Sunday, November 23, 2014

Review and GIVEAWAY!: The Song: A Couple's Journey to Awaken Love in Their Marriage by Kyle and Desirae Idleman

**And the winner is....Facebook commenter Ashley Peacock!  Thanks to everyone for your comments and for stopping by!**

I am so excited to have the opportunity to review a couple's devotional based on the book of Song of Solomon in the Bible. This devotion is also connected with the movie, "The Song" which was released in 2014.  "The Song" is a full length movie that is a resource for churches to explore God's plan for relationships, love, and marriage.

This couple's devotional is a 6-week book for couples that can help awaken love in their marriages.  With daily relationship insights and prayer points drawn from the Song of Solomon, this devotional will help couples grow in their relationship with God and one another.

My thoughts:  There were several factors that made me want to review this devotion, but one was that I thought it would be very beneficial to my husband and I.  Let's face it...we live a busy life, as most people do. We have small children, I am homeschooling and ministering as a homemaker, and my husband is also busy as an associate pastor.  Even for us, who love God's Word and want to grow in our relationship with each other, it's hard to find the time to sit down and have a time of communication.  This devotion really meets couples like us right where we are.  The lessons are short but filled with truth.  They are very applicable to the struggles that are common in marriage today and address them in an appealing way.  There are 5 lessons for each week that often begin with an illustration or story.  Then it moves on to a verse in Song of Solomon and has a "Bridge" where the verse is applied to everyday life.  There are also some exercises that couples can do together to build their marriage.  A quote that I liked in week 1 says:

"The people of Solomon's day believed and understood a basic reality: all truth is God's truth....There is no way to know what love is and to experience it fully apart from God."

If you are struggling in your marriage or experiencing marital bliss....this devotion is applicable to wherever you are in your walk with your spouse and the Lord.

Another aspect of this devotion that appealed to me is the authors, Kyle Idleman and his wife, DesiRae.  I had previously attended a book study at our church that Idleman authored called, "Not a Fan," and thought it was fantastic.  I knew that this devotion would be solidly based on Biblical truths, and it is.

Idleman is the Teaching Pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, the fourth largest church in America.  Author of the award-winning and bestselling book, "Not a Fan", and presenter of eight of City on a Hill's curriculum series, he regularly speaks at conferences and events around the world. Kyle and his wife DesiRae have four children.

It's my pleasure to be able to offer one of you A FREE COPY OF THIS DEVOTION!  Stop by and comment here on my blog post or on my facebook link and you will be entered into the drawing that will take place next Sunday, November 30th.  

More resources:
*Here is a resource page connected with the devotion
*Check out The Song movie on Facebook
I thought I would also give you a peek at the movie trailer:

God bless!

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Reviewer's Bookshelf: The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen

Book Summary: Abigail Foster fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry to improve her charms and the one man she thought might marry her--a longtime friend--has fallen for her younger, prettier sister. 
When financial problems force her family to sell their London home, a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll's house left mid-play . . . 

The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem to know something about the manor's past, the only information they offer Abigail is a warning: Beware trespassers who may be drawn by rumors that Pembrooke contains a secret room filled with treasure. 

Hoping to improve her family's financial situation, Abigail surreptitiously searches for the hidden room, but the arrival of anonymous letters addressed to her, with clues about the room and the past, bring discoveries even more startling. As secrets come to light, will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks...or very real danger? (image and synopsis from Goodreads)

My Thoughts: From the beginning of this novel, there was a foreshadowing of some kind of misfortune or darkness ahead.  Abigail and her family have lost their financial status due to some poor investment choices, and it seems that the offer of Pembrooke Park for their family to stay in is too good to be true.  When Abigail and her father arrive, invited by a mysterious solicitor, the house almost seems haunted by the past.  This sets the tone of most of the novel.  There are secrets, mysterious events that can't be explained, and Abigail thinks she hears and sees someone moving through the rooms in the house.  I have to admit, I do most of my reading at night and I was feeling the shivers up my spine!  There was definitely an element of suspense that I liked.  I appreciated the fact that there were several different factors that kept me turning the pages of this novel.  

The suspense was good, but so was the romantic element.  I've observed that in several of Klassen's novels, there is more than one worthy gentleman that could capture the heroine's heart.  The same is true in this novel.  Each of the gentlemen had his strengths and weaknesses.  This added to the tension in the novel as I couldn't honestly predict who Abigail would end up with in the end.  There were also some nice romantic moments between Abigail and one young gentleman.  It created a nice balance of intense suspense and tender romance.  

There were several plots going on throughout the novel.  I felt that Klassen resolved and explained them well, with the exception of the man in the green cloak.  Without spoiling the ending, I will say that you find out some of the details behind this character, but I would've like to know much more.  It seemed to be wrapped up without really knowing many details.  

I also felt that the point of view jumped around a lot.  In the prologue and epilogue, there was a first person perspective, but throughout the body of the novel the perspective often jumped around.  I did receive an advanced reader copy, so there may be some indicators in the final copy of when the perspective is going to change, but it was a little confusing at times while I was reading.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the plot and the characters in this novel.   The element of suspense was well done and the balance of that with the romantic tension created a page turner.  

Happy reading!

DISCLAIMER: In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” we would like to note that we received an electronic copy of “The Secret of Pembrooke Park”provided by the publishers, Bethany House, through in exchange for our honest review.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

At the halfway mark! Classical Conversations Cycle 3, week 12: General Robert E. Lee, blood, Appalachian Mtns and more

This will be our last week of CC until after the new year!  Hard to believe that the holidays are upon us, but I must confess this is my favorite time of year.  We'll still be doing school work after this week and probably going back and doing a few review activities/fun things that we didn't get to with CC since school started.  I'm glad that we've been doing so well this year and still chugging along with not too much burnout : ).

History: Robert E. Lee
This week is basically highlighting Lee's surrender during the Civil War, so we'll still be able to go back and do a few Civil War activities that I mentioned last week.  I also thought it would be fun to have a night that I cooked a meal with recipes that date back to or were popular during Civil War times.  Here are few things I've found:

I thought this was pretty neat!  Mary Todd Lincoln's Vanilla Almond Cake recipe...I think we need to try this one!

*Several Civil War recipes and history behind cooking during this time
*Confederate Johnnie Cakes
*Lots of Civil War info, including Civil War generals, food, battles, and other info.
*Info about Lee and free coloring sheets (right click on the image you want, save the image to your computer, then go to the image and print)
*Blog post on Lee's surrender with some nice pictures
*Robert E. Lee biography:
*I have several more Civil War recipe pins on Pinterest under "Classical Conversations Cycle 3"

Science: purposes of the blood
*short video singing the purposes
*Magic School Bus Goes Cellular ...I haven't watched it all the way through, so I'm not sure how applicable it will be but my kids love MSB, so either way they'll enjoy it : )

Latin: John 1:1
*This video is for weeks you'll be using it for a while! : )

Geography: Appalachian Mountains
*The music is not my favorite, but it does help highlight the geography stuff.  It starts with last week's features.

Hope all of you have a great week!  I probably won't do my regular CC posts until we start with Week 13 after the holidays, but I will post any fun activities we decide to do during the holidays : ).

Monday, November 3, 2014

Reviewer's Bookshelf: The Bound Heart by Dawn Crandall

Book Summary: One accidental kiss. That was all it took to throw Meredyth Summercourt's world upside-down. Determined to marry the ever-elusive Vance Everstone, she simply doesn't have the time or the desire to fall for her friend Lawry Hampton. However, with Vance out of the country and Lawry constantly at her side, Meredyth can’t help but wonder if what’s holding her to Vance is nothing more than a desire to redeem herself from their unfortunate past. 

When Vance comes home to stake his claim on Meredyth, will she be strong enough to break free from the tangled web she’s convinced she deserves? Or will she find the strength to accept that God’s plan for her life could include redemption... and quite possibly the love of her best-friend? (from Goodreads)

My thoughts:My impression of Meredyth when I read Crandall's first novel, The Hesitant Heiress, was of a girl who was always close friends with a gentleman but never entered into any kind of courtship. She had brothers so she could relate to men easily, and was always comfortable around them. I loved that this book explores all that's inside of Meredyth and how her actual experience with a man has shaped who she's become. We were only able to get to know the outward impression of Meredyth from others in the first novel of the series, but in this novel, we're able to see all of her struggles and the depths of her heart.

I commend Dawn Crandall for doing an excellent job of using the first person perspective in both novels in this series. It took me straight into the heart of the character, and there were times when I felt as if I were experiencing her emotions right along with her. The title for this novel is perfect, as well, for Meredyth's heart is certainly bound in more ways than one. 

Meredyth has admired Vance Everstone from a distance for years, and when he seems to be returning her affections, Meredyth is caught up in the moment. When Vance takes advantage of her, Meredyth is scarred for life. But instead of being repulsed by him, she feels bound to him. She is physically and emotionally connected and can't break free. She is, however, desperate for freedom, but can't will herself to accept it from anyone, even God. At one point she thinks that freedom can only come if Vance rejects her. This roller coaster journey is at times heart wrenching. I wanted Meredyth to experience love that is honorable and true, not this false sense of love that was more like a prison. 

And then there's Lawry. Oh Lawry. He is a true representation of a gentleman. He is kind and persistent, wooing Meredyth with a love that is not self-centered. Meredyth has been oppressed for so long she thinks Lawry's love is just too good for her.  He gently pursues her and offers her a gift that means even more than his love....grace and acceptance.

The Bound Heart is not just a romantic love story, although I really enjoyed that aspect of it, but a story of forgiveness, unconditional love, and redemption. Meredyth's journey is a great representation of how we are before we experience freedom in Christ. We are bound by the sins we have committed, but through Christ we can experience a joyous release from all that holds us captive. I will confess, I did shed a tear or two : ). 

I would definitely recommend The Bound Heart, as well as Crandall's first novel, The Hesitant Heiress. 

*I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this novel from the publisher in order to give an unbiased review.*  

Be sure to stop by Dawn's blog, for updates, giveaways, and more!  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Back on track...Cycle 3, week 11: The Civil War and the endocrine system...Oh...and there's a bit about my Austen obsession : )

I'm going to start with what's on my mind right little Austen obsession : ).  I have loved Pride and all versions...for quite some time.  And last week I just happened to run across a Masterpiece Mystery! series entitled "Death Comes to Pemberly".  This series is based on a novel written by crime writer P.D. James, and I was immediately sucked in to this fantastically done sequel to Pride and Prejudice.  I'm kind of giddy after watching it :D.  Yes...I know...cray cray. But seriously, if you're an Austen will probably enjoy it!

Eeek!  Yes, it was really good.  : ) on to our week of school!

History: Civil War
I know before I even get started that there is a TON of stuff on the Civil War.  So I'm just going to hit some of the highlights.
*Four free worksheets from
*Instructions on how to make Civil War hard tack...looks like a fun activity!
*I looked up second grade civil war worksheets on and got a few good ones pop up : ).  You can search for other grades or topics.
*Good resource for top ten interesting facts and a printable for the Civil War (I LOVE this one...great info, condensed, and there is a flip style organizer you can print)
*Civil War blog created by a kid who is interested in the Civil War
*Love the "Horrible Histories" videos : )
*Liberty's Kids video "Conflict in the South"...definitely watching that one!  My kiddos LOVE Liberty's Kids!

I'm going to move on...but like I said, there are lots of ideas.  I also printed timeline cards from Teachers Pay Teachers when I bought some for the Revolutionary we'll probably do those, too.

Science: the endocrine system
*I have some personal experience with this, as I had thyroid cancer in 2012...and no longer have a thyroid.  We'll probably talk about that this week.

Here's a nice graphic to explain some of the different parts of the endocrine system.

This is probably about all we'll do for the endocrine system....just go over the graphic above.

Geography: Appalachian Mountains

Here's one map I found to show where the different mountain ranges are located.

Have a great week!