Our Sins, God's Grace series at DoNotDepart.com

Believing Through Unbelief

By nature, we’re created to hold on to something. When we don’t hold on to faith, we end up holding on to a mess of other things that truly, well, make a mess of things.

Today at Do Not Depart, I’m discussing a little bit of my journey of believing even through periods of worry and doubt. Join me over there, and please check out the other posts in this month’s series, as well as the extra resource I shared at the bottom of today’s post.

Our Sins, God's Grace series at DoNotDepart.com

5 New Family Picture Books We’re Loving

We’ve been cracking up at many new family- and friendship-related picture books lately. We highly recommend all of these, and they incorporate various family relationships (sibling, grandparents, adoption) and a WHOLE LOT of fun. Check these out at your library or local bookstore first!

Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Zachariah OHora

Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Zachariah OHora – When the Bunny family finds baby Wolfie on their doorstep, Mom and Dad are smitten, but Dot is skeptical. How will they keep Wolfie from eating THEM ALL UP? But when Wolfie is threatened, Dot finds out how strong their sibling bond is. Adorable, hilarious, and the text and illustrations both add unique components to the story.

Excellent Ed by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach

Excellent Ed by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach – This recently-released picture book is seriously excellent. We LOVE it, and have reread it multiple times just in the few weeks it’s been out. The story structure is perfect, and readers will fall in love with Ed and relate with Ed’s struggle to feel like he fits in such an excellent family. The illustrator puts so much wonderful emotion into Ed’s expressions. A perfect family read!

Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins – At very first read, I thought this book was just cute, but with further rereads, this book is so clever and the illustrations are SUPERB. My kids giggle and “aww” at this story over and over again. (Look for the sequel, Hotel Bruce, this fall!)

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Christian Robinson

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Christian Robinson – Oh, this book. It’s beautifully written with descriptive language and just-right questions from CJ and responses from Nana about how different people live differently and how we can show love to all. Beautiful and totally worthy of the Newbery Award it won!

Secret Tree Fort by Brianne Farley

Secret Tree Fort by Brianne Farley – This fun picture book includes all the storied exaggeration we love from imaginative play. The illustrations combine vibrant colors along with a muted technique to show what’s imagined and what’s real. It ends up being a sweet story of sister togetherness. A fun read!

What family-oriented picture books is your family loving lately?

Disclosure: I am sharing about these books on my own accord and because we LOVE them, and we think you might love them too! All opinions expressed are my own.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs

Book Review – Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs

Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs

From the publisher:

Looking for Lovely: Collecting the Moments that Matter by Annie Downs (B&H Publishing, 2016)

“‘I want you to take every step of your life with excitement for where you are headed. And I want you to feel beautiful and confident as you do.’

But how? When the enemy whispers lies that you are not smart enough, pretty enough, or rich enough? Or you are too dumb, too loud, too quiet, too thin, too fat, too much or not enough? What if you don’t have what it takes to be who you really want to be?

In Looking for Lovely, Annie F. Downs shares personal stories, biblical truth, and examples of how others have courageously walked the path God paved for their lives by remembering all God had done, loving what was right in front of them, and seeing God in the everyday—whether that be nature, friends, or the face they see in the mirror. Intensely personal, yet incredibly powerful, Looking for Lovely will spark transformative conversations and life changing patterns. No matter who we are and what path God has us on, we all need to look for lovely, fight to finish, and find beautiful in our every day!”

My thoughts:

This book is, well, lovely. (I know I’m totally not the first to say that.)

Annie’s voice is easy to relate to and therefore read. This isn’t a teaching book, but rather a conversation, which works very well for the subject matter. It’s a book about perspective, about growing, and about loving.

Some nonfiction writers try to write without sounding like they know it all or are experts (with highest intentions), but some don’t succeed. Annie does. At no point does the reader think Annie is perfect, but instead, Annie reaches through this book to offer you to walk along with her. She’s a storyteller, for sure, which makes each chapter interesting and thoughtful. She’s entertaining, but she’s also genuine and reflective, and readers will pick up on that quickly (if they haven’t already read Annie’s friendly voice before).

This book is set up with three main sections: In the Absence of LovelyIn Search of Lovely, and When I Found Lovely. In the first section, she brings the reader back through anecdotes of her childhood, teen years, and up to the past five years as went through what she calls “the broken crazy” and shows how her eyes finally opened to need to see the lovely through whatever the circumstance — happiness, sadness, chaos, tragedy, joy. In the second section, she offers short storied accounts of moments where she began to see the lovely – and the lovely being moments where she saw God’s hands at work in her life and in others’ lives. Section three talks about that perspective shift I mentioned earlier and that growth that needs to remain constant.

Readers might not necessarily read any brand new information here, but they will read Annie’s stories that only she can tell, and readers will come away from the book with joy and eyes opened a little bit wider to what lovely might look like right in front of them. And isn’t that a main point of sharing stories?

There’s also a new Bible study book to accompany this book for individual study and small groups. And I feel pretty confident that Annie would love for readers to go through this book in a small group together.

What books have you read lately that open your eyes to new moments of lovely and new perspective changes?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Icon Media Group in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

God and Special Needs

Where is God in Special Needs?

Where is God in special needs?

You know the answer already: He’s here. Always.

But sometimes it’s hard to see that, no matter what your challenges in life are. Click over to Do Not Depart today to read about ways our family has learned to see God all the more because of our special needs journey.

God and Special Needs

While you’re there, check out the rest of the “Where is God?” series at Do Not Depart this month.

 

Sit, Stay, Love by Dana Mentink (Harvest House, 2016)

Book Review – Sit, Stay, Love by Dana Mentink

Sit, Stay, Love by Dana Mentink (Harvest House, 2016)

About the book (from the publisher):

Sit, Stay, Love by Dana Mentink (Harvest House, 2016)

Pro baseball pitcher Cal Crawford is not a dog guy. When he inherits his deceased mother’s elderly dog, Tippy, he’s quick to call on a pet-sitting service.

Gina isn’t thrilled to be a dog sitter when her aspirations lie in the classroom. Furthermore, she can’t abide the unfriendly Cal, a man with all the charm of a wet towel. But with no other prospects and a deep love for all things canine, she takes the job caring for Tippy.

As Gina travels through Cal’s world with Tippy in tow, she begins to see Cal in a different light. Gina longs to show Cal the God-given blessings in his life that have nothing to do with baseball or fame. When her longing blooms into attraction, Gina does her best to suppress it. But Cal is falling in love with her too…

Discover the charming story of Tippy, the dog who brought a family together.

My thoughts:

This book was an adorable and fast read. The abundance of realistic dialogue increased the pace of the book, and the author incorporates setting in an active way that moves the plot along at the same time as giving the reader a sense of surroundings.

The characters are also delightful. I came to like Gina quickly after she was introduced, and the side characters (particularly Oscar, Sweets, and Pete) add both to the interesting plot and the endearment of the book. After peeling back some of Cal’s defensive layers, readers will root strongly for him, too. Multiple changes in setting and action (city, baseball fields, travel, the farm) also offer opportunities for sensory details to pull the reader into the story even more.

As a mom of a child with special needs, I also enjoyed the inclusion of a sight-impaired youth baseball team and felt the families briefly introduced were a wonderful (and well-written) addition that focused on those characters’ abilities (not disabilities) and added depth to the characters and themes.

The romantic plot line does waver back and forth just a touch too much for me (several instances of will they be together? won’t they?) when there’s very little doubt that they care for each other. But the book addresses great themes including the pitfalls of fame, varied lifestyles, trust, forgiveness, second chances, redemption, and offering (and accepting) mercy.

Learn more about the book and author on the Litfuse group page.

You can also click here to enter a giveaway (open through April 25th)!

Sit Stay Love Dana Mentink
 

What life lessons have you learned from a family dog or other pet?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher as a part of the Litfuse blogging team in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.