Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Wayfinding Bible GIVEAWAY!

Okay, this isn't so good. Tyndale was generous enough to send me a Wayfinding Bible over a year ago when they came out, and I never shared! I found it on my shelf this afternoon while deciding which Bible I should bring to my first Bible College class (I'm taking Bible College classes!!) so it seems like the perfect time to finally blog about it.

The Wayfinding Bible is an NLT version of Scripture that offers three built-in reading plans designed to give the reader an overview of the entire Bible and how the major themes, characters, and stories relate to each other. This Bible also features full colored pictures, notes, and maps to help bring the Bible to life and make it easier to understand, along with a concordance of "Points of Interest". Each book features a timeline of major events from the book and the world at large during that time.

This would be a great Bible for new believers, or Christian teens ready for more. The NLT is an easy-to-understand version, perfect for those who are new to the faith. Combined with the three reading plans, it's a great opportunity to dig into the Word.

So I'm giving away this copy! If you are interested in this Bible, or know someone who could benefit from it, leave a comment below and I will randomly choose a winner on Sunday night, 9pm EST.

Check out this video if you'd like more info about the Bible:

I received this from Tyndale Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Let's All Be Brave

If you read my Favorite Reads of 2014 post, you know that I have a love affair going on with the book Let's All Be Brave by Annie F. Downs. So much so, that I bought three of "my girls" a copy for Christmas. But I wanted to do something a little more, something extra special. So I created Brave Boxes for them (and one for myself because it was too cute).

First, I found these awesome boxes one sale at Michaels, along with some milk bottles and glitter spray paint (did you know they make glitter spray paint?!)

So I used the glitter spray paint to paint the bottles and caps. But I didn't like the look of the gold on gold, so I covered the caps with a light layer of black paint. When it dried, the glitter kind of came through, making them PERFECT! Some glittery stickers and a few coats of sealant later, and the most difficult part was done. The bottles were finished!

So flittery :)

Before I put the boxes all together, I cut some strips of colorful paper (100+ strips per box - plenty to last the year), and wrote out the directions on some library cards I had hanging around. Finally, I underlined some of my most favorite passages in the book and brought it all together.

Here's an up-close of the direction cards:

One of my words for 2015 is Brave, so I'm using this, too, as I hope my girls are! 

How have you been brave this week?
Have you read Let's All Be Brave? How did you like it?
Share in the comments!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

My 7 Favorite Reads of 2014

Well, it's that time of year again. Everyone is reminiscing about the past year, making their best whatever lists. I've got my fair share of lists happening, too, but this is my favorite one to share. My favorite reads of 2014! This year the selection is a bit diverse, and not too long. I didn't read as much as usual this year. In fact, I don't even think I'll make it to 40 books, never mind my goal of 50 :( But it was such a fun year of adventures and fun that I can't complain. I'll just have to try harder next year :) So let's talk books now.

Let's All Be Brave by Annie F. Downs

This list isn't in much of an order, but this book is definitely my favorite book of the year. So much so, that I bought copies for a few of my girls to make them read it. It is SO. GOOD. I just, I can't even explain to you what this book means to me. Annie writes in a way that is simple and inspiring and makes me want to be her best friend. Her manner, her thoughts, her subject matter are something that I related to so much, even while thinking "she's so much braver than me", but that just made me braver in my day-to-day life, all at the same time. I finished reading this book in early September and it hasn't left my coffee table. I can't bear to put it away yet. Just seeing it on my table every day, thumbing through the highlighted passages every so often, inspires me to be my best self, my bravest self. I could go on and on about how much I love this book, but just go out and buy this book. Now.

The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau

I kept seeing this one floating around the interwebs and in my DnB groups, so I finally broke down and bought it. And I am so glad I did! This is a great companion to Let's All Be Brave. Chris shares the stories of people who have undertaken quests of all shapes and sizes to find their purpose in life and breaks down the common traits to inspire the reader to find their own Quest. I still have no idea what mine really is, but I'm inspired and searching. This book flew by and was so interesting and encouraging. 

Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris

This is the most fun and creative autobiography ever. I love NPH, and when I learned he had a book out, I immediately headed to the bookstore to get it. I was already in my pajamas for the night, but I changed to jeans and went to buy it, then read it in a day. He wrote the whole story in second person narrative like the choose your own adventure books of old. You choose how the book plays out, which stories you read in which order. It was fantastic! It was such an entertaining read from an entertaining man and made me love him even more.

What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman

Okay, quick little disclaimer: this book is not a clean read. Kristin's lifestyle and my own are very different. But we do share the travel addiction, and that made me absolutely love this book. The way she describes her relationship with travel finally gave me a way to put my own into words. She understood the feelings I get when I travel, and when I don't travel, in a way I haven't been able to describe or find someone else who relates. Her search for herself was absolutely relatable. Take out the massive drinking and crazy sexcapades, and I think we're the same person. Right down to travel injuries.

Impact by Casey Lewis

I read two finance books this year: this one and Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. And as I said in my review, I like Casey's better. I found him to be more relatable and down to earth, even while they both shared the same info and similar methods. Great tips and advice in a non-threatening manner. If you need to get your finances in order, check it out!

The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth

I read the whole series this year, including Four just yesterday (thanks Chrissy!)! I loved this series! In case you don't know what it's about (have you been living in a cave?), the Divergent series follows Tris Prior in a dystopian future where society is divided into five factions based on the personal traits they most value. At 16, she must choose what faction she wants to be part of, even if it means abandoning her family. But, of course, nothing is as it seems and soon the world they've come to know is falling apart and Tris is at the center. This series is great! There is plenty of action and drama, romance, humor, you name it. And it fit in with the apparent theme of bravery my reading took this year. My biggest complaint is with Allegiant, and not for the reason most readers dislike it. I just found the Tobias sections super whiney, and he was never like that before! It made me really angry that he was being so whiney and made it tough to get through the book. So I try to pretend it didn't happen, because I really like Four. The rest of the series I love, especially getting to see into Tobias's past in Four.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Ohmygosh, this book, ohmygosh. You guys, I LOVE this book. I think this should be up at the top, but I wanted to bookend this post with my top two favorites. Everything else is a random order, but this....this is definitely my favorite fiction read of the year. Fangirl is about an introverted uber-fangirl named Cath who is starting college with her twin sister- who seems to want nothing to do with her now that they're in college. So Cath sticks to herself, mainly writing popular fanfiction in her dorm room and avoiding the real world. Her roommate Reagan and the over-friendly Levi refuse to let her hole up completely, pulling her out of her shell and becoming an unlikely trio. Okay, that's not a great description. But let me just say, that if you fangirl over anything, you'll probably relate to this book. I loved that the main character was so introverted and socially awkward and slightly neurotic, because it was so so so relatable! I was laughing, I was crying, I was and am Cath. I flew through this book, too, reading it in less than 24 hours because I just couldn't stop. I NEEDED to know what happened. There was just so much to this book! So many turns and stories woven in. I didn't love the ending, mainly because it ended. I just wanted more! It left off at a very sweet moment, but I just wanted a little more...something. But ohmygosh, I just want to read it again, and I just finished it last week. If you fangirl or geek out about books, you need this in your life.

So that's it! My top 7 favorite books of 2014! What were your favorite books of the year?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My Intro to Iceland, and Gorgeous Gullfoss

One year ago, I went to Iceland for an awesome whirlwind of a long weekend. And for some reason, I never shared it here on the blog! So here's my first post about the gorgeous country of Iceland! There's not a whole lot of information in this post. But there's a bunch of pretty pictures. The adventures and stories will be coming in future posts.

This first photo is right around the corner from our hotel (Icelandair Reykjavik Natura).

Obligatory money shot (Icelandic Krona):

Picturesque random street downtown Reykjavik:

Our giraffe friend:

The Hallgrimskirkja. This church holds the record as the tallest building in Iceland, at 244 feet.

The interior is pretty sparse and basic, but houses a beautiful pipe organ. It's rumored that the bell tower has the best views in the city, but we were too late in the day to find out.

This may seem like a random photo, but it's the one that best captures the strange feeling I had the whole time. Unlike any other place I've been, the sky in Iceland seemed so close, the clouds so low, like I could reach out and touch them if I wanted to. Like the sky loved Iceland too, and was giving it a big hug.

After this little walk our first day in town, we were exhausted, but it was too early to go to bed. The hotel TV only had 5 channels (only 2 in English), so we were going to crowd around the Kindle except...

Sad day!  We wasted away the hours flipping the channels and trying to figure out how to order a pizza. That was our first adventure in Iceland. The website was only in Icelandic, so we called, and the man who answered the phone didn't know our hotel by name. So he asked for the address....which we couldn't pronounce and I attempted to spell....until: "umm, I don't have that letter in my language. It's like a curvy 'd' with a cross?" Thankfully, someone there knew where we were and we got our pizza!

Our first excursion was to the Gullfoss waterfall. But even before we got there, we had beautiful sights! Like these random hot springs seen from the bus:

The tour made a quick bathroom and coffee stop at this little strip mall that happened to be the victim of an earthquake several years back. The powers that be made the best of it by lighting the crack, laying some thick glass, and making it a tourist attraction. I felt super brave standing over this 6-foot-deep crack!

Then it was onto Gullfoss!

Fun story: see the first group of people in the above photo? That's approximately the spot where I slipped on the ice and slid downhill a good 10 feet, briefly wondering how Chrissy and Kathryn would explain my death-by-icy-Icelandic-waterfall to everyone back home (this would not be the last time this trip I had that thought...but those stories are for another post).

It's easy to see why this place is one of the top tourist destinations in Iceland. It's stunning.

So. Stinkin. Beautiful.

So I leave you with a group shot.

Have you been to Gullfoss (or Iceland in general)? What did you think?

Friday, October 17, 2014

"The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee"

I usually use stock photos of book covers for my reviews, but look at the cute certificate that came with this book (adorable old dog just for because he's asleep on me)! You can find the book here.
Okay, on with the review.

Some people label Candice as being "on the spectrum", but she just knows she's different. She takes things literally, she's caused her pet fish to have a religious crisis, and her best friend is from another dimension (maybe). On top of all that, her family is falling apart and she's the only one who can save it. Well, with a little help from her dad's estranged brother, Rich Uncle Brian.

I don't usually go for middle reader books (I didn't realize that's what it was when I requested it), but I really enjoyed this one! Jonsberg has written a witty kids book featuring a lovable, quirky character that's a little out there, but still relatable. It was an entertaining read as an adult, and I definitely would've felt the same as a kid! Go ahead and pick this one up.

3/5 Stars

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

"Impact: Get Rich! Be More Awesome! Change The World!"

I really enjoyed this book, and read the whole thing in one day of flights and airports. Casey Lewis draws on his personal experience to demonstrate what a healthy financial plan can do for even the most dire circumstances. He lays out a step-by-step process to get you in financial shape, no matter where you are in the journey, making it easy to get your money in order. More importantly, he makes a case for why you should get it in order.

This might get me in trouble with the FPU crowd, but I like Lewis' book more than Dave Ramsey's (if I get trampled by a gazelle or run over by a snowball, you all know why). Why can I say that? They share pretty much the same information and have a similar plan, but Lewis is very relatable in his writing style, it's quick to read and implement, and he makes it really easy to understand how to handle your money in a wise and responsible way.

If you're looking to get your money in order to have a healthy financial future, you need to read this. As grateful as I am for Ramsey's resources helping me get started on my own financial journey, Lewis' Impact is the book I'll be recommending more often than other financial books.

Highly Recommended, 5/5 Stars
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, September 19, 2014


Acceleration is a down and dirty, no-nonsense book about getting things done quickly and efficiently, providing you with maximum impact and influence.

In his first book, Matoga explains how to succeed in business and ministry using his nine time-tested Principles of Acceleration. These simple principles are explored through each chapter with a blend of business acumen, common sense, and Biblical standards in a simple but powerful way.

This book is an easy read packed with information to help you excel, and organized in an easy-to-reference format. You can easily pick it up anytime to get a quick refresher of whatever material you want. While several of the principles in the book have been stated before, Matoga uses his unique voice and outlook to make them pop, and strings them together to create a fool-proof attack plan for success.

If you're a leader in business or ministry, check out this quick primer to accelerated success.
Recommended, 4/5 stars.

This book is not yet released. I will post the link here when it is available.

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