remain very much the same from year to year. Your list will be as unique as you are, but to give you an idea of what this could look like, my five are Faith, Family, Friends, Field (work, profession, employment related) and Fun (the creative things I often do not make time for or those things that bring joy). Once I had begun, I liked the fact that all of my five began with the same letter. There are two more topics that are on the outskirts here…Fitness and Finances. I am leaving them there, because these are the things that are MOST important to me at this time.
I am going to skip over the Nurture section (not because it is lacking, but I want you to discover some of the treasures of this book yourself) and move to the Focus section. This is the area to take each one of your five priorities and note your desire, what it looks like at its best, what it looks like right now and some steps you can take to make the reality become the desired outcome. This section is a work in progress for me as I am taking the time to think, pray, and dream about what this would look like for me.
Growth is next and this is where you can write down the successes you have had in each area each month. This is the part where talk becomes the walk. Some of the things I have written here are the smallest of baby steps, sometimes nothing has been gained, but I am being very focused day by day as I think on these things and stepping closer to what I want these things to look like.
There are so many more parts to this wonderful little book, but I do want there to be some sweet surprises for you if you choose to get one of these for yourself (by the way, I am not getting any compensation for these comments…I love this book and want to share it because I find it helpful personally). One thing that makes this book so lovely is that Chloe has done all the sweet artwork and made it so beautiful that you really want to keep working in it. I did not want to write in it in the beginning, but got over that fairly quickly. I often throw this in my purse or in my bag as I am out and just jot down a couple of things as they come to mind. I do have more to get done in this, but I am ok with that too. I just want to add one quick thing – this HAS to be a walk of grace for me, not a legalistic box of do’s and don’t’s. There are enough places for me to see where I fall short. This has to be a safe place where I am stretching for growth, but can back up if it is too much at this time.
I have really loved this little journal. A beautiful place where I can keep my First Things, FIRST! What would your BIG FIVE be?

This was originally posted at Home and School Mosaics

Monday, September 12, 2016

Seasons of Busyness

Seasons of Busyness

This past year was the YEAR OF WAY TOO BUSY! I started this school year with three part time jobs and two extra children (not to mention Orchestra, Band & Choir, Speech Club, Co-op, Bible Study and AWANA).   I woke up tired and went to bed even more tired. We were getting hardly ANY school work done; and I knew I could not keep up this pace for too long, but wasn’t sure what would have to give. It is so easy to say yes to everything before we have counted the cost. If you find yourself on this same end of crazy, I hope you are looking for ways to get out of some of your commitments or to slow down, but here are some tips to get through it.
— Organization is KEY: Developing a plan is essential to keeping your head on your shoulders during a busy season.   This will look different for different families, but calendars, meal planning, budgets, cleaning schedules and lesson plans can be included in this category. The more time I spent in this category, the better things went for me. ESPECIALLY with meal planning. If dinner is taken care of, ALL IS WELL!   Have you heard about the Bullet Journal method? This is a system that I am just beginning to implement. I am a pen and paper girl trapped in a digital world. I LOVE this system. I’ll let you know how it goes.

–Focus is VITAL: Keeping the important things in their proper place is so very important. We get trapped in putting out the fires of the urgent while the important slips by. Why answer the phone in the middle of a conversation with your teenager? That phone ringing is grabbing our attention away from a conversation that could turn into something that could never be recreated. I have a precious friend who has created a beautiful little book to help us keep these first things FIRST…I will talk more about it next month, but it is a sweet little book that I highly recommend. You can find This Beautiful Life here. This wonderful tool helps me keep focused on those things I want to intentionally keep front and center.
–Simplifying Life is ESSENTIAL: This is not the time to make things more difficult than they are. When I was at the busiest in this season, I was making things as easy as possible. Easy meals, easy cleaning schedule, easy lesson plans (If you could really call them that…school consisted of all the extra things. Co-op, Band, Choir, Speech, Home Ec). This was not the time to introduce Latin, sew everyone’s clothing and cook gourmet, multi-course meals. The crock pot was my best friend, with freezer meals a close second.This was one of my favorite meals in this season.
–Teamwork is IMPERATIVE: I cannot stress enough what a blessing my family has been to me in this season of busyness. They have, of course, ALWAYS been a blessing, but when the pressure is applied, you find out the stuff you are all made of. My family really came together and were exceedingly helpful doing chores, meal prep, holding babies, and just really taking care of all the things that needed getting done. One of our favorite methods for getting things accomplished is the Job Jar. Many hands make light work!
–Clearing the Calendar is CRUCIAL: I know I cannot keep up this pace forever, and have already taken steps to slow things down a bit. I have quit one job, and the hours on another job have cut back significantly. We are evaluating our out-of-the-house activities to see if there are any that do not make the cut for next year. Some of these decisions may be very difficult to make, but insanity is ugly and I am closer to it than I want to admit. I see the light at the end of the tunnel though as some things are coming to an end. School books have been dusted off and are being cracked open and the lesson plans are singing with completed work being checked off. Now that we have a driver in the house, I am able to have that child run errands and be the taxi a little more, so that I can be home attending to things only I can do. I know that you cannot get rid of everything and you may need to continue in a season of busyness longer than I have done so far, this too, will look different for each family. Prayerfully consider the things that remain on the calendar and see if they align with the goals you have for your family. So many things look good, are beneficial, but do not accomplish what you desire.
–Taking Care of You is REQUIRED: Seasons of busyness are sometimes unavoidable. If you find yourself in one, try to make sure you are taking care of yourself. Get plenty of sleep, eat as healthy as possible, try to exercise at least a little, do something to pour into yourself. Living off energy drinks and four hours of sleep a night will not be a sustainable lifestyle for very long. You need true energy and stamina to get through this season.
Hopefully, all these tips will help you get through your season of busyness too!

(*This was written ALMOST 2 years ago and it is not at all lost on me that I could say the very same thing past school year as this year that I was writing about!  I am planning on taking my own advice this year!  Keep me to it, OK?)

Originally Posted at Home and School Mosaics