3 Books to Add Meaning & Value to Your Spiritual Walk

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I have been privileged to read and review books for a number of years. I am a total booklover, but sometimes there are books that not only are an excellent read but make an impact on you or your life personally. WaterBrook Multnomah sent me these books to read and review, and I wanted to let you know about them! They’ve all impacted me in multiple, and postive, ways.



Dee Brestin’s The Jesus Who Surprises: Opening Our Eyes to His Presence in All of Life and Scripture is both a book and a Bible study. It can be used in a group, or by one person on her own. We all know that Jesus is mentioned many times in the Old Testament, but we may not know exactly where. Here, Brestin draws us through different segments of the Bible (the books of Moses, the Psalms, and the prophets) to show us a more intimate portrait of Jesus and to connect the dots between the OT and the New.

Each chapter focuses on an image of Jesus pulled from those three Bible segments and is introduced beautifully by Brestin, who shares her own experiences and even her own suffering and how Jesus met her. We learn about Jesus’ love and the seemingly paradoxical correction He administers (see the moneychangers in the Temple); how to live and serve out of joy rather than obligation; the Lamb as He’s beautifully described in Isaiah; intimacy and prayer; the royal Wedding; suffering; God’s holiness, and more. The book’s Bible study sections include lots of room for the reader to answer questions; to ponder; and to journal.

This is a deep, intimate, sweet, and beautiful study. It brought meaning and vividness to my personal quiet times, and my own view of and understanding of Jesus. I’ve heard tons about Dee Brestin and her amazingness over the years, but this was my first time to read one of her books. I’m only sorry I waited so long! The Jesus Who Surprises was one of my most favorite reads/Bible studies of 2019.



As a new Christian, years ago, one of my most pressing questions was: how do I know what God wants me to do?

Over the years I have learned to hear God better. I certainly don’t get it right every time or always hear God well. But there are moments when I do, and those moments have brought beauty, joy, and fulfilling careers and choices to me (and, I hope, to those around me). There’s also the downside, though. As a human, with failings, family histories, and traditions, I don’t always get His voice and direction right. (Ugh!) So I do still have that same question, reframed a tiny bit: how do I hear God well?

Nathan Finochio, teaching pastor and worship leader, has a book that I’d recommend to anyone who’s wrestling with the same questions I did and do, still: Hearing God. This book is honest, funny, and designed to help you tear away the “myths” about hearing God so that you have a better perspective to understand how He might be speaking to you. Such “myths” include: that it’s always easy; that if messed-up people weren’t around you you’d hear Him better; that the Holy Spirit can be divided from the Bible; that if your life weren’t full of so much messed-up stuff you’d hear Him better.

I love what emerged as the bottom line for me: God loves me, desires for me to grow toward maturity, and will continue working with me when I mess things up (or when I don’t!). Nathan’s funny, conversational style clearly explains what God might be doing with us despite our faith traditions, our bad habits, and our own misconceptions. Hearing God is great. We actually used it as a read-aloud in our homeschool; it was perfect for me and my teen!




Core 52 by Mark E. Moore’s subtitle says it all: “A fifteen-minute daily guide to build your Bible IQ in a year.” In 52 chapters, Moore starts with Creation and ends with Heaven, and covers tons of information on what the Bible actually SAYS about these topics. Which is awesome! This book would be perfect not only for individual study and reading, but for quiet times, small groups, and even classroom teaching in a religious setting.

Here are some of the other topics Moore covers in Core 52:

  • The Fall, Covenant, and Holiness
  • Our True Identity
  • Jesus and David
  • Prophecy
  • The Messiah
  • Wisdom
  • Prayer, Money, and the Golden Rule
  • And clearly, tons more; that just scratches the surface of the 52 topics!

Each chapter starts with a question (e.g., “Who do you say Jesus is?” or “How can I achieve greatness?” or “What kind of kingdom is the kingdom of God?”). Then, Moore writes an essay which explores those questions (and sometimes, inspires further questions!). Each chapter closes with a summary of key points.

There is a box alongside each chapter that gives a daily (for 5 days each week) assignment to complete. Those assignments include reading the essay, looking up Scriptures, Scripture meditation, and a related activity that varies from chapter to chapter, like taking communion, writing notes, seeking out ways to grow in different areas. There are also bonus assignments for overachievers (ha ha!) and extra reading ideas.

Reading and utilizing Core 52 will take the reader through what almost amounts to a discipleship course on living and walking with Christ, understanding the Christian church, and becoming deeply familiar with the Bible and its precepts. While it would definitely be effective for new Christians, it will be just as powerful for more seasoned Christians.


Are there books or materials you’ve deeply enjoyed lately in your life? Be sure to share in the comments below!


Enjoy! –Wren


DISCLOSURE: From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

I received these books from WaterBrook Multnomah to read and review.

“Take Back Your Time” Book Review & Giveaway (closed)

CONGRATULATIONS to Dolores M., the winner! Thanks to everyone who entered!

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Do you desperately need more time…but don’t know where to find it? Have you tried tons of planners and lists but still feel overwhelmed with the busyness of life?

If you can answered “yes” to those questions, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Morgan Tyree and her remarkable book, Take Back Your Time. The BlogAbout Blogger Network sent me two copies of this wonderful book; one for me to review and another to gift to one FINCHNWREN reader! (You’ll find the entry form below.) It is a fantastic book, and one that I’d definitely recommend to you.



I am a person who has always thought (at least in my adult years) that, if 5 activities/responsibilities are good, then 50 must be even better! Or amazing! It’s been a long, eventful journey for me to learn to say “no,” to learn to thoughtfully evaluate jobs, invitations, and outside responsibilities before just jumping in. With our son’s senior year in high school this year, the need has been even more significant to plan and to consider choices and activities. This book, though, is making an incredible difference for me!


What you’ll find in Take Back Your Time

Morgan Tyree has designed the most gentle AND the most helpful time/life management course I’ve ever seen or used in this book. Ever! Time and life management courses often start with figuring out overall vision. That is sort of hard for me; I am definitely more of a practical list-maker than I am an overall vision person. But Tyree makes it so, so easy and manageable. The vision piece that I learned as I read is that I have received a gift of time, and I can learn to fill my time to the fullest, yet still create margin for the unexpected. (Which, as we know, WILL happen!)



Tyree guides the reader first in figuring out her top life priorities. (And don’t worry! That can sound daunting but she makes it easier than you can imagine.) Next, we’re instructed to make a log of the way we use our time, only for one week. Then, we can see if our activities align with our priorities. If not, we know some places we can make adjustments.

So. Once we’ve got our priorities and responsibilities figured out…how do we slot those into our days? Here, Tyree helps us determine how best we can organize our days. How are we wired? Are we night people, morning people, or middle-of-the-day people? Understanding how we’re wired is crucial to assigning the work we need to do at the best moments of our days. If I choose to do the work that is hardest for me and my brain when I’m the most tired, that may be not only difficult but frustrating. Yet if I can do that work when I’m the most energetic, and the freshest…what a win! But I have to know when those times are for me. Tyree offers charts and spreadsheets, actually in the book, for readers to use to figure out your personal ebbs and flows of energy. Which in turn, you can use in your own daily schedules.



The last third of Take Back Your Time helps us to look at and identify who we are (our personalities or temperaments–are we arrows, circles, bolts, or diamonds?) and how we need to interact with the world based on our design; our calendars; and our goals, or deciding how we want to move forward with everything we’ve learned in this book. Because, honestly, how many times have you read a self-help or organization book, put it down, and promptly forgotten everything you read? This segment of Tyree’s book enables us to take the next step: integrating all we’ve learned into our lives, where the material can truly make a difference and enable us to create a more beautiful and effective (and peaceful!) way to live.

So, what are the most important things I’ve been able to take away from this book?

  • I’m generally the most energetic between the hours of 9 to 1, so these are the moments for my most challenging and important tasks. I usually experience a dip between 1 and 4, another energetic period around dinner, then another dip with a last blast of energy between 10 and 11 PM (when we talk as a family and recount our day)
  • I am an arrow first, with a circle as a secondary personality type. That means I need to remember that ALL MY MINUTES AND SECONDS every day do NOT need to be scheduled! Down time and relational time must happen for me to operate well and healthily.
  • I have precious (um…and also difficult…) memories. But those memories are in the past. All my activities, and my family and friends are in the present.
  • And so much more, that I’m using to create more effective, present, and peaceful days


If any of these wonderful ideas resonated with you, do pick up a copy of Morgan Tyree’s Take Back Your Time. Life will always have unexpected issues, chores to juggle, and seasons where we don’t get enough rest, or we overschedule. But we truly can learn to create schedules and lives that feel full but don’t wear us out or make us wish for something to change (so we can keep our sanity!). It can happen!


And, now for the giveaway!

One FINCHNWREN reader will win a copy of Take Back Your Time. Simply click on the pink “Enter here!” link below. That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form, where you’ll be able to enter in a variety of ways. Giveaway closes on 11/15/19. Best wishes!

Enter here!


Enjoy! –Wren



DISCLOSURE: From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

Civil War Fiction Bundle ~ Review & Giveaway! (CLOSED)

CONGRATULATIONS to Heather V., the winner of the Civil War Fiction Bundle!



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Hello! I’ve got a trio of books to share with you today! The Blog About Blogger Network shared Amanda Lauer’s series of three books with me. They are written from a Christian Catholic perspective, about young women during America’s Civil War. They are A World Such as Heaven Intended, A Life Such as Heaven Intended, and A Love Such as Heaven Intended. In addition, they also provided me with an additional set of the series to give away to one FINCHNWREN reader!



About the series



  • A World Such as Heaven Intended

Amara lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Sister of two brothers (one of whom is home from war, wounded, and the other who they haven’t heard from in months) and daughter of an Irish-American, she is a devoted Catholic and Confederate at the same time. Although her devotion to the Confederacy is more based on where she lives and the boys she grew up with who are now fighting; her family is interested in states’ rights and are not slaveowners. When Amara volunteers to help at her uncle’s hospital, she serves the injured and dying. She meets one man, Nathan, who has an odd accent who says he’s from Texas. Yet he has a secret which will get him killed if anyone discovers it. Before them lies a road of change, of fear, of possible execution, and an ending neither could imagine. If they can just get safely to that point.




  • A Life Such as Heaven Intended

Brigid McGinnis, a former schoolmate of A World Such as Heaven Intended’s heroine Amara, lives outside of Dallas, Georgia, at her family’s home. Her father, a Dallas bank executive, also serves the Confederacy as Secretary of the Interior. He’s often in Richmond, with Brigid, her mother, and her two young sisters at home in the Georgia countryside. Brigid has begun to care for the home and her female family as her mother lost her own abilities to do so. She’s not elated to be doing this, but it’s not really the main thing that’s bothering her. Her real issue is the noises she hears every night (at least when her father is gone) that nobody else seems to hear. Scrapings and creaks that sort of frighten her.

One morning Brigid rose to get water before the rest of the family was up. On her way back to the house she is shocked to see a soldier lying in the grass; a Confederate soldier, knocked in the head, suffering from amnesia. He remembers that he is named Dominic (and in A World Such as Heaven Intended, we learned that he and his friend were pressed into army service against their wills). She brings him into the house where he sleeps all day. Then he wakes up to a soft, secretive noise outside his window. When he looks, he sees a group of people creeping across the yard: someone in a long, black cloak; and a group of black men, women, and children.

Brigid’s and Dominic’s journey will lead them from Georgia battlefields, along slave escape routes, to a convent, and to east Texas where Dominic started out at the beginning of the war. If they can survive all this and keep the people with them safe, will they ever find love with each other?



  • A Love Such as Heaven Intended

Socialite Josephine Bigelow lives is Washington, D.C. She hears a speech by Louisa May Alcott that quite dramatically changes her life. Josephine wants to help the war effort by reporting on the plight of Confederate soldiers housed in government prisons. Undercover, of course. She will serve by offering Corporal Works of Mercy (feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and imprisoned, and bury the dead), wholly encouraged by her father, who decides to put her to work doing these services sort of against her wishes and certainly her preferences. Still, it does get her into the Old Capitol Prison.

On her first visit, she encounters a man she’d never expected to see there as a prisoner–Michael McKirnan (brother of Amara). Michael, having been through scathing battles and having lost some of his memory, has no idea who the beautiful woman is. He does not remember that her brother was a roommate of his at West Point.

Over the course of the book, he’ll eventually remember and their adventures begin. Rescue of a young woman from human trafficking, evading a crazy man, and travel from D.C., to St. Louis, Georgia, and the great state of Texas. Can the couple find love in the midst of such events?


My thoughts

What an interesting series! The characters are connected in an interesting way. Their faith journeys are alive and thriving (and sometimes unexpected), and both the women and the men find themselves in unusual yet believable situations. I can definitely recommend these for those who’d enjoy Christian historical romance. I really liked all the characters, but my favorites were Brigid and Josephine. Such fun young women!



About the author

Amanda Lauer, author of this trilogy, wears a lot of different hats in her life. She is an author (of books and screenplays–even has a movie, The Islands, in pre-production), an actor, and a health and wellness aficionado. She’s also a wife, a mother, and a grandmother. Her writing experience includes copywriting and proofreading as well as novels.



Who would enjoy these books?

Lauer wrote her Civil War romances without PG-13 love scenes, so that both adults and teens can enjoy her writing. Her worldview stems from her Christian beliefs, and her characters engage their faith within the Catholic tradition. So, if you love historical (especially Civil War) Christian fiction with some romance, you’ll enjoy these!



How to enter to win your own set of Lauer’s books!

Just click on the pink “Enter here!” link below. That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form, where you’ll be able to enter in a variety of ways. Giveaway closes on 8/10/19. One winner will be selected to win one set of the three Civil War novels. Best wishes!

Enter here!


Thanks for stopping by and entering!





DISCLAIMER: From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

FLASH GIVEAWAY! “More for Mom” Review (CLOSED)

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If you’re one of my readers who is a mom, are you breathing a sigh of relief that the school year is *almost* over? You can have the best kiddos in the world and still be exhausted at the end of a full year. Does this sound like you? If so, I have the perfect summer read for you. The Blog About Blogger Network gifted me with Kristin Funston’s new book, More for Mom: Living Your Whole and Holy Life this spring. And, they have provided an extra copy so that I can give it to a FINCHNWREN reader! (This is a FLASH giveaway closing 5/27/19, so enter today!)



Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your to-do list? Or just tired when you look at the laundry pile/weeds to be pulled/calendar of events for your family? Do you feel as though you could be living a successful life and ministry if you *only* could remove one thing from the stack, something that seems to interfere with the life you want to live?

Kristin Funston has life and relief to speak to you then. She, too, struggled with this “overwhelm” feeling that causes us to feel that we have to keep producing and keep striving; as the marked-out word on the book cover suggests, that life and people just want “more” from Mom. Do you ever feel like that; that people just keep asking you to do more, more, more, and that you are trying to serve out of a cup that is already emptied out; or even, a cup that is cracked already?

Maybe this is just what our culture has shaped us to believe. I’ve certainly lived life that way and had those moments. (Especially if you’re a type A person like I am.) At a recent physical, my doctor and I were talking about stamina and energy levels, and the cost of doing more than we can. He said, “Well, if you can just carve out a “reasonable” schedule…”

Yes. I actually laughed when he said that. 🙂

Sometimes in the midst of mom life a reasonable schedule isn’t always possible. We can have the orthodontist appointments, the coop classes, the driving lessons calendared. But we aren’t always able to calendar sudden colds or the flu; unexpected emergencies; or the meals you’d like to provide to a dear friend in need. And over time, that constant demand of schedule can not only wear us down physically but emotionally and spiritually as well. How can we recover from, and learn to operate from, a place where we can understand that MORE is not demanded from us, but is provided FOR us by the God who loves us?

Kristin Funston offers a different mindset for us to operate from:

“Each of us is a whole person with one whole life,
and we were designed to experience the holy of this life now, on earth.”
(p. 7)

Okay, that sounds great. But what does it mean exactly? To Kristin, it means that we don’t have to live “compartmentalized” life, where changing diapers is one thing, teaching Sunday school is another section of my life, meal planning is another, work life is another. Really, our lives aren’t composed of the “important” and “non-important” parts. It’s all one life, and it’s all significant. All of the seemingly disparate parts of our lives are really all just one, whole life; one that has Him to steer us through, fill us up for, and stitch all those different parts together into one beautiful whole. One where we actually experience rest.

That’s just the first chapter. Throughout the rest of the book, Kristin unpacks these from this original “whole life” thesis statement:

  • Experiencing joy, contentment, and (yes, even) a holy life
  • Learning to develop a mental mindset that keeps our thoughts in a beautiful and useful path
  • Showing love by engaging with others both inside and outside our families
  • Dealing in a healthy manner with personal expectations and avoiding comparisons
  • Really, really seeing others
  • Understanding the real purpose of our lives
  • And tons more!

And while all of this is so, so awesome (and trust me; this is a remarkable book that has been incredibly meaningful to me), there are two things that really made it truly life-giving for me.

  1. There is no expectation in this book anywhere to make me think that I need to be a perfect mom.
  2. It. Is. Hilarious!

While Kristin is offering readers this beautiful way of looking at our lives and engaging with God for more joy, more peace, and more contentment…she is just so real. And makes you laugh while you read it! I am definitely an anti-spoiler girl (i.e., I avoided every single news article or blog post about Marvel in the weeks heading up to “Avengers: Endgame” because I did NOT want to know what happened before I sat in that theater seat!) but I just have to share with you some of these funny moments from More for Mom:

  • “If I can barely manage my life, how can I be godly?” (p. 91)
  • “Yow. Not going to lie. This verse hurt my feelings.” (p. 69)
  • “After a long day of (poorly) parenting my two-year-old, I find peace and even laughter when I sit and write words down in a journal or prayer book.” (p. 126)
  • “I have a terrible memory and am very easily distracted. I believe this is partly because of the changes that child rearing caused in my body and mind, but I also know it’s because there are roughly twelve bazillion things running through my mind at any given time.” (p. 150)

And all of this is important to me for several reasons. First, I REALLY believe that we need to laugh more. Life is just hard sometimes, and it hurts. And we can get worn down and forget how much laughter not only lifts our spirits but also puts smiles on the faces of those we love. SO important.

Second, I love that Kristin gets down on the floor with her readers. She’s not sitting high up in the air on some podium of righteousness that we can barely see. She is right down there in the trenches with us. She has struggled with our own struggles; she has had the snarky thoughts that we have had; and she’s made some mom mistakes that are so familiar to us. She makes it funny even as she’s making it real…and that gives us hope that we can do this too.


In closing…

Has this been a rough year for you as a mom? Are you just so, so glad that we are on the cusp of summer? Do you feel as though you just can’t accomplish one more thing? Or, if none of these things is true for you (yay for you if so!), would you just like to read a book that will blow a fresh air of encouragement across your mom life? Then More for Mom: Living Your Whole and Holy Life is THE book you must read this summer. You will learn so much, focus your gaze differently on your life, and learn how to live this mom life in joy and peace.

I loved it. And so will you.


And the giveaway!

One FINCHNWREN reader will win a copy of More for Mom: Living Your Whole and Holy Life! Simply click on the pink “Enter here” link below. That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form where you’ll be able to enter in a variety of ways. This is a flash giveaway, so it will close on Monday, May 27. Enter now and watch your email to find out if you won on Tuesday, May 28!

Enter here

And the winner is: Leela. Congratulations, Leela!

Best wishes! And enjoy! –Wren


DISCLOSURE:  From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.




“Other Bodies” by Joel Ohman – a book review

Recently I received Joel Ohman’s new book, Other Bodies, to review from FlyBy/Propeller Promotions. It’s quite different from my usual reading material, but I’d like to let you know about my experiences with it.





About Other Bodies

Other Bodies is a dystopian-esque YA fiction book written from a pro-life perspective. It shares a slice of the life of Hattie; a brief recounting of her recent experiences and choices, as well as a significant choice that she doesn’t know is before her.

The world Hattie lives in is inner-city Philadelphia many years in the future. Poverty is widespread, jobs are scarce, and 16-year-old Hattie is alone. She just lost her elderly grandfather, her only surviving relative, whose health had been suffering for some time. She finally has a job, though; at a medical facility called Managed Motherhood. She’s been newly hired as as a medical aide. She likes her new boss, Matilda, and Sally-Anne. She finds her work interesting.

As part of Hattie’s training, Matilda introduces her to the virtual reality machines, called TEDs, that a person can climb into and travel anywhere, experience everything. And what are those doing in a medical facility? Patients climb into them and go on a VR trip while they’re having surgery. The TEDs also can do medical full-body scans, perform medical procedures, and verify or discover diagnoses while the patient is virtually hang-gliding over beautiful mountains or relaxing in the sun, to the sound of waves whispering on a sandy beach.

It’s in one of those TED machines, where Hattie is trying out the technology under Matilda’s instruction, that she finds out she’s pregnant as the TED machine scans her while she’s inside, experiencing hang-gliding for the first time.

After the death of her grandfather, Hattie was pursued by a handsome young man, who promptly walked out of her life once he’d wooed her into sleeping with him. She’s living alone in an apartment that doesn’t have much in it, formerly unemployed and now making a small salary with Manged Motherhood, who also provides abortions. Hattie chooses to abort.

If I told you the rest of the story, I’d be giving away too many spoilers. But there are a lot of unexpected events and personages that show up, who are affected in some way by Hattie’s choice. The book is written in a dual-setting environment, where we see Hattie and her coworkers, acquaintances, and former boyfriend; then occasionally we see a couple of other characters, in an undisclosed location, observing and experiencing portions of Hattie’s life.


What I thought

This is a tough book. I’m a person who loves a happy ending and I can’t tell you that you’ll find that in this book…although there are hints that it might happen at some point. But it does tell some of the other side of the story of women in this situation.

Hattie is in a tough spot. She’s pretty much on her own. She has no one to help guide her through her decision, or the heartbreaking journey and events she experiences afterward.

As a woman of faith, I missed the hope that is waiting for all of us in the worst of our situations. God really does love us all so much, and, as in a verse I love, “Indeed, the Lord’s hand is not too short to save,
and His ear is not too deaf to hear.” (Isaiah 59:1 HCSB) Though some of the characters know this, Hattie has no idea. As far as she can tell, she is all alone. There might be a chance for her to save her baby after all…but can she?

Other Bodies tells the story of a young teen faced with a choice and its devastating aftereffects.


More about Joel Ohman:


Thanks for stopping by!  –Wren
Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this book for me to read and review. The opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

30 Days to Understanding the Bible Review and Giveaway (closed)

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Are you someone who’s interested in the Bible but confused about what exactly is in it?  Are you unsure of where in history all the Biblical events occur?  Do you know what doctrines are part of Christianity?  If you can answer “yes” to any of those questions, then Max Anders’ bestselling 30 Days to Understanding the Bible is a book you’ll definitely want to check out!  FlyBy/Propeller Promotions sent me a free copy of this exceptional book to read and review, as well as an additional copy to give away to one reader!

What is 30 Days to Understanding the Bible?

Author Max Anders has years of experience of teaching others to understand what’s in the Bible.  A veteran pastor, he’s taught on the seminary level and has written over 25 books.  He also was one of the first team members of the Walk Thru The Bible organization, which creatively teaches people to learn and remember the Bible and its contents.  You can find him at  MaxAnders.com.



All this experience has been distilled to create 30 Days to Understanding the Bible.  Perfect for both teachers and students, it is everything a person needs to (yes) understand what the Bible is all about.  It covers:

  • Bible land geography
  • Christian doctrine
  • the Gospels and what’s in them
  • How the Bible is organized and why
  • The major arcs of the Bible
  • Its historical eras
  • The types of books it contains
  • and more!

Even better, just as the title says, you can learn all of this in only 30 days!

How this book works

It’s organized in 30 chapters (so, a chapter per day for 30 days) which run about 8-12 pages apiece.  Each chapter is filled with interesting anecdotes, great maps and charts (with illustrations to help organize the information), clear presentation of information, and quizzes on chapter info so that the reader can learn and build on what’s currently taught, and reviewing what’s been taught before.  It’s fun, interesting, clear…and in addition to teaching well, it’s also a great read!


The book is divided into the following 7 sections:

  • The Story of the Old Testament, which covers the Bible’s structure and overview, its geography, the historical books (divided into eras of Creation, Patriarch, Exodus, Conquest, Judges, Kingdom, Exile, Return, and Silence), the poetical books, and the prophetical books
  • The Story of the New Testament, which covers the New Testament’s structure and geography and its eras (Gospel, Church, Missions, Epistles)
  • The Great Doctrines of the Bible (the Bible, God, Christ, Holy Spirit, angels, man, sin, salvation, the Church, and Future Things)
  • Nanosummary of the Bible (the Bible in 3000 words!)
  • How to Master the Bible So Well that the Bible Masters You
  • Teaching Plan (for small groups, classes, families, etc.)
  • Bonus Chapters (comparing the 4 Gospels, Jesus’ parables, the Bible’s miracles, Jesus’ resurrection, and more)

How we used 30 Days to Understanding the Bible

I started out just reading this on my own.  I have studied the Bible (inductively, via Bible studies, chapter by chapter, or simply reading it) since I began seriously following Jesus in my early 20s.  However, I don’t think I have ever done an overview of the Bible, learning how everything fit together chronologically, geographically, doctrinally, and historically.  So I thought I’d just enjoy this by myself.

However, once I started the book I realized that it would be an incredible tool to use in our homeschool.   I have a teen son who’s read the Bible for years but who could also appreciate and use this context for the Bible.  So I ordered a second copy of 30 Days to Understanding the Bible for Jackson.  Because the book has fill-in-the-blank sections, it really does make sense for each person studying it to have his or her own copy.  And because we just homeschool 5 days per week, it’ll take us closer to a month and a half to finish the book, if we cover one chapter per day.  We’re both committed to it though, and interested.  I am excited for my son, though.  He’ll be learning at 16 what it took me decades to get to!


My favorite things about the book include…

  • The great maps, quizzes, and review info that ensures you’re actually learning and retaining everything
  • The historical overview of the Old Testament
  • The explanation of Christian doctrine
  • And the Bonus Chapters, which had some of the most fascinating portions of the book
  • Anders’ friendly and interesting way of writing
  • and most of all, the great grace and love with which all this information is presented

I think that anyone who’d like to grow in his or her understanding of the Bible and all it contains would love this book.  It’s suitable for small group study, for classrooms, for personal study, and (as we’re doing) for homeschool study.  It’s equally as good for seasoned believers, brand-new ones, or even those who wouldn’t describe themselves as believers but are interested in what comprises the Bible.  I recommend it!

Where to find it:

Promo video link:  https://youtu.be/6J8xqfbsGBM
Official website:  http://www.biblein30days.com

And, how to enter to win your own copy!

FlyBy/Propeller Promotions has generously provided a copy of 30 Days to Understanding the Bible for me to give away to one FINCHNWREN reader!  Simply click on the pink “Enter here!” link below.  That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form, where you’ll be able to enter in a variety of ways.  The giveaway will close on 1/28/19.  Best wishes!

Enter here!


Enjoy!  –Wren

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Introducing the gorgeous Ellie Claire 365-Day Devotional Journals~A Review and Giveaway! (CLOSED)



I imagine that this is a BUSY time of year for you.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you had a few moments to simply rest, reflect, and read some thoughtful devotional and Scriptures?  Thanks to Worthy Publishing and their division Ellie Claire, I have just the thing to share with you…and even a giveaway for one person to win!  Ellie Claire generously sent me three of their lovely new journals to use and review.  One of these will be gifted to a FINCHNWREN reader, just in time to jump-start 2019!  The journals are entitled: Peace Begins with Me; Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus; and The Earth is the Lord’s and Everything in It.  Let me tell you more, and show you!



The Ellie Claire 365-Day Devotional Journals provide a place each day for readers to quiet a heart, think upon the Lord, and dwell on Scriptures and the Lord.  Each devotional is organized around a theme or idea.  The covers of the journals are vividly and gorgeously illustrated, and the books have an elastic band to hold the books closed (as well as an attached ribbon bookmark).  Inside, you’ll find pages for entries on each one of the 365 days of the year.  Each page begins with a quote of some kind, followed by a devotional writing.  Scripture verses are included, as well as blank lined sections at the end, for the reader to jot down thoughts, prayers, and ideas.


Peace Begins with Me

Peace Begins with Me has a lovely green/blue/white watercolor wash cover, with a golden title.  The inside is just as restful and pretty, containing white pages with green borders and a clear, readable font.  This journal’s theme is, of course, peace; specifically, gaining peace for ourselves by learning, knowing, and dwelling with the Prince of Peace Himself, Jesus.  Each page begins with a verse of Scripture that directs our attention to God, and explores who He is.


Who is Jesus?  In Peace Begins with Me, we’re reminded that He is:

  • The Lamb, whose glory lights the New Jerusalem
  • The One who gives us strength in suffering
  • The Maker of heaven and earth
  • The One who calms the storm
  • and more!

Some of my favorite devotional passages from this journal include the following:

“God, however, is not like us. He is not limited in what He can see and do. God sees full scope and far range, from an unhindered perspective. His view is not hampered by a cluttered past or the baggage of sin or the clouds of fear. We cannot even imagine what is known to Him in a glance. But we can ask and we can seek, and in Him we shall find.” (September 12)

“We human beings often talk about God’s will. When life is going well, we totally support the Lord’s plan for us. When the road gets bumpy or flat-out painful, we’re confused at best, despairing at worst, and hardly able to believe that the Almighty’s will is good or perfect….To be specific, our God is mighty to save you from death and gracious to redeem your life…” (December 5)



I love a lot about this particular journal.  What I Iove the most is how it takes me out of my day-to-day routine and points me at an aspect of God that perhaps I’ve forgotten about.  As a busy homeschool mom of a high school junior, my days are filled with a LOT.  Training my son, teaching him upper-level subjects, supervising the classes he takes online; and getting out of the way so that he can develop skills and become more and more the person he’s meant to be.  My daily prayers are focused on that, on my husband and family, on strength so that I can manage my day and responsibilities well.  But over and above all that is the God who loves me and my family; who has amazing purposes, and is working out things I can’t even imagine.  To move my focus to Him?  Yes, it really does bring peace.

Where you can find Peace Begins with Me:

Amazon: http://bit.ly/PeaceonAmazon

Barnes & Noble:  http://bit.ly/PeaceonBN


Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

From the title of Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus — if you’ve ever sung from a hymnal before — you might surmise that this journal’s theme centers on quotes from hymns.  If you did, you’d be correct!  Each page begins with a line from a hymn (or a praise and worship song), that tells us something about God and His character.  Then, the devotional develops that idea more fully, followed by Bible verses to read.  The pages close with lines for journaling.

If you are someone who loves worship music (both old and new), you will love this journal.  I personally love the old hymns for what they show us about God.  Newer worship songs do the same, in different ways.  Here are some of the lovely words found in Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus:

From August 21’s entry:

“Broader than the scope of my transgressions, greater far than all my sin and shame, O magnify the precious name of Jesus, praise His name!” –“Wonderful Grace of Jesus,” Haldor Lillenas

“Fortunately, as believers we know the battle for our souls has been won.  Jesus, the Son of God, understood the threat of sin, waged war against the enemy, and rose victorious over sin and the grave.”

Or, another great reading, from March 3:

“He bled, He died to save me; and not alone the gift of life, but His own self He gave me.” –“I’ve Found a Friend, Such a Friend,” James G. Small

“Times of adversity reveal who our true friends are.  The good news is, you never have to wonder with Jesus; He is always a friend.  A friend to those who feel friendless–the Companion who endures with you through loss and sadness.  In fact, He is more than a friend–He is Savior and Lord.”


I love Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.  Beautifully, it reminds me of all the steps in my journey of faith; from my grandmother singing hymns in her kitchen, to my days at camp where I first heard the gospel, to my time as a missionary and even my current life, as it reminds me of God in all His glory and goodness.  How amazing to remember that God is at work, has been at work, and always will be at work in us all!


Where to buy Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus:

Amazon: http://bit.ly/EyesonAmazon

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/EyesonBN


The Earth Is the Lord’s, and Everything In It

The Earth Is the Lord’s, and Everything In It journal pages begin with a Bible verse.  Then, the authors connect that verse to a particular aspect of creation, or to one of their own experiences in nature.  (You can tell that these coauthors have spent a lot of time enjoying and experiencing the great outdoors!)  Each page then ends with a short prayer and blank lines to journal in, along with corner decorations of colorful peacocks and flowers.

Have you ever experienced God through the riches of creation?  As Romans 1 reminds us, “ For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen…”  Perhaps you’ve taken your family camping and marveled at meteor showers or constellations in the night sky, away from the bright lights of the city.  Or, maybe you’ve taken a walk when a light snow is falling, and felt the quiet and hush as you’ve trodden the snowy ground.  Or, delighted in the roar of the waves on beach trips.  This book will take you through these experiences and more, and remind you of the God whose hand is behind them and in them, speaking to you through His creation and Scriptures.


Some of my favorite passages include:

“Likewise, God is a compass for our lives.  When we face important decisions, He will guide us if we will listen—“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.'”  (Isaiah 30:21), from November 16

“I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit.”  (Leviticus 16:4) “Even as a child I saw the difference between what I could offer and what God could do…I’ve not forgotten the lessons learned in Dad’s garden…”  from March 17


Where to buy The Earth Is the Lord’s and Everything In It:

Barnes & Noble:  http://bit.ly/EarthonBN


In closing…and a giveaway for you to enter!

Each of these books is lovely in its own way; and if you’re looking for a beautiful and thoughtful journal to gift to someone special, do check out these books!  I’ve included some Amazon and Barnes & Noble links for you, in case you’d like to bless someone (or even yourself!) this December.

I am giving away The Earth Is the Lord’s and Everything In It journal to one FINCHNWREN reader!  To enter, simply comment below and tell me something you love about nature.  Entrants from the continental U.S. only (48 contiguous states).  The giveaway will close on 12/26/18, and one winner will be selected to win the journal.  Best wishes!

Enjoy!  –Wren


DISCLOSURE: From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.