Starting Strong (Growing A Strong Marriage) Volume 1

Publisher’s Summary

Just as Christ transforms individuals from the inside out, he is also working on the heart of your marriage. Through this video Bible study series, learn to cultivate and enjoy a beautiful marriage that’s rooted and grounded in Christ. Because whether you have been married for a few years or thirty years, there is always room to grow!

In Starting Strong (Volume 1), learn about the importance of cultivating a strong and solid biblical foundation. The candid, never-before-seen video interviews with your favorite marriage experts will help you explore what it means to have shared vision, unity, and belief in your spouse, as well as how to find your true identity in Jesus. Through touching and personal stories, timeless wisdom, and sage advice, you’ll glean spiritual understanding and inspiration for a lifetime of marriage.

Four DVD sessions, ranging from 8 to 20 minutes long, feature touching interviews and personal advice from John and Staci Eldredge, Chip and Theresa Ingram, Gordon and Gail MacDonald, Les and Leslie Parrott, Art and Lysa TerKeurst plus Gary and Lisa Thomas.

My Review

Let’s not kid ourselves. Marriage and love are hard work. They each require a constant daily commitment to dedicate ourselves to consciously affirm we love our spouse and are going to stay in the marriage. Starting Strong (Growing A Strong Marriage)
Volume 1, 
is a great resource, regardless of where you are in your marriage or how long you have been married.

The booklet and DVD are best if used together, as they complement each other. The DVD gives us a peek at six couples beginning with their adult lives from when and where they met and through their marriage years. One couple, Gordon and Gail MacDonald, reminded me of my parents. The MacDonalds met, were engaged three weeks after meeting, married after only knowing each other for four months and have been married for over 50 years. My Mom and Dad met and married after only knowing each other for just over three months. Their marriage lasted 57 years and only ended due to my Mom’s death.

One aspect of the DVD and study guide that will touch home is its teaching that marriages can go through three cycles-Isolation, Drifting and Oneness. It’s so easy, as the couples recounted, to fall into drifting because of the busyness and business of life. This leads to a roommate type situation and sets the couple up for the feelings of isolation. I think the couples summed up the purpose of a Christian marriage well. Marriage is meant to teach us to love, to be holy and to model our role as the Bride of Christ.

Any couple, regardless of whether they are newly engaged or married for many years, will get a lot from this study.

I received a free copy of Starting Strong (Growing A Strong Marriage) Volume 1, to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of The CWA Review Crew.

Advertisements

Friday Flashback-Cultivating a Heart of Thanks

Have you ever known or had someone close to you (or maybe been the person yourself) that gripes and grouses about everything? Literally EVERYTHING?

There is someone (not in my immediate family) that is never, ever happy with anything. If you get them a present-you paid too much or it wasn’t what they wanted. If you take them out to eat-it takes too long to be seated or tastes lousy. If you clean their house-you didn’t sweep up all the dirt or remember to clean the front porch. If you do their laundry-you used too much detergent or not enough, etc.

You get the picture-there is ALWAYS something wrong. A deeply ingrained sense of entitlement causes the kind acts of others to feel as if it those acts were the least they could possibly do. Therefore, the slightest flaw in their attempts at kindness causes those attempts to inevitably fall short.

It took me a long, long time to realize that the complaining and grousing were not really about what was or wasn’t right. It was about the complainer not being happy with themself. This inherent unhappiness clouds everything and makes it impossible to see the good.

How sad. There are so many things to be happy about in the situations mentioned above. When you are on the receiving end of all the complaining and negativity, it is really challenging to want to continue with giving the person your time, energy and gifts.

I can’t truthfully say I haven’t fallen victim to negative thoughts and emotions, so this isn’t a condemnation of the previously mentioned person. It’s more of a warning, mostly to myself. I am around this person almost daily, and it is very easy for my depression-prone, health challenged, physically worn out self to fall into the negative, ungrateful trap.

I’m choosing to try, starting today, to be more grateful and to rely on the following verses to encourage me to be thankful and to love others. Even though the person isn’t my enemy (as referenced in two of the following verses), I plan to still give gifts, as I’m able.

Psalm 118:24 This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Proverbs 25:21, 22 If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee.

Romans 12:20, 21 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

(Revised and updated from original published in 2013)

Friday Flashback-Pumpkin Cupcakes and Complacency

We made pumpkin cupcakes the other day. I needed help with the frosting and asked for he who shall remain unnamed to help me.

Problem was, I was mixing and stirring the ingredients diligently but the frosting wasn’t coming together, it was basically remaining nothing but sugar, and floating all over the room. The more I tried to mix, the worse it got! I added a little more butter and still nothing but sugar-it just wouldn’t turn into frosting. I questioned several times if that was all the directions said and though assured, most vehemently the last time, that “Yes that was all!” it was NOT WORKING!

I decided to skip the never-ending stirring of powdered sugar in the quest for frosting and read the directions myself. You guessed it, there was more, only not in line with the first part. I added the 2 teaspoons of water and lo and behold-pumpkin frosting appeared! I completed the icing, frosted the cupcakes and even though they were very buttery flavored they were still good.

This reminded me of our Christian life in so many ways.

We have the basics of what to do and how to live our lives and we go on day by day trying to get it to come together. We think perhaps if we add a little more kindness to the mix it will work. (Or humility, or love or whatever else we struggle with.) Very seldom thinking of the instruction book God gave us in the form of the Bible.

I’m not saying we don’t read our Bible or pray over what we have read. Instead, I am saying that in our normal day-to-day living we seldom consider making true adjustments to what we are doing incorrectly. Because let’s face it, slightly powdery frosting is still sweet, right? It’s just not quite, what we or anyone else was expecting.

(Originally published on 1/11/2013)

A Quick Notice

Barbour Publishing, Inc., just announced that Devotions for the Hungry Heart will be free until 2/27/18. It is available on all e-book platforms!!

Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, Author at All Things Southern, newest devotional, Devotions for the Hungry Heart is on eBook special!

The Battle Plan Prayer Journal by Stephen Kendrick and‎ Alex Kendrick

My Review

The Battle Plan Prayer Journal, modeled after the one used in the movie, The War Room, comes in two sizes, the stationery size, which is 3.7 x 0.6 x 5.7 inches and weighs 3.2 ounces, or the paperback size which is 5.1 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches and weighs 6.4 ounces. Mine is the smaller of the two.

The Battle Plan is bound in a soft brown, suede-like material. What I like about it is the size. It is perfect for carrying in a purse. It could possibly even fit in a pocket.

Although it is mostly pages that are lined, there are several introductory pages, followed by pages for prayer requests with space for the date of the request and when it was answered, along with a Bible verse. On the opposite side is a space for journaling. Also, there are sections divided into specific types of prayers. For example, prayers for each day of the week with ideas for what to pray for, prayers of adoration, prayers of confession, etc. The book ends with guided prayers, such as prayers for the workday, prayers for forgiving someone and for someone sick in the hospital, to name a few. There are little nuggets scattered throughout – things like the meaning of the cross-hairs, scripture to pray and guided prayer.

One warning, though, if you get the stationery size, the lines are very small-scale, and there is not much room to write. Nonetheless, it’s perfect for tucking prayer requests in the back pocket of the book or for tracking your prayers.

I received the book from Lifeway. However, I was under no obligation to write a review.

Publisher’s Summary

The Battle Plan Prayer Journal provides users with a prayer planning, execution, and tracking resource that they can carry with them no matter where they go. The journal is small enough to fit in a pocket or purse, but sturdy enough to last through a hardback cover, elastic closure, and ribbon. The content is far from plain lined sheets and instead provides the user with guided prayer prompts, prayer request organization, scripture reminders, answered prayer tracking, and more.

 

Devotions for the Hungry Heart: Chasing Jesus Six Days from Sunday by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

My Review

Shellie Rushing Tomlinson’s book. Devotions for the Hungry Heart: Chasing Jesus Six Days from Sunday, is a delightful devotional.

The book features 20 weeks running Monday through Saturday. Each week has a personal anecdote to illustrate each of the days with Monday being titled-A Hungry Heart Is Surrendered, Tuesday-A Hungry Heart Is Intentional, Wednesday-A Hungry Heart Is Praying, Thursday-A Hungry Heart Is Celebrating, Friday-A Hungry Heart Is Needy and Saturday-A Hungry Heart Is Sharing. Every devotional is short, only 1 to 1 ½ pages and ends with a Bible verse. Also, included in the middle section is a short, colorfully illustrated set of recipes.

I enjoyed reading Devotions for the Hungry Heart. However, there are 4 caveats: 1) the pages are not a pure white, but more of a dusky color, 2) the color of the text is a blue-green color (almost a turquoise or teal), 3) the verse at the end the day’s devotion is a golden or gilded color and 4) this is not an in-depth study, but more of an ending for your daily devotional. The first three things make it a little difficult to read. Nonetheless, it is well worth the effort.

Tomlinson writes in a folksy, sharing a cup of coffee kind of way that I enjoyed. I am sure she would attribute it to her Southern roots, as she does for many aspects of the book. Her stories made me wish I knew her or that she was a neighbor of mine.

I received this book from Barbour Publishing and NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

This simple little book of story-based devotions will change your world, one day at a time.

“Whether you have a healthy craving for more Jesus, or the barely discernible taste for a relationship with Him that seems beyond your reach, the glorious truth is that God put that hunger in your heart in the first place, and He is more willing to fan that flame than you or I could ever be.”
–From the Introduction

Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, the Belle of All Things Southern, is back with a devotional guide for the Jesus-hungry heart. Grounded in scripture and offered in the author’s signature storytelling style, this devotional invites you to God’s table for a continual feast. With six prominent themes including Sharing, Needing, Celebrating, Praying, Surrendering, and Being Intentional, you’ll be challenged and encouraged to develop God-honoring traits in your spiritual life.

A delightful companion book to Tomlinson’s Hungry Is a Mighty Fine Sauce, Devotions for the Hungry Heart features a bonus full-color insert featuring more than a dozen mouthwatering recipes plus photos. You’re guaranteed to find nourishment for your body as well as your spirit!

Being Brave: A 40-Day Journey to the Life God Dreams for You by Kelly Johnson

My Review

Kelly Johnson’s book, Being Brave: A 40-Day Journey to the Life God Dreams for You, is a 40-day devotional. The book is divided, counting the introduction, into six chapters broken into daily devotionals. Each day starts with Bible verses, followed by the devotional section, consisting primarily of personal insights or anecdotes. The day’s lesson concludes with perspicacious questions and a prayer for the day. She ends the book with an invitation from God to start an adventure and Scripture references relating to fear and courage.

Kelly delves into the life of Christ and those closest to Him during the last weeks leading up to His crucifixion. She focuses on His teachings to the disciples and His bravery, courage and unimaginable love for mankind.

Being Brave provides us with the necessary means to overcome our thoughts, doubts, anxieties and apprehensions and take the actions needed to move into a more significant and personally fulfilling life of bravery.

We, as readers, are challenged and encouraged to “Be Brave,” to let go of our fears and pre-conceived ideas of ourselves and become the person God wants and intends for us to be.

I received this book from NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7 ESV)

God has made us brave, not fearful beings. In a forty-day devotional format, author and blogger Kelly Johnson invites you to consider a new way of thinking about what it means to be brave and challenges you to seek a greater intimacy with God and the people God has placed in your life.

Through Scripture, stories, prayers, and thought-provoking questions, you will recognize the seeds of divinely inspired bravery and learn the strength found in community. Using letters of the word brave as a guide, Being Brave highlights what God’s Word has to say about the characteristics of bravery: Bold, Resilient, Authentic, Vulnerable, and Engaged and Empowered by the Spirit.

Banish the fear that holds you back. You are a brave soldier!

21 Days of Grace: Stories that Celebrate God’s Unconditional Love (A Fiction Lover’s Devotional)

21 days banner

Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book

21 days book

Click to purchase

Book: 21 Days of Grace

Author: Compiled by Kathy Ide

Genre: Devotional

Release Date: March 24, 2015

Love fiction? Looking for a devotional? Check out 21 DAYS OF GRACE, book one in the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series (published by BroadStreet Publishing Group). Fictional stories followed by brief life applications written by best-selling Christian novelists and debut authors, including Angela Hunt, Cindy Woodsmall, and Deborah Raney. Great for individual or group study.

My Review

21 Days of Grace: Stories that Celebrate God’s Unconditional Love (A Fiction Lover’s Devotional), compiled by Kathy Ide, is a one of a kind devotional featuring 21 days of short fiction devotional stories written by several different authors. At the end of each story is a practical life application.

I savored each story as I read them. No two stories or life applications were the same which helped to create a greater impact when studying the book. I especially like the opportunity to delve deeper into the book by using it along with the free study guide (available here).

Each story can easily be read with your morning coffee, afternoon tea or while relaxing in your favorite chair in the evening. The stories will leave you thinking, and many will apply to your own life situation, causing you to contemplate them long after you have set the book down.

If like me, you love fiction and want a devotional that is more than two or three minutes long, then you are sure to like and enjoy reading this surprising new devotional.

I received this book free through the Celebrate Lit Blog Tour in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Kathy Ide

Kathy Ide is the author of Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors and the editor/compiler of the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series. She’s a full-time freelance editor and writing mentor, working with Christian authors of all genres at all levels. She teaches at writers’ conferences across the country and is the director of the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference and the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. She’s a co-owner of the Christian Editor Network LLC and founder of the four divisions that comprise the CEN: Christian Editor Connection, The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network, PENCON, and The PEN Institute. To find out more about Kathy, visit www.KathyIde.com

Guest Post from Kathy Ide

I’ve always loved Christian fiction, and I’ve seen the power of fiction to touch hearts and change lives, both firsthand and hearing about the experiences of others. But you know, in my quiet times with the Lord, reading a chapter from a novel just doesn’t seem quite appropriate. So a devotional with short fiction stories seemed like a great solution. And you can take these purse-sized devotionals wherever you go, to read when you have a few minutes of down time. It’s a great way to get “inspiration on the go.” And they make fantastic gifts for friends and loved ones.

Blog Stops

March 23: Reading Is My SuperPower

March 23: A Reader’s Brain

March 24: ASC Book Reviews

March 24: autism mom

March 24: It’s Storytime with Van Daniker

March 25: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner

March 25: Inklings and notions

March 26: Blossoms and Blessings

March 26: The Power of Words

March 27: Lighthouse Academy

     March 27:   http://becauseisaidsomyadventuresinparenting.blogspot.com/

March 28: Moments Dipped in Ink

March 28: A Greater Yes

March 28: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

March 29: Captive Dreams Window

March 29: Donna’s BookShelf

March 29: Southern Chelle

March 30: Pause for Tales

March 30: The Scribbler

March 31: Carpe Diem

March 31: Faithful Acres Body Soul Spirit

April 1: A Baker’s Perspective

April 1: Splashesofjoy

April 2: Christian Bookaholic

April 2: Karen Sue Hadley

April 3: Ashley’s Bookshelf

April 3: Lane Hill House

April 4: Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet

April 4: History, Mystery and Faith

April 5: God is Love

April 5: Reader’s Cozy Corner

April 5: Simple Harvest Reads

Giveaway

21 day giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Kathy is giving away:

1st – 4th place winners: A set of all four devotionals in the series.
5th & 6th place winners: An autographed copy of 21 Days of Grace with a novel written by one of the contributing authors!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/b2cd

Too Blessed To Be Stressed . . . Inspiration for Every Day: 365 Devotions for Women by Debora M. Coty

Too Blessed to Be Stressed

Publisher’s Summary

Ready to be rescued from the joy-sucking dully-funks? 
The Too Blessed to be Stressed devotional offers up a daily dose of devotions (and humor) for a woman’s heart.

Thousands of women have had the pleasure of reading the wit- and near-wisdom-filled books from beloved inspirational humorist, Debora M. Coty. Her best selling Too Blessed to be Stressed has become a perennial favorite.

Now, be ready to be rescued from the joy-sucking dully-funks…

In this all-new 365-day devotional featuring just-right-sized, truth-filled readings (gift-wrapped in humor) for your heart. The Too Blessed to be Stressed daily devotional touches on everyday life topics like relationships, love, boundaries, hope, brokenness, and praise, while helping you to arrive at healing, refreshment, and revitalization of spirit, body, and faith.  Read on, and be blessed!

My Review

Debora Coty writes To Blessed to Be Stressed, a 365-day devotional, as if she were sitting down talking to God, and talking to you. Each devotion is short, sweet and to the point. They each start with a Bible verse and end with a prayer.

I thoroughly enjoyed this different and unique devotional. Miss Coty’s humor and style of writing is refreshing and delightful, full of pithy, succinct and witty observations; she can get a profound truth across in few words. She draws stories from her life and those of her friends, in addition to life lessons she has experienced and leaves you with many thought-provoking moments.

Some of her devotions will have you rolling on the floor laughing, while others will leave you in tears; however, as the tale concludes, the lesson is heard and felt on a deep level.

Miss Coty is not afraid to tackle difficult – even “off-limits” -topics.  For example, she discusses gravity’s results for women, colonoscopies and her book being a “potty” book, as in being read in the bathroom. Even so, these are only small parts of the book. The other more serious topics far outweigh those of a less serious nature.

Too Blessed to Be Stressed is a book you will want to read, savor and re-read, gleaning jewels of wisdom, truth, and renewal of faith as it brings you closer in your relationship with God.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

****See also review for Too Stressed To Be Blessed Cookbook****