Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas Stories to Warm your Heart!

With Christmas only a few short days away, you have likely been swamped with the busyness that this season often brings. Whether Christmas concerts, parties, sending out Christmas cards, and more, life seems to get busier and busier with each passing year. However, there always needs to be time to relax, gather together as a family and read a charming book that embodies the simplicity of the season. Recently, my family had the opportunity to review two such books, and they truly did warm our hearts.


Little Bear's Sparkly Christmas

A story full of adorable animals with glittery magic on every pageLittle Bear doesn't know what to get his mother for Christmas. He goes for a walk and sees all his friends getting presents for their mothers, but what will Little Bear get for his mom? Little Bear discovers what the best present in the world is—love. This heartwarming board book will put extra sparkle into your Christmas, with snowy scenes full of sparkle on every page.

This book was absolutely adorable, and will remain a go-to book in my Christmas collection for my family child care program for many years to come. It is brightly illustrated and the story is just perfect in length to keep young mind's attentions. It will absolutely be one that children will ask to read and re-read for many years to come.  Not only is this an adorable and heartwarming Christmas story but little ones can also learn about animal names too, since it features several different ones.


The Christmas Story:

The story of the birth of Jesus is beautifully told and richly illustrated, along with some extra Christmas activitiesExquisite watercolor illustrations breathe warmth and life into the story of the birth of Jesus in this new version of the Christmas Story. The book also includes additional information about the Christmas holiday, the words and music to "Away in a Manger," and a recipe for Christmas cookies.

With breathtaking illustrations and easy to read print, any children ages three to five will enjoy this retelling of the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus. It is a great way to introduce children to the story and life of Jesus, and will definitely allow for a lot of  discussion. It is a wonderful addition to our Christmas book collection and will be enjoyed for years to come.

I highly recommend these books and give them both a huge thumbs up!

BUY IT: You can purchase The Christmas Story online here, and Little Bear's Sparkly Christmas online here

***I received a complimentary copy of the above books, courtesy of Trafalgar Square Publishing, for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

Holiday Gift Guide - Making Music with Chord Buddy Jr.: A Review






Introducing the ChordBuddy Jr - The only guitar in the world a 4-8 year old can play instantly! Chordbuddy Jr is a REAL guitar in miniature - this is NOT a toy, it's a real guitar with all the quality and features of a full size acoustic guitar. Within minutes of taking ChordBuddy Jr out of the box kids will be playing real songs. ChordBuddy Jr has been teacher tested and won the parent tested seal of approval. Included in the ChordBuddy Jr package is: a half size acoustic guitar (30 inch), ChordBuddy Jr device, guitar tuner, songbook and instructional DVD. *Please note that unlike the full size ChordBuddy, ChordBuddy Jr's tabs are not removable. The device itself can be removed from the guitar but it is made as a single molded piece.

My Thoughts:

ChordBuddy Jr. has been a great way to introduce our children ages 4-8 years to the guitar. Over the last few months both girls (ages six and eight) have been able to learn basic cords and even a few simple songs using the accompanying DVD. I loved the DVD as it was very easy to follow, both for me and a child, and it flowed very nicely. It is a REAL guitar, not a toy, with it being half the size of a full size one. It is very strongly constructed and durable as well.

The complete ChordBuddy Jr. package includes the guitar, a songbook, instructional lesson DVD, and a guitar chord tuner. The first step is to tune the guitar and within minutes not only I was able to do so easily, but so were the girls. Next was attaching the ChordBuddy to the guitar, again very easy, just snapping on (and a huge plus its that it can be used on all guitars, not just the one ChordBuddy guitar).  Then it was on to learning chord names by the color on the device, and then learning to strum and play. It's been a great journey over the last few months for my children to learn the basics of guitar playing. Currently they play piano, and while that is fantastic, it seems that their confidence has grown even more regarding music, as they have picked up the ChordBuddy Jr.

If you are looking for a great Christmas gift for a child in your life that loves music, this is a great idea.

I highly recommend this product and give it a huge thumbs up!

BUY IT: You can purchase the ChordBuddy Jr. online here.

***I received a complimentary product, courtesy of ChordBuddy, for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

Playing By Heart: A Book Review

About The Book:

Lula Bowman has finally achieved her dream: a teaching position and a scholarship to continue her college education in mathematics. But then a shocking phone call from her sister, Jewel, changes everything.

With a heavy heart, Lula returns to her Oklahoma hometown to do right by her sister, but the only teaching job available in Dunn is combination music instructor/basketball coach. Lula doesn't even consider those real subjects!

Determined to prove herself, Lula commits to covering the job for the rest of the school year. Reluctantly, she turns to the boys' coach, Chet, to learn the newfangled game of basketball. Chet is handsome and single, but Lula has no plans to fall for a local boy. She's returning to college and her scholarship as soon as she gets Jewel back on her feet.

However, the more time she spends around Jewel's family, the girls' basketball team, music classes, and Chet, the more Lula comes to realize what she's given up in her single-minded pursuit of degree after degree. God is working on her heart, and her future is starting to look a lot different than she'd expected.


You can read an excerpt of Playing By Heart here, in PDF format.

About The Author:

 Anne Mateer is a three-time Genesis Contest finalist who has long had a passion for history and historical fiction. She and her husband live near Dallas, Texas, and are the parents of three young adults.Visit www.annemateer.com for more information.

My Review:

If you have a Christian Historical Fiction fan on your Christmas list and still need to shop for them, look no further than Playing By Heart by Anne Mateer.

It is an exceptional read that will bring you back to the early 1900's and covers themes such doing what one desires not what others desire for you. Lula and Chet were very well developed characters, as were their story lines. It was great to see how their relationship developed through the book.

From the very first pages I was taken in by the story and my attention was kept throughout reading this great novel.  It was heartwarming, and definitely gets the reader thinking about the importance of family, and listening to God when He is guiding you.

I highly recommend this book and give it a huge thumbs up!

BUY IT: You can purchase Playing By Heart at your favorite book retailer from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group

***I received a complimentary copy of this book, courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications Inc., for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

Monday, December 8, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide: Curiousity Box

Do you know any children that love crafts?

Are they ages three to seven years old?

Are you looking for a different, yet educational idea for Christmas?

Then look no further than Curiousity Box for a unique, fun and educational gift for the little ones in our life this year.


About Curiousity Box:

The concept behind Curiosity Box was born of necessity; I was a working mom that wanted to spend time with my child doing crafts and activities, but was constantly challenged with finding the time and energy to put together crafts and activities that were engaging and fun for me and my child.  I love crafting, scrapbooking, baking and being creative and I wanted to see the same passion for creativity passed onto my children.  With our busy and hectic lives, I always felt like our quality creative time was so limited.  Usually when precious time presented itself I was never truly prepared. 

Recognizing how difficult it is to do the planning for, designing of, and purchasing of supplies for crafts and activities, I wanted to help you as busy parents have the best quality crafts to spend valuable time with your children.  I wanted to help you and your children grow your creativity, curiosity and make it fun and easy!  Our mission is to provide you the convenience of having a collection of crafts and activities on hand at a moments notice… a rainy afternoon, a quiet evening after a busy day, or some quality one on one time!         

  My hope is that a Curiosity Box delivered right to your door sparks curiosity and excitement in your child and inspires you to spend enjoyable and quality time constructing and discovering with your children!
 
My Review:

We have had a blast using the fun items from the Curiosity Box we received a couple months ago. We received the "At The Zoo" box and it included enough products for both my children to utilize.


 
In the box we received a lacing animal craft, which were a giraffe and zebra and a sand Art activity for each child and finally a Giraffe sock puppet. The crafts were all very easy to complete. The lacing cards were likely designed for the younger age range for Curiousity boxes as my girls found them too easy, but they LOVED the puppet and sand art activities.

Not only were there crafts in the box but also several activities, for extended play time. We had a blast playing Zoo Bingo and a Monkey Target Game (this activity in particular has lasted for hours. Both cards for the bingo and target game I laminated so that we can utilize the games over and over. I also have used the games in my family child care program. Finally, Animal Jumble was a lot of fun to play. It was a great drawing game, that got the girls both learning and having fun at the same time. The box also gave a few fun facts about zoos and animals in general.

Finally, the pamphlet that was included in our box had a yummy recipe for "Zoo Animal Food" - mixing animal crackers, raisins, nuts and coconut. A great snack for kids of all ages.

I love the fact that there is a large variety boxes that one can purchase, as well as the option of a 3, 6, or 12 month subscription for extended fun from Curiosity Box. This would make an ideal Christmas or birthday gift for any younger child in your life. There is also the option of purchasing a birthday box, which includes craft supplies and activities for up to 8 children!

I have been very pleased with Curiosity Box and will definitely look at purchasing more from this company in the near future.

I highly recommend Curiousity Box and give it a huge thumbs up!

BUY IT: You can purchase Curiosity Box online here.

***I received a complimentary product, courtesy of Curiosity Box, for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

Friday, December 5, 2014

Get Crafty with Green Kid Crafts!!!

 
 

Save on Little Passports NOW!!!

 

Give the gift of learning this holiday season 
with
 BIG savings 
of
 15% site-wide
 at 
Little Passports.
 Hurry! 
This sale ends
 on 
12/15. 
Use coupon code: CHEER15

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide: In The Nick of Time - Fun O' Clock: A CD Review


NORTHAMPTON, MA -- They're back!  In The Nick of Time, the Parents' Choice® Award winning duo of Nick Deysher and Tracey Freitag, triumphantly returns to the forefront of the family music scene with the October 21 release of their fourth studio CD, Fun O'Clock.

Noted for eclectic recordings that celebrate the songs he loved growing up, Nick Deysher and In The Nick of Time draw on a lush expanse of influences.  Fun O'Clock is not only a trip through the decades of more than 100 years of popular music but also a global peregrination that includes '80s hip-hop, ska/reggae, Celtic, and indie rock, alongside classic rock and roll, jazz, and country, with even a tip of the hat to the Renaissance.

Fun O'Clock's title track, in the mode of  Pharell's "Happy," is an upbeat opener that segues effortlessly into the Motown groove of "Doin' A Little Dance."  From there, the music keeps up a veritable tsunami of creativity, with the ska/reggae rhythms of "You've Only Got One Body" followed by a modern indie rock number à la Modest Mouse, The Killers, and Franz Ferdinand titled "Road Trip," and a "Stairway To Heaven" inspired Renaissance madrigal, "Hey Nonny No," which builds to a rocking finish line.  And that's just the beginning!

Nick Deysher draws not only on music he's heard and loved through the years but also on his day-to-day interactions with children as a preschool classroom teacher.  He explains, "Being a teacher, I always look for ways that my music can educate. Whether I'm discussing healthy living habits in 'You've Only Got One Body' or describing the life cycle of a butterfly in 'Flutter By Butterfly,' I try to focus on learning.  Calling this album Fun O'Clock suggests that I was also trying to make this a fun ride, and there is certainly a lot of that!  The title track is a good example.  At its center, the song is about counting and telling time, but it goes through an upbeat and eclectic musical journey to get there."

Nick Deysher has released three previous In The Nick of Time albums, Coconut Groove (2007), the Parents' Choice® Gold Award winning People, Places & Things (2009), and the Parents' Choice® Silver Award winning Making Silly Faces (2011).

My Review:With great messages that will encourage and inspire, along with fun melodies and great musical beats, your entire family will enjoy the most recent release from In The Nick of Time, entitled Fun O' Clock! My family and home day care have just been thrilled to listen to this CD! It will have you singing along in no time at all. Seriously, there is genres for everyone on this CD, so it will appeal to all listeners in one way or another. Our family favorite songs from Fun O' Clock were "Doin' A Little Dance", "Flutter by Butterfly", "Don't Say Can't" and "My Favorite Sneakers"!This would be the ideal gift idea for the upcoming Christmas season, as well as a great birthday gift for a special child in your life.I highly recommend this CD and give it a huge thumbs up! BUY IT: You can purchase Fun O' Clock by In The Nick of Time online through Amazon.com***I received a complimentary copy of this CD, courtesy of Waldmania PR, for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

NKJV Study Bible: A Review


The NKJV Study Bible, the most comprehensive study Bible available, now in a full-color edition with added features! The acclaimed NKJV Study Bible is the most complete study system for all who desire accurate study in God's Word. The Second Edition includes more features to make it the best all-purpose study Bible. Using the trusted New King James Version, The NKJV Study Bible has "the mind of a scholar and the heart of a pastor." Nelson's skilled team of scholars has produced the system to reach for when study in God's Word is the goal.
Features include:
  • NEW attractive full-color page design
  • NEW stunning Bible-land photos and graphics
  • NEW in-text maps and charts
  • Full cross-references with textual notes
  • Word studies and indexes
  • Bible Times and Culture Notes
  • Book introductions, outlines, and timelines
  • Reader-friendly notes and articles ideal for extended study
  • Deluxe NKJV Concordance including proper names
My Review:

This may sounds strange but my husband and I love to collect Bibles. Okay, maybe not that strange of a thing coming from a Christian woman, but I love Bibles. I tend to gravitate to a couple translations most of the time when I study God's Word, but it is fantastic to be able to have many of the most popular translations to compare and study. Recently I had the wonderful opportunity to review The NKJV Study Bible and what a read it was.

The first thing that caught my attention was how colorful this Bible is. I mean almost every page has some color on it. This particular study Bible is not so unlike the many that are on the market. It has a lot of valuable information about the people and era of Bible Times, archeology notes, maps and many other tidbits.

 But seriously this Bible is perfect for anyone who is serious about their study of God's Word. It would be a fantastic gift for any Bible College/Seminary student or staff member, especially with Christmas just around the corner.

I highly recommend this Bible and give it a huge thumbs up!

BUY IT: You can purchase The NKJV Study Bible Full Color Edition online through Amazon.com



***I received a complimentary copy of this book, courtesy of BookSneeze Blogger Program, for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

Messy Beautiful Love: A Book Review

About The Book:

Love gets messy.

Financial problems, sickness, aging parents, a chronically unhappy spouse . . . trials will inevitably come along to threaten your marriage. No matter how long you've been married or how strong your relationship is, sooner or later you are going to have a mess to clean up.

Messy Beautiful Love is about cleaning up messes God's way, exchanging our ideas for his, and being prepared for both the best and the worst that marriage has to offer.

Perhaps you've picked up this book because your marriage is messy already-now is the time to make a change. If your marriage is tidy, thank God-there is no better time to prepare for the future.

Married life is never straightforward or simple for long. But the reality is this: when you surrender your relationship to God; when you lay your marriage at his feet; when you finally cede control; then and only then will you experience the blessing of marriage as he intended-this is the blessing of obedience.

Messy Beautiful Love is an invitation to that obedience. An invitation to surrender. The cynical world says marriages don't last. God knows better. Tune out the world and tune in to him. When you do that, a beautiful marriage is not only possible-it's inevitable. That's something to be excited about.

About The Author:

 Darlene Schacht is the original founder of Christian Women Online Magazine and The Internet Café Devotions and writes the popular blog Time-Warp Wife. She is coauthor of Candace Cameron Bure’s New York Time’s best-selling book, Reshaping It All: Motivation for Physical and Spiritual Fitness. Darlene has been married to Michael Schacht for more than 25 years. They have four children.

My Review:

Marriage. It is a stage that I entered 17 years ago and it has been an incredible journey of ups and downs alike.

Darlene has been an author and blogger that I have followed for some time now, and in the last year I have also connected with her on Facebook. She is a beautiful woman and I have been so incredibly encouraged each time I chat with her or read her words. And it was no different as I read Messy Beautiful Love.

Darlene wrote with an emotional rawness that she is well known for but is so encouraging. She opened up in ways I would not have expected, particularly about the negative aspects that had impacted her marriage (no spoilers, you need to read the book). She did not glamorize marriage, she was very open that marriage can be tough but with God at the center, it can in fact last a lifetime because of Grace. Marriage can be tough and messy, but it has the potential to become beautiful and lovely, we just need to surrender our selves as individuals and as a couple to God and let Him be gracious in our journey.

A compelling and inspiring book to be sure. 

I highly recommend this book and give it a huge thumbs up!

BUY IT: You can purchase Messy Beautiful Love online through Amazon.com

***I received a complimentary copy of this book, courtesy of BookSneeze Blogger Progam, for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

2014 Christmas Family Reading List

 Christmas 2014
Family Reading List

A few days ago I shared the book list that my family has used the last two years as part of our Advent Countdown.

Today I am going to share the books we have decided to use for this year.

1. The Biggest Snowman Ever by Steven Kroll

2. The Littles Christmas Star by Brandi Dougherty

3. A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz

4. The Christmas Candle by Richard Paul Evans

5. The Christmas Cross by Max Lucado

6. The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado

7. My Little Christmas Story by Christina Goodings

8. The Christmas Story by Marion Dane Bauer

9. The Sparkle Box by Jill Hardie

10. Santa's Favorite Story by Hisako Aoki and Ivan Gantschev

11. The Story of the Nativity by Anna Millbourne and Alessandra Roberti

12. Christmas in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown

13. Tonight You Are My Baby by Jeannine Q. Norris

14. A Moose in a Maple Tree - The Original All-Canadian 12 Days of Christmas

15. Christmas Wishes by Tony Mitton and Layn Marlow

16. The Stable Where Jesus Was Born by Rhonda Gowler Greene

17. Little Porcupine's Christmas by Joseph Slate

18. A Porcupine in a Pine Tree - A Canadian 12 Days of Christmas

19. Pippin the Christmas Pig by Jean Little and Werner Zimmermann

20. An Angel Came to Nazareth by Anthony Knott

21. Listen, Said the Donkey by Jean Little and Werner Zimmermann

22. God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren

23. Little Star by Anthony DeStefano

24. Spunky's First Christmas by Janette Oke

I can't wait to hear what you read with your family during the Christmas season.

Please connect here in the comments below, or on the blog Facebook page!


Monday, December 1, 2014

Your Life Still Counts: A Book Review

About The Book:

 God still has a plan for you--not in spite of your past, but because of it!

Do regret and shame over your failures, sins, and shortcomings make you wonder how you could ever be loved, much less used, by a holy God? Tracie Miles felt the same way until she discovered the path to healing, peace, and significance.

She helps you recognize that God not only has a purpose for you, but He has prepared you for your divine purpose based specifically on the experiences of your past.

Through her own story and stories from other women who have discovered God's purpose for their lives because of adverse experiences, Tracie helps you see how God can turn pain into purpose. You will find forgiveness and healing from the troubles of your past, discover the courage to step out of your comfort zone to help others find hope and strength, and be inspired to step into the beautiful future God divinely designed for you.


About The Author:
Tracie Miles lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with Michael, her husband of over two decades, and three children. She is a national conference, retreat, and keynote speaker for Proverbs 31 Ministries and the author of Stressed-Less Living: Finding God's Peace in Your Chaotic World. She is a contributing author to Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living and the Zondervan NIV Women's Devotional Bible. She also writes for the popular Proverbs 31 Ministries Encouragement for Today daily email devotions, which are featured on Crosswalk and Biblegateway.

Tracie's passion is to help women move past the shame and regrets of their past and learn they are treasured and loved by the Father who gave them life. She loves meeting with women from all over the country and sharing messages of hope, redemption, and purpose in life, while helping them grow in their relationship with Christ. Her genuine southern personality and her desire to be real in sharing about life's challenges are what make women feel connected to her while drawing them closer to each other and God. For more information, visit Tracie at her blog at www.traciemiles.com, or on the Proverbs 31 speaker page at www.Proverbs31.org/speakers/tracie-miles


My Review:

Tracie Miles has written a heart-tugging, challenging, inspiring and emotionally raw book that will encourage all who reads it. She tells her own story of listening to God instead of her past experiences and allowing God to use her despite her past. Because of that Miles has impacted many many women for the cause of Christ. Her book is full of stories from other women as well as an amazing section at the end of each chapter, Purpose Ponderings, so that each reader can dig deeper, examine their life and see that God will use you regardless of your past experiences and even mistakes. There is purpose in the pain, if you only let God and allow Him to use your past to give your present a purpose. 

I highly recommend this book and give it a huge thumbs up!

BUY IT: You can purchase Your Life Still Counts through your favorite book retailer from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

***I received a complimentary copy of this book, courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communication Inc., for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions are my own and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

Cuddle Up with a Christmas Movie!

Wow, it is amazing to me that Christmas is only a few short 25 days away! 2014 flew by and lots has happened this year!

I am so excited that during the next few weeks I will be sharing some of my favorite Christmas traditions, movies, songs, stories and food ideas with you all! Today I start with favorite Christmas movies, suitable for the entire family. 

Last week, I did an informal poll on my personal Facebook page, asking friends and family what their favorite Christmas movies were. What an awesome response I got and today I am going to share both these results and some of my own personal favorites so that you can have a great go-to list for your Christmas viewing pleasure this year.

1. The Nativity Story


2. Elf

3. A Charlie Brown Christmas

4. It's A Wonderful Life

5. The Sound of Music

6. Miracle on 34th Street (the original is my favorite)

7. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (particularly the original)

8. White Christmas



9. A Christmas Carol

10. Home Alone

11. A Christmas Story

12.Mickey's Christmas Carol

13. The Polar Express

14. The Santa Clause series (particularly the first one)

15. Holiday Inn

16. One Magic Christmas

17. Prancer


18. The Legend of Frosty The Snowman

19. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

20. Veggie Tales Ultimate Christmas Collection

What are your favorite Christmas movies to enjoy as a family! I would love to hear your responses in the comments below!

Blessings,

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Breathing Room: A Book Review

About The Book:


Catastrophe or no catastrophe, if you are unhinged, disoriented, suffocating, or otherwise generally dragging, I'm inviting you to pull up a chair at this table . . .

Breathing Room is a beautiful release of self-condemnation, a discovery of the rest that comes when we offer ourselves some space to breathe. Vulnerable and winsome, Leeana Tankersley shows you how to stop beating yourself up, how to be radically on your own team, and how to truly experience grace. If you've been putting on a strong front and yet are secretly coming apart, you'll find in these pages a trusted friend.


You can read an excerpt of Breathing Room here, in PDF format.
 
About The Author:

 Leeana Tankersley holds English degrees from Liberty University and West Virginia University. She and her Navy SEAL husband, Steve, are currently stationed in San Diego, California, with their three children: Luke, Lane, and Elle. Leeana writes about living from the spacious place on her blog, www.leeanatankersley.com.

My Review:

 Breathing Room was a wonderful read that will encourage all who read it to let go and let God help you to move on from beating yourself up from past actions, attitudes and life. It was full of wonderful personal stories that made it feel that I was sitting and having coffee with the author as she told her story. With a lot of encouragement, reflection and narrative, it is a book that all women should read. A very real, raw and authentic read that will impact all who read it.

I highly recommend this book and give it a huge thumbs up!

BUY IT: You can purchase Breathing Room at your favorite book retailer from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

***I received a complimentary copy of this book, courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications Inc., for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

Monday, November 24, 2014

Christmas Countdown - Family Reading Time

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go....

It really is, with stores in full decoration mode, Santa at many malls already, and many people already decorating and preparing yummy treats for loved ones and neighbors. The hustle and bustle of the season is upon us, and one of my most favorite things about the season is seeing the joy in my children's eyes as we count down to December 25. 

If you are like me, you will have noticed that the Internet, particularly Pintrest is full of amazing ideas of counting down the days in December. As a family, we have tried several ways to do so, including chocolate calendars, paper chains, and special family oriented activities. But one of our absolutely favorite activity is to do a book countdown. 

First, simply collect your favorite Christmas book, either one or two for each day leading up to Christmas. We do two, as we do the countdown as part of our bedtime routine, so each child gets a book to have read to them. 

Then wrap your books, individually, or as in my case, two at a time. After they are all wrapped, I number them 1-25, and place them either under the tree or in a cute basket close by. Last year, I chose one general Christmas themed book and one book that taught about the birth of Jesus for each day.  Then,  on Christmas morning,  we read one that was specific to the birth of Christ, as well as reading the Christmas Story from the Bible (typically from the book of Luke, either from our Bible or a Children's Bible).



You can choose any books you want, but I thought I would share the list we have used the last three years. We will be changing up a few of the books due to the increase in reading levels of our girls. Which is a great benefit to my home day care program, as I will set the books out that are more suited to preschool children, without having to buy more books. 
This year I will be changing things up a bit, to also set out a few easy-to-read chapter books that follow the Christmas theme for my oldest, who is eight and loves to read. 

These were our books last year:

Dec 1:   Usborne The Story of the Nativity
             A Charlie Brown Christmas

Dec 2:.  Tonight You Are My Baby
             Merry Christmas Curious George

Dec 3:   If You Take A Mouse To The Movies
             God Gave Us Christmas

Dec 4:    The Stable Where Jesus Was Born
              A Porcupine in a Pine Tree -  A Canadian 12 Days of Christmas

Dec 5:    Listen Said the Donkey - Tales of the First Christmas
              The Little Red Elf

Dec 6:    An Angel Came to Nazareth
              Merry Christmas from Biscuit

Dec 7:    Christmas in the Barn
              Olive, the Other Reindeer

Dec 8:    Little Star
             Christmas Wishes

Dec 9:   My Little Christmas Story
             A Moose in A Maple Tree - The Original All-Canadian 12 Days of Christmas

Dec 10:  The Littlest Christmas Star
              I've Seen Santa

Dec 11:  Angela and the Baby Jesus
              Snowman At Night

Dec 12:  Hurry, Hurry Have You Heard?
              MoosleToe

Dec 13: No Room At The Inn
             Gingerbread Mouse

Dec 14:  Santa's Favorite Story
              The Christmas Angels

Dec 15:  Little Porcupine's Christmas
              The Biggest Christmas Tree Ever

Dec 16:  A Small Christmas
              The Christmas Baby

Dec 17:  The Crunchy, Munchy Christmas Tree
             What Santa Can't Do

Dec 18:  The Birthday of a King
              Mouse's First Christmas

Dec 19:  The Little Engine That Could and the Snowy, Blowy Christmas
               Pippin The Christmas Pig

Dec 20:  Corduroy's Christmas Surprise
                 The Christmas Pups

Dec 21:  A Wish To Be A Christmas Tree
              Little Shepherd

Dec 22:  Olivia Claus
              The Littlest Christmas

Dec 23:  Spunky's First Christmas
              The Sparkle Box

Dec 24:  There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Bell

                 A Child is Born
              

I would love to know what kind of Christmas books your family reads during the days leading up to Christmas Day. Leave me a comment below!

Blessings, 

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Reason: A Book Review

About The Book:

There is a reason you exist . . . 
The day Lacey Sturm planned to kill herself was the day her old life ended. As an atheist who hated Christians, she thought church was a place for hypocrites, fakers, and simpletons. After a screaming match with her grandmother, she ended up in the back of a sanctuary, hating everyone in the room. But what happened in that room is The Reason she is alive today.

With raw vulnerability, this hard rock princess tells her story of physical abuse, depression, suicidal struggles, and more--and her ultimate salvation. She asks the hard questions--Why am I here? Why am I empty? Why should I go on living?--showing that beyond the temporary highs and the soul-crushing lows is a reason each of us exists and a purpose for our lives.


You can read an excerpt of The Reason here, in PDF format

About The Author:

Lacey Sturm is a mother, wife, writer, speaker, and musician. Originally the voice behind the platinum-selling international rock band Flyleaf, she is now a solo artist. But most of all, she is one of God's works of art, and she wants others to know and understand how special, how beautiful, how kaleidoscopically wonderful we are all made. Lacey speaks for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and its Rock the River events. She cofounded the Whosoever Movement and helped begin the RESET movement as one of their key speakers. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family. For more information, visit www.laceysturm.com.

My Review:

A powerful, inspiring, and dramatic read that will remind you of the healing that can only come through faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ. Lacey Sturm writes with an emotional rawness that will grip you from the first words to the last and keep your attention throughout your reading of The Reason. Sturm reminds us that regardless of where we came from, our future is not doomed. Through our crisis' God uses that for His purpose, and there is always a purpose and because we are here for a purpose, our confidence can be found in Him, if we surrender all to Him. The experiences that the author shares will be familiar to some, but the emotions will resonate with all who read The Reason. You will be challenged and encouraged as you read it to remember there is always a reason to live. 

I highly recommend this book and give it a huge thumbs up!

BUY IT: You can purchase The Reason at your favorite book retailer from Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group

***I received a complimentary copy of this book, courtesy of Baker Publishing Group, for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***