“The Joy of Being Mom” Review & Giveaway (ends 5/31/21)

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Recently, The BlogAbout Blogger Network sent me the perfect read for May (you know, Mother’s Day)! I received two copies of Judy Brisky’s The Joy of Being Mom. One copy is for me to give away to a FINCHNWREN reader! This was a wonderful and faith-building read. Let me tell you more!

About The Joy of Being Mom

Author Judy Brisky has written a book that’s appropriate for moms in any stage of parenting, from infant (well, really, even during pregnancy) all the way through our kids’ adult lives. The Joy of Being Mom contains 11 chapters on life, parenting, motherhood, marriage, and the Christian faith; and also about how God is right there for us in our mothering, every step of the way. Each chapter includes wisdom, instruction, ideas, and even stories of Judy’s own life experiences and how she walked through them. At the end of each chapter is a short but rich study guide (including a brief chapter review, applicable Bible verses, questions, “Heart Connectors,” and a prayer), as well as a coloring page for Bible journaling lovers!

Judy is a mother of 5 (three children in heaven, and two adult sons), mother-in-love to two daughters-in-love, and grandmother to Poppy (who’s also in heaven). She and her husband Mike spent years on the professional golf tour circuit; Judy homeschooled their two boys and Mike golfed as they raised their family. Those boys are now adults. Judy and Mike have been married for over 30 years and are now involved in ministry at Gateway Church. So, Judy is especially able to speak on many seasons of a mom’s life!

In The Joy of Being Mom, Judy’s Christian faith, joy in the journey of the mom life, and desire to share wisdom with other mothers shines on every page. Readers will get to hear about the way Mike and Judy came to faith and met God; how the Bible impacted their parenting and enduring the losses of three children; and how to live in the moment and enjoy their family relationships. There’s so much that moms at any point of their lives (even once the children are grown and have left the house) will benefit enormously. Judy’s voice is also delightful; she speaks to readers as if they are women she has come alongside to love and cherish. All of that makes The Joy of Being Mom a bright and refreshing read.

What I learned–and loved–about this book

One of my favorite things about books that come out of Gateway Publishing is this: while the authors teach and instruct on Scripture, life experience, and ministry, the books are always uplifting, encouraging, and never heavy or judgmental. I may definitely feel, while I’m reading, that God has instructions or corrections for me; but I never feel like I’m being shamed or condemned, or that the authors are putting burdens on me that are too heavy for me to carry. What a relief! And Judy Brisky’s book has all those same qualities. It was lovely to read.

I loved her reminders that our words have an enormous impact on our children. Are we speaking life over them? Or are we criticizing their flaws without offering them ways to improve? Her words on timing and lovingkindness in our speaking and teaching are on point and really able to instruct moms.

She shares a story from the life of Jesus that beautifully illustrates the heart we can have as we raise our kids. Although Jesus was the Son of God, He laid aside His position in order to lovingly serve the disciples, even to the point of washing their dirty feet. Amazing.

Judy also knows that a mother’s days are both full and sometimes…long. She found herself that putting her faith and reliance on God each day helped her to walk through those days with grace and love, instead of quick tempers or irritation. In addition, she shares tons of practical suggestions that enable moms to handle the responsibilities of life, like chore charts, teaching kids to communicate with grace, and staying involved in the Bible as individuals and as a family.

I’d love to tell you everything that I loved about this book and its wisdom. But I’m also a person who hates to give spoilers! So instead, I’m going to share some of my favorite quotes. Here they are:

  • “…He knows exactly what kind of mother your children need…God equips every mother with the specific tools she needs to help her children grow into loving, mature adults.”
  • “One of the most important things we can teach our children is that mistakes do not lessen God’s love for us or our love for each other. Love is not something we have to earn, nor is it something we have to worry about losing.”
  • “Listen to your children and thank them for sharing with you. Let them know that what they have to say matters and is important to you.”
  • “When you think there’s nowhere to go and the dim light at the end of the tunnel has faded away, He will be your Light. He will show you “a pathway no one knew was there.” Whether this pathway is one of healing, restoration, or guidance, it will bring you to the heart of God. It will guide you to the place of knowing that your heavenly Father loves you, takes care of you, and is always faithful to you, even when you don’t understand.”
  • “Don’t be discouraged if there is an area of weakness in your life. We are all in the process of learning, growing, and healing. Go to the Father and ask Him to help you.”

More than anything else, I love that while Judy Brisky has tons of wonderful ideas and perspectives to share with moms, a major theme in her book is that God LOVES us all so much, and that He is ALWAYS ready to help us, to share His lovingkindness with us, and to help us with our parenting and families. We are never alone; we have the God of all comfort on our side!

How you can enter to win your own copy of The Joy of Being Mom

The FINCHNWREN blog has one copy of he Joy of Being Mom to give away to one reader! Beginning at 9:00 a.m. EST on May 16, 2021, readers can enter to win this. Simply click on the “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 5/31/21, and one winner will be selected to win. Best wishes!

Enter here!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclaimer: From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service. 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.

“Finding Uncle Newton and his Nemesis” – A JustRead Blog & Giveaway (ends 5/11/21)

Finding Uncle Newton JustRead Blog Tour Welcome to the Blog Tour for Finding Uncle Newton and his Nemesis by Douglas P. Cornelius, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


Finding Uncle NewtonTitle: Finding Uncle Newton and his Nemesis Author: Douglas P. Cornelius Publisher: Gatekeeper Press Release Date: March 15, 2021 Genre: Middle Grade/Teen Historical Fiction (age 13-17)

She is outgoing, but orphaned. He is introverted, but a world-renowned scientist. Would moving in with Uncle Isaac Newton work? When his head was always in a book or the Bible? Teen-aged Catherine Barton tries desperately to connect, so seeks a match for her energy in the London coffeehouses. That women were not welcome there in the late 1690’s would not stop her, and she does find promising boyfriend John. Meanwhile, Uncle Isaac, as new Warden of the Mint, has his own challenges—nabbing counterfeiters, including the notorious, William Chaloner. He enlists Catherine to spy at the coffeehouse, and she welcomes the bond—all until boyfriend John gets implicated in a counterfeiting scheme. Then a case of smallpox, a pandemic scourge that had killed millions just decades earlier, sends her off to dreaded isolation in the countryside. And Uncle Isaac’s battle to nab the devious Chaloner turns into a challenging chess match. Will famous scientist Newton be embarrassed by a scofflaw from the street? Will Catherine ever find her true connection? Based on actual historical events and people. Author is a prior recipient of Moonbeam and Illumination Awards for books for faith-driven teens.

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


Douglas Cornelius

Illumination and Moonbeam award-winning author Douglas P. Cornelius hails from the Twin Cities, MN. He began writing after careers at Target, Ameriprise, and 3M. A Cornell University graduate, his hope is to reveal the lives of impactful Christian figures through story, rather than biography. Doug has been married for 45 years and has two children, three grandchildren, cat Selah, and new puppy Scout.



(1) winner will receive a print copy of Finding Uncle Newton and his Nemesis, winner’s choice of another book by the author, and a $25 Amazon gift card!

Finding Uncle Newton JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight May 4, 2021 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on May 11, 2021. 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-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

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

JustRead Publicity Tours

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

My review

Finding Uncle Newton and his Nemesis provides middle-grade and teen readers with a glimpse into the life of scientist Sir Isaac Newton. Set in England in the late 1600s and peopled with actual historical figures, this book tells the story of what might have happened when his orphaned niece, Catherine Barton, came to live with him after “aging” out of the orphanage she lived in (at age 16!). Imagine a vibrant, extroverted teen moving into her uncle’s home; her uncle who had a brilliant scientific mind, a vigorous Christian faith, and…a temper.

While her Uncle Isaac had already published his masterwork Principia Mathematica when Catherine came to live with him, both his scientific and faith explorations were far from over. The monarchy had faced immense difficulties with England’s economy, and these difficulties were exacerbated by large counterfeiting operations, when bogus coins were struck and used as legal tender. To help solve this crisis, Newton was appointed Warden of the Mint and tasked with finding and arresting the counterfeiters.

In Finding Uncle Newton and his Nemesis, young readers will meet a number of actual people who lived in Newton’s time and interacted with the scientist and, perhaps, his niece, such as:

  • Edmund (sometimes spelled Edmond) Halley
  • Captain William Phips
  • Counterfeiter William Chalmoner
  • Newgate prisoner Cecilia Labree
  • Colonial poet Anne Bradstreet
  • and more

In addition, author Douglas Cornelius also includes excerpts from actual letters in this book (although their 17th-century language has been updated for today’s readers).

Sir Isaac Newton is one of my favorite scientists of all time. His exceptional scientific discoveries still affect us and inform our understanding of astronomy and science today. Many people might be surprised to learn that he investigated the Bible and the realm of faith just as intensely. Finding Uncle Newton and his Nemesis is an engaging story about Newton and his niece Catherine, who deeply desires to be loved and valued. Newton’s pursuit of England’s counterfeiters while serving as Warden of the Mint provides a wonderful, and true, spy story. I so enjoyed the way Cornelius wove the actual letters and statements of counterfeiter Chalmoner into this tale (proving yet again that people really haven’t changed much over the years). Readers will gain a wonderful insight not only into Newton’s faith, and into his ideas and discoveries as well.

Finding Uncle Newton and his Nemesis is a fantastic read for teens, and also, I’d believe, for late elementary-aged students. This book could be enjoyed either as a reader or a family read-aloud.

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.

“Begotten” – A JustRead Blog + Review Tour (plus giveaway, ends 5/4/21)

Begotten JustRead Blog + Review Tour

Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for Begotten by Lisa T. Bergren, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


Begotten Title: Begotten Series: The Gifted Trilogy #1 Author: Lisa T. Bergren Publisher: BCG Press Release Date: April 26, 2021 Genre: Christian, Supernatural Suspense Begotten is an edited, new edition of a novel previously released in 2006, The Begotten. At the height of the Inquisition, a secret half a millennium old is about to be exposed—a lost letter believed to have been written by Saint Paul but never part of the Christian canon. The letter speaks of men and women—the Gifted—with profound spiritual gifts that will strike fear in the heart of a Church dedicated to maintaining power. Now the letter has surfaced and the Gifted are gathering. But so are their enemies… PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Christianbook


Lisa T. Bergren

Lisa T. Bergren is the best-selling, award-winning author of over 60 books in a variety of genres, from children’s picture books to contemporary romance to supernatural suspense novels. She lives in Colorado Springs in a brand-new home she and her husband just finished building and intend to never leave, because she’s discovered she loathes moving. You can find out more about her at LisaTBergren.com

CONNECT WITH LISA: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


(1) winner will receive a signed print copy of Begotten, a custom Gifted candle, and a $50 Amazon gift card!

Begotten 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 27, 2021 and lasts through 11:59 PM EST on May 4, 2021. 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-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

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

JustRead Publicity Tours

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

My review of Begotten

Gianni de Capezzana: knight of the Church, strong and courageous in his faith as he and his men seek to track down the Sorcerer, who is a murderer, destroyer, and ensnarer of the unwary.

Father Piero: transient priest, preacher of the Gospel of Christ, holder of a prophetic illuminated document, that foretells three who will bring life, healing, and faith to those in need.

Lady Daria d’Angelo: member of a noble Siena family famous for their weaving, who’s abiding in a convent after a broken engagement. She hopes to heal her own heart, not knowing that God has given her an unusual gift for healing others.

These three, although they don’t know it yet, are part of the Gifted, a group of Christians who’ve been brought together to share the gifts of the Spirit in a time when the Church was generally the only possessor of the Bible and the only groups and individuals authorized to speak of God and His directions. Yet a battle has begun between two sides that will engage them all, heart and soul, and draw others into a spiritual and physical fight between good and evil. Will they be able to stand against such a powerful enemy, with weapons that are spiritual, as they seek to save the lost and the broken?

Lisa Bergren’s exceptional gift for storytelling brings the struggle between the God and His children and the forces of darkness to life with appealing and varied characters. Life in Italy, in the 1300s, is captured vividly; readers can picture cathedrals, cobblestoned plazas, and walled castles as well as the challenges of existence in the Middle Ages. Just as powerfully, Bergren describes the lives of individuals called to follow God and gifted for His amazing purposes in this novel about Daria, Piero, Gianni, the Sorcerer, and others, and the forces aligned on both sides. This exciting book is the first in The Gifted series, with two more to come.

If you love a fantastic story, engaging characters, and inspirational fiction, you’ll love Begotten. Just be prepared for a wonderful, if sometimes frightening, tale of good and its fight against evil!

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.

“Empty Nest, Full Life” – a review

#sponsor #partner

I had the enormous privilege of experiencing Jill Savage’s wisdom for life in her exceptional new book for empty nesters. The Blog About Blogger Network sent me a copy of Empty Nest, Full Life and I’ve loved every moment of reading this book. If you are in, or are preparing for the time of life when your children are grown and have entered their own adult lives, you will want to grab a copy of this book!

About Empty Nest, Full Life

Being the mom of kids who range from the ages of infant to high school graduate tends to create a full, busy life. Eventually, those kids are going to go off to college (or other educational institutions), pursue careers, and move out of the homes they’ve grown up in. Making that transition can feel overwhelming, sad, and without a clear path to follow. How can moms, and dads, step into such a different life with grace, courage, and wisdom, while not trying to hang onto or control their adult children? Empty Nest, Full Life is subtitled “Discovering God’s Best for Your Next,” and that sums up a fantastic perspective outlined in this book for parents as they step into the new chapter of their lives without kids at home.

Author Jill Savage covers a lot of ground in this 277-page softcover book. Suddenly, our full houses can feel very empty. How is our thought life coping with all that empty space in our physical home and our schedules? It’s so important that we are thinking truthfully as we move through this transition. Right away, in the first chapter, Jill offers help for moms in this process, including lies we might believe and truths to replace them, and a questionnaire to help readers assess what we’ve experienced and learned over the years. This powerful chapter assists readers to begin to step into what Jill calls the “encore” years on a solid foundation.

Much of this book deals with relationships. How do we learn to interact with our grown children as they begin their own adult life journeys? Our roles will change, but much of the success of those parent/adult child relationships lies with the parents’ expectations and willingness to release control and authority as their kids are stepping out into their own marriages, careers, and parenting. Jill divides the book into two major sections: “Let Go” and “Hold On.” For us to move successfully into this new segment of our lives, there are habits, thought patterns, and traditions or opinions that, if we choose to lay them aside, will enable us (and our kids!) to move on in a beautiful and healthy way. There may also be idols that we have set up that would try to drag us down. Wouldn’t it be amazing to identify those and kick them out?

Jill’s picture of the lives empty nesters can lead is full of wonder and excitement. We may not feel wonderful nor excited when our kids move out! But we can embrace, or as the author says, “Hold On,” to what God has for us. Just because a particular (and important) season of our lives is past, doesn’t mean that God is finished with us! He may have a new career, or mission field, ahead for us. We may have had a list of things that we’d like to do “someday.” What if “someday” has suddenly become now? This season is also a time where we can pursue new friendships as well as new paths in our marriages, if we are married. And God is still there, desiring to continue or have a rich and loving relationship with us! Truly, there can be many adventures ahead.

My favorite moments in Empty Nest, Full Life

You can see from the banner above, if you look very closely to the right of the book, all the little flags and sticky notes I used to mark important things I wanted to practice or remember. My highlighter pens got quite a workout as well! You see, I’ve been out on this empty nest journey myself for almost an entire school year while our son has been in his college dorm. I’ve personally experienced so many changes myself! From learning to release him so that he can grow in confidence and authority; to keeping my (often very strong) opinions to myself when they won’t really add much to our conversations; to starting out to learn what God has for me in this next season of my life. So I’d say that, while I’ve learned many things over the last 8 months, there is still much for me to learn and walk into, and Jill’s wonderful book has opened my eyes to many things I’d never considered. Here are some of the most memorable quotes for me:

  • “As you adjust your expectations to better match reality or let go of expectations of others completely, you’ll find your contentment will increase, your love will expand, and your relationship with your…kids will be strengthened.” (p. 47)
  • “Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV) tell us we experience “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” The fruits we particularly need as we fight the temptation to share our opinions when they’re not requested are love, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.” (p. 65)
  • “It’s being a safe person to be honest with–one who listens, shows compassion and empathy, and leads with love…It’s not about lecturing or telling them what to do.” (p. 105)
  • “He is a good God with good plans for us. He wants what’s best for us. His plans are hope-filled and yet-to-come. This means we have something to anticipate.” (p.136)
  • “You and I have to steward this body God has given us. Take care of it. Keep it healthy.” (p. 227)

And that’s just a tiny sampling of the richness moms can find as they are preparing for and entering God’s next steps in their journey.

In closing

My life this year, since our son has stepped out on his college adventure, has been quite a learning experience! I have seen God bring so many books to my attention that have helped me to heal, to grow, and to work with Him as He leads our family as a whole and individually. I have to say that Jill Savage’s Empty Nest, Full Life has been an incredible encouragement and instruction manual for me! As a wife and mom of 5 who have grown to adulthood and left her home, Jill has an enormous bounty of wisdom and helps for those on their own similar journey. It has been a wise and beautiful help for me.

I recommend Empty Nest, Full Life to you if you’re on your own empty nest path, or if you’re approaching it. You’ll find Jill to be a wonderful friend and guide to you, with God’s help, as you walk out this new season. Do get yourself a copy!

Where you can find Jill Savage

Jill is active on social media so you can connect with her there!

Jill Savage blog

Facebook: @jillsavage.author

Twitter: @jillsavage

Instagram: @jillsavage.author

Empty Nest, Full Life website

Enjoy! –Wren

DISCLOSURE: From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service, for which we share our honest opinions on 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.

“Downsizing” – A JustRead Blog & Review Tour (closed)

Downsizing JustRead Blog + Review Tour Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for Downsizing by Lin Stepp, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


Downsizing Title: Downsizing Series: Mountain Home Books #2 Author: Lin Stepp Publisher: Mountain Hill Press Release Date: April 1, 2021 Genre: Clean/Sweet Contemporary Romance

Forced to suddenly downsize her life, and not by choice, pushes Mary Pat Latham to give up all that is familiar, to reexamine her life in every area, and to eventually open her heart to new beauty and purpose, instead of only looking back in regret.

At midlife, Mary Pat Latham has an almost perfect life—a successful husband, a beautiful home, four fine grown children, and a wealth of meaningful activities and social clubs to fill her days—so it’s a total shock when her husband walks in one day and says he wants a divorce. As if hearing a stranger talking in her own kitchen, Mary Pat listens to Russell’s reasons for wanting to abandon their long marriage and to his plans, already in place, to sell their home and move on. What will she do? Where will she go? She hasn’t worked since the children were born, her life wrapped up in home and family. Stunned, Mary Pat heads to the small mountain home she and Russell bought from her parents years ago, too shocked and humiliated to face her friends or anyone she knows right now. Owen McCarter knew he’d need to stop by the old Jennings place, on some pretense or other, after Wheeler told him he’d seen a woman up there acting sick. After all, the house was next door to his at the end of Highland Drive. When he knocked on the front door later, it took him a minute to recognize Mary Pat, weeping and so different from the girl he’d known in childhood and fallen in love with. Owen reached out in friendship, of course, seeing Mary Pat so upset, but he felt surprised at the old memories that touched him, too. Hearing her problems and learning why she’d come to the mountains, Owen knew it unlikely she’d stay for long after the more lavish life she’d known. But he couldn’t help wishing she would. Another Lin Stepp novel set in the Smoky Mountains … with a special “Downsizing Diet” available free to readers as a book supplement.

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



Lin Stepp

image credit Katie Riley

Lin Stepp is a New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Amazon best-selling international author, A native Tennessean, businesswoman, and former faculty member at Tusculum College, Lin has twenty-one published books, including her beloved Smoky Mountain and Mountain Home novels, all set in different Tennessee and North Carolina locations, plus a novella A Smoky Mountain Gift in one of Kensington’s Christmas anthologies.

Stepp’s latest novels, set around the Smoky Mountains, are Downsizing (2021) and Happy Valley (2019). Lin also has three novels set on the South Carolina coast in her Edisto Trilogy: Claire at Edisto (2019), Return to Edisto (2020) and Edisto Song (2021). Lin and her husband J.L. also write regional guidebooks, including a Smoky Mountain hiking guide and two state parks guidebooks for Tennessee and South Carolina.

Lin’s title Claire At Edisto was the 2019 Best Books Award Winner in Fiction: Romance, sponsored by American Book Fest, her novel Welcome Back a finalist in the 2017 Selah Awards, and Lin and her husband’s guidebook Discovering Tennessee State Parks a 2019 Best Books Award Finalist in Nonfiction: Travel Guides with American Book Fest.

Lin enjoys hiking and exploring out of doors and she loves speaking for events, festivals, libraries, and book clubs and sharing about her work and interests through her monthly blog and newsletter, both on her website at: http://www.linstepp.com

CONNECT WITH LIN: Website | Facebook | Twitter


(1) winner will receive a Tennesee gift pack including a print copy of Downsizing by Lin Stepp, The Afternoon Hiker and Discovering Tennessee State Parks by J.L. & Lin Stepp, and a Great Smoky Mountains National Park pocket guide!

Downsizing JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight April 5, 2021 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on April 12, 2021. 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-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

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

JustRead Publicity Tours

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

My review of Downsizing

Mary Pat has had a lovely, decades-long marriage. Her husband is a surgeon. They’ve raised four wonderful children and live in a nice home in a well-to-do neighborhood. Her days are filled with clubs and volunteering. She’s frosting a cake for a meeting when her husband Russell comes home, sits across from her in the kitchen, and tells her he wants a divorce and that he’s already got an offer for their home. (And also, by the way, that she’s put on too much weight.) To say she’s shocked would be an understatement.

Heartsick, Mary Pat takes her dog and flees to her parents’ home in the Tennessee mountains, where she grew up. Her first few weeks aren’t that awesome. Grieving her upcoming divorce, she is also reminded (quite rudely) by several people that she is not the fit, slender twirler she was in college. In fact, she’s quite overweight.

She also has a run-in with…a bear.

City life did not prepare her for all this trauma! But Mary Pat does find kindness in a nearby neighbor, an also-divorced high school former boyfriend, Owen, who has returned to the mountains to work and live near his sister and father. Mary Pat is most definitely not interested in a relationship, especially after discovering that Russell plans to remarry right after their divorce is final.

But, life is full of changes. And there are indeed changes ahead for Mary Pat. Faith, hope, and perhaps even love are ahead of her as she sets out to rebuild her broken life and discard the weights that have held her down and back.

Downsizing captures the down-home beauty and comfort of life in the Tennessee mountains. It reminds readers that new dreams can be built after old ones are swept away. Also, that our faithful God is still there even when people fail us; and that while not all people are trustworthy, sometimes we find faithful friends where we’d least expect them. In fact, my favorite quote in the book mentions the encouragement we can find in community: “…but when you’re around people of strong faith, it builds your own faith up. I read a quote once that said you can only be lifted up to higher ground by people who walk there.”

Words for Mary Pat to live by…and for us as well!

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.

“The Power of 1440” – A JustRead Blog Tour & Giveaway (ends 3/22/21)

The Power of 1440 JustRead Blog Tour Welcome to the Blog Tour for The Power of 1440 by Tim Timberlake, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


The Power of 1440Title: The Power of 1440 Author: Tim Timberlake Publisher: Thomas Nelson Release Date: March 9, 2021 Genre: Christian Life/Personal Growth

A thirty-day story-driven manual to celebrate the importance and blessing of each of the 1,440 minutes we are given every day, written by an up-and-coming lead pastor of a global church. The son of a preacher, eighteen-year-old Tim Timberlake’s tragic and painful personal story of the sudden loss of his father began his journey toward seeing the benefit and blessing of each day. And not just to get through it, but to exhaust every opportunity of potential of that day, moment by moment, fulfilling his God-given purpose. Today Pastor Tim inspires others to approach each day with its 1,440 minutes in a way that they live out their own God-given purposes and passions. Comprised of thirty bite-size chapters, The Power of 1440 is a day-by-day manual to help readers deal with topics like forgiveness, perspective, mistakes, rest, and living a life that matters. He says, “Win some, learn some . . . but never lose.” Every day should be magnificent, not mundane; filled with delight, not drudgery; and a grand adventure, not a grind. It is possible to make today and every day truly remarkable.

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


Tim Timberlake

Tim Timberlake is the lead pastor of Celebration Church in Jacksonville, Florida and Creedmoor, North Carolina. He is a gifted communicator and teacher who has the ability to communicate to people from all walks of life. His sense of humor, combined with his in-depth Bible teaching, gives the listener and reader the tools to transform their lives from the inside out. Tim is a graduate of the Pistis School of Ministry in Detroit, Michigan. He is an avid sports fan and a cultural thought leader.

CONNECT WITH TIM: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


(1) winner will receive a print copy of The Power of 1440!

The Power of 1440 JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight March 15, 2021 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on March 22, 2021. 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-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

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

JustRead Publicity Tours

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

My Review

The Power of 1440 begins with one of the most unique stories I’ve ever heard (and no spoilers, you’ll have to read it for yourself!). Tim Timberlake, a pastor (and the son of a pastor) experienced God and the love of his own father in a way that transformed the way he looked at time and the way he, and we, use it. To break down the title for you, there are 1,440 minutes each day that have been given to us. Tim shares how we can structure those minutes, and our days, in ways where we grab amazing opportunities, walk in love, and spend time in rest and renewal. And much of Tim’s wisdom starts with restructuring the way we look at time, itself, in our days.

Using Scripture, Tim shows us where our thinking has been shaped wrongly by our culture or world (“Monday again.” “Focusing on what is lacking” or on “what can’t be done.” Things will never change; “it’s always going to feel like this,” and more) and enables us to see what the Bible says instead. For example, Psalm 118:24 reminds us that “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!” (Even if it’s a Monday.) And Matthew 7:7-8 reminds us who is on the other side of our prayers, and what He desires to do (“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”). Tim goes on to share: “When we seek to live out the will of God while also seeking to align our heart with his, he will indeed answer our prayers in a way that is the very best for our lives.”

Perspective changes everything. So Tim’s wonderful book goes on to remind us the difference between what God says about our time, our days, and our thoughts, and what we may be used to hearing from the world around us, or from our own thought habits shaped by difficult times in life. Over 30 chapters, intended to be read over a 30-day period, Tim discusses such topics as: defeating our doubts; 7 days of splendor (instead of 7 days of drudge); changing our thinking by giving thanks and being grateful for ALL God has given; how our faith can bring transformation even in our messiest times; releasing control to let God be in charge of my life (instead of using my own human attempts to control); and so much more. I had so many favorite quotes and notes that I’d taken. Here are just a few of them:

  • “In every one of your 1440 minutes today, you have the opportunity to be happy (or joyful, Ps.16:11, Rom. 15:13)…fruitful (Gal. 5:22-23), to be free of fear, guilt, shame, anger…past pain, regret, future anxiety…”
  • “At the root of control lives fear and self-doubt. An obsession with control is nothing but submission to those emotions. God wants me to loosen my grip and put my trust in Him. Fear and self-doubt are hard taskmasters. When we surrender to God, we’re submitting to an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving heavenly Father. When we surrender to Him we are set free.”
  • And in a rich and fulfilling chapter in which Timberlake shares how we ourselves can get in the way or or block our own opportunities, he says this: “The point of this chapter is not to load you down with yet another burden to bear. It is to open your eyes to the vision of who you can be when you choose to reach for more than your unhelpful habits have allowed so far.”
  • Your “opportunity for inner peace is (not) dead and buried. It can be achieved when you have little just as much as during times of plenty. You can echo the powerful words of the apostle Paul: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Phil 4:11-12). Nurture a sense of gladness and fulfillment throughout the minutes of this day and every day.”

I have to admit to you that I was a bit apprehensive when I picked up The Power of 1440 and started to read. I was, honestly, fearful that it was going to be just another time-management book that told me to pull up my bootstraps and shove more activity in my day. I could not believe how enormously mistaken I was! It’s not at all a standard “cram more into your day” book. It’s a book that lovingly and kindly says, “Here’s what the Bible says about time. Here are some ways you might not be thinking the truth, or living it. And here’s how God wants to help you!” What a beautiful, refreshing difference. THAT is the kind of book I want to read.

I can’t tell you just how much I love this book. It reminded me of so many of God’s truths that suffering, trial, and the enemy can often try to grind out of our hearts, minds, and experiences. In fact, I took notes from each chapter with bullet points that I plan to post on my bulletin board (I’m thinking one chapter per week) to remind myself of these truths so that they can continue to help me. The Power of 1440 gently and beautifully helps the reader to reframe the way he or she sees and interacts with time, believing that God has rich opportunities for us in each of the 1440 minutes we have each day. Encouraging, life-giving, and fresh, The Power of 1440 is just what you need during the weird and sometimes trying days of pandemic…and all the days to come after.

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.

Enter to win The Lifegiving Home book & Companion Guide in the Chasing Rainbows Giveaway Hop (ends 3/31/21)

Hi friends!

I’m giving away two books as I join in a new giveaway hop today! Hosted by MamatheFox and including tons of giveaways from amazing bloggers, the Chasing Rainbows Giveaway Hop is just the thing to perk up your March!

To head over to the Chasing Rainbows Giveaway Hop, just click on the blue InLinkz button below with the frog on it. That will take you to the giveaway hop page, where you’ll be able to enter to win tons of fun blog giveaways.

And now, for the FINCHNWREN giveaway!

I have a pair of books from the Clarkson family to give away to one FINCHNWREN reader! Sally Clarkson’s family are a family of writers, and she has paired with two of her kids to write books about how we can make our homes a rich and beautiful place.

  • The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming is authored by Sally Clarkson and Sarah Clarkson. 2 parts discuss first, Thinking About Home (our legacy, music, rhythms, and creation); and second, the Seasons of Home (creating habits, events, beauty, and lovely relationships). It’s a book I always appreciated which helps us to take a look at and focus on home and family. Perhaps it’s the perfect book for our journey through corona.
  • The Lifegiving Home Experience: A 12-Month Guided Journey by Sally Clarkson and Joel Clarkson includes chapters for each month of the year, with journaling and Bible study questions. Each month also includes activities, books, and ideas for service and extending love to our family members and others. It is a beautiful book!

How to enter to win the books

To enter to win The Lifegiving Home and The Lifegiving Home Experience, simply click on the “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 3/31/21. One winner will win both books. Best wishes!

Enter here!

Enjoy! –Wren


MamatheFox and all participating blogs are not held responsible for sponsors who fail to fulfill their prize obligations.

Fantastic Christian comedy film-“Church People” (review & giveaway: ends 3/17/21)

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I just finished watching the best faith film comedy! Church People will be released in theaters and in churches (via Faith Content Network) on Saturday, March 13, 2021. I received a digital screening link for this fantastic Christian comedy from Collide Distribution to watch. I enjoyed every minute of it. And, I will have one digital screening link to give away to one reader, so keep reading for more on the film and to learn how you can enter to win!

About Church People

Guy Sides is a youth pastor on a mission; or rather, on a book/speaking tour. He’s marketed as “America’s Youth Pastor!” His desire is to help people know that the gospel of Christ really is enough. But along the way, his agent’s efforts to increase sales and promotion cause him to lose the thread of what he’s trying to say. When he returns to his home church, he is just worn out and exhausted, as well as discouraged at the way his ministry became a Christian marketing machine. His longtime friend and senior pastor, who’s focused on his own marketing platform, isn’t much help. Guy is ready to return to the simplicity of Christ and of serving the youth of his church.

There’s a passionate new believer in Christ, Blaise, who’s excited for everything in the youth group and the church. Pastor Skip’s daughter, Carla, has returned home from ten years of missionary work overseas, and she and Guy reconnect (after a painful “first” meeting). Chad, one of the church’s greeters, seems to have wisdom and direction for everyone who crosses his path. And a young woman who’s been the object of Guy’s prayers for many years, the daughter he’d given up for adoption long ago, shows up to his delight and surprise.

Guy really does believe that the gospel of Christ is enough; that there don’t have to be bells & whistles & shiny promos to draw people to church. But Pastor Skip thinks he has the idea of all ideas to make a huge splash for Good Friday. There are some serious problems with that idea, though: it is potentially blasphemous; it might injure or maim (or worse) the volunteer; and Guy thinks it will remove the focus off of Christ. But Pastor Skip’s enthusiasm is contagious, and soon only Guy and Carla seem to realize the stunt is a horrible idea.

Cast & Production Staff of Church People

You’ll recognize many of the stars and producers of this movie, all of whom add immensely to the movie’s quality. Christian comedian Thor Ramsey plays Guy, the youth pastor. Erin Cahill from the Hallmark Channel is Carla. Two of the famous Baldwin brothers, William and Stephen, play a dad and Chad (respectively), and Stephen also served as one of the executive producers. Joey Fatone (yes, from NSYNC) plays the always-singing worship leader. Donald Faison (from Clueless) is Guy’s agent. Chynna Phillips plays Blaise’s mom, and the remainder of the cast might not be as well-known but are thoroughly competent and well-suited to telling the Church People story.

The story, written by Thor Ramsey, Bob Sáenz, and Wes Halula, is funny and heartfelt all at the same time. Christopher Shawn Shaw is an exceptional director. These, combined with the great cast, produce a film that’s worthy of a movie theater showing!

My thoughts about Church People

I thoroughly enjoyed it! Church People is just over 90 minutes long, and it kept my attention every minute. I laughed out loud, teared up, and was moved by the film’s, and Guy’s, utter commitment to the purity and devotion to the cause of Christ. It was very obvious that Church People was produced and directed by experienced, talented, and skilled individuals from the movie industry. The camera work is superb and never draws attention away from the story. Each actor brings excellence in character portrayal, and the story is never cheesy or contrived. The ending is both surprising and encouraging.

I loved the meaningful relationships in Church People. Guy and Pastor Skip have been close friends for years. Guy’s and Carla’s new friendship includes a fun and sweet attraction to each other. Guy’s newfound relationship with his daughter, Gretchen, is a game-changer in so many ways. And, the youth pastor’s desire to help new believer Blaise grow is committed, wise, and faithful. And the different spiritual paths various characters find themselves on are believable, relatable, and understandable.

The soundtrack is excellent and well-suited to the film and scenes overall. I particularly loved two songs, Joey Fatone’s performance of “Perfect Love,” and Hollyn’s of “Awe.” Both of those are songs I need to download!

I try to avoid spoilers whenever possible, so let me say only this: there is a line in the film that absolutely took my breath away. And you will know it when you hear it!

I’d recommend Church People for any audience from teens and up. (There are some ideas and an image that might frighten younger children.) There is also a free discussion guide you can download at ChurchPeopleFilm. You can also watch the exclusive trailer at The Christian Post.

So, how can you see Church People?

First, you can watch Church People in a theater or church near you starting March 13th! If you can’t see Church
in theaters on March 13th-15th, your church could also host the film right there at your place of worship. That can be arranged via the Faith Content Network!


You could enter to win Church People!

Collide Distribution has provided a digital screening link for the FINCHNWREN blog to give away to one reader! (Once the film has been released for home distribution.) To enter to win, simply click on the “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 3/17/21. Best wishes!

Enter here!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: Many thanks to Collide Distribution for providing this product/product information for review. 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.

“Dolphin Island”-A new family film (review & giveaway; CLOSED)

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Congratulations! All entrants will win a digital screening link good for one week, from Entertainment Squad. Enjoy!

I have a new family film to share with you! Entertainment Squad and Momentum Influencers Network sent me a digital screening link of the film Dolphin Island, plus 2 giveaways you can enter to win your own digital screening link to the film!

Dolphin Island is approved for all ages by the Dove Foundation. Kids First, the Coalition For Quality Children’s Media, rated Dolphin Island  5 out of 5 stars and they recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults. It received numerous awards at the 2021 Christian Film Festival.

Annabel lost her mother and father, who were marine biologists, when she was a small child. Her grandfather Jonah (her dad’s dad) came from England to the Caribbean, where the family lived and where Annabel’s parents had founded a marine preserve. Since then, Jonah has raised Annabel. They live on a fishing boat and provide freshly-caught seafood to local restaurants. They have close relationships with the neighbors on their dock, and Annabel, who’s now fourteen years old, attends school on the island. They also help to care for the dolphins in the marine preserve; one of the dolphins, Mitzy, is very fond of Annabel and the two interact and play together.

However, their idyllic existence is about to come abruptly to an end. Annabel’s other grandparents, whom she hasn’t seen since she was 5, have decided to demand custody of their granddaughter; their only living link to their own deceased daughter. They’ve hired a somewhat shady lawyer to help them get their way.

Annabel has also recently met a boy, Mateo, who becomes a special friend to her. And there’s someone on the horizon for Jonah as well. But will Jonah and Annabel be split apart by the other side of the family; an older couple who are virtually strangers to them both? Adventure, sorrow, fear, and faith lie before them.

You can watch the film’s trailer here: Dolphin Island trailer

My thoughts

There is a lot to love in Dolphin Island! Jonah and Annabel are fantastic and the actors work together so well that they truly seem to be family. Jonah has clearly raised Annabel well and she’s a great girl who’s patient, faithful, loving, and can kindly confront those who are doing wrong. Jonah is a loving grandfather and a man who works consistently to provide for them both and to carry on his son’s and daughter-in-law’s marine preserve and legacy. However, there are challenges and stumbling blocks that threaten trouble for them. The family court and social workers are keeping an eye on the pair, and misunderstandings are rampant. There’s also a highly untrustworthy lawyer (#villain).

The island is beautiful, and the island life is so attractive. Jonah and Annabel are beloved by their island neighbors. And the dolphins are amazing! They swim, flip, and even chirp and chatter with Annabel and Jonah. Their intelligence seems very obvious.

There are a couple of incidents that might be frightening to younger children. However, faith and love triumph; and one of the characters even prays! The importance of a loving family, and one that is willing to do what is best for the child, is stressed and lived out. It was encouraging and beautiful, and a film that (even though many theaters are still closed) a family could enjoy watching together at home.

And, no animals were harmed in the making of this film.

And to include with your family viewing…

the makers of Dolphin Island have created a free downloadable Discussion Guide to use as you discuss the film. It will help provide wonderful enrichment activity time and moments for everyone to share their thoughts and ideas about Dolphin Island. Just click on the highlighted link, Discussion Guide!

Enter to win Dolphin Island

You can enter to win a digital screening link so that you can watch Dolphin Island yourself or with your own family! To enter, simply click on the “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 3/15/21. Best wishes!

Enter here!

And, in addition, you can also enter a Dolphin Island VIP digital screening code, direct from the company! Just click on the link below and you’ll be taken to the entry form.

Dolphin Island VIP digital screening code Giveaway Entry Form

Disclosure: Many thanks to Entertainment Squad for providing this product/product information for review. 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.

Introducing “Cubekins” – a fab new Christian kids’ animated series! (review & giveaway; CLOSED)

Congratulations to winner Ken O.!

#sponsor #partner

Hi there!

I have a fun new kids’ animated series called Cubekins to share with you! Collide Media Group and Momentum Influencer Network provided me with the first episode of this series, “Invasion of the Cubecumbers,” plus an additional digital screening link of the episode to share with one FINCHNWREN reader. It is super-fun and exciting! Let me tell you more!


Cubekins is a brand-new Christian video series that’s perfect for kids! Fantastic animation (using Blender and Unreal Engine, for anyone who’s into computer animation), cheerful music, songs sung by the characters, and a fun story shares Christian family life from the kids’ perspectives. One person suggested that its tagline should be: “Veggie Tales meets Mayberry!” That perfectly describes Cubekins’ whimsy, design, faith, and small-town feel where everyone knows each other.

The characters include:

  • 7-year-old Kip, who’s lively and energetic
  • His sister Kara, the pet-lover
  • Dad, who’s always got a new job idea
  • Mom, who loves her family and helps remind them to pray and love others
  • The baby
  • And, Kip’s best friend Finn

Developed by 2 homeschool dads and their families, Cubekins is a fun animated kids & family show that’s designed especially for children aged 3-8. Its stories are interwoven with Scriptures that are applicable to different moments in the show, and the family clearly loves and supports each other. All the characters are cubes stacked in various lengths; the adults are 3D rectangles, the kids are smaller rectangles, and the baby is one cube. The animation, voice acting, and sound design are exceptional and, once the story starts, viewers forget they’re watching geometrical talking objects and just enjoy the show! The computer animation is truly beautiful; the shading and textures are gorgeous. (I especially loved the look of the cubecumbers, and the characters’ hair!)

This is a show that the whole family can watch together and enjoy. The lessons learned are things all of us learn ourselves, so they make real sense and are personally applicable to viewers. I’m truly blown away by the professionalism and beauty of the show while deeply appreciating its purpose: to share God’s World, entertainment, and life with kids and families. It totally succeeds!

“Invasion of the Cubecumbers” Episode

“What could go wrong, right?”

That’s what Dad says when he presents his newest idea to the family at the dinner table; growing and selling cubecumbers. Kip pipes up and says he’d LOVE to help out! So the project is handed over to him, and he invites his friend Finn to help out. Finn loves to follow the directions but Kip refuses; he thinks he can figure it out on his own and is both rueful and surprised when things don’t go quite as expected.

Several characters share Bible verses, and talk about how they can be applied. Viewers get to see the family pray together, confess mistakes to each other, and readily forgive each others’ wrongdoing. It’s very clear that they love and care for each other. Both Kip and Kara have a chance to sing songs, about Kara training her pets and Kip experiencing the unexpected consequences of his decisions. There’s also a scene in a church, where a brief bit of the sermon is shown. The pastor explains a Bible verse and later, encourages reading the Bible aloud to really grab on to its meaning. In the end, kids learn how God answers prayer and how Scripture really does apply to our lives.

It’s a delightful show, and one that families, and their children, will love!

As a former homeschool mom myself, I want to mention a fantastic area of the Cubekins website. Found at Cubekins Resources, it contains tons of neat family activities, curriculum, games, Bible verses, encouragement for parents, and recipes. This can add some fun and different activities for your homeschool days.

What others are saying about CUBEKINS

I wanted to share with you some of the places that media organizations, and individuals, are talking about Cubekins. You’ll get a great sense of its reception!

Dove.org Article
Testimonials on the Cubekins website
Videos on Faith Talk Live and Faith Talk Live
PaxTV Livestream
Christian Casting
WHNT-19 News

How to enter to win the giveaway

I have one digital episode link of Cubekins to give to one reader! To enter, simply click on the “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 3/11/21. One winner will be selected to win. Best wishes!

Enter here!

And, if you don’t happen to be the winner, you can purchase or rent this episode at Cubekins. You can also become a Cubekins member at the same website, which enables users to access special bonus content that’s exclusive for members, like coloring books, videos, and more.

Enjoy! –Wren

DISCLOSURE: Many thanks to Brainy Pixel for providing this product/product information for review.  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.