Sunday, March 8, 2020

Grief Triggered

My crockpot quit working this weekend... and I cried. It was frustrating because I use it a lot, and I had just bought a roast. I had filled the crockpot with meat, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and onion... and was looking forward to a meal I had not prepared in several months. It was frustrating because I had spent my expendable income the day before on things that could have waited another month. But, none of the above is why I cried.

I cried because Caitlyn gave it to me. I had a large family-sized one; it was so big I cooked an 8 lb turkey in it one Thanksgiving when my oven quit. I had told Caitlyn that it was getting more difficult for me to pick up, even when empty.

She didn't buy a new one but simply gave me the one in her kitchen. When I realized it wasn't working, my mind immediately was flooded with the memories of us talking and laughing about what I could make for her... since she never cooked anything in it. I could picture her smiling face as clearly as if she had just handed it to me.

Suddenly, I was reminded that those moments will never happen again. Throwing it away brought another flood of tears. It felt like I was giving away another part of her. It's been almost 18 months since she died, but unexpected things and memories still have the power to remind me of the person I loved so dearly and lost.

Ironically, I have been wanting to buy another crockpot, even smaller than hers, but I never thought it would be such an emotional experience. Despite everything, there does come a time to move on. The crockpot is certainly replaceable! Caitlyn is not but I am reminded that I will see her again, healed and whole, and never again to be parted. She is safe with the Lord for now.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Penguin & Moose - Hannah C. Hall

"PENGUIN had a big problem. He didn't know how to fly. Fortunately, Penguin had a plan. And he had MOOSE."

That is the premise of a charming and cute children's book by author, Hannah C. Hall. Based on Proverbs 17:17, "A friend loves at all times," this is the story of the power of friendship. Penguin wants to be able to fly like other birds. As he tries different plans to make it happen, his friend Moose is by his side to encourage him, make suggestions, and offer practical help. Penguin realizes that Moose likes him just the way he is and that a good friend is better than flying.

Hannah's story, coupled with adorable illustrations by Anna Chernyshova, make this a delightful book to share with the little ones in your life. The suggested age group recommended is 4-8 years old.

I received a copy of this book from WorthyKids at no cost to myself. I was not required to write a positive review.

SOCIAL LINKS: (Anna Chernyslova)
Hannah C Hall - Facebook
Anna Chernyshova Illustrations - Facebook 
WorthyKids - Facebook 
Follow @HannahCHall on Twitter
Follow Anna at @MySketchbooks on Twitter
Follow @WorthyKidsBooks on Twitter
Instagram - @hannahchall1
Instagram - @chery.pic
Instagram - @worthykidsbooks

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Amber Vale Home Holiday Sampler

Amber Vale Home is a brand new home decor company focusing on hand-crafted items. Their flagship product is soy-coconut blended, wooden wick candles with a variety of unique scents such as Porch Chat (whiskey + leather).

The Holiday Sampler combines three 4oz candles: Tennessee Christmas (evergreen + deciduous), Gathering (orange + clove) and With Extra Whip (peppermint + hot chocolate). With a focus on natural, wholesome products, these candles are made with phthalate-free fragrances blended meticulously to nail down the scents of the season: evergreen, clove, hot chocolate and peppermint.

Features include:
  • Natural soy/coconut blend
  • Wooden wick that “crackles” when burning
  • Phthalate-free
  • Realistic scents

MY REVIEW: I love candles and was excited to have the opportunity to review these. They definitely went beyond my expectations and I have enjoyed using them. I appreciated the careful packing, the instructions on lighting wooden wicks, and the thank you note included. And then... the wonderful aroma when I opened the candles.

The candles were hand-poured in Franklin, TN, and the scents will transport you to crisp Southern winters. Starting with "Tennessee Christmas," you will enjoy the fresh scent of evergreens and deciduous forests. "With Extra Whip" is perfect for the kitchen or a study as you enjoy a hot cup of peppermint hot chocolate. The third candle, "Gathering" is my personal favorite. I fell in love with the scent of orange and cloves as a child. When I opened it, a memory of the Thanksgiving I was 8 years old popped into my mind; I remember sitting in the kitchen as my mom cooked our meal and I pierced an orange with dozens of whole cloves.

Each of these candles may stoke your memories or might be a part of creating new ones. Check out their website to order your favorite.

GIVEAWAY! Amber Vale Home is also providing another sampler pack for one of my readers. Use #AmberValeHomeL3 in a comment. Also, tell me which scent you are most interested in. The deadline to enter is Nov. 22, 2019.

Learn more about these candles at the Amber Vale Home website, and feel free to follow their socials.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Free to Believe - Luke Goodrich

In Free to Believe, leading religious freedom attorney Luke Goodrich challenges both sides of this debate, offering surprising insights on the most controversial religious freedom conflicts today—including gay rights, abortion rights, Islam, and the public square. Goodrich shows that threats to religious freedom are real—but they might not be what you think.

As a lawyer at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Goodrich has won several historic Supreme Court victories for clients like the Little Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby. Combining frontline experience with faithful attention to Scripture, Goodrich offers a groundbreaking book—full of clear insight, practical wisdom, and refreshing hope for all people of faith.

MY REVIEW: This was an interesting read concerning several hot-topic issues that stay in our headlines. Worldviews continue to evolve, some for the good, some not, and our courts are not in agreement in how individual cases should be settled. Goodrich lays out several cases to bring clarity to the legal ramifications of how decisions are reached.

Goodrich says there are 3 major categories of Christian thought, although there are varying degrees of thought in between. 
  • Pilgrims believe America was founded on religious freedom and that the Christian faith should be favored.
  • Martyrs believe that 'religious freedom' is an excuse to retain cultural dominance and is a luxury.
  • Beginners believe religious freedom is important but are not sure why or what it should look like.
Goodrich wrote this book to respond to adherents of each of the groups above... and to those who fall in between. I found myself viewing some things slightly differently after reading the thought process and legalities, and other times my point of view was enforced. I recommend the book for those who wish to understand why there is even some doubt on how some cases are handled. You may agree or disagree with his explanations but I enjoyed looking at some opinions from a slightly different angle from a logical, legal perspective.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free as part of WaterbrookMultnomah’s “Free to Believe” Launch Team. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Tony Evans Study Bible

Tony Evans is one of the most influential church leaders of our time and has been studying and preaching the Gospel for over 50 years. He serves as senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, TX and founder of The Urban Alternative, a ministry which promotes a kingdom agenda philosophy designed to enable people to live all of life underneath the comprehensive rule of God.

The Tony Evans Study Bible includes extensive study notes and other ancillary resources carefully crafted and curated by Dr. Tony Evans as General Editor and adapted from his sermons, teachings, and writings. These features are strategically placed alongside the biblical text to explain God’s Word in a fresh way. Applying these truths will empower readers to have transformed lives that then transfer the values of the kingdom of God to others.

Features include:

  • Elegant design
  • Study notes crafted from Tony Evans sermons and writings
  • 40 inspirational articles
  • 50 “Lessons on Kingdom Living,”
  • A plethora of “Questions & Answers”
  • Numerous “Hope Words”
  • Over 150 videos of sermons
  • Devotionals
  • Teaching from Dr. Evans
  • Page-edge cross-reference system
  • Black-letter text
  • Presentation page
  • Introductory front matter
  • Special back matter section with key definitions
  • Theological and doctrinal charts
  • Other study helps
  • Concordance
  • Bible reading plan
  • Full-color maps
The Tony Evans Study Bible features the highly readable, highly reliable text of the Christian Standard Bible® (CSB). The CSB stays as literal as possible to the Bible’s original meaning without sacrificing clarity, making it easier to engage with Scripture’s life-changing message and to share it with others.

 My Review: The Tony Evans Study Bible is a beautifully bound black and brown Bible that is packed with information and references to help the reader more effectively study the Bible. This is a Christian Standard Bible (CSB) translation which I personally love. Scripture references and footnotes are a huge part of this Bible, helping you to see the overall picture and to tie together references throughout the entire book.

Pastor Evans also includes personal notes from his own sermons and reflections for added clarity. Each chapter also has a video introduction you can
access on your mobile device using the provided QR code. Honestly, I don't have a clue how that works but if you don't have that ability on your phone... there's an app available. There's an excellent concordance, several maps, and I especially love the "Hope Words" highlighted throughout the Bible. I only have one issue with this Bible: I like to make notes in the margins and there is simply no room on many pages. That is a small sacrifice, though, compared to the plethora of notes provided.

GIVEAWAY!! This one will be a quick turnaround. Deadline to enter is Sunday, Nov 17, 2019. Use
#TonyEvansStudyBibleL3 in comments under the post to be entered into a random drawing. This study Bible will be an excellent gift for yourself or a Bible scholar. 

 Disclaimer: I received a copy of this product at no cost to myself for review purposes from Lev3l Digital.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Christmas Jars movie

Based on the book by Jason F. Wright, CHRISTMAS JARS shares the story of Hope Jensen, a reporter who uncovers the remarkable secret behind a holiday phenomenon: money-filled glass jars were anonymously given to people in need. This best-selling novel created a new holiday tradition that changed the lives of people all over the country. CHRISTMAS JARS is a one-night movie event that provides hope to all as we enter this special season. In theaters Monday, November 4 only, CHRISTMAS JARS is a heartfelt reminder that kindness truly is contagious.

MY REVIEW: Christmas Jars is a wonderful, inspirational film about the special generosity and kindness that fills many during Christmas time. Hope Jenson is abandoned as a baby at a diner, where she is discovered by the waitress, who adopts her. As a young woman, during a Christmas of much loss, Hope finds a jar of money on her doorstep that simply says Christmas Jar. Her curiosity inspires her to reach out to her boss to request she be allowed to research and file the story herself for the online magazine where she works as an assistant. 

Using false pretenses, she finds the people who originated the Christmas Jars tradition many years earlier, but they share with her on condition of anonymity. Of course, they all grow close, lies are brought to light, and we hope for the heart-warming, miraculous ending that satisfies.

Does it? It worked for me! The important thing is that this is EXACTLY the type of movie you want to see to start off the holiday season with warm, fuzzy feelings, and inspiration to share the love and kindness with others. Whether you go for a date night, family fun, night out with the girls, a pick-me-up film for yourself, Christmas Jars is a feel-good film you need to see!

Keep in mind, this is a FATHOM EVENTS ONE NIGHT ONLY MOVIE. Christmas Jars will only be screened on NOVEMBER 4th! Pre-order your tickets HERE through Fathom Events!

GIVEAWAY!! One winner will receive a free DVD of Christmas Jars (when it is available for release). Simply use
#ChristmasJarsL3 in the comments to enter the drawing. Contest ends at noon, November 3, 2019.

Disclaimer: I was given a digital link of the movie at no cost to myself via BYUtv and LEV3Ldigital


Learn more about the film at the official website, and feel free to follow the film’s socials.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Dear Grandchild, This Is Me

Dear Grandchild, This Is Me: A Gift of Stories, Wisdom, and Off-the-Record Tales.


This book is a special keepsake for your grandchild, inspired by you. It is a condensed diary of your life.

Being a grandparent is a wonderfully rewarding experience. With this valuable keepsake, you can gift your voice and memories to future generations. Whether providing snapshots of your childhood, details of your heritage, or your declassified personal “secrets,” your grandchild will treasure this glimpse into your unique story.

My Review: I love genealogy and family history so this is a book I am very excited about. I loved hearing stories from my parents and grandparents but some memories have faded over time and there is so much more I wish I had asked. This is a perfect opportunity to write down memories you wish to share and leave a legacy by sharing what you have learned over the years and teaching your grandchild about your values and faith.

Special Features:
* Built-in envelopes to stash special, private letters for specific occasions in your grandchild's future.
* A sheet of adhesive photo corners to adhere photographs and special memories throughout.
* Off-the-record questions to prompt fun stories.
* A family tree to trace your ancestry.
* Space to share your favorite recipes or those passed through the generations.
* A world map to showcase your travels.

Some of the questions are simple and straightforward. Others require a bit more thought. My one minor complaint is that there is too little room to answer some questions but you can always write more on paper and place it in one of the built-in envelopes.

The hardback book is beautifully illustrated and makes a perfect gift. K
eep in mind, this is not a gift to give to a young child, but a wonderful keepsake to put aside for adulthood. This would be excellent to give to new or expectant grandparents so they could begin to write their memories and gather (or copy) special photos. Or, grandparents could buy one for each grandchild and began filling in the details as well as making each book uniquely personal.

I received an advanced readers copy of Dear Grandchild, This is Me for this review as part of the Waterbrook Launch Team. I was not required to write a positive review and all book review opinions are strictly my own