NIrV Minecrafters Bible from Zonderkidz {Review & Giveaway}

New International Reader's Version (NIrV)
Ages 6-12


. . . whether you're in 
creative or survival mode!

Do you ever feel like it's more fun to exist in the computer world tahn the real one? Is that the only place you feel like you can control your destiny? Well, God is the original great world builder, and he gave us the power and the skills we need to make changes in the real world.

  • Complete text of the New International Reader's Version (NIrV) of the Bible--from Genesis to Revelation
  • 24 color tip-in pages featuring full-color illustrations in the style of a wildly popular virtual-world-building game
  • Featured stories such as Creation and great builds of the Bible

My Thoughts

If you have a Minecrafter in your midst you need this Bible! I must admit that when my grandson first introduced me to Minecraft I just didn't get the appeal of the squared-off pixelated characters. Then I got my hands on a copy of the NIrV Minecrafters Bible and a lightbulb went on!

I love finding creative ways to pour the Bible into my kids and grands. Who knew a video game could be used for that? To me the Minecrafters Bible is the ultimate accessory for this game. To help get you started using the Bible in conjuction with the game there are twenty-two full color pages with Scripture passages to read and suggested things to do. After your kiddo has gone through those there's an even longer list of great Bible stories at the very back of the book.

My daughter has been using the Minecrafters Bible each morning by reading a particular story with my grandson and then allowing him some extended time to recreate that day's story. It's been such a delight to see him continually refer back to the Bible as he adds details to his world.

If you are a homeschooling family this would be a wonderful addition to your Bible curriculum. I can also see it being used in youth groups on special event nights. My grandson's friends already get together informally to play Minecraft so I think it would be an easy way to engage the culture while instilling truth in the lives of the next generation. 

Now . . . how about a GIVEAWAY?!! We are loving how the Minecrafters Bible is helping us to teach our kiddos important Biblical truth. So we've partnered with Zonderkidz to make a way for one of our readers to get their own copy.

The giveaway is open to U.S. residents and will run through midnight on Tuesday, June 14, 2016. You must be at least 18 years old to enter. The winner will be contacted by email and will have forty-eight hours to claim the prize. If unclaimed, a new winner will be drawn. The winners’ entries will be verified. Please enter the contest using the Giveaway Tools form below. All entries are optional.

Summer Boredom Busters For Kids Using Electronic Media

A couple of days ago I was visiting with my oldest grand girl and she informed me that she had been out of school for a total of three days and she was already bored. Can I insert in here that I am so thankful that it’s my turn to be the granny rather than the momma? The dog days of summer can be a nice change with the slower pace but they can also be taxing when the normal activities of the school year are no longer in play.

I began to think about what my kids used to do during the summer and ways we could update the activity to be relevant today. One of the things that all of my grands have in common is their love for anything involving electronic media. Even the two youngest ones gravitate to any smart phone that is lying in reach!
With that in mind I came up with a few ideas that worked for me and can still be useful to today’s mommas. I hope you’ll find them as helpful as I did.

1. READING – One of the first summer programs we would sign up for each year was the Summer Reading program at our local library. It’s such a fun way to keep the kids reading. Our library offered prizes and incentives that appealed to my kids. It was also a good opportunity for my kids to explore new genres and authors to expand their knowledge and imagination.

For my oldest grand girl’s recent birthday she received a Kindle of her very own. Something about reading from an eBook seems so much more interesting to her than reading a normal book. The price of eReaders has plummeted and made them very affordable. If you don’t already have one now might be the time to think about it.

Finding books for the eReader has become more affordable as well. Most local libraries have eBooks that you can download to your device and read for free for a set amount of time. You can find free and cheap eBooks from sites like The Vessel Project.

I’m very picky about what I send my grands to read. I like to stick to the classics and inspirational fiction and nonfiction. For my tween grand girl I’ve found some wonderful eBooks from the Faithgirlz line that I think you can trust for content.

2. MOVIES – For whatever reason my kids loved to watch movies in a dark closet. They would pile in pillows and then we’d use an extension cord to plug in our smallest TV and DVD player. (Okay so it was really a VCR, but that makes me sound old!)

With the use of a tablet or laptop and a streaming service like Netflix you can achieve the same result. Don’t forget to check out the selection at your local library. It’s free and a good way to introduce your kids to some classics that you loved as a child. Just add some popcorn and juice boxes and you’ve got an activity that all of your kids can enjoy together.

3. GAMING – My boys loved video games so I wasn’t really surprised when my oldest grandson started talking about them as well. We own a Wii and have enjoyed hours of entertainment with it as a family.

My grandson really likes the Wii but what has him all stirred up right now is this game called Minecraft. When he first showed it to me I just didn’t get the appeal of these squared-off pixelated characters. But then I received a copy of the Minecrafters Bible from Zonderkidz and a lightbulb went off!

If you have a Minecrafter in your midst you already know that the purpose is to build your own imaginative world using characters that you create. If I were the momma I would capitalize on that and combine the game with the Bible.

This is what my daughter is now doing with my grandson. Each morning they read a particular Bible story from the Minecrafters Bible. Then my grandson is given the laptop with Minecraft on it and allowed an extended amount of time to recreate the story. It’s an absolute delight watching him refer back to the Bible as he expands the details in the game. I think this is a brilliant way to capture the attention of your kids while solidifying Biblical truths that will last a lifetime.

Now . . . how about a GIVEAWAY?!! We are loving how the Minecrafters Bible is helping us to teach our kiddos important Biblical truth. So we've partnered with Zonderkidz to make a way for one of our readers to get their own copy.

The giveaway is open to U.S. residents and will run through midnight on Tuesday, June 14, 2016. You must be at least 18 years old to enter. The winner will be contacted by email and will have forty-eight hours to claim the prize. If unclaimed, a new winner will be drawn. The winners’ entries will be verified. Please enter the contest using the Giveaway Tools form below. All entries are optional.

Herb of Grace (Healing Grace, #1) by Adina Senft {Amish Fiction Review}

Healing Grace, #1
Amish Fiction

Amish widow Sarah Yoder has been struggling to raise her two teenaged sons and provide a home where family and members of her Old Order Amish church can find fellowship and friendship. Though she is close to her in-laws, lately it feels like her relationship with her boys is splintering. Her stepson Simon wants to move out west with his cousins to find work. And her youngest, Caleb, is spending far too much time over at the tumbledown home of a man who left the church long ago. Henry Byler only returned recently to Willow Creek when he inherited the family farm--under protest--and now seems caught in a struggle between the faith of his childhood and the world he's come to know.

Ruth Lehman, the local Dokterfraa, believes Sarah should use her gift for growing plants to become an herbal healer, too. Sarah is reluctant, however, uncertain if caring for others will take her away from her family--the place where she believes God wants her. But when she feels called to help members of her community, she soon discovers that the heart can be scarred as deeply as the body. As she compiles her herbs, she waits for God to do his healing work in a man who rues a harsh decision, in a lonely prodigal who has lost everything, and maybe even in a herbalist-in-training who firmly believes she will never love again.

My Thoughts

I must admit that I judged this book by its cover and because of that I put off reading it. I enjoy Amish fiction and am always eager to read a new author but this one just didn't appeal to me. I was wrong, wrong, wrong! 

Adina Senft has a wonderfully engaging writing style that doesn't at all match up with the cover art. The story is quite modern and can easily be compared to other very well known Amish writers. I will most definitely be reading more of Adina's books. 

Herb of Grace introduces us to Sarah Yoder who is a young widow. She's struggling to raise her two boys, Simon age seventeen and Caleb age fourteen. Her strength of character is what drew me into the story. Sarah has many obstacles in her way but she is determined to make a life for her and her boys. 

One of the most interesting characters is Ruth Lehman who is a Dokterfraa, or an herbal healer. From the beginning Ruth sees that Sarah has to skills and tenacity to also become a healer. Because of their differing personalities they don't really give each other the warm fuzzies but it is a relationship that is intense and heartwarming in the end. 

If you like Amish fiction you should check this title out. It is the first book in a three book series. I'm looking forward to reading the next two titles and also going back and reading several of Adina's other books.

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Samantha Sanderson Off The Record by Robin Caroll {Tween Fiction Review}

Samantha Sanderson, Book 3
Juvenile Fiction (ages 8-12)


Is an independent, resourceful, high-tech cheerleader. She dreams of becoming an award-winning journalist like her mother, so she's always looking for articles she can publish in her middle-school paper (where she secretly hopes to become editor in chief). And with a police officer for a father, Sam is in no short supply of writing material.


When the school's grades are tampered with, Samantha Sanderson must enlist her best friend Makayla's help in hacking the system to discover the virus that was used and who committed the crime. But when the lead suspect is her newfound friend, Felicia, Sam must choose whether to stick by her friend at all cost or report the story as she sees it.

My Thoughts

Samantha Sanderson Off The Record is book three in Robin Caroll's tween fiction series and I am liking the developing story lines more and more. The books are targeted at the eight to twelve-year-old and I think they hit the mark. 

Samantha and her BFF, Makayla, are smart girls with kind hearts but they also have flaws that make the stories relatable to the intended audience. In Off The Record the entire student body is awaiting their report cards. Unfortunately when the cards arrive there are big problems. Every single student at the middle-school has messed up grades. It is quickly determined that the computer system must have a virus. But who infected the system, and why? Of course this is breaking news and Samantha is quick to jump on it. That leads to even more animosity with the school paper's editor and arch nemesis of Samantha, Aubrey Damas. 

In each of the Samantha Sanderson books there is a specific Scripture reference that the author focuses on. This one is Matthew 22:39, "Love your neighbor as yourself." It was nice to see Samantha not only learn to apply it to her literal next door neighbor, but also to those around her.

One of the reasons that I have enjoyed these books is the fact that they don't dumb down the information for the reader. This book has a lot of computer information that the average person probably doesn't know. But the dialogue is written in a way that the reader can learn about and understand what is going on. What a bonus . . . reading for fun and knowledge!

If you have a tween girl I think you should take a look at not only this book but the entire series. Technically the books can be read as stand-alone titles but if your girl intends to read them all it would be better to read them in order because there is a bit of the story-line that continues through each individual novel. 

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A Beautiful Design Bible Study by Matt Chandler

God's Unchanging Plan For Manhood and Womanhood
Matt Chandler
Bible Study


God created us to function according to His perfect design, and for all of human history, our world has been male and female. But our ever-changing culture faces challenges due to sin. More than ever the church needs to be a safe refuge for the gender-confused, the sexually broken, the single, the married, and the divorced.

In this study, Matt Chandler gives evidence that God's plan for man and woman is the ultimate design. And life lived within this beautiful and unchanging design is part of His greater purpose for humanity and leads to our greatest joy.
  • Discover how you were created with a purpose in God's unchanging plan.
  • Exchange your broken and weary perspective on life for His beautiful design.
  • Shape and influence your church into a safe place for everyone.

My Thoughts

In the wake of all the uproar in the media lately, A Beautiful Design Bible Study from Matt Chandler is a needed voice of reason. My husband and I have spent the last few weeks going through the study and are pleased with the way it has focused our attention on what is truly important . . . living a gospel-centered life.

This study is designed for a small group but we did it just as a couple. There are nine video sessions and eight weeks of personal study and homework. If you are doing it as a group there is a Leader Kit available that has a copy of the Bible study book, a leaders guide, and the DVDs. Since we did it here in our home we chose the Individual Videos option with a shared Bible study book

The study delves into our roles as men and women created in the image of God. Chandler uses Scripture to point out our God designed roles and how they compliment each other and that of spreading the gospel. I came away from it being reminded that we don't wrestle with flesh and blood. My neighbor isn't my enemy, Satan himself is the enemy and in the end he loses.

If you are looking for a powerful way to strengthen not only your own marriage but that of your fellow church members consider getting this study for your group. If your church doesn't do small groups then I would urge you to consider doing it in your home. If you have teenagers there is A Beautiful Design Teen Bible study book geared towards teenagers. I think it would be wonderful to do this study together as a family. 

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Inspiring Words - Inspirational Coloring Book from Zondervan {Giveaway}

30 Verses From The Bible You Can Color


Or marker, watercolor, or colored pencils.

Inside these pages, you'll find thirty unique and creative illustrations focusing on key verses from the Bible, each offering an opportunity to connect with Scripture while exploring your creativity. Throughout, NIV verses are paired with detailed line art, and each page is printed on high-quality, thick paper stock that won't bleed through.

Relax. Sit back. Meditate on God's Word. Then remove the completed page to display your work for even more daily inspiration.

My Thoughts

As an artist I have to say I am absolutely thrilled with the trend of meditating on Scripture through art. I particularly like the Inspiring Words inspirational coloring book because it allows you to not only express your creativity but also meditate and memorize Scripture.

There are thirty different verses. Some are well known and some are a bit more obscure, but all of them are worth pondering. The way the book is put together just begs for it to be taken apart. What I mean is that each of the prints are placed on only one side of the page leaving the back side blank. The pages are thick and do well with colored pencils, markers, watercolor, or my favorite, acrylic paint.

Each page is 8 1/2 x 11 inches so it is easy to frame. I used an 11 x 14 inch frame with an 8 x 10 mat and I love the way it looks. Now that I've tried it I plan on framing several more to place throughout the house. I love finding new ways to place Scripture in plain sight. For me it is an easy way to help me commit it to memory.

If you have a desire to experience the new Bible Art Journaling trend give this a shot. You don't have to have amazing talent. If you can color in the lines you can do this. It's such a peaceful and relaxing way to spend some quality time meditating on the Word.

Now . . . how about a GIVEAWAY?!! We loved the Inspiring Words Inspirational Coloring Book so much that we wanted to make a way for one of our readers to get their own copy. To do that we have partnered with Zondervan to give one of our readers a copy of the book.

The giveaway is open to U.S. residents and will run through midnight on Thursday, May 26, 2016. You must be at least 18 years old to enter. The winner will be contacted by email and will have forty-eight hours to claim the prize. If unclaimed, a new winner will be drawn. The winners’ entries will be verified. Please enter the contest using the Giveaway Tools form below. All entries are optional.

Sins of the Past by Dee Henderson, Dani Pettrey, & Lynette Eason {Romantic Suspense Review}

Romantic Suspense Novella Collection


A Wyoming sheriff is called to Chicago when his elderly mother goes missing from her retirement community. Paired with a savvy Chicago cop, the two soon launch into a race against the clock when they realize something dark may lie at the heart of the disappearance.

Adventure, romance, and danger collide when a young Alaskan fisherman nets the body of a Russian open water swimming competitor. Another swimmer, who'd been the dead woman's roommate years ago, is pulled into the search for answers as it grows more and more clear that something sinister is at play.

A young woman once implicated in a robbery gone wrong finds herself at risk years later when the real culprit is up for parole. The loot taken that night has never been found and he believes she knows where it's hidden--only her memory of that night has always been unreliable. Can she remember enough to find her way to safety?


My Thoughts

I was so excited to get my hands on this book. Three of my favorite romantic suspense authors all under one cover. What could possibly be better?

The funny thing is that I don't usually gravitate to novellas. I like my stories long and detailed. But this collection may have changed my mind. Since the stories had to be short the action began right from the beginning. The pace was fast and the drama unfolded quickly. Because of these details I actually thought the stories were even more suspenseful. 

The first story, Missing, from Dee Henderson is not only heart-pounding it is also heart-gripping. Beyond the shear terror of a missing person's tale this is also a beautiful story of a mother and son and their deep love for each other.

The second story, Shadowed, by Dani Pettrey was a scary but fun trip back in time. The setting is the late 70's in Yancey, Alaska. As a fan of Dani's Alaskan Courage series I was delighted to read the story of Ben and Libby and the beginning of the future McKenna clan. If you've read that series, you must read this as well.

The third and final story, Blackout, by Lynette Eason is a quick snapshot of Lynette's amazing crime drama style. The story was so fast and intense that I didn't figure out the killer until the person was revealed. I would have liked to see this one as a full novel just because I wanted more details but it was a very satisfying and complete read.

If you're a fan of romantic suspense you need to tuck this one into your summer reading stash. You won't be disappointed! 

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Photo Credit: © Michael Pettrey Photography

101 Ways To Have Fun: Things You Can Do With Friends, Anytime! from FaithGirlz and Zonderkidz

Faithgirlz & Girls' Life magazine
Juvenile Nonfiction

Bored? Need something to do with your BFFs? We've got you covered, whether you have ten extra minutes to chill on a school night or a full day to fill with your friends. 101 Ways to Have Fun is loaded with cute DIYs, tips on throwing the best sleepovers (complete with awesome snacks you can whip up in no time) and ways to spend quality time solo.

We'er sharing tricks for de-stressing, finding new things you love and staying super close with your besties (even when things get crazy busy). Faithgirlz helps you make use of those spare minutes and turns even the rainiest of afternoons into amazing memories.

My Thoughts

Summer is heading our way and with it the inevitable boredom syndrome from our girls! I think I have the answer for all you moms of teen and tween girls. 101 Ways To Have Fun is packed with clever ideas that will keep your girls busy and active.

The activities are a great mix of solo ventures and group projects. They also vary in times so there really is something for just about any situation. The concept of the book is for BFFs but there are several activities that would work well with sisters and moms. I especially liked Chapter 4 Mini Makeovers. It has all kinds of recipes for scrubs, bath bombs, and signature soaps. Plus there are some easy clothing alterations, hairstyles and manicures that would be perfect for a family girls night!

What I appreciated the most about the book was the outward focus on others. Sure there are some activities that are meant to be introspective but most of the ideas help girls see and interact with others in a positive light. For instance when it is talking about making and sending notes it prods the girls to use words of affirmation that will lift each other up. 

If you've got a tween or young teen girl in your house you need this book for a sanity saver! The ideas are brilliantly simple and affordable. Plus if you make an extra batch of those bath bombs you can have some much needed momma time while the girls do another activity!

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