Monday, 23 May 2016

New ATM Favorite: Messenger by Moonlight by Stephanie Whitson

I just finished reading a great book by Stephanie Whitson.

Messenger by Moonlight tells the story of Annie, Frank and Emmet Paxton. Left penniless after the death of their father, they travel on to the big city searching for work and the blue-trimmed house of Annie's dreams. The brothers agree to put aside their wages to help buy a home for Annie before pursuing their own dreams of adventure and marriage.

But the changes in Annie's life don't stop there. Her two brothers spotted a sign hiring Pony Express riders and the two decide to give it a go. Annie and her brothers travel on to George Martin's station in  the middle of nowhere. The station serves as a "home base" for Frank and Emmet's Pony Express rides and Annie will earn her keep as the station's cook.

The book follow's the boys adventures as Pony Express riders as they discover their own dreams and learn who they truly are. However, the story centers around Annie as she adjusts to the harsh life of a cook for Mr. Martin. Annie is such a strong female character. I loved seeing a heroine who isn't there just to provide a counterweight for the hero. Annie doesn't expect her brother's or Mr. Martin to change their lives for her and fully expects to earn her own keep. This makes the moments when her brothers or Mr. Martin go out of their way to provide for Annie extra meaningful.

I highly recommend this historical fiction novel. It made me very interested in the women who contributed to the success of the Pony Express. I look forward to enjoying Whitson's other books.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Review: Letters to My Daughters by Barbara Rainey

What a beautiful book!

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Barbara Rainey's Letters to My Daughters. Rainey gives excellent, frank advice in an easy to follow format. Throughout a series of letters to her biological daughters, as well as other women seeking marriage advice,  she creates beautiful analogies to describes the joys and trials marriages face. I really enjoyed her fresh prescriptive and found her advice to be biblically sound which is very much needed in today's world.

In addition to beautiful writing, Letters to My Daughters is filled with examples beautiful calligraphy and delightful illustrations. They are so lovely that I wish the book came with detachable copies for me to display!

This book is definitely a keeper and will be re-read again and again. I also plan on giving every bride who invites me to her wedding a copy of this book! It's simply that wonderful.

*I was given a  copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

New ATM Fav: ASB Bible

A group of Christian leaders from across the African continent have gotten together and created a wonderful new study Bible. The Africa Study Bible was created to better help Africans relate to and understand God's word. Often, study Bibles are directed at believers with a background in Western culture and use Western references and proverbs in order to help the believer make the Bible applicable to their lives. So, the ASB was designed to help believers from various African cultures make sense of God's word.

Here's some information about the ASB project:

  • Over 2,200 features speak truth with a uniquely African perspective. Written by more than 300 contributors from over 50 countries in four major languages, the Africa Study Bible may be the most ethnically diverse, one volume biblical resource to date.
  • While our goal is to eventually publish the Africa Study Bible (ASB) in all of Africa's major languages, it will initially be published in English using the New Living Translation followed by French and Portuguese translations in the years to come. By printing in these three languages, the ASB will have its greatest impact, reaching up to 70% of literate African Christians.
  • We expect to launch this year in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa. We have formed local African-led launch committees in each of these countries and are partnering with them to orchestrate all the details.
  • The ASB will feature:

  1. Application Notes inspire readers to reflect on issues and apply truth to everyday life. 
  2. Proverbs and Stories enlighten readers through the parallels of Scripture and cultural wisdom found in wise sayings and fables. 
  3. Learn Notes teach the foundations, values, and doctrine of the Christian faith. 
  4. Touch Points show where the culture of the Bible meets African cultures and how Africans shaped Christian belief.
  5. Book Introductions explain the history of each book and connect themes to issues close to African hearts.  
  6. Articles give practical advice on how to live out the Christian life focusing on critical concerns facing the African Church and its people. 
  7. Topical Index and Concordance lists the biblical texts and ASB features by topic and defines difficult to understand words connecting concepts from Genesis to Revelation.
  8. One-year Bible Reading Plan guides readers through an overview of the whole story of the Bible.  
  9. Maps, Graphical Timelines, and Other Features spread throughout the Bible help provide insight and understanding.
I believe this is a wonderful project as it is a study resource created by Africans, for Africans. Leaders, scholars, preachers and students have all come together to create this amazing resource, but they need your help to make their concept become a reality. Click here to visit their Kickstarter campaign page and donate. If you can't donate, please share this information with others! (Incentives for donating include a trip to Kenya, goat skin lined copies of the ASB and ASB inspired artwork.)

You can check out a video about the ASB here.

“The Africa Study Bible is unique because it contains study notes written by Africans for Africans. For the first time, the African church will have a Bible with application notes that address the real-life issues that Africans deal with every day. Combine those features with an easy-to-understand Bible translation that speaks directly to the heart... and you have the potential to transform the lives of multitudes of leaders, lay people, and seekers. I’m delighted that the Africa Study Bible will soon be available to my African brothers and sisters.” —Mark D. Taylor, Chairman/CEO of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

                  Monday, 25 April 2016

                  Book Review: One Dress. One Year. by: Bethany Winz with Susanna Aughtmon

                  One Dress. One Year. is the true story of a teenage girl who wore the same dress everyday for a year. Bethany made a black dress and wore it everyday in order to raise awareness about the fact that slavery and trafficking still exist in the modern world. The book chronicles her life and lessons learned throughout her project.

                  The book is basically her blog recycled and then extra thoughts explaining what was happening in her life that day. I would have preferred a more fluid story. I thought this book read more like a project summary than a memoir. Although Bethany was assisted with her writing you could tell that this was the work of a young author. At times it was nice because it is the story of a young girl starting to "grow up" at other times it affected the flow of the writing.

                  *I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

                  Monday, 18 April 2016

                  Nothing is Too Big or Too Small

                  God is great.

                  He is great for the big things and great for the small.

                  When I went into work today, I set my purse on the desk and it tipped over. I collected my things and stored my purse.

                  At lunch I grabbed my purse and headed for the door. Just before clocking out, I paused. I couldn't find my guess. I remembered my purse spilling and went over to that area and searched the floor. I even searched the trash can directly next to where my purse fell, Nothing.

                  Others came to help me shake out my purse, retrace my steps and re-search the trashcan. Nothing. Nada.

                  My office manager offered me her car for my lunch break. I accepted and nervously drove it home to collect my spare key. Before returning to work, I prayed and turned the matter over to God.

                  I resumed work and as it got close to 5:00 the thought crossed my mind that I still didn't have my keys. I scanned the floor as I prayed for God to lead me to my keys.

                  I stood and retraced my steps from the morning. From the door, to the kitchen, and back to my office. I wandered over to a large accordion file that sits on a table behind me. I started flipping through the file and saw a piece of metal sticking out from the side. I grabbed it and discovered it was my keys!

                  That file was sitting on the floor when I first came in the office, I called the client and then put it back in the table. But it has been on the floor when my purse fell and I'd forgotten about it all day!

                  God led me to that file and showed me my keys. It was almost 5:00 but it wasn't yet. He is never too late.


                  Tuesday, 12 April 2016

                  Book Review: If My Heart Could Talk by Dodie Osteen

                  Dodie Osteen is the mother of Joel Osteen and widow of John Osteen. In her book, she tells the story of how her parents came to faith, how she met her husband and watched his ministry grow and transform.

                  If My Heart Could Talk is broken into bite-sized chapters which I like because it encourages people who aren't really into reading to give the book a go as it feels more manageable.

                  I really enjoyed reading about the life and principles of the Osteen family. Reading about their family life was very interesting. Although Dodie is best known for her supporting roles as wife and mother to two influential pastors, she is a minister in her own right. Her message is very encouraging and filled with love. She offers biblical references to support and reinforce her claims.

                  I also love the appendices at the back of the book. They include: The Plan of Salvation, Scriptural Confessions, and Healing Scriptures. I found this resource very helpful.

                  I highly recommend reading the book that Dodie Osteen carried in her heart for so many years.

                  *This book was given to me in exchange for my honest opinion.

                  Monday, 28 March 2016

                  Orange You Glad I'm Bringing You A New ATM Favorite?!

                  The name of this subscription service reminds me of that old knock knock joke that ends with the punch line "Orange you glad I didn't say banana?".

                  I can't tell you how many times I subjected my parents and grandparents to that particular joke.

                  Regardless of your stance to that age old joke, if you like sweets as much as I do, I think you'll like this! Side note: I'm writing about this product because I've tried it and loved it. I paid full price for my product and I just want you to know how much fun it was!

                  OrangeGlad is basically a sweets delivery system. You can purchase a one time box or a reoccurring subscription. I signed up for the one time deal and would like to purchase a subscription but they are currently limited to monthly and since I'm trying to lose weight that is far too often for me. I'd love an every other month delivery option. Anyway, you sign up and they send you a box of curated sweets. Each box is a surprise!

                  Here's what I received and what I thought about each item:

                  Everything arrived packed in a cute box. They also sent a little booklet giving extra information on each product.

                  I haven't tried this but I think this is the most exciting item in the box. I love that all of the ingredients in this bar are organic and fair trade. This bar contains no soy which is HUGE  in my book as most chocolate contains soy lecithin these days. 

                  I received three truffle piglets, each in a different flavor. They were tasty but I was disappointed by the fact that they contained soy lecithin.

                  I love lemon so I'm excited to try these too. They were made in the same town my grandparents live in which gives them bonus points. The packaging is beautiful and will probably be saved but I was bummed when I read that they use butter flavoring and not real butter. I also wish they didn't use the enriched flour and used whole wheat instead.

                  The bag of caramels was extra buttery which is how I typically like my caramel. Also, the pieces are huge. I couldn't figure out why they use caramel coloring. Doesn't caramel already have caramel coloring?! Leave it out please!

                  The Clairesquares bar made for a delicious breakfast on the go and contained minimal ingredients! I would love to try this product in other flavors. The flavor I tried was raspberry and oats. I loved it and I'm not a raspberry girl by any means. I passed the wrapped onto a friend who is also trying to live a cleaner lifestyle.

                  I am definitely going to try another box in a month or two! If you want, check out their site here.