Christian

Brother John


Author: August Turak
Illustrator: Glenn Harrington
Publisher: Clovercrost Publishing
Genre: Christian living
ISBN: 978-1-945507-94-6
Pages: 48
Price: $19.99

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When answering the question, “What is the Purpose of Life?” in an essay for the Templeton Prize, August Turak shared an encounter with a Trappist monk named Brother John. His essay won the contest and went on to be published in two anthologies. Readers reached out to him over the years, telling how the story had inspired them. But as it grew harder to find, Turak realized it was time to publish it as a book of its own.

Brother John is a simple, humble man who manages much of Mepkin Abbey, a 3000+ acre property run by the Trappist monks. There is no task he considers beneath him, and he’s always there to lend a hand for anyone who needs it. As Turak spends time at Mepkin, he encounters Brother John holding an umbrella one rainy Christmas Eve, waiting to walk with anyone who had forgotten his own. Struck by the way that Brother John lives his life, Turak examines his own, questioning if he has the ability to be so selfless in his giving.

Brother John offers a gentle reminder that Jesus asks a lot of us, and many of us aren’t willing to take the risk to give more of ourselves to others. What is the purpose of life? No answers are given, other than to look things square in the face and do the work we know we must do.

Turak receives a wonderful message from his spiritual director: You would not seek Me if you had not already found Me, and you would not have found Me if I had not first found you. May we all find Him in our own lives.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, Christian

Night Night Devotions


Author: Amy Parker
Illustrator: Virginia Allyn
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Children / Christian
ISBN: 978-1-4002-0890-6
Pages: 208
Price: $16.99

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Bedtime is a great time to ponder the goodness of God. Night Night Devotions is a collection of 90 devotions for children to meditate upon as they fall asleep.

Devotions are broken into two sections – Old Testament and New Testament. The table of contents provides the topic along with the Bible verse, so kids can choose the appropriate devotion to fit their day. Each devotion is two pages long, and includes a Bible verse, the devotion itself, and a four line rhyming prayer. Then the devotion closes with “Night Night, God” along with a message for kids that builds on the devotional topic.

Like all of Amy Parker’s Night Night books, Night Night Devotions shares positive messages about God and his love for children. This book would be a wonderful additional to every child’s bedtime routine.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian

NIV Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls


Publisher:  Zondervan
Genre:  Bible
ISBN: 978-0-310-76355-0
Pages: 1472
Price: $34.99

Free coloring pages
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This beautiful NIV Bible is pink hardcover with a leather-like feel, and the book lays flat when open for ease of coloring. The pages are thick enough to hold up to colored pencil or crayon coloring, but not thick enough for markers. There are hundreds of coloring pages scattered throughout, and they are simplistic in style, suitable for younger girls. Other pages have blank lined sections for note-taking.

I colored four images in colored pencil, pictured above, and had fun doing them. They weren’t overwhelming in detail, and took less than a half hour each to color. For more artistic girls, I recommend the Complete Guide to Bible Journaling to add even more personalization to this Bible. Girls will really enjoy making this Bible their own through color.

Please be sure to enter the giveaway going on from December 2-16. I received a copy of the NIV Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls from Zondervan (HarperCollins Christian Publishing) for this review. This post is sponsored by Zondervan.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian

A Generous Life


Author: David Green
Publisher: Zondervan
Genre: Christian / Stewardship
ISBN: 978-0-310-45257-7
Pages: 176
Price: $18.99

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David Green began Hobby Lobby in a garage in 1972, and he never dreamed it would end up as successful as it is. But along the way, he realized that he needed to make some important decisions about the company. How could Hobby Lobby best leave its legacy in the world, while also helping to support his family?

A Generous Life shares some of Green’s thoughts on managing a successful business while also living in a way that glorifies God and benefits other people. These ten steps to living a life money can’t buy include recognizing that everything is God’s, putting people before profits, and developing a vision for generosity, as well as many others.

Hobby Lobby is a multi-billion dollar enterprise, and Green had to make decisions that the majority of people will never face. Readers may struggle to relate to some of the issues that arose for him, but overall, they will get the message that it’s possible to be more generous no matter what their circumstances.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian

The Cross Before Me


Authors: Rankin Wilbourne and Brian Gregor
Publisher: David C. Cook
Genre: Christianity
ISBN: 978-0-7814-1333-6
Pages: 288
Price: $22.99

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For many today, living a good Christian life means having everything they want and need. They reason that God will reward them for their good behavior. But is that what Jesus actually taught? Didn’t he ask his followers to take up their cross and follow Him?

We seem to be hard-wired to follow our bliss. But do we even know what that might be? Is it possible to give up everything in the name of Jesus, only to find out we didn’t even need anything but Him? Rankin Wilbourne and Brian Gregor have shared a compelling argument that we will be happier once we give up the notion of having it all, and instead, try to imitate Jesus on his journey to the the cross.

The Cross Before Me is not an easy read, as it invites us to look closely at how we live our lives and attempt to reform our thinking from within. One read was not nearly enough for me to absorb the depth of these concepts. I highly recommend it to all those who are seeking true peace and happiness.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian, marriage, relationships

Love Lock


Authors: Rich Rollins and Marty Trammell
Publisher: Crosslink Publishing
Genre: Marriage / Christian
ISBN: 978-1-63357-158-7
Pages: 159
Price: $11.95

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Marriage needs good communication to thrive, but we’re all flawed human beings, incapable of perfect behavior all the time. Love Lock helps couples correct some of the wrong patterns they’ve fallen into, as they navigate life together.

Eighteen chapters touch on specific problems in the categories of: I need to feel understood, I need to feel valued, I need to feel a part of you, I need to feel appreciated and cherished, I need to trust you, and I need more resolution, less conflict. Each short chapter addresses a problem and ends with an exercise to be completed together. The authors write from a Christian perspective, and Bible verses are provided to support their viewpoints on creating a happy marriage.

Maybe you’ve noticed the locks couples leave on bridges, declaring their unending devotion to each other, and you want a marriage like that for yourself. If so, Love Lock would be a great guide for both you and your spouse to follow.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian

Random God Sightings


Author: Kelly Hanes
Publisher: Columbus Press
Genre: Christian
ISBN: 978-1-63337-265-8
Pages: 194
Price: $14.95

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If it feels as if God is out of reach and that we need to strive to find him, maybe we’re going about things all wrong. Kelly Hanes believes that God is all around us, and He’s just waiting for us to notice Him. In fact, He may be hiding in that random stranger you’ve just met but have a funny feeling about.

Random God Sightings is a collection of stories of Kelly’s moments with God. In these 26 interactions, Kelly shows us how she recognized God in each stranger she meets, and why she believes it really was God. Although He doesn’t reveal himself to her in these exchanges, each brought a smile to her face and a glimmer of recognition to her heart.

God cares about us, and it makes perfect sense that He might still be present with us in our daily lives. Random God Sightings is a reminder to us to look for Him every day. We just might find him at the bus stop or in the coffee shop when we least expect him.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian

A Prairie Devotional


Author: Wendi Lou Lee
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Christian / Devotional
ISBN: 978-1400213269
Pages: 192
Price: $16.99

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Wendi Lou Lee played the character of Baby Grace, along with her sister, Brenda, on the TV series, Little House on the Prairie. In A Prairie Devotional, Wendi shares memorable quotes from the show, along with her thoughts on how they relate to her own life. After surviving a brain tumor, Wendi wanted to share her Christian faith, in the hope that she could inspire others through her writing.

This unique devotional book contains 91 daily readings of about two pages long. Each is centered on one scene or episode in the TV show, and Wendi expands on it, telling stories from her time with the show and also from her life. She shares some snippets of information about the cast, but mostly writes about herself and her family. Even though she was once a TV star, Wendi is very down to earth, and readers will relate to her ordinary life stories.

Wendi’s strong faith in adversity shines as a light for others who might also be going through trying times. A Prairie Devotional would make a great gift for any Little House on the Prairie fan.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

animals, children, Christian

Night Night Zoo


Author: Amy Parker
Illustrator: Virginia Allyn
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-4003-1014-2
Pages: 20
Price: $9.99

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Illustrator’s website
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The zookeepers have locked up and gone home for the day, but the animals still have to get ready for bed. Hippos, gazelles, elephants, and many others all have a nightly routine. As each animal family prepares for bed, kids are encouraged to wish them a good night’s sleep through the repeating refrain, “Night night [animals].” A box at the bottom right corner introduces the next animals they will see.

Finally, everyone is tucked in for the night. All the animals are now asleep, and this charming bedtime board book closes with the message that God is in control, even in a zoo.  Night Night Zoo is the perfect bedtime story for children who love animals.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, Christian

Night Night Bible Stories


Author: Amy Parker
Illustrator: Virginia Allyn
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 978-1-4002-0891-3
Pages: 208
Price: $16.99

Author’s website
Illustrator’s website
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Bible stories make terrific bedtime stories, if they’re told in a way that children can understand. In Night Night Bible Stories, children will hear fifteen Old Testament and fifteen New Testament stories, told in a simplified manner.

Each of these stories has a refrain that is repeated in various ways throughout the story that are used to emphasize certain key ideas, so kids can repeat them along with Mom or Dad, as they listen. They each conclude with “Night Night…” to the people in the story, along with another key thought. Stories are about four pages long, filled with cheerful illustrations.

Although these stories are paraphrased from the Bible, the text remains true to the message with no significant alterations. Parents will love being able to share these Bible stories with their little ones while reinforcing their own faith in the process.

Reviewer: Alice Berger