Keeping Christmas By Dan Walsh

For the first time since their children were born, empty nesters Judith and Stan Winters spent Thanksgiving without the kids, and it's looking like Christmas will be the same. Judith can't bring herself to even start decorating for the holiday; her kids always hung the first ornaments on the tree, ornaments they had made each year since they were toddlers. Sure they were strange-looking--some could be called downright ugly--but they were tradition. A tradition she's heartbroken to miss this year.
With Judith refusing to decorate the bare spruce tree in their living room, Stan knows something must be done. And his only hope for saving the holiday is found in a box of handmade ornaments. 
Fan-favorite Dan Walsh invites readers to enjoy this nostalgic Christmas story that celebrates all of our most cherished seasonal traditions, especially the importance of family. Readers will join in remembering the things that make their own Christmas season so special.

Dan Walsh? Christmas read? Yes Please!!!!! I actually just recently started reading this one as I wanted to wait until a little closer to Christmas. Dan Walsh first captured my Christmas heart in the Reunion. Love his writing style and he draws me in to the story as if I'm watching the scenes unfold as it happens. I connected with the story as a Mom of an only child and although he's only 5 I dread the day he moves out but I also saw it from my parents point of view when I moved out. I never saw my Moms sadness at the time as a result of her last child moving out and becoming emptynesters but now I do. Judith was very self centered and reminded me what not to do when that day comes for me. Stan is such a loving and kind hearted husband. His character is truly the spirit of Christmas. Loved the story. Look forward to Walsh's novels every Christmas!

Making it home By Emily T. Wirenga

Growing up in the murky space between Gloria Steinem and Martha Stewart has left a whole generation of women struggling to define and embrace the meaning of home. There is constant pressure to do things a certain way and often intense criticism from those who think you're doing it wrong. But what if home isn't really about whether or not you homeschool or have a career or make your own artisan bread? 
What if home is more about who you are than what you do?
Former subversive Emily T. Wierenga takes you on an unconventional journey through marriage, miscarriage, foster parenting, and the daily struggle of longing to be known. In this soul-stirring quest for identity in the midst of life's daily interruptions, she shows us that homemaking is much more than old-fashioned tradition; rather, it's a timeless and essential art requiring mind, body, and spirit.

A beautiful journey through Wierengas hardships and trials to the woman she is today. It's nice to read something that let's us as Moms know we are not alone in this world. We all struggle. I felt at times she could have been writing about my life and the obstacles I've faced such as an eating disorder and then about the loving, supportive husband and being a mom of a boy. I got teary eyed many times while reading her story. It gives me hope and let's the reader know that while at some point of our lives we may be broken but we don't have to remain there. So grateful for such stories and the hope that the writer found and turned her situation around for good. Thanks Graf-Martin for my review copy!

Worship Changes Everything By Darlene Zschech

An Invitation to Praise and Honor God in Every Area of Life
It can be easy to have a heart filled with worship on a Sunday morning as the church band is playing your favorite song. But then comes Monday morning's commute and Tuesday afternoon's pile of laundry. How do we maintain a heart of worship in the daily grind?
Darlene Zschech has spent her life thinking and teaching about worship. With wisdom and contagious joy, she shares her thoughts on what worship truly is and how it should invade every facet of our being. Everything we do can be an act of worship to the Lord, transforming our work, our friendships, our churches, our families. It's all about living in His presence--being aware of the Lord by our side and at work in our lives. 
Learn to live a life of worship. You will be amazed by the purpose and freedom it will bring. 

Like so many others I knew that when I saw a book on worship I should jump at the chance. I suck so much at worshiping God despite my circumstances, I tend to grovel and suck up all the self pity I can. But this is not how God wants us to be. I grew up listening to Zschech's music as a teenager and even still as an adult but I never took the time to learn her story until now. Despite hardships, such as cancer she was still able to focus on God through it all. With the quotes and scriptures along with Zschech's own writing I was touched, moved even. Just a little quote made me close the book and meditate on the words and made me think about what I do in situations where I need God most. This has certainly changed my way of viewing things and helps me to remember that even though things may not be going our way, they are going God's way for his glory. I believe if we worshiped more and groveled less then the power of God would be more evident in our day to day lives. 

The Love Letters By Beverly Lewis

Marlena needed time to let things sink in. It was beyond her how all this could possibly work out--adding the care of an infant to her daily routine. Fortunately, it would just be until Luella returned home from the hospital and was stronger.No more than a couple weeks, surely.
Marlena Wenger's life takes an unexpected turn on the day she learns she must care for her estranged sister's baby. Spending the summer in Brownstown, Pennsylvania, to assist her Mennonite grandmother, and miles from Marlena's Old Order Amish beau, she feels out of her element in nearly every respect. Yet Marlena determines to do her best and stay focused on her future, even as those hopes become drastically altered.
Well after many mishaps and a frustrating year, the book not arriving or getting lost in the flood at our home, it was finally refreshing to read something to make me feel like there's always someone who has it worse.  I love Beverly Lewis! I follow her on facebook and look forward to her updates and imagine my surprise when I was offered this book from Baker Books in exchange for an honest review! Lewis is very in depth with her descriptions, she certainly has a way of placing you in the time and place that the setting is taking place and causes you to fall in love with the characters over and over, The Love Letters is no exception. Lewis is well versed on the Amish and the Mennonite communities and causes the reader to fall in love with their simple, yet hard working ways of life. The way she tied the characters together, despite disabilities and misfortunes and how they've come to help one another shows how we must be compassionate to those that God has placed in our paths because despite differences we're all on this earth for a purpose. I find myself wanting to meet the actual characters often times because I'm so engrossed in the story I feel as though it's real. This book brings about loss, grief, regrets and how we sometimes must sacrifice our desires to help others. I think I could apply this to my spiritual life as well because how many people is God putting in our path and asking us to sacrifice our selfish desires for His will? Very in depth and thought provoking! Lewis is never a disappointment! Thanks Baker Books for the review copy!

F.I.T. Faith Inspired Transformation by Kim Dolan Leto

Achieve health the right way from the inside out! Many diet and fitness books claim that losing ten pounds in ten days will bring the health and happiness we are looking for. But the truth is that health and happiness requires more than a few weeks of intense dietary restriction or physical exertion. The journey to health isn't a sprint. It's a marathon. We succeed by combining our faith with our fitness and doing real life with God. Only in Him do we find the strength to make health a lifestyle. Everything else is just a temporary fix with an unending cycle of deprivation, overconsumption, and exhaustion. F.I.T. is different than any other diet or training plan. It calls women who are struggling with their health and fitness to a Faith Inspired Transformation shifting their focus from what the world says to what the Word of God says. With each of the ten steps, renowned fitness expert, model, and writer Kim Dolan Leto provides the inspiration and practical tools necessary to live a healthy life that honors God and brings the lasting results we all crave.

Two words to describe this book. Life changer. At 32 years old I have been a binge eater for as long as I can remember. Someone say something mean to me? I'd eat a liter of ice cream. Disappoint my parents? Eat a family size bag of chips. Bored? Drink a 2 liter of Pepsi. These bad habits just escalated until I was 325lbs. On my sons 1st birthday I vowed to be around for him for a long, long time so I decided to change. That was Oct 2011. By August 2012 I had lost 105lb. I got married, I was happy. But you know what happened? I got content. I rarely read my Bible, I didn't watch what I ate and now I'm back to 270lbs and climbing. Since reading this book I have decided I have one life to live and I must live it wholly and take advantage of every opportunity. I vow to begin today (yes, right before Christmas) making better choices spiritually, mentally and physically. With God's help I know I can be stronger, fitter, happier. I believe we need to change our minds and our hearts before we can change our physical bodies. I never was one for dieting fads or gimmicks, shakes or pills. It just takes the right frame of mind, dedication, discipline and a whole lot of faith! Definitely recommend!