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

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

About When Mountains Crumble

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

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

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

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

My thoughts about this book

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

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

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

About the author, Danita Jenae

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

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

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

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

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

Enter to win your own copy of When Mountains Crumble

The FINCHNWREN blog and The BlogAbout Blogger Network will be giving away a copy of When Mountains Crumble to one reader. To enter the giveaway, just click on the pink “Enter here!” link below. That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form, where you’ll be able to enter in a variety of ways. Giveaway closes on 4/30/22. One winner will be selected to win.

Enter here!

Thank you for reading, friends. –Wren

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

“I Love You, Mom!” ~ a book review & giveaway (ends 3/25/22)

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The BlogAbout Blogger Network sent me the most lovely and encouraging book for moms! I Love You, Mom! is a beautiful love note to mothers. I was so blessed and edified to read this book. And, I have a copy of the print book to give away to one FINCHNWREN reader. Keep reading for more, and for the opportunity to win!

About I Love You, Mom!

This precious book really is a love letter to moms. It includes beautiful artwork (in some of my favorite colors), Bible verses and devotional writings, prayers, and little notes on different subjects (these are written in a child’s voice, as if a mom’s child was writing notes of appreciation). It’s authored by daughter/mother writing team Blythe Daniel and Helen McIntosh. The book is subtitled “Cherished word gifts from my heart to yours,” and it really is just that!

Blythe and Helen have created a book that contains encouraging words that moms need to hear, along with Scriptures that will settle in mothers’ hearts and remind them both of God’s wonderful calling to them, along with His promises to always be with moms, working alongside them for His lifelong purposes. Devotional writings’ subjects include treasuring children; giving thanks; abundant love; confidence; regrets and affirmation; our time and attention; gifts and traditions; and much more. Each of these lovely chapters closes with wise and kind words of affirmation written in the child’s voice. How beautiful!

My thoughts about I Love You, Mom!

It touched my heart and my spirit so deeply! As I read this book, I felt many emotions. Although our son isn’t a little guy any more, I’m so grateful for the moments we’ve shared since his infancy, toddlerhood, and so on, all the way through his teen years. (Which are now officially concluded as he’s entered his twenties!) As I Love You, Mom! reminded me, God has held us all and loved us during every step of our lives.

And although this book paints a lovely picture of the mother & child life together, it’s also quite truthful. We do experience challenges in our family lives! We are not perfect people; we are loved humans who are endeavoring to create beautiful family experiences for our children. And sometimes we fail–in big ways or small ways. Yet our loving heavenly Father never gives up on us; never forgets us; never leaves us alone. And that’s a message that all moms need to hear.

I Love You, Mom! would be a fantastic gift for moms in any stage of the parenting life. It would be perfect for new moms, for Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day mom gifts, or really for any moment you’d like to bring a special gift to a mother. With its Scriptures and focus on a loving God who’s alongside mothers in every step of their journey, it’s something that women of faith would appreciate. Above all, these chapters provide moments where moms can take a breath, receive encouragement, and catch a glimpse of the vision of their best for their children’s lives. That’s definitely a gift that not every book can provide!

About the authors

A magnificent mother-daughter duo, Helen McIntosh and Blythe Daniel released Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mother and Daughters in 2019 and have paired up again for I Love You, Mom!: Cherished Word Gifts from My Heart to Yours  releasing in February 2022.


Blythe is the president of The Blythe Daniel Agency, Inc., is a literary agent, marketer, and writer with 25 years in media and publishing. She has written for Focus on the Family, Proverbs 31 Ministries, Ann Voskamp, and Christian Retailing. 

Right away, Helen is someone you know as an encourager at heart. She has her Doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of Sarasota, and is the author of Messages to Myself and Eric, Jose & The Peace Rug.

How you can enter to win your own copy of I Love You, Mom!

The BlogAbout Blogger Network has provided a copy of I Love You, Mom! for me to give away to one FINCHNWREN reader! (Although I’ve included pictures of the digital ebook on my Kindle, the winner will receive the print version.)

To enter, just 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 on 3/25/22.

Enter here!

Thank you so much for reading; this book was just a joy to share with you. You can purchase your own copies from Amazon, Walmart, Barnes & Noble, Target, or other booksellers.

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author. All opinions are honest and my own.

“Made for Eden” ~ a review & giveaway (ends 2/18/22)

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Recently, the BlogAbout Blogger Network sent me a wonderful, incredibly life-giving book to review. It’s called Made for Eden, by Dr. Bryan McIntosh. I am so happy to be able to share about this with you; it has been an absolute gift to me. And–I will be giving away a copy to one reader!

About Made for Eden

The “abundant life.” Do you ever feel like you’re really living that? Do you feel burdened and constrained by living “the religious life” or by pleasing others? Do you sometimes wonder if you will ever figure out how to live the Christian life?

I can answer “yes” to all the questions in the paragraph above. In fact, I have even felt sick and exhausted over trying to do those things. And even in these years of corona, I have still struggled with them. Because of these, and because Made for Eden was such an absolute joy to read, I was thrilled to make my way through this book. Dr. Bryan McIntosh addresses these thoughts, and so many more. As it turns out, many believers are probably struggling with the same things. Dr. McIntosh brings solid Biblical teaching and interpretation, as well as a kind voice to remind and instruct us that we weren’t actually made for this world where sin has its sway, where violence and selfishness direct so many. Instead, he wants us to understand that we were, instead, made to live in Eden, in a beautiful place where intimacy with God is what we experience every day. Oh, and I didn’t mention the book’s subtitle: “Promises and Provisions for the Life God Created You to Live.” Beautiful!

In this 12-chapter book, Dr. McIntosh unpacks this idea. Chapter titles include:

  • Stewards of Eden: What Creation Says About Our Purpose
  • The Return to Eden through Becoming New Creations
  • Eden’s Promise: Why the Good News Is Good
  • Eden’s Victory: Ambassadors of New Life
  • Skeptics of Eden: The Question of Suffering and Evil
  • and more

Dr. McIntosh begins in Genesis 1 and moves all the way through the Bible to Revelation 22, to show us our purposes as human Christ-followers. To partner with God in caring for God’s creation(s); to enjoy God’s presence; to fulfill God’s overall purposes but also His individual purposes for our lives by using our gifts and callings. But, he contrasts these with the ways we’ve mistakenly interpreted our relationship with Him, and the work we do with Him, by showing the fear that makes us afraid of Him and “trying” to do “good things” or follow a “religious life” instead of walking in intimate, trusting relationship with God. And perhaps most important: we can live this life because of Christ in us. He really is not only the hope of glory but the way we can live with God and in His power.

I can see seasons of my own life where I’ve done both of those; walking in love with Him vs. walking in fear and mistrust. How light and flowing the former is; how weighty and impossible, the second. I have told you what a joy this book was to read. Something else I truly appreciated is that the author takes time to fully unpack each of these ideas. It’s definitely a book where ideas are laid out before the reader carefully and clearly, which is wonderful and empowering, rather than just pronouncements of “Do your life THIS way!” And each one is backed up by Scripture, and cross-referenced with other verses to fully explain its meaning.

Some of my favorite parts of the book

I do want to share with you some of my most favorite moments of this book, so you can get a bit of the flavor of Made for Eden.

  • “Over the course of history, God has shown what He values: people. His current purpose for those He redeems is the same as what He intended in the beginning. He wants a relationship with man through which His excellency is displayed, and His goodness in salvation is made known. It’s not about how many times we fail. It is about getting up, repenting, and moving forward in our call as His stewards.”
  • “The life God meant for us…is not a religious life…but a life guided by His purpose for us…Because Jesus lived according to the Father’s purpose, He did not follow every human expectation or request placed on Him. He was not after men’s approval. He only wanted to follow His Father’s will and purpose.”
  • “Life here can be hard, but learning how to walk as He walked, in humility, gives us rest instead of weariness. The good works He has for us are not a burden. That makes His invitation to come to Him good news. Jesus knows that trying to live our life without the plan that He ushered in–to indwell us and create a new man–would wear us out. He knows that only His way offers true rest.”
  • “Abiding in Jesus means we depend on His life-giving presence and direction daily. We are a branch drawing its very life from the vine.”

I’d like to mention, also, that as Dr. McIntosh may reference “sonship” or the new “man,” it’s very clear that he is also speaking of and to women. I never felt that women were being excluded in this book.

So, who should read this book?

I could give you a list of who’d be blessed by this! But I think I can shorten the list to this: anyone who’s longing for the Matthew 11:28-30 life, where they’re empowered by Christ and walking moment-by-moment in God’s amazing love. That is SO appealing to me–and I believe it also might be to you!

So–here’s how to enter to win your own copy!

To enter to win Made For Eden, just 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 2/18/22. One winner will be selected. Best wishes!

Enter here!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclaimer: The FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service, which we will talk about 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.

“Farm to Film” ~ a lovely ABC book for early readers (review & giveaway, ends 12/3/21)

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The BlogAbout Blogger Network recently sent me two of the most beautiful books! Farm to Film, written and illustrated by Hannah Miles Pierrou, is a lovely, gentle ABC book for early readers. Let me tell you more about it…and then, you’ll be able to enter a giveaway to win a wrapped copy for your family!

About the author

Hannah Miles Pierrou is a long-time lifestyle photographer, designer, and artist. Hannah recently launched Treehouse Storyteller where she plans to write, illustrate, and publish many books in the future with Farm to Film as the debut book. 

Leaning into her experience as an artist, she is brings her readers into various design elements such as detail, contrast, movement, composition, shape, and rhythm so that they can feel like they are in the scenes with her characters. She hopes to inspire readers to take time to unplug and see the beauty in our lives. 

Hannah and her husband are raising their family in the countryside of the Colorado foothills.

Hannah’s desire for her children and generations to come, is to see nature, animals, and a homestead lifestyle not only a rewarding way to live, but a beautiful one at that….Her hope is for her little readers to unplug, get back to nature, and find peace in the life on the farm.

Hannah Miles Pierrou, Farm to Film, Dedication

About Farm to Film

Farm to Film is a lovely ABC book for early readers, written and illustrated by Hannah Miles Pierrou. It tells the gentle story of a child who goes to her grandparents’ (Pop and Gram) farm. Told in first person, Farm to Film allows the reader to see the child’s day on the farm, and everything she engages with and photographs with Pop’s vintage camera, from A to Z. And there is a lot to see!

Each letter receives two facing pages in which the child tells about what she sees and what she is taking a photo of. She sees animals (both farm and wild), insects, flowers, vehicles (including the most awesome vintage pickup truck), buildings, food, and objects. The speed of the story is calm and placid, where the reader is able to meander along and take the time to gather and absorb the text and the artwork. While this book is perfect for early readers, it would also be an excellent choice for a read-aloud. In fact, I believe that educator Charlotte Mason, who delighted in bringing children outside to nature and giving them time to explore their senses outdoors, would have loved this book!

The art style is clean and carefully-drawn. Miles Pierrou loves to use geometric shapes, especially for her animals, which not only are breathtaking to view but also provide the reader and parent opportunities for a little art observation (“Can you find a triangle? Or a diamond? What colors and shapes do you see?”). The pale backgrounds draw the reader’s eye directly to the focus of each page. The illustrations are also quite restful to observe. Yet the narrative, where we see from a child’s point of view, helps us to skip along to the next page, propelling us to continue with her to see everything she sees on the farm.

Farm to Film is a peaceful and delightful excursion to a lovely day on the farm, away from the busyness and stress of a day in the city. It is a joy to read and to experience, and I’m so impressed that the author found such rich and full items to use up every letter in the alphabet! Personally, I loved reading it. The illustrations, especially those on the flyleaves, captured my heart and reminded me of a beloved book from my own childhood. I loved looking at the artwork; such appreciation and nostalgia it created in me!

This would be a wonderful gift for children or new parents, for homeschooling families, or even grandparents who love to read to their grandkids. And, The BlogAbout Blogger Network provided a copy of this lovely book to give away to a reader!

How you can enter to win Farm to Film

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 to win in a variety of ways. Giveaway closes 12/3/21. One winner will be selected to win the beautifully-wrapped copy of Farm to Film. Best wishes!

Enter here!

Where you can purchase Farm to Film

Farm to Film is available on Amazon. Just click on the highlighted title!

Thank you for letting me share this beautiful book with you.

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author. All opinions are my own.

Jane Blasio’s “Taken at Birth” ~ a review & giveaway (CLOSED)

**CONGRATULATIONS to Meghan B, the winner of the book!**

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Hello!

I have a memoir to share with you today: Jane Blasio’s Taken at Birth. Jane’s account of the Hicks Clinic human trafficking scheme, and her own journey to discover her biological origins, is both heartbreaking and encouraging. The BlogAbout Blogger Network provided a copy of this book for me to read, plus an additional copy for me to give away to one FINCHNWREN reader.

About Taken at Birth

Jane Blasio’s life underwent an enormous earthquake when she was told, as a young child on the playground, that her parents had purchased her on the black market. She learned that she was adopted, and even saw her birth certificate; but what she discovered over the years and as she began her own journey to discover the truths of her origins, was that she was one of hundreds of babies sold by an unscrupulous doctor at a small clinic in North Georgia. The clinic was the Hicks Clinic, and both Jane and her sister Michelle were both purchased from Doc Hicks, who “helped” young mothers deliver their babies but later told them that their babies had died, when he’d smuggled them out the back door and received hundreds, or even a thousand dollars for them. His medical “care” of patients also included forced abortions, assisted childbirths at which the women were so damaged they sometimes later died, and early inductions that were incredibly dangerous for both the expectant moms and the babies. Jane was one of the last category.

Taken at Birth records Jane’s story and search for her own biological parents; but she also includes the stories of many young women who suffered under Doc Hicks’ hands. Doc Hicks lost his license to practice in one state, and simply moved from there to Georgia, where he opened a new practice. He was later prosecuted for his crimes in court (with a jury composed of his own townspeople, many of whom were highly sympathetic towards him). Jane’s, and other Hicks babies’ stories, were later told by national news journals and broadcasting companies. Eventually, the Hicks babies’ story was compiled into a program by TLC, which will air in a 3-night special in October. (You can watch a 2-minute trailer of this upcoming special on YouTube.)

My thoughts

Taken at Birth is an incredible account of one woman’s quest to discover her biological origins. This search took her to a town determined to protect the name of the doctor who’d sold her, her sister, and many others to couples desperate for a child in the 1950s and 1960s. Yet she didn’t give up. She found a few people, here and there, who were willing to talk about the Hicks babies and clinics, and about the doctor himself. Jane was a kind, yet an incredibly determined investigator who became an expert on illegal adoptions over the years.

This book is heartbreaking to read. Each of us desires to know our own origins, and that desire comprises a part of understanding our own identities. But what if there is no record of a child’s actual birth? This mystery is the beginning of many of the Hicks babies’ lives. And those lost connections are only part of the tales of suffering; there are also the agonies and griefs of the women who thought their babies had died. Or who experienced botched surgeries. It’s the most painful story. Yet at the same time, there is in this book some redemption, some grace, and some forgiveness. And the stories of those who came alongside Jane’s search are both beautiful and encouraging; some hints of hope and beauty in a painful time and location.

I admire Jane Blasio, both for the courage to tell her own story and the dogged determination to track down as much information as she could on the Hicks clinics and the lives that were lost, or sold, during its tenure. Her search was costly. Yet I know that she was able to bring understanding and knowledge to so many. This is a painful book to read, at times; yet it’s an important one.

How to enter to win your own copy of this book

The BlogAbout Blogger Network has provided me with a beautiful hardback copy of Jane Blasio’s book, Taken at Birth, to give away to one reader. You can enter to win this book by clicking on the link below that says, “Enter here.” That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form where you’ll be able to enter to win in a variety of ways. Giveaway closes on 8/20/21. One entrant will be selected to win.

Enter here

Where to purchase your own copy

In case you’re not selected to win, you can purchase Taken at Birth on Amazon.

Thank you for reading. And another thank you to Jane, who investigated and shared this incredible story. Bless you all!

–Wren

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

Living “The Divine Adventure” with God (a review and giveaway, CLOSED)

**CONGRATULATIONS to Diane E, the book giveaway winner!)

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Have you ever thought that following Christ could be an exciting adventure? Rebecca Friedlander’s wonderful book, The Divine Adventure, tells readers just how they can live that engaging life. The BlogAbout Blogger Network sent me a copy of this book, plus an additional one that I’ll be giving away to one reader!

Rebecca Friedlander is both an author and a film producer. She is also active in the arts and has led ministry with music, in prayer, and via her books. She is also committed to living a rich and full life as a Christ-follower, and she’s written The Divine Adventure: Spiritual Practices for a Modern-Day Disciple so that readers can engage in that life as well.

About the book

In The Divine Adventure, Friedlander discusses, through 12 chapters, the practices that we can develop in our own relationships with God. They include:

  • Prayer
  • Reading the Bible
  • Obedience, giving, and rest
  • Engaging in community
  • Giving
  • And more

In each chapter, she develops one idea, explains the reasoning and the Scriptures behind the practices, and shares her own (and others’) stories of how these enabled believers to grow closer to God. Even though some of her recommendations are surprising (like pilgrimage! or meekness??), the ideas and habits truly are those that will yield closeness to God and beauty in that relationship. They also will aid the reader in growth, whether it’s in faith or character. It’s a book that would be a wonderful gift for a new believer, for a seasoned one, or even for yourself!

My thoughts about The Divine Adventure

All of the spiritual practices that Rebecca Friedlander discusses in her book are habits that we can easily see would be great for someone who wants to grow closer to God. What’s wonderful about Rebecca’s style is that she presents each one of these in a winsome, engaging manner. Her voice is fresh and encouraging; her words never feel heavy-handed or discouraging, like “here is one more thing you need to do to live the Christian life.” Instead, the reader is delighted, and is drawn to ideas and thoughts that actually feel doable. I loved Rebecca’s stories, her use of Scripture to further explain each practice, and what always comes through as her reason for writing: so that readers can draw closer to the God that they, and Rebecca, love. Or that they want to love!

I was particularly struck by the author’s inclusion of “meekness” (quiet dignity, humility, not demanding that we are “right”) as an important choice and behavior. What a difference we can see in that as a response, rather than being quick to anger or argument! I also was captivated by the idea of “pilgrimage” as a Christian pursuit. I’ve read about this as a current-day practice, as in the Camino de Santiago in Europe, and one can even watch films about it (both fictional and non-fictional). Yet Rebecca speaks of it as a way for us to connect differently with God, to go on adventure with Him. And one doesn’t have to go all that distance to do it–although it would be amazing!

I loved The Divine Adventure so much. Really, the further that I read, the more I wanted to read; and I would have been happy if the book had kept going! Its last chapter, on worship, was the most wonderful of all, as it examines the many ways we can engage with God in worship. I’d recommend this book, with delight and joy, to anyone who’d like to live an adventure with God. It was a beautiful and rich read, and it made me want more with God, myself!

How to enter to win your own copy

I have one copy of The Divine Adventure to bless one reader with! To enter the giveaway, 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 July 29, 2021, and one reader will be selected to win. Best wishes!

Enter here!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclaimer: I received a copy of The Divine Adventure myself, plus an additional one to give away. All opinions are my own.

“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.

“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.

“Shift” by Abby McDonald–a review & giveaway (CLOSED)

**Congratulations to Lacey W, the book winner!**

#sponsor #partner

I’ve just finished the excellent Shift by Abby McDonald, and I’m so happy to be able to share this wonderful book with you. The BlogAbout Blogger Network sent me a copy to review, plus an additional copy to give away to one reader!

Have you ever noticed that we can slip into viewing God differently, when we’re in challenging seasons? Our perspectives on Him can so easily change, even without our noticing it. And what we think about God really can affect our daily lives. Do we believe that He is utterly good? And faithful? Or have we begun to think that He doesn’t care about us individually, that He’s not listening to our prayers, that He doesn’t see our struggles?

Once I imagined that I would never fail in my beliefs about God, even in times of trial. (Ugh! I’m hoping that was just extreme naiveté, rather than pride.) And it wasn’t that I’d never had difficult things happen in my life. But there was a series of events, over eight years ago, that absolutely knocked me to my knees. I *knew* God was there. But gradually, I began to doubt He actually cared about me. I even remember telling a friend that I didn’t even think I should pray about it, because He was just going to do what He wanted to anyway. (Ouch.)

God did, so kindly and faithfully, bring me through that season, restoring my faith and belief in His care for me. But how deeply I would have benefited from Abby McDonald’s exceptional book Shift. Sometimes all it takes (and continues to take) is a shift in our own perspectives. Just like seafarers of the past could look through their telescopes, see a blurry image, and then turn the instrument so that the lenses shifted and the distant image became clear, we can shift what we are thinking to change what we are believing about God. Which, wonderfully, can change our entire lives.

About Shift

Sometimes the pain and the wounding we may experience in life shakes the foundation of our faith. We may draw conclusions about God that might seem true…but they deny His character and love, and they keep us from walking forward in wholeness and healing. Abby McDonald has explored this, as well as questions like: Where is God? Did I miss Him? Did I go the wrong direction when I thought I heard Him? She has wrestled these, and many other questions, out in her own walk of faith and she’s come up with answers that will help us in our own challenges, refocus our view of Scriptures, and realign our lenses so that we can see God working in the details as well as the big pictures of our lives.

Shift‘s subtitle is “Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God.” And isn’t that, in the end, what we’re seeking in our times of trial? We want God’s presence. We want to know that He is there with us, that we are not alone. In 13 chapters, Abby discusses decisions, actions, and choices we can make to walk through the valleys (as well as the mountains!) knowing that we are with God. She writes with love and grace, honestly describing her own struggles and how God intervened in her life to show her how to see Him and how to trust and believe. Important topics include:

  • Trusting God when we can’t see the outcome
  • Believing that He has good for us ahead
  • Communicating honestly with Him about all our hopes, fears, and frustrations
  • Remembering and reminding ourselves of what we know of God and what we’ve seen Him do in the past
  • Persevering in faith, hope, and love…the three things that will last forever
  • Asking God to show us the next step He has for us, instead of demanding answers
  • And more

Abby also includes a segment at the end of each chapter called “Adjusting Our Lens.” Here, she asks the reader to think about and answer questions that can help us see wrong thinking or patterns, so that we can draw closer to God as we change what’s not healthy or helpful. They’re not easy questions, either; but if we can look at them honestly we can step out of habits that are keeping us stuck and draw closer to God.

What I loved most from Shift

A lot, actually! (You should see all my highlighting and Post-It tabs!) I found so much that I could apply to my own past, during seasons of my life when I struggled in my own relationship with God. There was also an abundance of wisdom that applied to my current life and challenges, and more that I would love to remember for the future.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • “We need continual reminders not only of who God is, but who we are as a result. We need the truth to be repeated over and over. Why? Because we live in a world where lies and half-truths are constant and loud.”
  • “This is the shift that had to take place in my heart and my view toward God. I had to go from seeing him as distant Rule Enforcer to someone I trusted. From Headmaster and Lecturer to Confidant. Once I understood the type of relationship he desired from me, my life changed. Knowing we are wanted has the capacity to change the entire trajectory of our lives.”
  • “In a world that says, “Do,” Jesus simply says, “Come.” Come as you are. Let my love completely alter your perspective. Leave the checklist.”
  • “But the more I walk this road of following Jesus, the more I see that he relentlessly pursues us. If we’re living under the weight of lies keeping us from a life of freedom, he fights to bring us back to the truth. He fights for what’s his, and leaves the ninety-nine in search of the one sheep who’s meandering through the darkness (Matt. 18:12).”

This is a book that will encourage you, strengthen you, remind you of God’s Word and His goodness…and enable you to heal and grow. It’s wonderful and I so recommend it. And, I have a copy to give away to one reader!

How to enter to win a copy of Shift

To enter the giveaway to win your own copy of Abby McDonald’s Shift, simply click on the 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 3/10/21. One winner will receive a copy of Shift. Best wishes!

Enter here!

Enjoy! –Wren

DISCLOSURE: 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 (and sometimes our family’s) honest opinions of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

“Overcoming” ~ A book that could save a person’s life (and you could win a copy! Giveaway closes 12/16/20)

#sponsor #partner

I have an incredible book to share with you today. And, I am not overstating things when I tell you that this book, quite literally, could save someone’s life. The BlogAbout Blogger Network provided me with a copy to read/review plus a copy to give away to one reader. The book is OVERCOMING The Narcissist, Sociopath, Psychopath, And Other Domestic Abusers, written by Charlene D. Quint, J.D., C.D.V.P.

 

 

What is Overcoming?

OVERCOMING The Narcissist, Sociopath, Psychopath, And Other Domestic Abusers is a handbook to help readers do three things:

  • Recognize the Narcissistic/Sociopath/Psychopath/Domestic Abuser
  • Remove the Narcissistic/Sociopath/Psychopath/Domestic Abuser from Your Life
  • Recover from the Narcissistic/Sociopath/Psychopath/Domestic Abuser

Overcoming is a large, textbook-sized hardback book. Its author, Charlene D. Quint, practices family law in Illinois. She has written several books to aid victims of domestic abuse and, as the book cover says, to help them “become the fearless victors God designed them to be.” Charlene is also a Certified Domestic Violence Professional as well as a survivor of domestic abuse herself. In Overcoming, she takes the often-confusing subject of domestic violence apart, explaining what it is, what it looks like, its effect on families, and how to get free of it not only physically but spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. It is written from a Christian perspective but its information and principles are based on current and solid psychological research as well.

Although Overcoming is 572 pages long, it is never daunting and always readable. Each chapter is full of illuminating information as well as real-life accounts of both women and men who were trapped in relationships with abusers. I’d like to tell you about what you’ll find in each of the three sections, then I’ll share with you my own impressions.

 

 

Recognizing the Abuser

As I read Overcoming, I often thought of Leo Tolstoy’s famous words at the beginning of Anna Karenina: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” That is a fantastic story-opener but it’s the exact opposite of the truths about domestic violence and abusers. They often share extremely similar cycles of behavior and abuse. They seek the same patterns of power (for themselves) and victimization (for their significant others). Often, the victim of relationship violence thinks that they are the problem, that if they had only done this or that differently they’d never have faced abuse. In fact, according to research and scientific literature, abusers are often narcissists, sociopaths, or psychopaths who have incredible similarities in behavior. It’s actually both astonishing and horrifying how much abusers have in common with each other.

In this opening section of Overcoming, Charlene discusses the goals and habits of abusers, phases of abusive relationships, and the differences between healthy and emotionally unhealthy relationships. She examines types of abuse (emotional, verbal, physical, financial, sexual, and spiritual), infidelity, common behaviors of abusers, and the question all victims of abuse eventually ask: “Why do they do what they do?” Interestingly enough, while mentally healthy men and women seek to own and take responsibility for their own failings, it turns out that abuse doesn’t happen because significant others “do something wrong.” It’s instead all in the mind, motivation, choices, and actions of the abuser.

 

 

Removing

Section two of Overcoming explains the realities of abusive relationships by discussing important yet often hidden truths about them:

  • Why does she stay?
  • What to expect from the abuser if she stays or leaves the relationship
  • What to expect from children, families, and the community of she leaves (and this is particularly heartbreaking)
  • Creating a safety plan
  • Understanding that this is a spiritual battle
  • What the Bible actually says about divorcing an abuser
  • Mistakes churches and pastors make in counseling abusers and their victims
  • and more

Charlene reveals in this segment the patterns that abusers follow over and over again in their relationships. Abuse escalates, damages its victims (whether they are spouses or children) and destroys individuals. Family, friends, and communities often follow the pattern of becoming complicit in the abuse when they believe the abusers’ lies and deny the victims’ pain and suffering. It is shocking and devastating and it almost never benefits the victim. But there really can be a way out of the abuse although the victims must approach this with great wisdom and forethought, for their own protection and survival.

 

 

Recovering

An abusive relationship, and its effects on its victims, can feel hopeless as well as terrifying. But there really is hope out there. In this last section of Overcoming, Charlene discusses the affects of abuse on women and children, and those whom the abuser targets as he or she pursues romantic relationships. They are powerful and honestly, life-altering (or life-stealing). There are lies that keep victims trapped in abusive relationships. But there are truths from God that actually set them free.

There are specific steps victims (and their children) can take to move towards healing. And it is possible to step into healthy new relationships, both with people and with God, who truly desires to be our Rescuer, Defender, Redeemer, and Healer. Charlene discusses all of these and provides practical ways victims can overcome and heal and walk out a new life.

Truly, I feel that it was somewhat difficult to really do justice to this book in a review, this book which I feel must certainly be Charlene Quint’s masterwork. OVERCOMING will lead those broken by others’ abuse down the road of healing. It will provide understanding of the evil behavior of abusers, as well as recognition of what abuse really is. OVERCOMING is, I believe, a book which will support and help to set free those damaged by narcissists, sociopaths, psychopaths, and other abusers. It will help captives walk out of the darkness of abuse into the beautiful light of freedom.

 

 

My thoughts and impressions

Although Overcoming deals with a terrifying and difficult subject matter, I found it extremely readable and even, for me, healing to read. I have known abusive men and women over the course of my life, as a child, as a young woman, and as an adult. I would even guess that some of these people might have been narcissistic or sociopathic (although I am not professionally equipped to diagnose them myself).

I think that most of us would find the patterns and habits of abusers inexplicable and beyond our own understanding. Why on earth would they ever treat others the way they do? Why are they so mean? Why are they willing to harm others for their own personal gain? Each of us may, in our lifetimes, encounter abusers and experience the pain they inflict. But, there is hope.

I discovered as I read Overcoming that we really can understand why they behave this way, recognize the patterns they follow, and perhaps most important, learn how to be safe from the damaging influences they inflict. I learned that we can know that God does not inflict abusive relationships on us but that instead, that He loves us and provides not only a way out but a way of healing and restoration.

To me, that is all amazing!

 

 

Who could benefit from Overcoming?

Perhaps you know someone who is in a domestically abusive relationship. Perhaps you know a pastor or a counselor who could benefit from this book. Or maybe, most significantly…maybe YOU need this book.

If so, I urge you to get a copy for yourself. Charlene Quint has made this enormous guidebook available at an incredibly affordable price, less than $30 on Amazon. (Just click on this link, Overcoming, to purchase there.)

 

This book really could save someone’s life. It could help a person avoid abusive relationships. And, it could help them to heal. It is worth every penny, and more.

Best of all, The BlogAbout Network has provided a copy of this amazing book that one person will win in a giveaway!

 

 

 

 

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 the giveaway in a variety of ways. Giveaway closes 12/16/20. One winner will receive a copy of OVERCOMING The Narcissist, Sociopath, Psychopath, And Other Domestic Abusers. Best wishes!

 

Enter here!

 

 

Thank you for reading. And for each and every one of you, I hope you are safe. You are important and you are loved.

 

–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.