Know Who You Are. Live Like It Matters: A Review


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Tim Tebow is most widely known for the Christian life he leads in the sports world. More recently, however, Tebow has enhanced the scope of his mission field to include written texts. Hence this new book, directed specifically at homeschool audiences, Know Who You Are. Live Like It Matters.

In this 196-page book, Tebow provides homeschool students with 36 devotionals, urging them to discover their true identity in Christ and the implications this identity poses. The book is designed to be completed over the course of the academic school year (36 weeks = 36 devotionals), and each 1-3 page devotional is followed by writing questions and/or assignments (letters, short stories, dialogues, etc.) to maximize application and understanding of the concepts presented.

The book is divided into four sections, each 9 weeks long. The first section discusses a Christian’s identity in Christ. The second section focuses on “uncover[ing] guidance when the going in life gets tough” (pg. 3), while the third section focuses on building and maintaining godly relationships. The final section challenges students to “Live Bigger” – to dare to “do” the hard and often by-passed love that is demonstrated for us in the life of Christ.


  • Sequence – The book starts off with a necessary foundation – knowing who you are in Christ – and ends with the most challenging weeks of actually living out one’s faith in the hard places.
  • Personable Structure – Each devotional features a personal anecdote from Tebow’s life in order to more readily engage learners.
  • Reflection Opportunities – The writing opportunities at the end of each chapter allows students to make the lessons personal, to examine their spiritual lives and listen for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as they draw closer to Christ.
  • Sincerity – This is the real Christian walk. Nothing fake or artificial. It’s sometimes hard, but as Tebow encourages readers, it’s always worth it.


  • Gaps – This book provides a great start on knowing who you are and living like it matters. But, the book simply does not contain enough “material” to cover a whole week of study for students. Parents would be well advised to either include supplementary material, perhaps service learning or Bible study, as well as parental and/or peer discussion for this book. The concepts themselves are definitely worth focusing one week of study on, but more material will likely be needed to really get the most out of this book.

Know Who You Are. Live Like It Matters. is now available from retailers. For more information, or to purchase a copy, check out Amazon or Waterbrook Publisher’s web pages. This book is available in both paperback and e-book formats.

Disclaimer: I received this book as a review copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion, as represented in this review.


Windfall: A Review


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Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith is one young adult novel I will not be recommending to you, my readers. Before I explain why, though, I’d like to give you a brief run-down of what the book is about.

Alice is an orphan. Her parents died about 1 year apart when she was only 9 years old, so for the past 9 years, she has lived with her aunt, uncle, and cousin in Chicago. During these years, she has spent many happy hours with her cousin (Leo) and their mutual friend, Teddy. Gradually, Alice has fallen in love with Teddy – the caring, happy-go-lucky, laid-back guy she jokingly calls Ted E. Bear.

For Teddy’s 18th birthday, Alice purchases him a coming-of-age gift – a lottery ticket. But not just any lottery ticket. The winning lottery ticket.

And suddenly Teddy’s (and Alice’s) life changes.

Since Teddy’s dad left him and his mom when Teddy was a child, he has lived in humble circumstances. So the $141.3 million lottery win opens endless opportunities. Unfortunately, these opportunities start to go to Teddy’s head. He’s no longer the caring, happy-go-lucky guy Alice knew. And now, she’s afraid he’ll never return the romantic love she has for him.

The book itself is typical of the YA genre. Fairly cheesy by my standards, but I can see where teenage girls would lap up this frustrated love story. So why am I giving this book a negative review?

I generally do a little background checking on the author of books I choose to review before I request the book for review. I found one of Jennifer E. Smith’s books for sale on Christian Book Distributors, so I thought Windfall would be a “clean” read. I was, however, very disappointed by the overt homosexual themes in this book. Leo – Alice’s cousin – has a boyfriend, Max, who attends college in Michigan. Leo is torn between pursuing his dream at the Art Institute of Chicago or going to college with Max.

I tried to ignore this in the beginning of the book, hoping it would just be a background “fact.” But as the story progresses, Leo’s relationship with Max gains more importance. He plans to visit him during spring break, and the conversation between Alice and him unquestionably exposes the immorality of this relationship:

[Leo to Alice]: “I still can’t believe my parents are letting me -”

[Alice to Leo] “Spend the whole spring break alone with your college boyfriend?…I can. They love Max. And they trust you.” (138)

By Leo’s plain proclamation on page 175 (“I love him”), I was done.

It’s not so much that this book features homosexuality. I would be OK if homosexual relationships were portrayed as sinful. But they are not only recognized as OK, but they are also given equivalent legitimacy with straight relationships.

I ordered this book with the intention of putting it in my classroom library (I’m a middle school education major). However, as a Christian, I feel responsible for the type of literature I endorse in my classroom. For this reason, I cannot endorse books, like Windfall,  that portray sin as “good.” With this in mind, I will not be recommending this book to anyone.

And this book will not be going into my library stash.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my  honest opinion as represented in this review.


English Lessons: A Review

What is it like to go from a Bible-Belt Texas home, where your father is a local pastor and world-renowned Christian author, to a historical, yet predominantly atheist, English town? Scary? Exciting? A little bit of both?

In Andrea Lucado’s first book, English Lessons: The Crooked Little Grace-Filled Path of Growing Up, Andrea gives readers a glimpse into her time as a student studying English Literature in Oxford, England. In the 221-page memoir, she shares the challenges faced and conquered, the lessons learned, and the person she became while living in Oxford. This is a story of doubt, questions, loneliness, identity, and confusion penetrated by heavenly answers, comfort, and strength.

Andrea Lucado grew up with church as her life. Could you expect any less from the daughter of Max Lucado? Andrea’s life in her Texas hometown was centered around the Christian faith. She attended a Christian school. She went to church camp every summer. All of her friends went to church. So, when Andrea moved to Oxford for a study-abroad graduate program, the cultural barrier was only part of her problem. Andrea felt alone in her faith in England. What is more, this loneliness and constant bombardment by a secular, atheistic culture left her questioning her faith. Yet, in the midst of her questioning, Andrea found strength in God.

Although this memoir chronicles the serious issue of Christian identity in a lost world, the book is not without its light side. Andrea also details her trip’s some amusing perks. In the book’s 14 chapters, she discusses

  • Suffering caffeine withdrawal symptoms while fasting coffee for Lent (“In Oxford I resolved that if I could make it in life without coffee for forty days, I could do anything.” -Page 85)
  • Having one, only ONE, battery stolen out of her bicycle headlight
  • Meeting an Austrian-Korean soulmate
  • Surviving in an English cottage with no microwave
  • Experiencing a Thames River moment or two
  • Arguing with a statue of Christian martyrs
  • Visiting a variety of movie-worthy British pubs

Andrea’s story is a testimony of God’s faithfulness in the midst of doubts and weaknesses. Her coming-of-age story is not your typical self-reliance, be-yourself mantra we find in society today. Rather, it is a story of Christian identity, of finding faith beneath the doubt, of facing fears and overcoming them in the grace of our Savior.


  • Illustrations – I have to admit, one of my absolute favorite things about this book are the illustrations. The cover of this book immediately led me to anticipate great things inside. The black and white, watercolor-esque headings of each chapter are distinctly British, yet feminine and modern. Illustrator Hannah George’s contributions to this book add a new dimension to the memoir.
  • Use of Metaphors – From bicycle front lights to field crickets, Andrea utilizes a variety of metaphors to connect more strongly with her readers.
  • Writer’s Humor – Although this isn’t a comedic memoir, the reader gets a nice taste of Andrea’s youthful humor. Not too much for the seriousness of the memoir, but enough to bring a smile to your face.
  • CS. Lewis References – Can you really write a Christian memoir about studying at Oxford and not mention him? Bonus points in my book for bringing one of my favorite authors in on the action!


  • Imagery – Although imagery is employed, I would have liked to have been able to visualize Oxford a little bit better through the descriptions written in the book. I think the book’s cover and the blurb on the back had me setting my hopes a little too high in this department, so I was a tad disappointed that I couldn’t quite get a full “mind’s eye view” of Oxford. Imagery is definitely used in the book, just not as much as I would have liked.

English Lessons is set to release on May 2nd in both hardcover and e-book editions. For more information, visit Waterbrook Multnomah or Amazon. For more information on Andrea Lucado and to get some behind the scenes coverage of the book, visit her blog.


Disclaimer: I received this book as a review copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion, as represented in this review.





Enjoy – A Review

Have you ever felt guilty for enjoying something innocent, like one chocolate chip cookie, a favorite TV show after a good day’s work, or time out for coffee with a friend? Has a fear of idolatry or a sense of legalism been tying you down from enjoying the good things in life God has given you? If you’re like me, these factors have plagued you at least once in life. But, in Trillia Newbell’s new book, Enjoy: Finding the Freedom to Delight Daily in God’s Good Gifts, we see the Biblical reason why we do not have to succumb to guilt, fear, or condemnation as we embrace the gifts of our Lord. In this 212-page book, Newbell explores how we can biblically enjoy things like friendship, recreation, and fellowship with Christ. “We enjoy because we know that the gift is given by God for our enjoyment,” Newbell explains. “The gift starts with God as the Giver. If we believe this and see all things as his gifts to us, we are free to abandon our man-made rules and self-imposed guilt and simply enjoy” (10).

Each of the book’s 11 chapters (with the exception of the introductory chapter) explores a different gift God has given us to enjoy. The topics covered include:

  • Friendship
  • Marital Intimacy
  • Work
  • Rest
  • Money and Giving
  • Food
  • Nature
  • The Arts (literature, art, music, dance, theater, etc.)
  • A Relationship with Jesus
  • Our Eternal Hope

In each of these chapters, Newbell ties the pure enjoyment of these things back to the Garden of Eden and God’s original purpose for them. She then goes on to explain how they have been affected by the Fall, the redeeming work of the cross, and the wait for total redemption with Christ’s return. A recurring theme in each chapter is God-centeredness over self-centeredness. Newbell explains that as we remember that every good thing is a gift from God, we come to focus on the Giver instead of fearing or idolizing the gift.

Throughout the book, Newbell also challenges her readers with what she calls “The Enjoy Project.” This is a list of 7-8 reflection and practice activities at the end of each chapter, meant to maximize the lessons for that chapter’s topic. This feature makes this book ideal for a weekly women’s group or Bible study. Each chapter could easily constitute a week’s discussion, and the activities in “The Enjoy Project” could easily become each day’s homework (1 activity per day).


  • Numerous personal anecdotes and connections make the author seem much more personable and relatable.
  • The Enjoy Project makes the application of each chapter’s concepts easier and more meaningful.
  • Each topic is explored in a theologically sound manner, with evidence cited from Scripture to support the author’s claims.
  • This book is a refreshing weekend read. At 212 pages, it’s a fast book to read, and the content is refreshing to the soul. It certainly brightened my weekend!


  • Although “The Enjoy Project” and the chapter content provide a few strategies for how to simply enjoy the gifts of God in light of the Giver, I wish there were a few more. This is merely personal opinion. I happen to be a very “How?” driven kind of person, and bulleted lists and structured procedures are my “thing.” I understand, however, why these were excluded from the book. Mrs. Newbell is trying to eliminate any legalistic attitudes from her readers’ minds, and the addition of steps/lists would likely hurt this goal. Still, I would have liked a few more suggestions, or even anecdotal examples, of how people practice enjoying the gifts of God.
  • This book is marketed as “Christian Living,” but it is written specifically for women. Just a heads up!

Enjoy is still a fairly new release, having made its public debut in December 2016. The book is available in both print and e-book forms. For more information on the author, visit her website at Enjoy can be purchased on Amazon or through the WaterBrook Multnomah Publisher’s website.

Disclaimer: I received this book as a review copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion, as represented in this review.

Is the Bible Good for Women? A Review


The title of Wendy Alsup’s book is all revealing – Is the Bible Good for Women? Seeking Clarity and Confidence Through a Jesus-Centered Understanding of Scripture. In the 199 pages that follow, Alsup identifies the questions many women have been asking about what God expects from them, and then she answers them by allowing the “Bible to be its own best commentary” – in other words, using the Bible to understand the Bible.

What does the author mean by the question, “Is the Bible good for women?” Aslup explains that many people consider some of the passages in the Bible directed at women – such as 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 11 – to be restrictive of what the author calls “the inherent dignity of women.” How can a Bible that calls for submission and identifies women as “helpers” to men be good for the female sex?

What follows is a masterful exploration of Scripture that clarifies so many misconceptions we as Christian women may have held about how God values us and what He expects of us.

Each chapter focuses on answering a single question. The answering of each of these question prepares the reader for the following chapter’s question, so this book builds upon itself. In the first chapter, Alsup establishes what she calls a “Jesus-Centered Approach” to Scripture – that is, seeing the Bible as a whole document that testifies to the need, appearance, crucifixion, resurrection, and anticipation of the return of Christ. Then, she delves into Genesis 1-3 in Chapters 2, 3, and 4. Here, she unpacks God’s purpose for the female sex (spoiler alert: This totally changed my outlook on womankind being “simply” a “helper”), the Fall of man and how that marred the fulfillment of that purpose, and finally, the need for a Redeemer, the coming of Christ, and the restoration he provides towards fulfilling God’s original purpose for womankind.

After establishing this key understanding of Scripture, Alsup then moves on to address the main question of the book – “Are women blessed or harmed by reading, understanding, and obeying Scripture as it has been handed down for generations?” (76). In Chapter 5, Alsup points out the need for defining “good,” explaining the world defines the word based on a temporal perspective, but God defines it based on eternity.

In Chapters 6-10, Alsup begins to explore specific passages of Scripture that spark controversy about the rights of women in the Bible. These passages include sexual ethics in Deuteronomy 22, the rape of Dinah, commandments for women to be silent in church, and the command for women to wear head-coverings in church. Alsup explains these passages to her readers in a way I really admired. I have noticed, often times, these passages are explained based on the culture of the day. While there is nothing wrong with this, I’ve often wondered if that’s really how the authors intended for them to be understood. If it was, why didn’t they offer a further explanation when they were writing the Scripture? Alsup approaches these “problem passages” differently. Instead of citing secular source documents or historical data on the culture of the Bible, she pulls passages straight from the Bible to contextualize Scripture. The connections she draws among passages, I feel, is theologically sound. No passages appear to be taken out of context or manipulated to woman’s advantage. What results is a clear, Jesus-centered, Biblical understanding of women’s God-given, “inherent dignity” and a deeper revelation of how much God loves us and seeks to protect us.

Pros of the Book:

  1. Each chapter is set up to answer a key question. This question-posing format makes for easy comprehension of a topic that has been muddled over the years.
  2. Alsup’s entire approach on her key question is strictly – and I mean strictly – Jesus-based. Although the law is referenced, it is viewed in light of the fact that Jesus has fulfilled it. This is fleshed out at the beginning of the book (Chapters 1-4) to allow the reader to approach the “harder” passages with a clear and Biblical understanding of truth.
  3. The beginning of each chapter features a summary of the previous chapter. This allows for more thorough comprehension and absorption of the material. It also makes it easier to set the book down and come back to it. This isn’t a book you have to read through all at once in order to really “get it.”
  4. The end of the book features a series of discussion questions to accompany each chapter. This makes this book an ideal resource for a women’s Bible study group or book club!

Cons of the Book:

  1. Some of the sentences are syntactically confusing due to long strings of prepositional phrases. Several times, I had to back-up and re-read a sentence or just slow down and mentally “sound it out” to make sense. However, this didn’t distract me very much from comprehending the argument.

Is the Bible Good for Women? is set to come out on March 21st, 2017 in both print and e-book editions. For more information on the author, you can visit her blogs – and


Disclaimer: I received this book as a review copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion, as represented in this review.


Obviously, it’s been some time since I last posted. Lately, God’s been teaching me some things – mainly about how to seek Him first and how to set aside selfish ambition. Because I now realize that I started this blog for my own glory, maintaining it has not been in God’s plan for me these last months. But, I am learning and asking God to change my motives to ones that will bring Him glory. For right now, I’m only going to be blogging when I feel my motivations are aligned with what pleases Him. And I want to also change the tone of this blog. From now on, this blog is for Him, not about me. I want to focus on His goodness and the ways He works in the smallest things of my life, including the talents and interests He has entrusted to me for use in building His kingdom. Over these last few months, as God has turned my heart more towards Him, I have found my creativity level has been enhanced much more so than when I pursued creativity alone. How awesome is our Heavenly Father? What a testament to Matthew 6:33 – “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

All that to say, I’m back for today! One of my friends recently inquired about what kinds of projects I had been working on lately, since I hadn’t updated the blog for a while. So, I thought I’d organize and condense the last month or so of my “fun stuff” into one blog post.

During the month of December, I decided I wanted to de-clutter, organize, and update the look of my bedroom. One of my ideas was to start a hoop-art gallery on one of my empty walls, to create a bright, yet vintagey, feel. Well, I lost interest in re-decorating after a while (I’m blaming Pinterest for starting the whole idea in the first place!), but I did come out with a few hoop art pieces.








This is a “portrait” drawn by Vera Neville, the illustrator for my favorite book series – Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy series. I used a transfer pencil to trace the back of a print-out of the image, then just ironed it onto some stabilized fabric. Viola! A pseudo-version of paint-by-number, embroidery style.

I also finished my first knitted sweater in the month of December – the Monet Garden Sweater pattern publicized by Red Heart. I used their Boutique Treasures yarn in the Portrait color scheme. This being my first sweater, it has some…imperfections. It’s a little snug, but that makes it extra warm. I don’t think this yarn is going to let any body heat escape. I’m half-way scared to wear it for fear I’ll get too hot and pass out! Here’s a close-up image of the “fabric,” as I’m too embarrassed to show you the actual form of the sweater. (Positive thought to self: I will improve!).


I also began reading more during the last couple of months, especially in late December and early January. I received several books for Christmas and have already read over half of them. The titles were simply too good to “save for a snowy day.” The books below are most of the ones I have read over the last couple of months. All of them come highly recommended! (The book spine on the bottom lacks a title. It’s MaryJane’s Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook by MaryJane Butters – the editor of the magazine, MaryJane’s Farm. This book is a great DIY manual and inspiration source for everything farmgirl related.)


Currently, I am working through a couple of books. One is a review book, so be on the lookout for the official review! The other one is…


Merciful heavens, this book is loooooooooong. Because I’m casually reading it in between other, “more important” materials, I’m not sure when I will finish it. But, it’s been on my mental “To Read” list for a few years now, so I had to give it a shot.

As for current projects, I’m pretty much focusing on just one right now. This is Cardigan #1 of the two I plan to make as arrival gifts for twin second cousins! It’s not finished yet, hence the quite crude appearance. It’s very much a learn-as-I-go type of project, as was the sweater I talked about earlier. Nevertheless, I have enjoyed seeing it take shape.


So, those are the highlights of my “fun stuff” for the past month or so. Things are getting busy again, as the new year gets underway, so I don’t anticipate quite as much extracurricular indulgence in the upcoming months. But I’m excited to see where God takes me, in terms of creativity, academics, and just life in general.