A review of the marvelous “Hope in 60 Seconds” by Cristina Baker

#sponsor #partner

Readers, I’ve had an incredible opportunity to read Cristina Baker’s Hope in 60 Seconds, and to share my impressions with you. It is the most amazing life story. But it also contains healing, blessing, uplifting prayers and wonderful Bible teaching–that will give you hope for the future and bless your own relationship with God. This is a book that you will want to get for yourself!

About Hope in 60 Seconds

“At twenty-one I was as far from hopeful as anyone could get. Maybe as far as you are now.”

From the publisher:

“These are the words of Cristina Baker as she considered her traumatic life: from childhood abuse to troubled teen years, to a descent into substance abuse, she resonates with a lost world who understands first-hand how easy it is to lose hope. Then, just as she was about to go to jail for drug possession, the Hero of Hope, Jesus Christ, came into her life and set her on a completely new path.

If you are weary and doubting, Cristina understands. Hope in 60 Seconds will help you to:

  • Be encouraged and empowered by someone who has been in a similar place of discouragement and discovered Christ’s authority and love,
  • Learn how Jesus establishes hope and begin to experience it first-hand in the darkest of circumstances,
  • Grow in your ability to connect with Jesus and find the hope you have longed for all of your life, and
  • Prove that a connection with Jesus is the ultimate source of hope.

The message of Cristina’s life is Jesus, the hope we need and hunger for—a hope that will stand secure in the face of brokenness, loss, sickness, abuse, a brain tumor diagnosis, injustice, and death. In Hope in 60 Seconds, she shares the steps of her journey to encounter, receive, and walk in the hope of Jesus, and offers readers powerful wisdom for how they can take the same journey for themselves.”

Hope in 60 Seconds is arranged in 10 chapters. The hardback book is easy to hold as you read, and there is a ribbon marker attached so that you can mark your place. You’ll see that each chapter begins (and ends) with a prayer and a Scripture. Then, Cristina tells her story; what happened in her life, and how God ran to her, met her, and was moving toward her to save her life when she hardly knew He even existed. In addition, there is an afterword that’s filled with encouragement. And finally, there’s a closing section entitled “Prayers of Hope,” which includes prayers for a number of topics, from salvation, protection, restoration, belief, healing, and lots more which will meet readers where they are—and help them to go where God is. In the best and most humble way!

My thoughts about this book

Aren’t we all on a journey? I certainly am. And I’ll admit to y’all that many of my own recent years have had lots of struggles (even before the corona happened), alongside joys. And even though I would personally say that I do know Jesus and I consider myself a Christ-follower…that this book is JUST what I needed. Cristina’s story and her voice really do speak to everyone, whether they’d say they are people of faith or they’re just dipping their toes into it. And her book will encourage you wherever you are.

For me, I was incredibly moved by the entire book. You can see in the photo above that the page on the left is black with white typeface (which is where the prayers are) and the one on the right is that in reverse (which is your cue that you’re in the chapters). As I read, I prayed every prayer! (And highlighted a lot of the book as well.) Because I found that each prayer contained something in it that I needed–sometimes desperately! I need to see God work some miracles. I need for God to touch and heal some pain from my own past. I need hope–hope from Him. And I want to continue to know Him, to love Him, and to follow Him.

Would you be surprised if I told you that I found prayers–and Scriptures–and story in Hope in 60 Seconds, all that met me in some way where I am today? Well, I did, along with so much more. I actually started using washi tape to mark the prayers and passages I wanted to come back to or refer to again; because I know this is a book that I’ll continue to use alongside my Bible. It just contains so much in it to help us to grow, to love and know God better, and to engage with Him and His purposes. It’s wonderful and I so recommend it!

Some of my favorite passages

I wanted to share some of my favorite moments from Hope in 60 Seconds, so that you can share in the joy and encouragement that I did. I hope that they also encourage you!

  • “One of the greatest gifts God gives us is the power to choose. You, too, can choose new life and receive the powerful hope found in Jesus. A new season and a new day wait for you on the other side of your deepest valley and heartache.” (p. 72)
  • “I am here to tell you that hope never runs out. Hope is a person, and His name is Jesus. He is the greatest advocate you will ever know. Our wisest advisor. The kindest caretaker. Our greatest defender. He is never in a hurry, and He never gets frustrated to the point of giving up and casting someone off as a lost cause.” (p. 57)
  • “Jesus’ love for you is so great that He was willing to die in your place. He is the lifter of your head and the one who breaks off all the shame of your past. “But You, O LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head.” (Psalm 3:3 NRSV) You are priceless, and God longs for you to come boldly into His presence and receive this extravagant gift.” (p. 30)
  • “There is power in forgiveness. It releases the power of God into our own lives, and it opens the door for our hearts to be healed and made whole. I’m not saying this is easy. Quite the opposite…(but) Walking in forgiveness brought me emotional freedom. It gave me the boldness to confront all kinds of memories from my childhood and young adulthood. I took these moments to Jesus and each time chose to forgive those who had harmed or abused me–even if I never had the chance to see or speak to them. I acknowledged their role in my life, what had happened between us, and I spoke words of forgiveness over them. Then I placed them into God’s hands. I released them. Each time I did, I stepped into a deeper measure of freedom.” (p. 120)

There is SO much richness in this lovely book. I recommend it to you wholeheartedly, as you pursue your own freedom and rich relationship with God.

Where you can purchase Hope in 60 Seconds

You can purchase Hope in 60 Seconds from many booksellers, from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Google Play, Christianbook.com, and more. Just visit Cristina’s blog and scroll down to find purchase info!

Cristina Baker blog

Where to find Cristina on social media

Cristina is active on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. She also has a blog! So you can visit her at the links I’ve included here!

IG @itscristinabaker

Tik Tok cristina.baker

Facebook @cristina.baker.543

Cristina Baker blog

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of Hope in 60 Seconds from FrontGate Media. All opinions shared here are my own honest ones.

Want to bake challah with me? (Free recipe booklet available!)

**this is a sponsored post**

Recently, FrontGate Media offered me the chance to learn more about challah (usually pronounced HA-lah in English), and also to bake it myself! It was a lovely experience. I want to tell you about what I did, and offer you a free download of a beautiful booklet (including a recipe!) from Emunah Israel so that you can make this beautiful bread yourself!

Who is Emunah Israel?

Emunah Israel is an NGO in the Holy Land and I absolutely love their history and purpose:

“Emunah, one of Israel’s leading social action organizations, was founded over 80 years ago to help give homes to children arriving in Israel after the Holocaust. It has developed over the decades, always  dealing with the challenges of contemporary society. Emunah’s activities focus on education, social welfare, and societal change through legislation, aiming to strengthen the Jewish family, advance the status of women, and care for vulnerable children.  You can learn more here:  https://www.emunahangels.org/ “

They’ve created this fantastic booklet for people to learn how to make delicious challah bread; and it learn about what it has meant for generations of Jewish people. Jewish women have made challah bread for literally thousands of years! Making challah hearkens back to the manna which fed the Hebrews as they wandered for 40 years through the desert (Deuteronomy 8:3).

This lovely booklet (which you can download free here at Challah Bake) has a delicious challah recipe plus braiding instructions for the dough. It explains what challah means in Jewish and Israeli history and tradition, as well as what each one of the ingredients means (did you know that even the mixing bowl has a meaning?). It also shares what Emunah Israel has accomplished over the years in the lives of children, students, families, and women.

And, our Challah experience!

I love making bread and used to make it several times each month. (Somehow Covid got me out of that habit.) But, I had never made challah although it is one of my favorite breads. In fact, I attended day camp at a Jewish Community Center as a first grader. At the end of day camp (there was a sort of festival) I got to try challah for the first time. I was absolutely captivated by it; it was truly the best bread I’d ever tasted. So, this opportunity was one that I was thrilled about; to learn to make the best bread on the face of the earth! And, both my process of challah-making, as well as its end result, were a delight!

Challah is a yeast bread. So, the process includes mixing the ingredients, kneading them, letting the dough rise, punching it down and then letting it rise again. And then, dividing the dough into six logs for braiding!

The braiding was the most difficult part for me to do. (As you’ll see! 😉) The Emunah challah booklet showed step-by-step visual directions. But (as my geometry teacher could have told you) I sometimes struggle with taking a 2D image and replicating it into my 3D world. So my braiding went a bit wonky. (I also think that trying to braid 6 strands rather than the 3 I’m used to braiding might have had a bit to do with it. Still, I think with practice, I can do it someday!)

But, all was not lost! The next step was painting the braided dough with an egg wash, letting the dough rise again, then baking it.

I admit. I did end up with a sort of a challah cornucopia shape. But it was delicious!!

About the process

I really did find that there was a spiritual and relational element that my family and I felt as we made and enjoyed the challah. The process of creating the challah was restful and peaceful (even with that wonky braid) and just a pleasure to complete. Because there are two risings that the dough has to go through, making challah enables the baker to stop and rest between-times. Emunah Israel has included beautiful prayers that the baker (and family) can pray before and during the process. And, the booklet also includes the meaning of each ingredient; what it represents and how it can bless both the baker and her family. (I say “her” because in Jewish tradition, Jewish women throughout the millennia have been the challah bakers.)

I plan to make challah again. (I do need to work on that braiding!) It enriched my soul as well as our bodies. What a joy.

How you can get a copy of Emunah Israel’s challah-baking book

It is free for anyone who’d like to receive it! Simply click on the link below. You’ll fill out your name and email address and Emunah Israel will send you a digital, printable copy.

Emunah Israel’s free Challah Bake booklet

If you do get this booklet and make the challah, please let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear about your experience!

Thank you for reading. Let’s make challah!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: This was a sponsored post. Everything I’ve shared here was my own honest opinion.

“Link2Us” ~ a brand-new lifestyle & faith magazine

#sponsor #partner

Recently, FrontGate Media sent me a copy of a brand-new lifestyle magazine that incorporates faith, beauty, wellness, and more. I’d love to share my impressions of Link2Us with you, and let you know how you can subscribe to print or digital versions!

About Link2Us magazine

Link2us magazine is a lifestyle publication at the intersection of faith and popular culture, providing readers with a blueprint for living their best and most authentic lives. Each issue delivers fresh and engaging stories, conversations with today’s most inspirational figures, the latest food and wellness trends, relationship and finance tips, home décor solutions, and much more, with faith and inspiration at its core. Our feature content highlights noteworthy figures, up-and-comers, and everyday people impacting their communities and the culture at large. We provide real solutions for real people, living in the real world.

My impressions

I thought that Link2Us was a gorgeous, high-quality magazine. The articles, which included everything from interviews with celebrities of faith (singer Lecrae and “Bachelor” contestant Madison Prewett), mental-health providers and advocates, food blogger Becky Hadeed, book lists, and even fashion pages. The publisher, editors, and writers for Link2Us clearly understand that women of faith are interested in information and articles on ALL parts of their lives, and in this issue, they definitely provide that.

Its photography and layouts are on high-quality paper (a bit thicker than most magazines), and in style and beauty resemble magazines like Vogue or Bon Appétit. The food, fashion, and celebrity photos are, in a word, exquisite, in the skills of the photographers (and those of the stylists, location scouts, lighting directors, and so on). The whole magazine is just a pleasure to look at.

There was a lot of variety not only in the articles, which included not only those I’ve mentioned already to some about church hats, food instability, prayer, and more; but also in the wide diversity of the subjects interviewed and photographed. Many men and women of color were both photographed and interviewed; what a great reminder that all God’s children really are every color! I think that this will make Link2Us something that many readers will be interested in.

I appreciated, in particular, the articles that encouraged people of faith to also take care of their mental health, and to acknowledge that every part of life, whether it’s exercise, processing grief, or embracing new traditions, is worth focusing on.

…and my favorite moments

I’ve shown you some of the lovely photos from the magazine. I wanted to include some of my favorite quotes for you as well, to give you a bit more flavor!

  • From Lecrae: “When you are religious, you are really stressing yourself out to be perfect and trying to do it all in your own strength. And when you mess up or miss a step, it’s devastating to you because you are thinking about your own resume–not the fact that you should be dependent on God in the first place.”
  • From Madison Prewett: “I think so many of us really value those big, life-changing moments. But I would say that a lot of my book (Made For This Moment) is about, is how to value the small moments and how to steward the small things well–because it’s the small moments that will one day become the big moments and lead to the bigger things.”
  • From home baker Sheila P. Johnson: “It was a way to bring happiness and comfort to my neighbors by sharing something that I loved and created.”
  • And some of Dawn Rusinko’s (self-proclaimed control freak) reminders to add to your daily prayer: “God will give me rest…will strengthen me…will answer me…is for me.”

Isn’t that the most lovely way to close out a magazine for people of faith!

Where you can find Link2Us

You can find Link2Us magazine in Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million stores and airports in the U.S., and at Chapters/Indigo stores in Canada.

And, how you can subscribe

If you’d like to subscribe to either the digital version or the print version of Link2Us, just click on the link below. Also, when you sign up for a 1-year subscription, you’ll receive a Link2Us tote bag!

Subscribe here!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this magazine from its publisher and FrontGate Media. All opinions are honest and my own.