Monday, March 30, 2015

book review: "more" by tammie head

People everywhere are looking for something more. They're in the grocery store aisle behind you, in the nail chair beside you, singing praise songs in front of you, and perhaps in the mirror staring back at you. People feel messy; plagued by looming feelings of ineffectiveness, indifference, depression, and purposelessness.

Does this sound like you?

What if more of God is actually what's missing from your life? Whether it's a messy life or a messy problem, it can become a walking miracle when we see God anew and wholly surrender to Him. 

You were made for more than surviving. Old stale religion never satisfies. Neither do the solutions the world has to offer. What all of us need is an encounter with God that sets our hearts ablaze. Tammie has seen this in her own life as well as in countless lives around her. Join her in More for a picture of how you can move from a life marked by messes to one that is truly miraculous. 

I really liked this book! The title immediately caught my eye, causing me to think about my own life. Areas where I want more. More of God. More in my job. this life. I like how open and real Tammie is as she shares her story and how God is using her. She talks about how God wants us. "Indeed, the Gentlest Man of gentlemen simply bids us to, "Come." No matter what you've done, "Come." No matter what your messy state is, "Come." No matter how you've run, "Come."' There's a line in the book that I feel sums the whole thing up, "We were made for more." Tammie talks about the things that hold us back from accepting what God wants to give us. "I want you to know, the same Savior who walked into a synagogue two thousand years ago and openly declared He was the One sent "to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord's favor has come," hasn't ended His mission. He's still seeking. He's still liberating. He's still determined. Our problem is, we struggle connecting with Him long enough to receive it. God wants to teach us in a greater way how to crawl up into His arms of love." This book encouraged me and I love the chapter openers, like these:

Tammie talks about waking up to who God really is and letting that truth truly change our lives. She challenges the reader to want more of God and the life He has planned for each of us!

I received a copy of this book from Icon Media Group for my honest review.

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

book review: "how to catch a prince" by rachel hauck

American heiress Corina Del Rey caught her prince once. But the tragedy of war kept her too long in a fog of grief. Now she's shifting her life forward, reigniting her career as a journalist. Still, nothing can relieve her of the secret and the love she carries in her soul. 

Prince Stephen of Brighton is one of the world's most eligible bachelor and a star rugby player, trying to make sense of his life. But his days in Afghanistan with the Royal Air Command have marked him forever. And he can't seem to shake their dark shadow. 

But when his brother, King Nathaniel, confronts him with a document the prince thought long buried and forgotten, Stephen is forced to face the pain of his past and the love he left behind.

With a little heavenly help, Prince Stephen and Corina embark on a journey of truth. But when the secrets are revealed, can they overcome and find love again?

I'm a fan of Rachel's books. I've read the other two books in The Royal Wedding Series and she didn't disappoint with this newest story. I think every girl dreams of being a princess and with Susanna, Regina and now Corina, I'm reminded of that childhood dream. I love that these are southern girls because it gives me that instant connection with them. When I reviewed Princess Ever After last year, I said there's at least one line in each of Rachel's books that seems just for me. This book was no exception. "Love well" was Corina's mission when she went to Brighton. She wanted to show Stephen how good they could be together and did her best to "love well." I love that phrase! To me, it's almost a kind of surrender. When Corina signed the annulment papers, she felt she was finally giving up on her marriage but she wasn't. She was loving well…and leaving the rest to God. I love the story of King Stephen I and Queen Magdalena. Of how brave she was. Each year I pick a word to be my focus for the year and this year my word is brave. I felt this story was timely for me in so many ways. The story was beautiful. I love how when Stephen was done fighting within himself, God was ready to meet him. When Corina thought it was all over and and had done all she could, Stephen showed up at her door. And at their wedding, I "ahh-ed" when Stephen asked Mr. Del Rey if he could be the one to present Corina to God. Oh my. How to Catch a Prince was such a sweet story of love, forgiveness and surrender. 

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity for my honest review.

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Monday, March 9, 2015

it's your time

I love the story of Esther. I love her bravery and the way God used her. We talked about Esther last night in the small group I help with. And to serve as a reminder, I made this printable for each of the girls in our group. I put two on one piece of paper and backed it on cute patterned paper. I had no idea making chalkboard printables could be so fun! It's super easy and super cute! My word for this year is brave and Esther's story is such a great example of that. She had a choice and could have refused to save her people. But she said yes. That was her moment for God to use her in a big way. This is your time! If you'd like me to send you the pdf, just comment with your email address :)

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Friday, February 27, 2015

winter break, part 2

As a teacher, I'm off two weeks at the end of December and beginning of January. We call this Christmas break. Well, due to some unexpected snow, we had an additional winter break. A two week winter break! The snow is finally beginning to melt and the ice is thawing so we'll head back on Monday but the time off has been nice. I've had free time…to be productive but also be a little lazy. Some things I've done:

1. read (reviews coming soon!)

2. bake (chocolate dump cake - thank you Pinterest!)

3. arm knitting (though I'm still working on getting the hang of it)

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

one word 2015

Last year I joined One Word 365. One Word is a movement to challenge our way of thinking. It's about choosing a word to direct your year. Last year my word was finally. This year my one word is brave. I want to not let any hesitancy or…myself…get in the way of moving forward and tackling this year! I'm reading a book by Holly Gerth called You're Made for a God-Sized Dream. I'm not super far into it yet but she talks about how we all have God-sized dreams inside of us. Dreams that seem too big to happen or maybe too hard…yet they're there. "If you're in a place where it feels like what you've undertaken is much harder than you imagined, take heart. If God has called you to this, then he will get you through it. Here's a secret: God-sized dreams are invincible when we're obedient. He always wins in the end. Does that mean the result will look like what we had in mind at the beginning? Most likely not. But whatever purpose God has for your dream, he will bring to pass. Your job is to not quit no matter what happens. God will take care of the rest." After this book I have a copy of Let's All Be Brave by Annie Downs ready to go. So that word - brave - is popping up a lot. And I want to be brave. I want to follow God's leading this year, trusting where He's leading. 2015 is a great year to be brave!  

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Monday, January 12, 2015

recipe: crockpot chicken and dumplings

This recipe is sooooo good! I haven't quite mastered preventing the biscuit from turning doughy, but it's still really good :) I love recipes where you just put everything in the crackpot and you're done. So to recap, super easy recipe that tastes amazing. Win-win. 

What you need:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp. butter
2  (10.5 oz.) cans cream of chicken soup
1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth
1/2 onion, diced OR you can use 2 Tbsp. dried, diced onion - didn't use either in my recipe
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
4 Grands flaky refrigerator biscuits

What to do:
Disclaimer: I did things a little differently because I used a rotisserie chicken that was already cooked - waited for it to cool and then shredded it (such a time saver!). Put everything except the biscuits into the crockpot. Cook on low for about an hour and a half. Add the biscuits (cut into nine pieces) and cook on high for an hour. 

You can read the full recipe here.

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Sunday, January 4, 2015

book review: "a brush with love" by rachel hauck

Overcoming a childhood tragedy, Ginger emerges from the pain and trauma with a gift for bringing out the beauty in others. From the top big city salons to traveling the world as personal stylist to a country music sensation, success was almost enough to make Ginger forget her she would never be one of the beautiful people.
Almost. Now that she’s back home in Rosebud, Alabama and running her own salon, the truth remains: Ginger is still that girl, forever on the outside looking in. But she needs her confidence this weekend. She’s the acclaimed “beauty-maker” for the Alabama society wedding of the decade.
When high-school crush Tom Wells Jr. also returns to town and shows up at her shop looking for a haircut, Ginger’s thinly veiled insecurities threaten to keep her locked away from love. Despite Tom’s best efforts, Ginger can’t forget how he disappeared on her twelve years ago and broke her heart. Can she ever trust him again?
When Tom challenges her to see her own beauty, Ginger must decide if she will remained chained to the past or move freely into a new, exciting future.
I've been a fan of Rachel's for a while. And this book did not disappoint. One of the reasons I liked it so much was because of all the references she made, including the final scene in The Proposal. The biggest reference was to a song that is one of my current favorites. It's called "You Make Me Brave" by Amanda Cook. It's a beautiful song; a challenge to move beyond the shore into the waters. It was so fitting for Ginger and the struggle she went through in opening up to Tomand to God. One of my favorite parts of the book was their wedding at the end. I couldn't help but want to cry at the thought of Ginger's gift to Tom. Of wearing her dream dress despite her scars because she finally understood she was beautiful. I love how tender Tom was with Ginger. In each of their encounters through the story, he tried to follow the prompting he had from God: tell her she's beautiful. I laughed when Ginger told Tom he couldn't get in her car because he was muddy and when he went out into the street, shouting at anyone who would listen that he thought she was beautiful. This was a fun story but also held a challenge. To me, it was a challenge to not let fear hold you back. To be brave. 
I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. You can learn more about the book by clicking here.
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"Fire" up the romance in the new year with Rachel Hauck's newest book, A Brush with Love, by entering her Kindle Fire giveaway! And be sure to catch a sneak peek of the soon-to-be-released How to Catch a Prince!
 One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • A Brush with Love by Rachel Hauck
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway only runs for a week, 12/30 – 1/5. Winner will be announced January 6th on Rachel's blog.