My Bible Book

A book review on an oldie but a goodie children's board Bible book.This is an oldie in our household, but a well-read Bible board book I thought I’d add to my collection of reviews on here. Since describing our lack of enthusiasm for the latest children’s Bible storybook we’ve read, I wanted to counter that with one that is very similar but better done.

My Bible Book is a sturdy board book (and by sturdy, I mean it was already loved by a family with four children and then given to us a few years ago and it’s still in great shape!). Each page has one little lesson, an accompanying Bible verse and a small action to do.

For example, on the God Made Animals page, it points the reader to Genesis 1:1-19 and says:

“God made animals.
God made fish that swim.
God made birds that fly.
God made animals like puppies and kittens that play with you.
God was happy with the animals He made.
Thank You, God, for animals.”

And then it asks a related question to the young child: “What sounds do these animals make?”

Another page is about praising God (Psalm 150 and 115:2):

“Praise God!
Praise God because He made the heavens and earth.
Praise God because He is big and strong.
Let’s make music!
Let’s move about!
Let’s make some noise! Hooray!
Let’s all praise God!”

The action item says: “Praise God like the children in this picture.” I love this because you can get really dramatic (which sticks in kids’ minds) but also keep it focused on the reason we’re jumping for joy. It makes fun memories.

I appreciate how this particular book uses stories that are less touched on in children’s books, like God bringing food to Elijah out in the wilderness or when Mary & Joseph brought baby Jesus to church.

Overall, this is a cherished addition to our children’s bookshelves.


Read & Play Baby Bible

Not my favorite kid Bible, but I blogged about its good parts, too....Babies cuddling on my lap + reading to my kids + pointing them toward Jesus = three of my favorite things! Read & Play Baby Bible is a new Bible geared specifically for babies and I was excited to have a new one to work through with my kiddos.

However, when it says “babies,” it really meant it. My son, who hadn’t turned 3 yet when we started this as a nightly reading, was beyond it. It was too short and too silly for him, so just keep that in mind.

Each page has a very short “message” that was part-Bible verse, part-interactive lesson. It has the parent/reader do specific things like blow (like the wind) or point out eyes & little noses or make a boat with your hands. Just actions that go along with the lesson.

Strangely (because I love almost all children Bibles for various reasons), this one just did not jive with me…or my kids. The artwork isn’t my favorite either — Jesus looks like a girl among other odd things.

Although I read through the whole thing, we stopped using it in our family Bible time before it was finished. It’s worth maybe checking out at the library or borrowing from a friend, but I could recommend others if you’re looking to purchase a new one.

I rated it 3 out of 5 stars because it’s all Biblically accurate, but that’s mostly what it has going for it.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Strengths Based Marriage {by Jimmy Evans & Allan Kelsey}

A Christian marriage book designed around the StrengthsFinder tools -- pretty great stuff!If you’ve ever worked with me, you’re probably aware that I absolutely love StrengthsFinder (SF). Even after leading classes, coaching individuals and using it in the workplace for years, I still believe it to be one of the most powerful tools out there.

Summarizing a whole lot of details for the sake of keeping this review short, there is an assessment that provides a list, in order, of your specific talent themes — where your natural gifts are. The reason this is so powerful is, once you know someone else’s results and what makes them tick, you can adjust how to respond to them, you can adjust how you think about them and you can simply better understand where they are coming from.

For example, in a past job, I began requiring the SF assessment to be taken by missionary applicants I was preparing for the field. Since I worked specifically with finances, a difficult subject for some to discuss, I approached fundraising discussions drastically different from one person to the next, depending on how their brain works as shared with me by SF.

For that same organization, I maintained a very large spreadsheet detailing all sorts of data based on our SF results for over 100 employees. This enabled any person at any time to be able to see their teammates’ strengths and how best to work with them.

All that to say, my husband and I have discussed SF so many times but never so deeply in the context of our marriage until I read this book. Strengths Based Marriage helps us learn truths about each other that we may have never known, which can be incredibly healing to any marriage.

“If you can see your spouse’s actions through a strengths lens, then you can better understand your spouse’s motivations and recognize the corresponding rewards of his or her actions.” –Allan Kelsey

The book is organized into four main sections:

  1. Introduction to Strengths
  2. Stopping the Cycles of Pain
  3. Speaking Love to Your Spouse’s Heart
  4. Secrets of Successful Marriages

Within each section are several short chapters — all of which have words from each author. Jimmy Evans as the marriage expert, and Allan Kelsey as the Strengths expert, combine their teaching to bring together great points that will help anyone’s marriage improve.

One of my favorite sections — which is probably one of the most difficult — is about serving. They talk about how to meet your spouse’s needs first before even wishing your needs were being met. “To succeed in marriage you have to meet needs you don’t have. This requires a servant’s heart.” Just knowing your spouse’s SF results can help you understand what his or her needs are, without even talking to them…but of course discussing these things together on a regular basis is always recommended. 😉

But further than that, the book describes the ultimate example of this. “The strongest example of redemptive love is Jesus. He died for us before we were doing the right thing.” This makes it pretty clear to me that we are called to serve our spouses, to love and to cherish them and to focus on their strengths without ever expecting anything in return.

Strengths Based Marriage, in general, provides many tools to encourage communication, intimacy and a stronger relationship with your spouse. It was helpful to me to write out all 34 of my husband’s and my SF themes on the last blank page — I regularly referred to it.

Honestly, it’s not the best written book — probably the weakest in all the SF publications as far as grammar, fluidity and professionalism — but there were enough gems in it to easily warrant 4 out of 5 stars. Part of the choppiness was due to there being two authors, but even with that, there were several instances in which the same idea or even the same sentence was repeated. It felt like they were so passionate about applying SF to marriage (and mostly successfully!) that they rushed the book a little too much. The ending was quite abrupt. Maybe they were on a deadline, I don’t know, but that’s my only complaint. Overlook those things and you’ll get so much out of the book.

“…the reason marriage hurts us is because we do it wrong. I truly believe if we relate to our spouses properly, marriage is a healing journey that gets better over time.” –Jimmy Evans


I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Bible Trivia, Jokes, & Fun Facts for Kids {by Troy Schmidt}

Love this new book full of jokes and Bible facts -- for kids but definitely neat for adults, too!

When I told my husband about this new book I received that had both Bible trivia and jokes, we chuckled that it was the perfect book for me. Sure, it’s written “for kids,” but trust me, it’s fantastic for adults, too. I’m a big fan of short, silly jokes and I doubt many people actually know all these facts from the Bible.

One of the neat things about this book is the author presents the trivia in a fun-filled way that can easily produce giggles from a child. In this unique format, absolute truths are instilled in their hearts without it being a painful memorization process.

There are various games and quizzes, too — for individuals, pairs or groups. It’s quite the dynamic book that is a powerful tool for parents and teachers. My children are too young for the majority of this book, but I can’t wait to incorporate it into some fun family time in the future.

One of my favorite sections is toward the end — entitled “Talk the Talk.” It provides all sorts of conversation starters that would be so great at the family dinner table or on a road trip. They are all geared toward children and I always appreciate these types of lists.

Overall, this is an excellent book that was very professionally designed and published. I’m glad I had the opportunity to review it.

I received this book free from the publisher through the Bethany House book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Where Does Love Hide? {by Mary Manz Simon}

A short but amazing book to teach children ways to "unhide" their love and share it with others in many types of situations.Children begin to understand what love is from a very young age, as they either receive it in abundance from loving parents or, sadly, lack it in a lesser situation. They also understand the concept of hiding as it’s often a part of play — from baby peek-a-boo to toddler blanket forts to older kids’ hide & seek activities. That is why it’s such a clever idea to combine those two things into a board book.

Each page gives an example of how our love is hidden until we do a certain gesture — like sharing toys or helping put away groceries. Our friends or family don’t get to see or benefit from our love until we let it out.

This is also a lift-the-flap book, which, not only is always enjoyed by my toddler son, it also grounds in the concept of “unhiding” one’s love, even if subconsciously.

With one of the world’s favorite holidays just around the corner on February 14, this a great book to pull out and talk more deeply about the love God wants us to show others. I most appreciate how each lesson includes a Bible verse that the parent could either incorporate into their reading or use later in another situation that is teaching that particular concept or this book could even be used as a mini devotional, studying one type of love-sharing and what God’s Word says about it.

Where Does Love Hide? is a solid book and one I am thankful to have on my children’s book shelves now.

I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale House Publishers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

A Severe Mercy {by Sheldon Vanauken}

One of those classic "must-read" books!!This “must read” Christian book was gifted to me a handful of years ago with the message “you will love it.” Perhaps that put too much pressure on me (the fact that it was a gift from a dear relative or the fact that I was supposed to love it), but it took me quite a while to get started. Eventually, though, I decided to conquer it. It may have taken several months, but I did finally finish it!

“No brief review can do justice to the human depth of Vanauken’s book.”

The Washington Post sums up my struggle in ever getting this review posted. A Severe Mercy is written most sincerely and with much intimacy, describing an exceedingly beautiful relationship between the author and his wife and their journey to finding Jesus.

We know upfront, because of the description on the back cover, that his wife is to die at some point in the book. Upon reaching that part in the story one evening, I told my husband even though I knew it was going to happen, it was still emotional. Vanauken has a remarkable talent with words and I appreciated his gift of pulling me into his life’s story.

A Severe Mercy is an almost overwhelming juxtaposition of hope and heartache. The book takes us on their personal journey of studying Christianity (with the desire to argue against it) and eventually falling headfirst into the arms of Christ, making a radical change to their life goals, their relationship with each other and their overall awareness of “the bigger picture.” Before they even became Christians, this is one of their journal entries:

The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians — when they are sombre and joyless, when they are self-righteous and smug in complacent consecration, when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths. But, though it is just to condemn some Christians for these things, perhaps, after all, it is not just, though very easy to condemn Christianity itself for them. Indeed, there are impressive indications that the positive quality of joy is in Christianity — and possibly nowhere else. If that were certain, it would be proof of a very high order.

They knew something was up. Their struggles, conversations, experiences and examples within friend circles all helped them reach the ultimate goal: that of knowing and accepting and loving Christ Jesus as their Savior. But the book is written in such a way that it will totally affect anyone who has struggled with this — he touches on so many personal aspects of the mental struggle of surrendering to God or being bold among friends or not being jealous of his wife’s time with God and much more. For example, when he was a new Christian and momentarily worried of what his non-Christian friends would think, this is what he declared to himself:

I was half inclined to conceal my faith, and yet it seemed to me that if I were to take a stand for Christ, my lord, I must wear his colours.

One of the greater parts of this book are verbatim correspondence Vanauken had with the famous C.S. Lewis. These letters made me like Lewis even more than I already have. Granted, I don’t agree 100% on all of his theology (nor Vanauken’s, for that matter), but he said some profound things in just these simple, handwritten, personal notes to his friend. In one particular letter, he was responding to Vanauken’s announcement of his newfound Christianity and mentioned this:

There will be a counter attack on you, you know, so don’t be too alarmed when it comes. The enemy will not see you vanish into God’s company without an effort to reclaim you. Be busy learning to pray…

What better lesson for us all today? Whether we are new Christians or not.

Vanauken goes on and covers all sorts of fascinating yet familiar aspects of the Christian conversion — seeing hypocrisy rampant in churches or just struggling how to live in our world while also being as different as God calls us to be. But he soon reaches the part of his story where he loses his dear, sweet wife whom he has successful convinced the reader to fall in love with, too.

With deep introspection, he walks through his mourning process. He receives wise snippets from C.S. Lewis in various letters and continues to stay committed to Jesus through all of it. It’s difficult to summarize the final chapter, which, entitled “The Severe Mercy,” is one of the most important ones. Vanauken begins a long description of why the death of his wife was the severe mercy in his life. To truly understand why a death can be merciful and what he means by it, you really need to read the whole book. He paints the picture better than I possibly ever could. His analysis of what his faith might have been had she not died is particularly interesting.

Honestly, through much of the beginning sections, I wasn’t going to rate this book very high. I wasn’t even going to finish it (indeed, it did collect dust for a few months), but it’s the entire picture you need. The build up of their romance and relationship sets the scene for later situations. I realize that is vague, but it’s true. In the end, I would recommend this book to you, with the caveat that you don’t automatically accept his (or Lewis’s) theology or believe that I fully agree. It’s an important book to read for many reasons.

The Berenstain Bears Bedtime Devotional

An excellent nightly devotional to do with your kiddos.Who doesn’t know (and love) the Berenstain Bears? Many of us have grown up with them and appreciate the feel-good atmosphere in the stories. So many books hold so many good lessons and visual examples of ways to live in light of God’s love.

I realize that when presented with options from publishers to review, I often choose the latest Berenstain Bear book (see Love One Another and Easter Blessing, for examples). And I believe that is because of their quality and goodness.

This devotional is geared toward children in perhaps the 4-8 age range. Each of the 90 devotionals starts out with a Bible verse. Then there is a little lesson with an example from the lives of the Berenstain Bears. It sometimes includes a [possibly rhetorical] question toward the children.

That is usually (not always) followed by a “Carry on Cub” paragraph which challenges the child to think more on a certain topic before they close their eyes — for example, how they can show God they are thankful for His love, how they can be helpful to their parents in the morning, etc.

At the end of each night’s devotional is a short prayer. Each is catchy and rhymes so it captures children’s attentions and can perhaps be used later that night when tucking them in.

This is a solid book. It’s a nice size and has a quality ribbon to keep your place. My husband and I are looking forward to using it in our nightly family Bible times when our children get older. For now, we are mostly just reading out of various Bible board books. 🙂

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.