“Stepparenting with Grace” Book Launch & Giveaway (Ends 8/20/18)

Are you a stepparent?  Or, if not, did you perhaps grow up in a blended family?

If you can answer “yes” to either of those questions, you’ll be interested in this brand-new book, Stepparenting with Grace:  A Devotional for Blended Families” by Gayla Grace.  I am privileged to have been able to serve on the launch team for this devotional.  I’d love to share more about Stepparenting with Grace with you…and I even have a copy to give away to one special reader!  (Giveaway details will be at the end of the post.)

 

 

So what is Stepparenting with Grace?

Stepparenting with Grace is a book born out of both the experiences and the ministry of Gayla Grace.  She cofounded a nonprofit, Sisterhood of Stepmoms, to provide community and retreat opportunities for stepmothers.  She founded the website Stepparenting with Grace ten years ago to support stepfamilies with coaching, encouragement, and other resources.  She also has completed a master’s in psychology and counseling.  And as a writer, she brings all these experiences to the reader in a voice that is at once practical, supportive, and hopeful from a Christian perspective.

The book itself is a collection of 90 different two-page devotionals on a wide variety of topics that speak to stepparents.  Each one includes a Thought for the Day, then an exploration of a topic or life experiences.  Gayla uses clear thinking, wisdom, Scripture, and sound counseling techniques to convey hope and practical helps to stepparents who are struggling with all the different challenges of combining two families into one.  The reader can either start at the beginning and read right through, or browse through the titles listed in the table of contents for topical help.  Here are some examples of what you’ll find there:

  • Live Fearlessly
  • Your Efforts Matter!
  • Let God Heal Your Hurt
  • Change Requires Adjustment
  • Maturity Required
  • Trusting God
  • The Price of Forgiveness
  • Coping with Difficult People
  • and more!

Topics that I haven’t seen addressed much in books (other than fiction, maybe) are lovingly unpacked and explored, with calm confidence and grace.  Each entry is short yet full of worthwhile material, so the reader who’s short on time won’t ever feel overwhelmed.

 

What I thought of Stepparenting with Grace

 

I am not personally a stepparent.  Yet, I did grow up as a stepchild or, to be more specific, a stepdaughter.  Combining two families to attempt to create one new family is just a whole different, and often difficult, proposition.  But how can a stepparent approach this enormous challenge with grace, with love, and with wisdom?  We’re all working out the issues of life as we journey along, and many different things shape us as individuals, including the families we grew up in.  So, when I received the opportunity to serve on the launch team for Stepparenting with Grace, my attention and my heart were captivated.  And I can’t tell you how very thankful I am to have had the opportunity to read this book.

 

 

I decided to begin at the beginning of the book and simply read through, as part of my quiet time in the mornings.  It has been a wonderful experience.  Some mornings I did the book version of binge watching and just read chapters upon chapters, one after the other.  Other days, I’d just focus on one.  I have to tell you, the words were just so rich, often so healing, and they spoke to me on a profound level.  I looked forward to reading it each time, and I always came away with something to think about, or something to put into practice.  Other times, I found something that deeply encouraged me.  In fact, I recopied many quotes or passages in my journal so that I could refer to them again and again.  Here are some ideas that particularly resounded with me:

  • “If you’re trudging through difficult days in your stepfamily, don’t give up.  Rely on God’s strength and power to sustain you—He will see you through to better days ahead.”
  • “Accept God’s unconditional love and move past your failure.”
  • “Allow His presence to heal your hurt.  And remind yourself of the magnitude of His love every day.”
  • “We’ll find contentment when we stop focusing on our expectations and trust God to give us strength for our present reality.”
  • “But God provides the tools we need for a sure and steady walk.  “The secret,” Elisabeth Elliott says, “is Christ in me—not me in a different set of circumstances.””

 

 

Sometimes as parents…and, I’d imagine, as stepparents as well, we desperately need someone wise to speak into our circumstances.  To tell us, “Yes, you’re doing this well.”  Or, “Have you considered trying this instead?”  Or simply, “I see you.  God sees you.  And He is with you and you will get through this.”  Gayla Grace, in Stepparenting with Grace, can do that for you.  Her words of wisdom are calm and kind, yet possess the kind of depth that only a person who’s been through the struggles—and come out successfully on the other side—can bring.  As a Christian, she also is convinced of God’s partnership for us as we parent.  I appreciate that as well.

I can, and do, recommend this book wholeheartedly to any stepparent who’s looking for a devotional to help them along on their stepfamily’s journey.  (And obviously, these ideas will resound with any parent, I’d believe, as they have with me!)  Check out Gayla Grace’s Stepparenting with Grace.  You will be lifted up and encouraged as you read her wise counsel.

 

And now, your opportunity to win your own copy!

I’m so pleased that Worthy Publishing is providing a copy of Stepparenting with Grace for one FINCHNWREN reader to win.  Simply click on the pink link below that says, “Enter here.”  That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form, where you’ll be able to enter in a variety of ways.  Giveaway closes 8/20/18.  Best wishes!

Enter here!

 

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

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

“Holiday Cookies” ~ A Review

Are you always looking for fun and different cookies you can make in December for the holidays?

I admit, I am.  We make biscotti every Christmas…but often we’ll search for something different or unusual that we haven’t made before.  We love making spritz cookies (the cookie press is so fun to use) but I’m often disappointed by the bland flavor.  We like making sugar cookies, especially multicolored ones that you roll up.  But what else is out there?

 

 

Elisabet der Nederlanden’s Holiday Cookies has tons of holiday cookie options—many of which I’d never even heard of before!

 

What will you find in Holiday Cookies?

Food stylist and professional recipe developer Elisabet der Nederlanden is a resident of Berkeley, CA, but was born in and grew up in Sweden.  She learned to bake as a child and worked in a bakery as a teen.  She loves decorating for Christmas (and all its associated celebrations, like St. Lucia Day) and baking wonderful cookies and treats.  So, she brings her love and experience with baking and goodies to this book, which truly is a labor of love.  She searched out, prepared, and selected 50 unusual and delicious cookies whose origins are from countries all over the world.

What I really love about this cookbook is that you’ll find the usual suspects of Christmas cookies (like bark, gingerbread cookies, sugar cookies) but they are livened up with gorgeous decorations, unusual flavors, and unexpected tweaks that make cooking, and decorating, more enjoyable and fun.  The pictures are absolutely breathtaking and they WILL make you want to scurry to the kitchen and bake!  It’s also written in a lovely conversational manner that will make you feel as though der Nederlanden is sharing her fabulous cookie wisdom with you.

 

 

She begins with cookie-baking and decorating tips (including a great section on royal icing, which makes rolled cookies so beautiful), helpful ideas for shipping cookies and storing them.  And then the fun begins!  Der Nederlanden has divided her book into 6 sections with 8 recipes each:

  • Very Merry Classics (with gingerbread cookies, black and whites, Red Velvet Crackle Cookies, stenciled shortbread rounds)
  • Cookie Exchange Party (where you’ll find Bejeweled Chocolate Cookies, Malted Milk Chocolate Cookies, Red-and-White Meringue Kisses and more)
  • Warm Holiday Spice (which includes Saffron Pistachio Biscotti, Cinnamon-Sugar Palmiers, and Thumbprints with Spicy Plum Jam)
  • Around the World (Swedish Pepparkakor, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Italian Pignoli Cookies, and other fun recipes)
  • Holiday Confections (with goodies like Apple Cider Caramels, Matcha Chocolate Bark with Berries and Coconut, and Smoked Almond and Cacao Nib Brittle)
  • and finally, Decorated Delights, where the author shares recipes for cookie ornaments, Gingerbread Place-Card Cookies, Stained-Glass Snowflakes, and even a Gingerbread House

The recipes all seem to be well-researched (and tested) and the directions are very clear and easy to follow.  (Of course you’ll still want to read through the cookie recipes before you prepare them; some of them have ingredients that you might not have on hand.)

 

Our favorites

We LOVE Swedish Pepparkakor.  The St. Lucia celebration is so beautiful, and pepparkakor cookies are served then.  The cookies are crisp and carry ginger and cloves (and of course, a bit of pepper).  I don’t have der Nederlanden’s fun goat and pig cookie cutters, but we do have lots of others!

I like the saffron biscotti recipe as well.  It is beautiful and colorful, thanks to the saffron, which I’d never have imagined as a biscotti ingredient!

Other favorites include the Minty Spritz Cookies (I told you I needed a good spritz recipe!), the Gingerbread Place-Card Cookies (although honestly my hand doesn’t have beautiful cursive handwriting with icing!), and the Citrus Sugar Cookie Ornaments.  So many fun recipes to add joy to Christmas celebrations!

More about the author:

Elisabet der Nederlanden’s website

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

DISCLAIMER:  I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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

 

The Family Honor Plate…A Fun New Way to Connect with Your Family (A Review)

Are you looking for enjoyable, meaningful ways to connect with your children and family…in a manner that will impact them positively?  I know that family life can get so busy with life, school, activities, and chores that chances to connect on a deeper, personal level can sweep by.  FlyBy/Propeller Promotions and the Family Honor Plate company were kind enough to send us the Family Honor Plate and Table Thyme Discussion Cards to review.  We’ve had a wonderful experience using these…and they truly have provided some neat new ways for our family to connect with each other!

 

 

The Family Honor Plate…

was created by Michelle Weber.  As a mom herself, she realized that she wanted to focus on blessing her family and modeling a positive attitude and spirit with her children.  She developed the Family Honor Plate and the Table Thyme Discussion Cards to provide opportunities and jumping-off points for moms and dads to use with their children…to recognize them, encourage them, and talk about topics and ideas that might not come up in normal conversation but are keys to understanding our kids and how they think and feel.  First, the plate is a cool craft that parents and kids can create and design together.  Then, both the plate and discussion cards (more on those in a bit!) can be used at meals in ways that will bless the whole family.

Weber’s thought process on developing this neat family activity is threefold:

  1.  That Mom and Dad are the examples their children follow and we’re to be their role models
  2.  We can notice when your kids and spouse do amazing things, and link them back to great character traits
  3.  Third, that we can celebrate them by serving a meal on the Family Honor Plate.  And we don’t just stop there, we can use the moments to talk about why their behavior was amazing and how it made others feel.

 

What we received…

was everything we needed to decorate and make our own Family Honor Plate.  The kit includes:

  • A white Family Honor Plate, which has the fruit of the Spirit qualities printed around the inside rim (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control)
  • A paint palette to mix colors on
  • A plate stand for displaying the plate in a special place in the home
  • 3 paintbrushes (and they’re wonderful, high-quality ones)
  • A paint set of 8 colors to decorate and personalize the plate
  • Simple instructions to follow
  • We also received the Table Thyme Discussion Cards, which are set up like a perpetual calendar and provide an interesting conversation starter on each page

 

Creating our own family plate

Jackson and I love doing art together.  Yet as he has gotten older–in high school–it seems like we have more to do in homeschool and less time for art in a day’s work!  So we both really valued and appreciated the opportunity to a) paint together and b) create such a wonderful tool that we can use as a family in our home.  We selected a design (you could paint ANYthing, really, but we chose one that was pictured in the company photos) and began to paint.

The paint colors are rich and the plate itself is a great canvas for them.  The paintbrushes are soft and apply color beautifully.  They were so fun to paint with!  And when we were finished painting, we followed the instructions to bake the plate in a conventional oven to set the paint.  It worked perfectly.  I’m hand-washing the plate just to keep the paint on and the plate in stellar condition, but the paint seems perfectly applied and set.

 

 

 

Table Thyme Discussion Cards

I’m sure we’ve all read the statistics on how good it is for families to eat dinner (and/or other meals) together on a regular basis.  Here are some of the reasons that underline how important meals together can be.  Children and teens who eat together with their parents are more likely to:

  • Eat more healthily overall
  • Be less likely to skip school (yes, there really is a meals together/truancy connection!)
  • Have higher GPAs
  • Have better vocabularies (really!)
  • Helps kids (both younger and older) feel closer to their family
  • and more!

 

Both the Family Honor Plate and the Table Thyme Discussion Cards can provide more ways for parents and kids to connect with each other at mealtimes.  Using the plate to recognize and honor different family members is one way.  But what if you’re looking for some interesting conversation starters?  Table Thyme to the rescue!

This perpetual calendar-ish set of cards (meaning that you can flip the cards over one at a time and get tons of ideas for questions to ask your kids…then flip the whole set over and start again) has questions that are fun, meaningful, and guaranteed to generate interesting conversations.  Here are just a few of the 170+ questions or directions you’ll find there:

  • Look at someone at the table and say something nice about them.
  • Describe a time when you were scared.
  • What is something that made you laugh recently?  Why?
  • If you could create your dream pet, what would it be like?

Tons of great–and sometimes deep–conversation starters!

Using the plate and the cards at mealtimes

We had an opportunity right away to use our plate to bless and encourage a member of our family.  Our son, Jackson, just had his wisdom teeth out so as you can imagine, his mouth is on the sore and swollen side just a couple of days after surgery.  So here is a shot of his breakfast this morning on the Family Honor Plate; poached eggs (nice and soft!).  He isn’t feeling great overall but loved having his breakfast on this special plate.

 

 

But, you don’t have to wait to use the plate for someone who’s ill or just had surgery!  Pull the plate out when someone has done something amazing that you want to recognize.  Or has exemplified some excellent character qualities or done something kind, or is living out the fruit of the Spirit that is written on the center of the Family Honor Plate.

Using the discussion cards are interesting, fun, and just plain wonderful.  Imagine the creativity that could be initiated from these—or learning cool stuff about your kiddos that they didn’t know!  We’re big storytellers in our house, meaning that we love to share details about favorite experiences.  Honestly, though, there were so many questions in Table Thyme that I’d never even thought of asking my child.  And I was captivated to discover his (and my husband’s) answers!

Some of the interesting questions we discussed recently were, 1) Which of your friends are you the most grateful for? and 2) Which Halloween costume that you’ve worn over the years was your favorite?  I loved hearing Jackson’s answers and thoughts on that.  (I can only remember a couple of my own childhood costumes!)

 

So who would enjoy the Family Honor Plate?

And the Table Thyme Discussion Cards?  People who’d like to…

  • bless their kids
  • hear more about their thoughts and ideas
  • create fun mealtimes
  • model great character qualities
  • help their families get even closer

If any of these sounds amazing to you, visit Family Honor Plate and learn more!

Enjoy!  –Wren

Social Corner for Family Honor Plate

Family Honor Plate website

More about Michelle, owner of the Family Honor Plate

Buy the Family Honor Plate kit here

 

 

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this product.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 

Wonderful Gospel Tools ~ Let The Little Children Come (A Review)

Recently, Let The Little Children Come and FlyBy/Propeller Promotions sent me a wonderful collection of gospel-sharing tools to use and review, all for sharing the gospel with little ones! I received the Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools Sample Pack, full of 10 different booklets, bracelets, and tools.

 

 

Do you ever have the opportunity to share the gospel with little ones?

I do–at least twice per year.  In our homeschool coop, which is run from a Christian perspective, teachers share the gospel with their students each semester. And while I’m a former missionary and do have some experience sharing the gospel, I always want to be sure that I’m being as clear as possible, not overcomplicating the message, and covering all the basics. This is especially important with children, who may not have as much experience with the Bible or the teachings of Christ. I’m always looking for vivid, kid-friendly materials to use…and I really love the products Let The Little Children Come sent! They are clear, beautiful, and filled with eye-catching and memorable illustrations while staying faithful to the Biblical gospel message.

 

The Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools Sample Pack has ten colorful, bright booklets, folding images, and bracelets, all of which can be used to illustrate the gospel presentation to children.  There are “animated” booklets, pop-up booklets, “magic” folding cards, and Wordless books and bracelets.  You could use these one at a time when sharing with one child, or you could order more of the individual tools if you were sharing with a group.  Let me tell you more about each tool I received!

 

 

Animated Tracts

These Animated Tracts are small shiny booklets which tell a particular story related to the gospel.  After the story, each booklet ends with an explanation of how we can receive salvation through God’s gift of His son, Jesus, and a sample prayer which anyone could pray to receive Christ.  The added bonus in the animated tracts is a striped clear and black card which readers hold over the booklet pages.  When the reader slides the card back and forth, the images seem to move!

The three booklets are:

  • The True Story of Christmas, which tells the story of Jesus’ birth
  • Where’s Everybody Going, which tells about the God who made the earth and everything in it, including us; and about the sin that separates us from Him
  • John 3:16, which works its way through this pivotal verse with captivating “moving” illustrations

 

 

I really liked all three of these little booklets!  The stories and verses are simply, beautifully, and clearly brought to life.  The gospel, and humanity’s need for a Savior, are plainly and gracefully explained in ways that anyone—even a child—can understand.  The card which makes the illustrations “move” is fascinating!  Even my teenaged son, who’s very into art and illustrations, thought it was amazing, even though these products are designed for a younger audience.

 

 

Gospel Buttons Flip About

We received two of these Flip About cards (Gospel Buttons).  They are sort of like a little magic trick.  The square cards fold shut then open but consecutively display 4 different pages or sides.

  • One has images only; a heavenly kingdom, a darkened heart of sin, the cross of Christ, and a redeemed and cleansed heart.
  • The second contains a phrase-by-phrase and image presentation of John 3:16.

The Gospel Buttons are very cool little gadgets.  They will really keep the listener’s attention as the gospel is presented.  The only caveat I’d add is that the user should practice a couple of times before the presentation is made, so that the folding and unfolding of the various pages is done in order.  But they’re colorful, fun, and interesting.

 

 

 

Pop-up Tracts

Children love pop-up books.  And these little Pop-up Tracts carry on that fun tradition!  The Lost Easter Egg is a story about an Easter egg hunt woven together with the Bible’s Luke 15 parable of the lost sheep and the shepherd who went to find it.  The Most Amazing House talks about the heavenly home God is preparing for us…but how our own sin keeps up from getting there.  Both these tracts close with prayers we can pray to accept Jesus’ death as payment for that sin and to enter into a relationship with God.

 

 

The Wordless Tools

I’m sure you’ve seen something from the Wordless family of products.  These tools are just as simple as can be, yet they still powerfully communicate the gospel message.  Each color represents a part of the gospel (yellow/heaven; dark/sin; red/the shed blood of Jesus; white/belief and cleansing; green/growth in relationship with God).

The Wordless tools are available as the Wordless Book, a small laminated book with no words, just the colors I mentioned above.  There is also a Silicone Salvation Bracelet, which has the 5 Wordless colors printed around the loop of the bracelet.  Finally, there’s a Wordless Bracelet Kit, which includes the beads, a leather bracelet to thread the beads on, and a small flyer explaining the steps to salvation.  There’s even a sample prayer printed on the other side.

 

Where you can find these awesome tools

This Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools Sample Pack I’ve just told you about is available at the Let The Little Children Come website.  There, you can also find these tools for sale individually, as well as lots of other cool evangelism products!  (Follow this link to purchase:  https://www.letthelittlechildrencome.com/child-evangelism-tools/gospel-tracts-and-evangelism-tools-sampler-pack)

In addition, Let The Little Children Come has a Resources page which is full of ideas on how to make your own Wordless evangelism tools, tips on sharing the gospel, devotions, Bible verses, and even a New Believer Follow-Up Book for Children.  So many good tools, available to you for free!

I can definitely recommend these effective–yet still very kind and loving–tools to help you share the gospel clearly.  They are wonderful, and I’m looking forward to using them myself!

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this product.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 

 

Brand New Magic Stix & Kwik Stix to Up Your Art Game! (And Giveaway!)

We have been fans of The Pencil Grip, Inc. for several years, ever since we tried out their amazing Kwik Stix tempera paint sticks. So when we discovered that they’d created a brand new marker–the Magic Stix–we couldn’t wait to get our hands on it! The Pencil Grip, Inc. sent us a set of the Magic Stix 12PK and the Kwik Stix Metalix 6PK to review and share with you. (Plus at the end of the post, you’ll find a giveaway to enter to win your own Kwik Stix Metalix 6PK!)

 

 

What are Kwik Stix?

Kwik Stix are amazing little tempera paint sticks that work a lot like glue sticks.  They are in a plastic capped container and you can roll the paint sticks up and down.  The colors are vivid and marvelous and work on tons of different media; everything from canvas, to paper, to cardboard, to wood, to rocks, and more…just pick an art surface and the Kwik Stix will probably work beautifully on it!

Kwik Stix are ideal for any artist (whether child or adult) and are safe for little ones aged 3 and up.  The tempera paint sticks are non-toxic, dry in 90 seconds (no more getting paint on the side of your hand as you work on your art!), and there is no need for water cups or paintbrushes (or paint shirts).  They’re even ideal for travel since they are so mess-free.  All you need are Kwik Stix and paper!

The Kwik Stix originally came in chubby 3 1/2″ long tubes (and they still do), 3/4″ wide.  Later, The Pencil Grip, Inc. developed Thin Stix, which are basically the same tempera paint sticks in a longer and thinner version (5 1/2″ long and 1/2″ wide).  We love both of these.  The Kwik Stix are available in assorted colors as well as in Neon and Metalix color palettes.  (You can see the Metalix paint sticks that The Pencil Grip, Inc. sent us to try out above!)

They are just a joy to work with.  They impart gorgeous, vivid colors, they are absolutely mess-free, and they don’t have any odor at all!  We have used them in fine art, in fun art, in free drawing, and we come back to our Kwik Stix collection over and over again because of the ease, enjoyment, and results of these amazing paint sticks.

 

What are Magic Stix?

The Pencil Grip, Inc. has created some fabulous new products for people who love to make art.  Now, they’ve introduced their own beautiful color markers, which come in 12- and 24-packs.  The 12-pack we received contained the following colors; red, orange, pink, yellow, light green, green, dark blue, light blue, violet, purple, brown, and black.  They’re housed in a sturdy, clear plastic slipcase.  And have you ever had a marker dry out because someone forgot to put the cap back on?  You’ll never have that problem again with Magic Stix 12PK…because they are guaranteed NOT to dry out for up to 7 days with the cap off!  Isn’t that amazing?  Like their Kwik Stix cousins, they’re also non-toxic and have no odor.  They’re also washable, so you don’t have to worry about colors not washing out of clothes.

 

All the art we did with them!

And now…the fun with Kwik Stix!

We already knew that we’d be able to use our Kwik Stix paint sticks for fine art, art journals and Bible journaling, and art study in our homeschool.  But, with the holidays approaching, we thought we’d also try them out on Christmas ornaments and decorations.

First, Jackson painted a Christmas ornament with the Kwik Stix Metalix blue stick.  You can see it has sort of a “Starry Night” feel to it.  That would be an incredible art lesson, by the way; reproducing famous artworks on Christmas ornaments.  The ornament took the paint well, but we recommend that if you try  this project at home that you use either ceramic, glass, or plastic ornaments that are designed for painting.

 

I found some darling wooden wall hangings at Hobby Lobby and painted them fun girly colors (for the girly corner of my husband’s and my bedroom).  The Kwik Stix Metalix laid down beautifully on the wood; I started with the Metalix fuschia polka dots, then used our older (yet still amazing) Neon green for the background.

 

I used the Metalix fuschia again for “Blessed” and the Metalix gold for “Thankful.” I love the finished product!

 

 

Last, we found some fun ceramic snowman ornaments.

 

 

We colored one with the Metalix blue with a silver overlay (choosing Hanukkah theme colors), and used the regular Kwik Stix colors on the other.  Both the Kwik Stix Metalix 6PK and the Magic Stix applied nicely onto the ornaments, but we decided to go with the Kwik Stix.  They go on so smoothly, they’re just a pleasure to use!

 

And…the brand-new Magic Stix!

Jackson and I LOVE the Magic Stix.  They produce great color on lots of different materials.  Just like their Kwik Stix cousins, the Magic Stix apply beautifully on canvas.  Jackson used them on canvas to paint one of his all-time faves; the LEGO Minifigure.

 

Are you, or your kiddos, people who like to color?  I personally love the adult coloring books that are so popular right now.  I have several, including a Pusheen Coloring Book that has huge, full drawings to color in.  Look how vivid and colorful everything looks with the Magic Stix!

 

 

Jackson and I also decided to try out the Magic Stix on serving plates.  Have you ever made or painted a plate or serving tray?  It is so easy to do.  We simply got some white plates at the dollar store.  Jackson used one to paint the logo of one of his favorite games:

 

Together, he and I free-handed a Hanukkiah (Hanukkah menorah) on a second plate.  We baked both of these in the oven to set the paint and it worked beautifully!  Just be aware that the vivid colors do lighten up a bit, so if you want darker colors you might want to go over them a second time.

 

 

So…what ideas do YOU have to create with Kwik Stix Metalix 6PK and Magic Stix?  They are just amazing.  If you’ve never tried them before, we so recommend them.  Non-toxic, beautiful colors, easy to apply…and wonderfully safe for kids 3 and up.  You’ll run out of Kwik Stix before you run out of ideas of art projects with them!

 

You could even win a set!

The Pencil Grip, Inc. is going to bless one of our readers with a set of Kwik Stix Metalix 6PK paint sticks!  All you have to do is click on the pink “Enter Here” link below.  That will take you to the Giveaway Tools entry form.  Giveaway closes on December 10, 2017.  Best wishes!

Enter here!

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

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

 

The Beautiful ESV “Illuminated Bible (Art Journaling Edition)” ~ Review & Giveaway

Have you ever marveled at the illuminated Bibles or Books of Hours lettered and painted by monks during the Middle Ages or the Renaissance?  These gorgeous works of art use vivid paints and gold leaf to bring letters and Biblical scenes to life.  We can see these today in museums, books or online…but how would you like to own your own copy of today’s version of an Illuminated Bible?

 

 

Today, I’d like to share with you about the ESV Illuminated Bible.  FlyBy/Propeller Promotions sent me my very own copy (free!) to use and review, and they’re also going to be giving a copy away to one of my readers in a giveaway!  Keep reading to learn more and to enter to win!

 

What is the ESV Illuminated Bible?

First and foremost, it’s the complete Bible (from Genesis to Revelation) in the English Standard Version (ESV).  Housed in a slipcase, this hardback Bible is navy cloth over board.  Inside, its smooth, cream-colored pages contain the Scriptures in clear, readable font.  Each page has wide margins.

But then, there’s enormous visual beauty on many of the pages.  The ESV Illuminated Bible is illustrated and lettered by artist Dana Tanamatchi.  The illustrations include:  beautifully hand-lettered Bible verses (over 250 of them in page margins), 50 full-page verse illustrations; 64 full-sized book opener illustrations; and over 100 additional illustrations.  All of these are lettered and designed in gold.

But this Bible is not only designed to bring beauty to the reader’s eyes and Scriptures to the mind and heart.  The wide page margins provide space for the reader to journal and take notes…but also to create art!  Tanamatchi’s verse and book illustrations can be left as-is or the reader can color them in.

One additional bonus that I discovered as I was turning the pages of the ESV Illuminated Bible was that the illustrator, Dana Tanamatchi, included an illustration key for the book opener illustrations.  I personally love to study art and to discover artists’ motivations for their artwork.  Tanamatchi’s musings on her artwork made the lovely artwork even more meaningful to me, as I discovered that she’d illustrated Revelation with a door (reminding us of Revelation 3:20); 2 Peter with lanterns (for the prophetic word “as lamps shining in a dark place), Psalms with a deer (as the deer pants for the water), and so many more wonderful “Word” pictures.

 

How I used the ESV Illuminated Bible

I love Bible journaling; the practice of thoughtfully illustrating Scripture verses.  I find that the process is peaceful and restful for me, plus there’s the additional bonus of the Scripture coming alive even more as I color and illustrate it.

For Bible journaling, I’ve used tempera paint sticks, colored pencils, and art pencils.  With this Bible, I found that coloring pencils worked the best.  The pages are on the thin side so the pencils don’t bleed through very much.  I appreciated that because I still want to be able to read the Scriptures on the back sides of the illustrations!

I used three different types of coloring pencils; art pencils, Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils, and Crayola Twistables.  Of the three, the art pencils and the Twistables were most effective.  For some reason my erasable pencils didn’t lay the color down as well.  The beautiful cream-colored pages might have been just a little slick to take the erasable ones.  But the art pencils (think Primsacolor-type pencils) and the Twistables created beautiful effects.   The colors did mostly turn out on the light side when they were applied to the paper.

So what could you do with the ESV Illuminated Bible?

  • Well, Christmas is coming–and this would make a delightful gift for someone!  (You could even include a set of colored pencils with the Bible!)
  • You could display it on an easel, with the pages opened to one of the gorgeous Scripture illustrations
  • You could use it in your devotional reading time
  • You could do Bible journaling in it!
  • You could even use it during family worship; give everyone some colored pencils and work on it together!
  • And if you’re a person who’s not completely confident in your own artistic ability, the ESV Illuminated Bible will enable you to make beautiful art anyway!

 

You can enter to win!

FlyBy/Propeller Promotions has provided one copy of the ESV Illuminated Bible for one of you to win!  Simply click on the pink “Enter Here” link below.  That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form.  Just follow the directions to enter!  Giveaway closes on December 2, 2017.  One winner will be selected from all entries.  Best wishes!

Enter here!

You can also check out the ESV Illuminated Bible on social media

IlluminatedBible.org

Video: https://vimeo.com/237851665

The ESV Illuminated Bible on Amazon

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

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

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

ADORED: A Review & Giveaway of Lindsay A. Franklin’s New Book (Ends 11/27/17)

I have a lovely book to tell you about today.  The BlogAbout Blogger Network was kind enough to send me a copy to review AND a copy of this lovely book to give away to one special reader!

 

 

If you are a young woman, do you ever wish that you had someone to help guide you through the ups and downs of life, emotions, relationships, and challenges?  I know that I certainly did.  The adolescent and young adult lives that we live carry so much change, so much identity-formation, so much of the internal life that we don’t necessarily even realize as we walk through life.

Most of all, do (or did) you realize that there is a God of the universe, the God of the Bible, who doesn’t just like you or tolerate you but ADORES you?

Author Lindsay A. Franklin certainly understands this and communicates it vibrantly and joyfully, (not to mention, at times, hilariously) in ADORED.  Subtitled 365 Devotions for Young Women, this book is filled to overflowing with daily Scriptures and devotional writings that speak wonderfully to the hearts of young women.  (Or even women who’d fit more into the Titus category, or moms of children or teens, like me!)

About ADORED…

ADORED is just a gorgeous book, inside and out.  It’s a smooth hardback book that feels substantial but isn’t too heavy in the hands.  Its gold and blue artsy cover is echoed in the pages, which have illustrated blue borders plus lines for journaling thoughts and prayers at the bottom of the pages.  Each day’s reading (and there are, as mentioned in the title, 365–so one for each day of the year) begins with a Bible verse and its address printed at the top of each page.  To go along with each of these, Franklin has written devotionals that address ways we can understand the verses, be encouraged by them, or even live out their instructions in our daily lives (both inner and outer).

How I used this book…

I love to start my day with devotional and Bible reading, or Bible study.  So I really enjoyed reading ADORED in the mornings with my coffee.  Sometimes, I’d look up the daily Bible verse in my own Bible, so that I could glean more of Scripture and the contexts the verses were set in.  And although I live with men in my home (my husband and teen son) rather than young women, I often found inspiring and encouraging words that I could share with them during family Bible times or devotionals together.  They’re not the target audience, but there was so much rich content that really affects all of us.

 

 

and what I thought about it

So why did I find that ADORED was so applicable to my whole family?

I really think that it’s because all of us, whether we’re male or female, younger or older, deeply need to know that we are loved.  Even adored.  Lindsay A. Franklin makes that point in her book again and again, in different ways, with different words.  And we all need to hear that!

Here are some of my favorite words from this remarkable book:

  • “But given how much Scripture talks about waiting, specifically waiting on the Lord, we can guess patience is listed as a fruit of the Spirit for a reason.  God is never in a rush.  This God who is always the same says, “Wait on me.  See what I have for you in my time.”…God’s not in a rush, so why are we?”  (Day 23)
  • “You have a God who offers peace.  You have a God who hears your prayers.  You have a God who never backs down, even from the very gates of hell.  You are never alone and your God is never overcome.  So stand tall.  You can trust God to help you overcome those who are trying to intimidate you.”  (Day 18)
  • “Our God–the one of unchanging purpose, constant love, utmost consistency–never discovers greener grass and decides to graze over there a bit.  He knows all the grass.  He’s not wooed by the bigger, better deal.  He’s not suddenly walking alongside you in life, only to be distracted, shout “Squirrel!” and take off after it.  God won’t give up on you.  He won’t forget you.  He won’t leave you.  Ever.”  (Day 17)

That’s only a tiny taste for you of what comprises this most wonderful and encouraging devotional.

And now…my giveaway!

So who would be the perfect recipient of this lovely book, ADORED?

  • A young woman (whether she’s a teen or in her twenties)
  • A new believer, who needs to know the character and purposes of God
  • Any woman—even if she’s not the target audience—who’d like to know more about the amazing love that God has for us
  • A dad who’d like to bless his daughter with this incredible book
  • Or, anyone else whose heart is captured by the idea of ADORED

All you have to do to enter is to click on the pink “Enter Here!” below.  That will take you to the Giveaway Tools entry form.  Just follow the directions there!  One winner will be selected after the giveaway closes on 11/27/17.

Enter here!

Best wishes!  –Wren

 

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

Win “Alpha/Omega,” the wonderful new CD from Kutless (ends 11/23/17)

Are you a fan of music that would fall into the rock/worship category?  If so, then I have a wonderful giveaway opportunity for you!  FlyBy/Propeller Promotions sent me a copy of Kutless’ newest release, Alpha/Omega.  My family enjoyed listening to it and I have a copy for one person to win!

 

 

Kutless is…

a rock/worship band that formed after members met at Warner Pacific College in 2000.  They signed with BEC Recordings in 2001 (talk about a short learning curve!  They hit their stride very quickly.)  Their combination of meaningful worship music, memorable vocals and fantastic musicianship has made them favorites of fans all over the world.  They even formed a nonprofit which allows them to provide free concerts and outreach events worldwide (for example, in Belarus and Ukraine).  These events have enabled 100,000 people to hear the Gospel…and 40,000 made decisions for Christ.

Their newest album (which someone will win a copy of!), Alpha/Omega, is a mixture of brand-new and familiar cover tracks which you’ll definitely recognize…even if you’re not (before now) a confirmed Kutless fan.

 

On the Alpha/Omega album…

you’ll find 10 songs, some new and some you’ll enjoy hearing new recordings of.  They are:

  • “Your Great Name”
  • “Strong Tower”
  • “King of My Heart”
  • “Cornerstone”
  • “You Are Lord”
  • “Great Are You Lord”
  • “Your Love Awakens Me”
  • “Shepherd of My Soul”
  • “Gave It All” (I Surrender All)
  • “No Wonder” (Roar of the Rugged Cross)

We listened to part of the Alpha/Omega CD during our family worship time one Sunday.  The CD is aptly named; as we read at the end of Revelation, chapter 22 and verse 13, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”  All of the songs on this CD direct our attention to God, to His faithfulness and love for us, to His constancy and presence.  I think it’s a CD that is fantastic for listening to under many circumstances; driving in the car, background music, or intentional listening.

Some of my favorite songs were:

  • “King of My Heart,” where I’m reminded that even when I’m in the dark of a night season, God is still holding on to me
  • “Cornerstone,” which combines the old hymn “My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less” with new lyrics.  Jesus is our Cornerstone, and we can rest in Him.
  • “Your Great Name,” which shares who and what God and Jesus are.  Alive, healers, the place where we can find our rest—and worthy.
  • And of course the reprisal of “Strong Tower.”  God is my fortress, the place I can run to in times of struggle or need.

 

And now…someone will win Kutless’ Alpha/Omega!

Just click on the pink “Enter here” below, which will take you to the Giveaway Tools entry form, where you can enter in a variety of ways.  Giveaway closes on Thanksgiving day–11/23/17.  Best wishes!

Enter here!

 

Also, you can check out this video and purchasing info!

Landing page to buy/stream the record: http://smarturl.it/kutles
Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2eNsXwlLvo

 

Enjoy–and best wishes!  –Wren

 

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

 

Faithgirlz’ Backpack Bible ~ Review & Giveaway

I have another lovely giveaway for you all!  The BlogAbout Blogger Network has sent me a fabulous, compact Bible for young women called the Faithgirlz Backpack Bible…plus one to give away to a reader!

 

 

So what is the Faithgirlz Backpack Bible?

Have you…or has a young girl you know…ever wished for a compact Bible that could be easily carried in a purse, messenger bag or backpack?  I know that Bible apps are widely available these days on phones and devices and I use those myself.  But I always go back to my actual Bible each day during devotional times or Bible study.  Or when I just need to find a particular verse for myself or to share with others.  So I really do appreciate an actual Bible that I can hold in my hands.  And one that’s compact yet not too heavy to bring along with me?  Perfect!

And this one, the Faithgirlz Backpack Bible, truly is the perfect size to hold, use, and carry.  It measures at almost 4 1/2″ x 6 3/4″ and just over 1 1/2″ thick.  It’s a leathersoft, opens and lays flat, and colored in a soft pink with an embroidered message on the cover that reads “Follow your heart.” The Bible version is NIV and the text, while compact, is still highly readable.  (Jesus’ words are even lettered in red!)  There are 12 brightly colored pages containing encouraging messages, Scriptures that are perfect for a young girl’s heart, and even an invitation to begin a relationship with Jesus.  This Bible is designed for girls aged 8 and up.  There’s also a pink ribbon bookmark attached.  It retails for $24.99.  Though it’s beautiful and very girly, it’s also very sturdy and should last for years to come.

 

Who would enjoy the Faithgirlz Backpack Bible?

Any girl, really–whether she’s 8 years old or an adult!  Anyone who’s interested in a Bible that can be easily carried around in daily life, or even on trips or vacations.  Or, a mom or youth leader who wants to bless a special young woman with her own Bible that’s designed especially for her.  Or maybe you know a young girl who has just given her heart to Jesus.  This would be a wonderful gift!

Because it’s a lay-flat Bible, it’s perfect to just open up and use during Bible study, during Bible sharing times with others, or simply during Bible reading.  (Sometimes small softcover books won’t stay open if you’re trying to keep them open to a certain page.  Not this one, though!)

 

 

Why should young women (or any women) read the Bible?

I know that, even as an adult, I need the truths of God’s Word to remind me of what is really important.  There are so many reasons to read the Bible.  Here are just a few!

Our culture, with its focus on physical beauty, acquisition, and the here and now is pretty forceful.  Yet God’s still small voice still beckons us with real truth and real beauty:

  • “People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (from 1 Samuel 16:7)
  • “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)
  • “Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”  (1 Peter 3:4)

In addition, my relationship with God is a relationship with a Person.  And reading His Word helps me to get to know Him:

  • “The LORD is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made.”  (Psalm 145:13)
  • “This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.” (John 1:5
  • “And He passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…”” (Exodus 34:6)

And what about help in my relationships with others?

  • “When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.” (Proverbs 31:26, NLT)
  • “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”  (Proverbs 18:24)
  • “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father Who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.”  (Mark 11:25)

I could go on and on…these are just three categories that one can discover from God’s Word.  But they’re a great place to start for any woman!

And now…I have an opportunity for someone to win!

The BlogAbout Blogger Network has provided a copy of Faithgirlz Backpack Bible
to bless one special reader with.  All you have to do to enter is click on the pink “Enter here” link below.  That will take you to the Giveaway Tools entry form, where you can enter to win!  Giveaway ends October 1, 2017.  Best wishes!

Enter here!

Enjoy!  –Wren

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

 

Tim Tebow’s “Know Who You Are. Live Like It Matters” ~ a review

We are huge fans of Tim Tebow‘s at our house.  We’ve always appreciated his integrity, humility, and example.  And we especially loved that he was homeschooled, and that his family spent time on the mission field!  So when we found out that he had a new book that sounded as though it were right up our alley, we were so excited!  Know Who You Are. Live Like It Matters is Tebow’s new book written just for homeschool teens.  We received a free copy to use and review in our homeschool.

 

 

What is Know Who You Are. Live Like It Matters?

Co-written by Tim Tebow and A.J. Gregory, this book is a 36-week devotional that is perfect for teens, especially those in high school.  It’s divided into weekly devotionals, where Tim shares from the Bible and his own experiences (both positive and negative) in a friendly manner that teens will easily relate to.  The book is divided into these four sections:

  • Know Who You Are
  • Don’t Sweat It; God’s Got It
  • Others Matter
  • Live Bigger

Each chapter begins with a key Bible verse, then Tim shares about a variety of topics (“You + God = A Winning Team;” “It’s Not All About the Don’ts;” “Look Who’s Watching;” “Listen and Learn;” “God’s Got a Plan;” “Show Love, Show Jesus;” and thirty others.  Next, sections entitled “In Your Own Words” gives students the opportunity to journal as they answer questions about their own struggles and successes, their relationships with God, and their own hopes and dreams.  The chapters close with “Something To Think About,” a quote or a few sentences to help them continue to think on what they’ve learned or experienced with God or others as they move forward.

My own thoughts about Know Who You Are. Live Like It Matters

I am so impressed with this book.  I absolutely loved it as I read through it in preparation for this review.  Tim’s words are so helpful and encouraging, yet absolutely based on the truths of the Bible, presented in ways that teens will both enjoy and learn and grow from.  He shares about his own successes, yet is honest and open about the challenges he faced.  He talks about going from the highs (like being drafted for the Denver Broncos) to the lows (being traded to another team, and then traded again to others) and what he learned himself from those struggles.  I believe that Tebow was a strong man of faith before those experiences, yet God has clearly used them to grow him deeper in his own walk.  And he can articulate those experiences in ways that will encourage teens.  Everyone’s not going to be a Heisman Trophy winner; but everyone will face a challenging situation and needing to depend on God that much more deeply.

Teens experience a LOT in their high school years.  It is such a time of enormous emotional, physical, and spiritual change with teens varying in the highs and lows they walk through.  But I believe that Know Who You Are. Live Like It Matters would be fantastic for all teens who’d like to learn more about God, their own identities, and the ways they can walk through both good times and challenging times.

I loved this book; and I think that both homeschoolers as well as teens who attend public or private school will be encouraged in both their lives and their spiritual walks.  I absolutely recommend it!

More on Tim and this great new book:

If you’d like to see more of Tim and hear about this book, click on this video link and you can hear more in his own words as he’s interviewed by Kathie Lee Gifford.

You can also download the first chapter of Know Who You Are. Live Like It Matters by clicking on free chapter 1 download.

And in closing, I just have to recommend this great book again.  If you’re looking for an inspirational devotional/journal for your teen, try Know Who You Are. Live Like It Matters!

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

DISCLAIMER:  I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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