The Perfect Father’s Day Gift: Scott Drew’s “The Road to J.O.Y.” (a review)

*this is a sponsored post*

I have the immense pleasure today of sharing about a wonderful book with you! I received Scott Drew’s The Road to J.O.Y. from FrontGate Media a few weeks ago. And although I am not a basketball player, I read this book in only one day (well, almost, anyway: I read the first few chapters the night before but then it got to be midnight so I put the book down until the next morning, and spent the day reading until I finished!). It’s not only a ridiculously amazing Cinderella story; it is, more importantly perhaps, the story of what God did that transformed a disgraced college basketball program AND those who coached it and played for it. Including Coach Scott Drew, the author of this exceptional book.

About The Road to J.O.Y.

Back in the early 2000s, the Baylor University’s men’s basketball program was rocked by scandals, including murder, drug use, improper payments, and recruiting violations; as well as an attempted cover-up. Baylor imposed sanctions on its own program and the NCAA later did as well. So, when basketball coach Scott Drew was hired as the new head coach, to say that he and his staff would be in charge of rebuilding Baylor’s men’s basketball program would be an understatement. Yet Drew accepted the position and moved his family to Waco, Texas, from Indiana. And the rebuilding began.

The Road to J.O.Y. tells the story of that journey, from Scott’s childhood as the son of college basketball coach Homer Drew (and brother of “The Shot” maker Bryce Drew), to his own assistant coaching position at Valparaiso University, to beginning his head coach career at Baylor–and the 18-year pilgrimage from there to Baylor’s win over Gonzaga of the 2021 NCAA National Championship.

It is a remarkable story. And Coach Drew tells it like the story that it is; of God taking him, his family, his coaching staff, and years of Bears players from, as the old Wide World of Sports promo would say (but in reverse), “the agony of defeat” to the “thrill of victory.”

In Coach Drew’s book, you’ll find his thoughts, along with Scriptures, on topics like: seeking God; spreading joy; God’s formation of us throughout our lives; creating a culture and holding to that; using your lows to prepare for the upcoming heights; and more.

If you’re wondering what the “J.O.Y.” in the title is, it stands for “Jesus. Others. Yourself.” That model is what Coach Drew, his staff, and players built their program on. His book chronicles not only the Baylor Bears’ journey to the NCAA championship, but the spiritual lessons that they learned in the process. It is remarkable, encouraging, and a book that doesn’t just tell a story of winning but that can transform the reader’s life with its lessons.

My thoughts

One of the things I like to do sometimes when a non-fiction book has been powerful for me is to show you the tabs I’ve put on pages that had important thoughts or quotes that I knew could be difference-makers for me. You might laugh when I explain that that’s what you’re seeing in the picture above! (I think my son found the sheer number of them overwhelming!)

I realize that, to some of you, that might look like “too much of a good thing.” I understand! But what I found as I read Coach Drew’s book, is that, in his road to the NCAA championships (remember, that was an eighteen-year journey), he experienced God in so many different types of circumstances, challenges, and of course, joys. I realized early on in my reading that Drew was chronicling his spiritual journey via the ups and downs (and there were a lot of downs) that he walked through. And what I found to be so helpful and noteworthy was that process. I feel as though, in American Christian culture, we can magnify the mountaintop experiences. And don’t get me wrong, they are great! But perhaps in our lives, we might come up against a struggle that we don’t know how to walk through; where God seems very distant and silent; where we are groping for examples of HOW to live faithfully.

That is what I found to be so noteworthy in Drew’s book. I love the story of how God walked them all from horrific scandal to the heights of victory. It’s a great one! But all my tabs marked the thoughts, ideas, and Bible verses that I want to think and write on in my journal. To consider the ways Drew learned to walk through difficulty, that are Scripture-based and full of the life experience I can also take hold of in my own life. It’s an incredible book, and one that could actually be a disciple-making experience for the reader.

So all those tabs? They’re marking things I’ll be writing in my journal. Praying over. And seeing God in ways I might have missed as I look back over some difficult years in our family’s life, and in my own. I believe that He is going to use this book for such good!

Some of my favorite passages

Now that I’ve explained to you what all those tabs ARE, let me share some of my favorite book passages with you!

  • “That the story of a man struggling to deal with the things God has put in his life, and his open questioning of God in that process, can be considered poetic is pretty awesome. That’s real life. God is good. So is the struggle he gives us. And reading through Job with my dad helped remind me of that. Because there were a lot of struggles.” (p. 65)
  • “But a lot of times, God doesn’t make sense. That’s the point. The Bible tells us to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6, emphasis added). (p. 74)
  • “The Bible tells us that God’s ways are not our ways, and we can’t begin to comprehend them. By definition, that means sometimes things will happen that you don’t understand. But does that mean God isn’t working in your life? As Paul would say, “By no means!”” (p. 99)
  • “Sometimes, when you find that you aren’t having the success you want, ask yourself if what you want is what God would consider success. He’s very clear: his goal is to be known.” (p.126)
  • “God often uses the least of us to make amazing things happen, not so much to bless the vessels he chooses for the mission but so that when people look and see what has happened, they have no choice but to see it as a thing God has done.” (p.191)

Obviously, those are only 5 of the many I’ve marked. But I think they’ll give you a wonderful flavor of what you can find in The Road to J.O.Y.

Where you can purchase The Road to J.O.Y.

So, here is the link where you can purchase The Road to J.O.Y. for a Father’s Day gift, a devotional reading for yourself, or a fantastic book for anyone you know who loves basketball! (Or is a Baylor grad, for that matter!)

Purchase link for The Road to J.O.Y.

This link will take you to the book’s main page, which also has a variety of booksellers’ links (like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Christianbook.com, and BAM! Books-a-Million). There’s also an audio link where you can listen to the first chapter.

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: This was a sponsored post. All the thoughts and opinions listed here are my own and are honest.

“The Catch” by Lisa Harris ~ a Revell Reads review

#sponsor #partner

Revell Reads was kind enough to send me a copy of Lisa Harris’s newest novel, The Catch. I just finished it and I’d love to share about it!

About The Catch

The Catch is Lisa Harris’s third book in her US Marshals Series. (It does definitely work as a stand-alone novel; but since I’m sure you’ll want to read the first two, The Escape and The Chase, also featuring US Marshals Madison James and Jonas Quinn, I wanted to mention them!) In The Catch, the book begins with two women; and the first, Myra, is threatening to take the second’s, Becca’s, infant son. Suddenly, a gun is brandished.

In another part of town, accused criminal Maxim Cervantes is scheduled to appear before a judge to learn whether he can post bail or if he’ll be denied that opportunity. Madison and Jonas, along with numerous other marshals, have been assigned to the courthouse since Cervantes, who’s on the Most Wanted list for racketeering, kidnapping, and felony murder, has a cadre of foot soldiers who are a serious cause for concern. And sure enough, that concern is warranted, and the two marshals are forced into immediate action to protect the judge.

It’s not just the judge whose life is in danger, however. Before it’s all over, the marshals will be searching for Becca and her baby, attempting to solve a murder, and to rescue someone from Cervantes’ hit men’s grasp. And they STILL haven’t had a moment to talk about their feelings for one another; but with several innocents’ lives at risks, their personal lives have to be put aside for the moment.

My thoughts

I couldn’t put The Catch down once I started reading it! Although I wasn’t familiar with Madison (and her past) or Jonas, and their earlier adventures, I really liked their characters. I sympathized with Becca (even though some of her decisions started the rollercoaster of crime and events) and was anxious for her baby to be found. I also do love police and federal agent-types of fiction, and I’m so satisfied when I’ve reached the ends of the books and the crimes have been solved. The twists and turns of the criminals’ choices weren’t easy to predict (actually, I rarely knew where things were going to go!) and Harris definitely kept my anticipation at a high level.

I enjoyed reading The Catch and felt that I was able to get a grasp of the protagonists’ characters and motivations, although I do wish that I’d gotten to know Madison and Jonas in the two earlier books of the series first. I appreciated their commitment and professionalism and loved learning a bit about their pasts and inner worlds. I can recommend this book for sure to you! (But I’d also say, read the first two books in the series too!)

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All opinions stated here are my own.

“Facing the Enemy” ~ a JustRead Blog Tour & Giveaway (ends 5/17/22)

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Facing the Enemy JustRead Blog Tour Welcome to the Blog Tour for the Facing the Enemy by Paige Edwards, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Facing the EnemyTitle: Facing the Enemy Series: Roxbury Heirs #1 Author: Paige Edwards Publisher: Covenant Communications Release Date: April 4, 2022 Genre: Romantic Suspense, Christian

Lady Elise Henderson lives two separate lives. At home in Scotland, she’s the titled daughter of the Marquess of Roxbury, an heiress in her own right. In London, however, she’s Elise Taylor, a top MI6 operative for the “home office.” But when a devastating accident threatens to end her career, Elise is left with far too much time for self-reflection and the regret of a decision made long ago that features one man: fellow MI6 agent Harry Benson. Harry Benson, the son of servants, has loved Elise for the better part of a decade. But life took them on separate journeys until their worlds converged once more. An immediate assignment to the Scottish Borders leaves Harry little time to make provisions for his small, rambunctious son, Sammy. Harry knows only one person he can rely on for the boy’s care—Elise. When Elise brings Sammy to her ancestral estate, she never imagines that a nemesis from her past looms in the shadows, hungry for revenge. Stalked at every turn, Elise and Harry discover that fighting their feelings for one another is futile, but can they survive long enough to get another shot at true love?

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

ALSO AVAILABLE


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paige Edwards

Paige Edwards is an award-winning author and a Reader’s Favorite finalist of contemporary romances with a side-order of suspense. She holds a degree in interior design and has worked professionally in that field. Due to her deep British roots, Paige’s books are often set in the UK, and she hops the pond whenever she gets the chance. She is styled the Lady Paige Edwards when in Scotland, but her favorite title is Grandma. When she needs a break from writing, she serves as president of her area’s Interfaith Community Council, is fond of digging in the dirt (what some might call gardening), biking battlefields, and kayaking on the lake. Paige is a member of ACFW, ANWA, and Storymakers Guild.

CONNECT WITH PAIGE: Website | Facebook | Instagram

TOUR GIVEAWAY

(5) winners will receive a signed copy of Facing the Enemy!

Facing the Enemy JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight May 10, 2022 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on May 17, 2022. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE https://widget.gleamjs.io/e.js


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

My thoughts

I have to admit, I fell in love with Paige Edwards’ Facing the Enemy when I saw its striking cover for the first time! And, it hasn’t disappointed me at all. Although the cover looks a bit medieval, it’s set in the here and now time frame. With the most captivating of characters!

Elise and Harry loved each other deeply years ago. But when Elise dumped him, Harry married soon after and now has a young elementary-school-aged son. His wife didn’t stick around, but Harry’s parents help care for their grandson when Harry is overseas. Because Harry and Elise both serve MI-6, the organization made famous by “Bond. James Bond.” MI-6 is also known as SIS, the Secret Intelligence Service. So you can guess what its agents do overseas; the high-minded name for their work is espionage. Which we all know can look like millions of different things.

When we meet Harry for the first time, he’s scrambling over rooftops trying to avoid bullets after his cover is blown. If he can make to to the pier at nightfall, he’ll board a boat heading for Tunisia, and after that, for the Home Office in London.

Elise is already there. Following a horrific car crash with a known criminal, she’s still trying to regain her former stamina; and worse, to deal with a health prognosis that she never expected. She’s instructed to spend the next six weeks healing and doing physical therapy.

And so, with Harry’s continued assignment and Elise’s medical leave, they both end up in Scotland; together again for the first time in a decade. She’s heading for her parents’ ancestral estate and he’s being sent to a military base. Because before he left the region where his cover was blown, he discovered that someone was smuggling British armaments to the warlord general who’s attacking his own country in his coup attempt.

But there are complications. Harry still loves Elise, who’s hiding her own complicated feelings under her own tough agent exterior. Obviously she cares for him…but there is that diagnosis she hasn’t shared with anyone. And there’s Sammy, Harry’s son, who’s has supposedly been under the care of Elise’s family’s cadre of servants; but he escapes them every time and has already ended up not only in mischief but in physical danger. Harry is undercover, trying to discover who’s behind the arms smuggling. And unbeknownst to the pair, Elise’s nemesis, a dealer and trafficker who has plans to move into an even more hideous type of crime, has an ultimate plan to carry out revenge. And the target of that revenge is Elise; and the trafficker doesn’t care whom he harms in the process.

Do not miss this book if you’re a lover of the spy genre (as I am)! It’s fascinating to visit the MI6 world and Paige Edwards has crafted a gripping tale. Lost loves, constant suspense, and this actual battle between the forces of human evil and the faithful and good who stand against them is not to be missed. Paige Edwards is a fantastic writer; I loved Harry, Elise, and Sammy–and you will too!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclaimer: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.

“Your Finances God’s Way” book and workbook ~ a JustRead Blog Tour and Giveaway (ends May 16, 22)

#sponsor #partner

Your Finances God's Way JustRead Blog Tour Welcome to the Blog Tour for the Your Finances God’s Way book and workbook by Scott LaPierre, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Your Finances God's WayTitle: Your Finances God’s Way Author: Scott LaPierre Publisher: Harvest House Release Date: May 3, 2022 Genre: Christian living – nonfiction

Experience the Peace that Comes with Wise Stewardship Financial insecurity can be one of the greatest threats to your well-being—but the good news is that even if you’re on a tight income, you can eliminate many of your monetary worries when you create and abide by a biblical plan for your spending. In Your Finance’s God’s Way, you’ll identify the negative money management habits you need to break and the positive habits that should take their place. Implementing the teaching laid out in the Bible, this book gives you advice and practical steps backed by proven principles, helping you • get the most out of your money by paying off debt and building up savings • make wise spending decisions that enable you to avoid anxiety, regret, and conflict • find a healthy balance between being financially frivolous and frugal to a fault Even when you have less to spend, you can use what God has provided to thrive. Whether you’re young or old, married or single, working or staying at home, Your Finances God’s Way will give you everything you need to be a careful steward of the resources you’ve received from the Lord.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound | Christianbook | BookBub

ALSO AVAILABLE


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Scott LaPierre

Scott LaPierre is a senior pastor, author, and popular conference speaker. He holds an MA in biblical studies from Liberty University. Scott and his wife, Katie, live in Washington State, and God has blessed them with nine children. Learn more about Pastor Scott at his website, www.scottlapierre.org, and connect with him on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.

CONNECT WITH SCOTT: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card and a signed copy of the Your Finances God’s Way book and workbook!

Your Finances God's Way JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight May 9, 2022 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on May 16, 2022. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Books US only, Amazon gift card where available. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE https://widget.gleamjs.io/e.js


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

My thoughts

If we don’t know much about wise ways to spend money, to whom do we go for guidance? The federal government (with its loads of debt)? To product commercials, who market their products to us as items we NEED to be beautiful, successful, or amazing? To friends or family, who may or may not have developed good habits?

Author and pastor Scott LaPierre has another source: the Bible. Did you know that Jesus “talked about money more than anything else except the kingdom of God” (Your Finances God’s Way, p. 18). 11 out of 39 parables, and 288 verses in the Gospels (that’s 1 verse out of every 10) are all about money: where it comes from, how people use it, and whether their uses of money are wise or unwise. As we all use money to live, how about we look at God’s Word for wisdom and understanding on how to best use this provision that’s actually come from God in the first place?

To this end, LaPierre spends much of his book teaching about what the Bible says about money, and the examples of humans and how they used money. This foundation (I would say that’s 12ish chapters out of 16) covers the following topics:

  • Viewing money as an opportunity to steward God’s resources
  • …and building faithfulness in that process
  • What’s wrong with loving money? (Well–a lot, really!)
  • The parable of the rich fool and what we can learn from him–and how to avoid being him
  • How we can give: sacrificially, cheerfully, willingly (and why)
  • Our emotions and feelings about money; do we have a spending problem or an income problem?
  • What God indicates about debt
  • and more

Then, in the remaining chapters, LaPierre gets into the HOWs of dealing with money. He gives specific wisdom and insight (and yes, how-tos) of how we can get rid of debt, how to save well, and how to retire well. The final chapter of the book contains Biblical perspectives on the many parts of life that will intersect with money; and really, how we can (as the Bible exhorts) build treasure in heaven. There is an appendix at the end with a website link that includes budget worksheets for financial planning.

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed LaPierre’s book. Let me be the first to say that I am not an accountant, a financial planner, or an expert investor. I don’t feel that this area is among those I operate the most confidently or wisely in. (Because numbers, ugh; I am so definitely a words gal.) However! Just because financial advising isn’t in my strengths arena, doesn’t release me from the responsibility to operate wisely with the money the Lord has granted me. So really, I needed this book (and its workbook, which is written in such a way that you read a section, then complete the accompanying section in the workbook. I’ve always found that this is a way that I learn the most from books and Bible studies. It takes the mental knowledge and brings it into the practical for our brains–and helps us retain the info well. So do be sure to purchase the workbook along with the book as a way to get the most out of Your Finances God’s Way) for the life wisdom it provides on dealing with finances.

Also, I appreciated the way LaPierre writes. There is no judgment for those who might be ignorant in these topics. Instead, he gently but clearly speaks from God’s Word about wise and foolish ways of the use of money, the generous gift of God to us; and how we can give with joy and spend with wisdom. That foundation (plus the guidance on getting out of debt, saving, etc.) will tell you so much about money from God’s point of view; and how we can follow that to become exceptional stewards. It’s a readable, useful, and enjoyable set of books for gaining wisdom on money. I do recommend them both!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.

Do you want to live “A More Beautiful Life”? ~ then this review is just for you!

#sponsor #partner

I was captivated immediately when I saw the cover and title of Whitney English’s lovely book, A More Beautiful Life. FrontGate Media provided a copy for me to read and I am thrilled to share my experience with this book! Keep reading for more plus information on where you can purchase a copy!

About A More Beautiful Life

Whitney English’s remarkable book is subtitled, “A Simple Five-Step Approach to Living Balanced Goals with HEART.” Her lovely book lives up to its subtitle and its gorgeous cover!

Goal-setting can be so challenging. Most of the models we’re familiar with are the business ones that instruct us to picture where we want to be first, then list the steps that will get us to that place. These models don’t take into consideration the goal-setter’s life circumstances, personal challenges, or family responsibilities. Instead, the achievements in the future are the goal and vision focal points. And not that there is anything wrong with that! But…what about when life happens or intrudes upon this lofty professional vision?

Whitney English has been a woman who’s set and achieved incredible and amazing goals. But she has also experienced the challenges that life threw at her, that broke the plans she’d imagined. Those experiences drew her down the path of creating life goals that are based on what individuals actually NEED; as opposed to what they might want or think they should want when they compare themselves to others. This path enabled Whitney to design the most life-giving, encouraging goal-imagining process. And it’s something that, when we have an off day or some bad experiences, we can reset so simply. The process is is based on the acronym HEART:

  • H – Help Yourself
  • E – Empower Yourself
  • A – All Your People
  • R – Resources and Responsibilities
  • T – Trade and Talent

The book breaks down each part of the process and explains it clearly. Each chapter has not only lists of questions that help the reader determine their current challenges and needs, but also ideas for how to formulate what we need and how we can build these, simply, into our lives. Like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (but in reverse), the reader can establish strength and goals area by area, then move on to the next level of need. And at the end of the book, Whitney gives encouragement and ideas for how to start this process as well as what to do when life intrudes. (As it so often can!) Building on the HEART process or progression, readers can envision and develop–and then, keep returning to–the beautiful life we all want to live. (Even though that’s going to look different for each one of us!)

My thoughts

I can tell you all, I have been a goal-setter from the first time I heard about the concept! I embraced goal-setting quite eagerly and enthusiastically. But while I’ve enjoyed some lovely successes, I’ve also encountered LIFE — not only in its wonder and unexpectedness but also with roadblocks, health issues that sidelined me, and relationship issues that my hopeful rose-colored glasses weren’t prepared to solve. So what happened then, with my goals? In those moments they fell to the wayside.

Whitney English’s HEART process is SO different. First of all, it doesn’t start with the lofty goals that are built on (perhaps) what the media promotes. Instead, it starts with what I, Wren, need TODAY. And every day. I love that HEART’s first process is what my own body needs. I’ll give you a spoiler: it needs water, nutrition, movement, and sleep. Now, I don’t know about you, but that has, in my adult life, generally been the last thing I focused on. Instead, I was serving! Doing! But not really taking care of myself. And I will tell you, that caught up to me in a harsh way. Whitney’s HEART starts with “helping ourselves” because that’s what provides the strength and grace for us to do the next things we “need” to do: taking care of our emotional/mental/spiritual needs; then our needs of belonging, love, acceptance (a.k.a., our families, relationships, friendships); then, caring for our home, vehicles, and finances; and last, our careers, ambitions, and desired accomplishments. That makes SO much sense to me. Instead of starting with “careers” first, and toward “self-care” last, we start with caring for our own human bodies (the only ones we’ll have on this earth). And then we can move forward in our life goals.

I loved reading every single page of this book. It was so physically lovely that I didn’t want to write in it at first. (That lasted as long as the introduction!) I changed my mind very quickly as I read and saw so many concepts I needed. I highlighted, wrote, flagged, and stuck Post-It notes with ideas on so many pages. And, encouraged by Whitney’s closing remarks, I’m going to be working through A More Beautiful Life again; but starting small. Maybe I’ll work first on drinking more water. Then maybe I’ll work on nighttime routines (turns out adults can benefit from those as well!) Then movement. And if I mess up, I can simply reset by going back to what I have done and adding again to that. I’ll be able to keep moving ahead, but in ways that will stick, because I’ll be caring for first things first.

It is a beautiful process. A simple one–and such a life-giving one. I want to continue to create a beautiful life. Whitney English’s book is going to help me do it!

Where you can buy A More Beautiful Life

You can purchase this book on Amazon at the link below. I so encourage you to consider this book! It really can enable us to live that beautiful life of our hopes and dreams.

Buy A More Beautiful Life here

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from FrontGate Media. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Perfect family-fun book review: “100 Days of Adventure”

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I received the awesome 100 Days of Adventure: Nature Activities, Creative Projects, and Field Trips for Every Season from FrontGate Media. It is definitely a book that is worth your while if you’re interested in creating fun and memorable adventures for your family and little ones (or bigger kids for that matter!).

About 100 Days of Adventure

From the publisher: Second-generation homeschooling mom Greta Eskridge shares 100 hands-on, learning activities for kids that will connect and enrich your family through adventures, small and big. Turn off the screen and turn on the creativity, curiosity, and love of nature as you have a meteor slumber party, attend a symphony concert, take a hike in the rain, preserve colorful fall leaves, make nettle pesto, and venture into the great, wide, real world.

Greta’s beautifully-illustrated, chock-full-of-ideas book will thrill your family as it offers you 100 adventure-filled activities for your family to do together! Each season’s section contains 25 activities that will engage young minds, hearts, and bodies–and bring your family connectedness as you immerse yourself in memory-making fun and adventure. Designed for families with kids aged 6-10 (but certainly will be fun for ages just under or over those), this book can provide the perfect idea guide for families who want to do something FUN, whether it’s fall, winter, spring, or fall.

And what kinds of activities will you find in 100 Days of Adventure? There are ideas and plans for cooking, outdoors experiences, art, writing, camping, volunteering, observing animals and insects, and lots more. There are even more “formal”-type activities like visiting an art museum, attending a symphony concert or ballet, and heading to a national park. It is so full of exciting and creative activities. In fact, here are some of the ones you’ll see in the book!

  • Start Seeds (in eggshells!)
  • Snow-White Canvas (painting on snow)
  • Knead and Bake Bread
  • Take a (Forest) Bath
  • Stand Tall on Homemade Stilts
  • Meteor Slumber Party
  • and so much more!

Each activity contains an introduction, illustrations, and a “What To Do” instructions list. Some (like the Create a Collection activity) even includes more ideas for kids to explore on their own.

This is a wonderful, joyfully-created idea book that will provide years of amazing activities for you and your kiddos to do.

My thoughts

One of my favorite homeschool memories includes the year that we had a homeschool group that met several times per month for enrichment activities. One week, we’d do an art project; the second week, we’d take a field trip; and the third week we’d do a local hike to a nature area. It was so enjoyable, and provided ways for kids and parents to experience art, nature, and more formal museum-type visits with a group of peers. It was a truly wonderful experience for us and parents still talk about it (or find older art projects from those days).

Greta Erskine’s book embraces the idea that adventures and amazing family activities can happen on the regular. She provides these beautiful and creative projects that touch on many wonderful things kids can learn in our wonderful world, whether they are in the categories of art, cooking, creating, insects and animals or the larger world of nature. Even if you consider yourself a creative person, there are ideas and plans in this book that you’ll love seeing and using yourself. (And maybe they’ll provide jumping-off points for new ideas for you as well!)

One idea that I love that was included here was creating your own adventure group. Whether you’re a homeschooler or not, I know that you and your children know other families you love getting together with. What a fantastic guidebook this can be for your own family, or for a group! I believe you’ll love this book and you’ll so appreciate Greta’s beautiful approach to family connections, growth, and activities.

Where you can purchase

You can purchase Greta Eskridge’s wonderful book by clicking on the link below!

Purchase 100 Days of Adventure here

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from FrontGate Media. All opinions and thoughts written here are my own honest ones.

“The 50 Final Events in World History” (a review)

**this is a sponsored post**

When you read the title of this book, isn’t it intriguing? I thought so! But this is not a set of conspiracy theories, or false prophetic words, or anything distorted or erroneous. I’ll give you a hint: it has to do with the Bible! FrontGate Media sent me a copy of Robert J. Morgan’s The 50 Final Events in World History and I couldn’t wait to dig into it. Keep reading for more!

About The 50 Final Events in World History

This fascinating book is actually a guidebook for students wishing to study the Bible book of Revelation! Author Robert J. Morgan (he’s also a pastor) wrote this book after digging into it again on a long car ride with his college intern, who asked him to teach him about Revelation as they drove. Anyone who’s done a Bible study may have studied Revelation. But many of us have found it mystifying and difficult to parse through. Of course, prophetic books are more challenging to interpret than epistles or historical books. And one wants to interpret properly. How exactly is one to study this book?

That is the purpose in mind that Morgan had when he wrote The 50 Final Events in World History. His desire was to make Revelation understandable for the believer who wants to dig in. And, there is a blessing for the student who studies this book. Did you know that Revelation 1:3 proclaims a blessing over the ones who read, hear, and and take to heart what is written in this book? What a great reason to study!

The 50 Final Events in World History is, in my opinion, a fantastic guidebook to use alongside your Bible as you study Revelation. Morgan has observed patterns in the layout of Revelation that will help the student to grasp more of its meaning. He has divided Revelation into 8 major book/timeline divisions, with a title for each one. And then, the fun begins! (Really!) Students are encouraged to mark these in their Bibles as they study. From those divisions and Scriptures Morgan explains and identifies the 50 final events that Revelation says will happen in the end times. His book chapters follow those timeline divisions, and the author explains, verse segment by verse segment, what this Bible book teaches. Here are some of The 50 Final Events in World History chapters and their verses (all verse locations are from Revelation):

  • Celebration Erupts in Heaven (4:2-5:14)
  • The Lamb Inaugurates the Tribulation–Seal 1 (6:1)
  • Dramatic Manifestation of Answered Prayer–Seal 7 (8:1-5)
  • Two Super Prophets Are Commissioned (11:1-14)
  • The Abomination of Desolation Is Set Up in the Temple (13:14-15)
  • The Seven Last Angels of the Last Plagues Appear (15:1-8)
  • The World’s Armies Converge at Armageddon (16:13-16)
  • The Lord Jesus Christ Returns! (19:11-16)
  • Conclusion: The Spirit and the Bride Say, “Come!”

Now, obviously, I didn’t list every chapter from Morgan’s book; you can see that there are verses missing between those I listed. But I hope that from those I listed you can get a flavor of the book, and everything that Morgan covers. Verse by verse, Morgan leads the student through this study. Students are encouraged to mark the 50 events in their Bibles as well. He incorporates other portions of Scripture, like the books of Daniel, and Ezekiel, in his teaching (I’ve always been a fan of letting Scripture interpret Scripture), along with historical data about the geographical areas that these events could occur in. He also mentions current events and how the events of Revelation could eventually unfold from those.

My thoughts about The 50 Final Events in World History

It can be daunting to study the book of Revelation! But Morgan is so encouraging and humble in his exposition and teaching. He understands students’ apprehension, but he also wants to fully equip the believer. Revelation is mysterious, and we may never understand all of it until we get to heaven. But, there is so much we CAN understand, and so, Morgan faithfully leads the student verse by verse through Revelation.

I also appreciated that the author’s recommendation is that readers have their Bibles open to Revelation as they read The 50 Final Events in World History. This is not a book where Morgan’s opinion is what rules. Rather, he leads the student/reader verse by verse through Revelation.

I think that The 50 Final Events in World History provides an opportunity for exceptional Bible study. And I believe that it makes the book of Revelation very approachable and understandable. Isn’t the reason most of us haven’t studied it because we thought it was the opposite of those?

Last, but not least, I found this book to be so incredibly encouraging. We have a God, and a Savior, Jesus, and also the Comforter (Holy Spirit) who are magnificent, perfect, sacrificial–and FULL of love for their created humans. How can you resist a loving God, who, in the last chapter of the Bible (Revelation 22), is still inviting us to come and be in relationship with Him? I can’t, for sure!

I am so happy to recommend this book to you. It is a kind, wise, and loving guidebook whose sole aim is to help students grasp the book of Revelation. Get yourself a copy!

Purchase at this link

Click here to buy The 50 Final Events in World History

Thank you for reading. And remember–“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!”” Their invitation is for you!

–Wren

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

Enter to win “Shadows in the Mind’s Eye” in this Read With Audra Blog Tour review & giveaway (ends 5/17/22)

#sponsor #partner #review

I’ve been introduced to a fantastic new author! Read With Audra provided a copy of Janyre Tromp’s exceptional Shadows in the Mind’s Eye for me to read and share about with you. Plus, there’s an amazing giveaway where you can enter to win a copy of the book plus some cool swag. Keep reading for more!

About the book

Charlotte Anne Mattas longs to turn back the clock. Before her husband, Sam, went to serve his country in the war, he was the man everyone could rely on–responsible, intelligent, and loving. But the person who’s come back to their family farm is very different from the protector Annie remembers. Sam’s experience in the Pacific theater has left him broken in ways no one can understand–but that everyone is learning to fear.

Tongues start wagging after Sam nearly kills his own brother. Now when he claims to have seen men on the mountain when no one else has seen them, Annie isn’t the only one questioning his sanity and her safety. If there were criminals haunting the hills, there should be evidence beyond his claims. Is he really seeing what he says, or is his war-tortured mind conjuring ghosts?

Annie desperately wants to believe her husband. But between his irrational choices and his nightmares leaking into the daytime, she’s terrified he’s going mad. Can she trust God to heal Sam’s mental wounds–or will sticking by him mean keeping her marriage at the cost of her own life?

Debut novelist Janyre Tromp delivers a deliciously eerie, Hitchcockian story filled with love and suspense. Readers of psychological thrillers and historical fiction by Jaime Jo Wright and Sarah Sundin will add Tromp to their favorite authors list.

About the author, Janyre Tromp

Janyre Tromp is a historical novelist whose loves spinning tales that, at their core, hunt for beauty, even when it isn’t pretty. She’s the author of Shadows in the Mind’s Eye and coauthor of It’s a Wonderful Christmas.

She’s also a book editor, published children’s book author, and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her family, two crazy cats, and a slightly eccentric Shetland Sheepdog. And if you ever meet in person, you pronounce that first name Jan-ear.

You can find her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and her website, www.JanyreTromp.com (where you can grab a free copy of her novella Wide Open).

My thoughts about Shadows in the Mind’s Eye

I was fascinated as I read Janyre Tromp’s book. I love suspense thrillers and Shadows in the Mind’s Eye is set in an unique geographic area; the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas, around Hot Springs. Annie’s husband (and Rosemary’s dad) Sam is returning from his Navy service in the Pacific at the close of WWII. While Sam was overseas, his brother Peter and best friend “Doc” have been helping Annie care for the family’s peach orchard. But Sam has brought something else home with him that he didn’t have when he left. His terrible experiences have left him with what we know today is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can manifest itself in unexpected moments.

Annie is different as well, since their baby daughter (who’s now three) was born after Sam deployed. So she’s been navigating life as a mom as well as working the farm (orchard). They’re overjoyed to see each other, but almost immediately Annie can see that Sam has changed. Will he be physically safe for Annie and Rosie to be around?

And Sam’s not only different physically. Annie’s afraid that he is literally losing his mind. He’s seeing things that no one else can see. Is it paranoia or something worse?

WHAT a story. Tromp is incredibly gifted at creating characters that readers will love and even feel concern for. And the situation the couple, and those they love (or those they fight with) find themselves in, is one that humans in our century still struggle with. Along with the emotional, psychological, and physical challenges Annie and Sam must endure is a mystery that Tromp drops little clues about throughout the book. It’s a mystery that is rooted in actual history that I was completely unaware of (and I won’t tell you the wheres and whys of that, lest I give you an unintentional spoiler!).

I especially love what the author says about her book:

“Fear is the great consumer. Sam is afraid he’s going crazy and that he can’t protect his family. Annie is afraid she won’t ever be able to cope and that the Sam she married is lost forever. And when they (or we) focus on fear, there are no solutions, no ways to move forward because they cannot solve fear on their own. We aren’t trustworthy enough or strong enough to fix it,” shares Tromp. “I’m a huge proponent of looking for and celebrating the beautiful even when it isn’t pretty. Gratitude isn’t a pretty bandage to slap on a hemorrhaging wound. It is a way to shift your attention while the master healer does his work. As Sam’s mother Dovie May says, ‘Sometimes God uses broken things to save us . . . Ain’t no light that can get through something solid. It sneaks through the broken places.’”

–Janyre Tromp, about Shadows in the Mind’s Eye

Here is what I can say. I was captivated with Shadows in the Mind’s Eye. Tromp is a most exceptional storyteller and there was never a moment that I wasn’t drawn to keep turning pages. Wonderful characters; heartrending struggles; and beauty in the midst of ashes. I wholehearted recommend Shadows in the Mind’s Eye for lovers of history, suspense, and the struggles humans must face to move forward in life. I personally will be keeping an eye out for any and all of Janyre Tromp’s books. You will be, too!

Now. Be sure to enter the book tour giveaway for some stellar prizes!

About the Shadows in the Mind’s Eye giveaway!

I so love this giveaway!! (If only I could swoop in and make off with all the prizes myself!) One winner will receive a prize pack containing:
 
– A copy of Shadows in the Mind’s Eye,
– A custom made silver peach tree necklace inspired by the book,
– A “Light speaks through the broken places” t-shirt also inspired by the book.

Here’s what all that looks like!

To enter to win this lovely giveaway, just click on the link below to go to Audra Jennings’ (who is Audra from the Read With Audra Blog Tour program) blog. You’ll be able to enter there via Rafflecopter. Giveaway closes on May 17, 2022. Best wishes!

Audra Jennings’ blog for Shadow in the Mind’s Eye giveaway

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Read With Audra. All opinions I’ve stated here are honest and my own.

“Inheritance of Secrets” ~ a JustRead Blog & Review Tour (& giveaway, ends 4/26/22)

#sponsor #partner

Inheritance of Secrets Blog + Review Tour

Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for Inheritance of Secrets by Robin Patchen, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Inheritance of SecretsTitle: Inheritance of Secrets Series: Coventry Saga #6 Author: Robin Patchen Publisher: JDO Publishing Release Date: April 19, 2022 Genre: Christian romantic suspense From a USA Today bestselling author comes the latest in the edge-of-your-seat Christian romantic suspense series that will keep you reading all night long. “I didn’t do right by your mother. Or by you. Find her and do what I never had the courage to do.” Her father’s deathbed confession changed everything for Aspen Kincaid. The mystery of her mother’s disappearance was unsolvable, or so she’d believed. It seemed her dad had lied to her all her life. After inheriting a house in New Hampshire—a house Aspen hadn’t known her father owned—she travels thousands of miles, desperate to fulfill his dying wish. But some residents of Coventry don’t want Jane Kincaid’s daughter digging into things they think should remain buried forever. Renovating the secluded old house on the mountain should be the next step in Garrett McCarthy’s contracting career, but Aspen’s arrival in town stirs up old animosities in Coventry that he’d known nothing about. All he wants is to complete the job, hoping it’ll open doors to new opportunities. But when he’s asked to keep an eye on Aspen’s activities, he feels he can’t refuse. How can he honor his beautiful, vulnerable client and remain loyal to the people who need his help? Join Aspen and Garrett as they attempt to solve a thirty-year-old mystery—without becoming its latest victims. Page-turning suspense, heartwarming romance, and a plot-twisting mystery that’ll keep you guessing until the very end. Preorder Inheritance of Secrets today. PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository | BookBub

MORE BOOKS IN THIS SERIES

<a href=”https://www.amazon.com/Stand-Breach-Danielle-Grandinetti/dp/195609802X?adid=082VK13VJJCZTQYGWWCZ&c


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robin Patchen

Robin Patchen is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of Christian romantic suspense. She grew up in a small town in New Hampshire, the setting of her Nutfield and Coventry Saga books, and then headed to Boston to earn a journalism degree. Working in marketing and public relations, she discovered how much she loathed the nine-to-five ball and chain. After relocating to the Southwest, she started writing her first novel while she homeschooled her three children. The novel was dreadful, but her passion for storytelling didn’t wane. Thankfully, as her children grew, so did her writing ability. Now that her kids are adults, she has more time to play with the lives of fictional heroes and heroines, wreaking havoc and working magic to give her characters happy endings. When she’s not writing, she’s editing or reading, proving that most of her life revolves around the twenty-six letters of the alphabet. Visit https://robinpatchen.com/subscribe to receive a free book and stay informed about Robin’s latest projects.

CONNECT WITH ROBIN: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card and paperback copies of the first 5 books in the series, Glimmer in the Darkness, Tides of Duplicity, Betrayal of Genius, Traces of Virtue, and Touch of Innocence!

Inheritance of Secrets JustRead Giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight April 19, 2022 and lasts through 11:59 PM EST on April 26, 2022. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

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Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

My thoughts

Well, there’s nothing like starting with book #6 in a 6-book series, is there?

Really, I’m totally kidding. While this really IS the first book in the Coventry Saga that I’ve read, Patchen’s novel works truly well as a stand-alone. She gives just a bit of “here’s what happened before” in Aspen’s new home. (Spoiler alert: it’s horrifying.) But it’s really only as a reference for why certain things are the way they are in the multi-story home, and in its basement. Garrett, the handsome construction & remodeling pro who’s working on the house gives her the tour and the story. It’s a lot. But Aspen is there just to solve a mystery, get the house redone and sold before she heads off to her next adventure.

But the mystery is a whopper. As her dad was on his deathbed, he asked his daughter to find her mom. Well, Aspen doesn’t even remember her mom. And how does one go about finding someone who doesn’t want to be found? As she moves from Hawaii (where she’s always lived) to New Hampshire (brr!), she finds townspeople who range from those who shoot her suspicious glances, to those who angrily confront her and tell her to get out of town.

Other than Garrett, and a few others, that has been Aspen’s experience. But she has found out some terrible things about her mother, and her mom’s and dad’s (and the town’s) history. But are those sparks flying between her and her remodeler? Yep. And even better, he is a godly man of faith. But as the mystery deepens and Aspen’s very life seems to be at stake, should she stick around or run?

Well, I’m not going to tell you the answer to that question! But I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed the characters. And the mystery. The story is a well-plotted book and is an enjoyable read (well, except perhaps for those “this happened before THIS book” references. But they really are just references, to help you get your bearings around Coventry.). If you like lots of suspense and mystery with a little love interest thrown in, this is a book you’ll want to read!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclaimer: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.`

Danita Jenae’s “When Mountains Crumble” ~ a review and giveaway (ends 4/30/22)

#sponsor #partner

How can a person understand how to walk through loss? Life doesn’t necessarily prepare humans for it. But those who have walked that path can offer wisdom and comfort from their own journeys. The BlogAbout Blogger Network provided a copy of Danita Jenae’s exceptional book, When Mountains Crumble, to me–and Danita’s honest account of her own loss and how God accompanied her through her journey after the loss of her husband–was a moving and compassionate read. BlogAbout also gave me a copy to bless one reader with. Let me share more about this meaningful and rich book with you, then I’ll let you know how you can enter to win your own copy.

About When Mountains Crumble

Danita Jenae and her husband, Dan, moved to their last military posting before his expected retirement. They were overjoyed at the life they were looking forward to and were thrilled at the opportunity to live in an area they loved. Yet on a mountain climb/hike (which he took regularly and was quite skilled at), Dan lost his life, to the utter shock of his family. Danita and her two young daughters found themselves alone in a new city, without a home, church, or friend group.

When Mountains Crumble is Danita’s honest and vulnerable account of how she walked out her, and her girls,’ terrible loss. In eight segments, the author shares her experiences in mini-essays, combined with journaling exercises and pertinent Scriptures. These segments include:

  • Fog and Shock (how grief affects you)
  • The Topography of Grief (what to expect)
  • Find Your Footing (soul-care)
  • Companions in sorrow (grief + community)
  • Derailed and Shaken (doubts + questions)
  • The Crossroads (faith + emotions)
  • The Veil Between Heaven and Earth (you and your loved one)
  • Sacred Ground (hope of redemption)

When Mountains Crumble‘s subtitle is “Rebuilding Your Life After Losing Someone You Love.” That beautifully describes what readers will find in Danita’s sensitively-written book.

My thoughts about this book

I have to admit to you that over the course of my life, denial has been my close companion. I wouldn’t actually call Denial a friend; but it was definitely a deeply-embraced coping mechanism. And yet denial really only postpones dealing with suffering. Those boxes that we pack pain into eventually burst open. But how exactly does one deal with the pain of loss, especially when it’s a close companion, relative, or friend?

Danita Jenae didn’t have the luxury of using denial when she lost her husband unexpectedly. She had to deal with that loss, in addition to finding a home, a church, and most importantly, shepherding her daughters through losing their daddy. What she experienced and fought for is detailed with huge vulnerability; but also, could be an incredible guidebook for anyone who has to fight through loss. Her exceptional book shines a light on the pain and confusion we experience with the death of loved ones. What I also discovered was that I could apply her wisdom and process to dealing with other losses humans experience; even those losses that I’d packed into those denial boxes. I’m early in the process, but I’m so moved by how Danita dug deep and embraced God as she walked her loss out. I’ve experienced emotion and tears (which you don’t always get when Denial is in charge), and I’m seeing that Danita’s process is valid and so useful for readers; and that what she learned of God and His care for us are true. He IS good. And He loves us.

I recommend this book for anyone who’s suffered the loss of a loved one, or faced other significant losses in life. The reading, the journaling opportunities, the wise questions, and the Scriptures will help you. Significantly, and with great comfort.

About the author, Danita Jenae

Danita Jenae is a young mom and military widow learning to carry both joy and sorrow in the same breath.

When her husband suddenly passed away she felt lost, isolated, and like she was waiting for permission to grieve. As Danita sought grief books to help her process her thoughts and feelings, she found that most of them were written for older generations and that the stages of grief didn’t line up with what she was experiencing.

Danita wants to help others know they are not alone in what they are thinking and feeling after a loss. She is an author, speaker, poet, and artist sharing from her progress in healing from grief trauma, walking alongside the broken-hearted.

To help you find your footing in sorrow, Danita invites you to grab your free copy of her grief guide here. Danita is also offering practical and creative ways to lead a Spirit-led life at danitajenae.com

We hope that as you begin to embark on this difficult journey…you’ll no longer feel so alone.

Enter to win your own copy of When Mountains Crumble

The FINCHNWREN blog and The BlogAbout Blogger Network will be giving away a copy of When Mountains Crumble to one reader. To enter the giveaway, 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 4/30/22. One winner will be selected to win.

Enter here!

Thank you for reading, friends. –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from The BlogAbout Blogger Network. All opinions are my own.