Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over

Authors: Monica Schmelter, Rhonda Rhea, Kaley Rhea

Publisher: Bold Vision Books

Release Date: February 2, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A fun, engaging book that kept me laughing and smiling with the turn of every page and an uplifted spirit.

Do you ever feel weighed down with extra baggage, both spiritually and physically? Whether you carry a backpack, purse, fanny pack or small clutch, we all have something that holds the things we need as we go throughout the day. Some of us have everything plus the kitchen sink while others get by with the bare minimum. What we carry with us can say a lot about us and what is going on in our lives and what we value. I make sure anywhere I go I have a book in my bag, you never know when a line might be long or stuck in traffic that could allow you to get a few pages in. We also have the baggage the world can put on us, feelings of failure and a lack of peace. Each of us need to find a way to let go of the things that won’t bring us anything good and fight for what matters to keep in our bags. When we have what we need in our bags, our purse will runneth over and we will feel full inside and out!

I’ve read Rhonda and Kaley Rhea several times before and knew that anything they teamed together to write would be on my shelf. Now, with the addition of Monica Schmelter, there was so much more to love and laugh about within the pages of the book. I love when you get a group of writers that can craft a story in a way that makes you laugh but also leaves an impression with you of what they are trying to teach you. Each chapter gives a lesson with humor, one of the best nonfiction tools for me. A lot of times nonfiction is very hard for me to get through, just doesn’t hold my attention, but with these books it is easy to let the pages fly and enjoy the lessons within. I recommend this book for all those struggling with what is right and best to keep in their “bag.” No matter how big or small the bag we carry may be, we all need the right tools to help us through the crazy times we are living in.

This is such a fun book that I believe many readers will enjoy it. Find it on Amazon!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Fix Her Upper: Christmas

Authors: Beth Duewel & Rhonda Rhea

Publisher: Bold Vision Books

Release Date: November 24, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Fix-Her-Upper Christmas is a wonderful addition in this season, especially in the year we are all going through. Everyone can gleam something wonderful from this spectacularly fun book!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or the most stressful time for some. If this season of shopping, family, decorations is getting a tad overwhelming, you are not alone. Throughout the pages of this book, you will find story upon story from Beth and Rhonda of trials and struggles they have gone through and the way they worked through them with humor and faith to discover the real reason for the season was worth more than any gift they could buy. The message is clear, even in the frantic season we are in, our focus should be on Jesus, He is the reason for the season, and if we forget that, there really is nothing to celebrate. Less is more is a main theme throughout, and I love that. The devotions are spot on with just the right amount of humor and insightful tidbits to bring us joy and helpful holiday tips.

Anytime you pick up a Rhonda Rhea and Beth Duewel book you know you are going to be rolling on the floor laughing and come away feeling refreshed. This time of year, we could use with a little laughter and refreshing. No matter how hard this year has been, and for some it has been unbearable, we can all find some cheer within the pages and rely on the hope that Christmas is about the birth of our savior and nothing is more important than that. If we fix our eyes on Him, this could very well be the best Christmas we have ever had.

Walk Run Soar

Author: Dorina Gilmore Young

Publisher: Baker Books

Release Date: September 29, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

No matter your pace, whether you walk, run, or soar, this book will give you some insights for the path you are taking.

Dorina Gilmore Young, with her husband Shawn, bring a fifty-two-week devotional for people that like to be active at whatever pace.  Dorina is a runner, both for competition and for fun, and she shares many of the insights that she has gained by running.  She lost her first husband to cancer and spends time dwelling on that relationship throughout many of the devotionals.  She also spends time on learning to hear Jesus, serving his mission, and conditioning our bodies for his work.  Each chapter is provided with a short narrative called Faith Fuel, an action item called Faith Step, a short couple of sentences for Inspiration, and a word of encouragement from her husband, Coach Shawn.  I have spent time reading a devotional each day after my bible reading and have found it very uplifting.  Each devotional also gives a section to write down notes during each day’s workouts and/or runs.  My husband uses this as he is an active runner and it has helped him think through some things when he runs.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Jesus Freaks

Authors: D.C. Talk & Voice of the Martyrs

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: October 27, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An updated edition of the inspiring story of those who have stood up for Jesus and paid the ultimate price.

Around the world Christians are being persecuted for their faith; they stand for Jesus until their very last breath. The stories are inspiring can help each and every one of us in our own walk with Christ. Within these pages we can read about the first martyrs up to ones in the present day. Jesus Freaks is part of the Richard Wurmbrand’s Voice of the Martyrs organization showing faithful Christian leaders who suffered many years ago in Communist prisons. Wurmbrand has even testified before Congress showing wounds he received while being tortured for his faith. He, like so many others, have gone through hardships we can only imagine.

I picked up Jesus Freaks on a day I was feeling sorry for myself and some of the things I was going through. Reading through these stories helped me put into perspective how grateful I need to be for all that I have, including my faith and freedom to live and express my faith freely. Across the world, others are not so lucky. They profess a faith in Jesus and get tortured and even killed for it, and they do so willingly in order to share the good news of Christ. To have a faith like that and be excited about prison, torture or death is hard to imagine. I believe but going to that level would be hard for so many of us. I strive to strengthen my faith each day and reading this while going through a difficult time was just what I needed. At first, it was hard reading about the difficult and painful times these believers went through, and I have so little to complain about, but as I read, I used their stories to help me gain perspective. There are places and people in this world that are not safe for believers to go, but those are the places that these believers go and preach and bring the lost to the lord. I for one am thankful for these stories, they remind me that no matter how bad things are, if I lift my eyes I’ll see where my help is. It’s not always easy, and when it’s the hardest that’s when we will see the biggest rewards.  I recommend this to all those going through a hard time and needing a reminder of no matter the cost our faith is worth it.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

365 Ways to Love Your Child

Author: Julie Lavender

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 20, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A perfect book that showcases all the little ways we sometimes forget can be used to experience love with our children.

365 Ways to Love Your Child is a book written for all parents. Within its pages, readers will find encouragement to show kids each and every day how loved they are. It doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture, sometimes it’s the simple things that mean the most. Write a letter to leave in their lunch box that says you are always thinking of them. Give them an extra hug, squeeze a little longer and a little tighter every chance you get. So many of the actions she gives as examples are so simple, I caught myself smiling and shaking my head as I read many of them thinking I should do those more often. In our world right now, we often find ourselves so busy even the smallest task added to our list can be overwhelming. When its those little tasks that can mean the most to our kids, and in turn leave a lasting impression on both them and us.

We only have a short amount of time with our children and if we don’t make the most of it, we will regret it. One thing the last few months of COVID and quarantine has taught me is to enjoy the time we have together. While things shut down and we had nowhere to go and nothing to do, playing games together and going for walks and bike rides became fun again. Eating together and talking about the day and all we had to be thankful was a nightly ritual and it didn’t go unnoticed by me or my family. Just telling someone you love them isn’t always enough, showing them by your actions and taking the time to do stuff together can often mean more than just saying the words. Lavender does a fantastic job of pointing out all the little things we forget can mean showing love to our kids. Something as simple as putting your phone away and looking them in the eye.  In the world we live in that is very rare and I think it is time we start doing more to show our kids they are more important than an electronic device to us, because when they get the electronics we know that is where there attention will be focused just as ours can tend to be. I would recommend that all parents pick up a copy of this book and highlight certain sections that are most relevant to them and can be best implemented in their daily lives together.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Reclaim Your Happy Space

Fix Her UpperAuthors: Rhonda Rhea & Beth Duewel

Series: Fix Her Upper

Publisher: Bold Vision Books

Release Date: June 27, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Sometimes we all need a little help finding our happy space when life tries to hide it from us. Rhonda Rhea and Beth Duewel deliver a wonderful guide to help readers reclaim the happy that many haven’t even realize is lost.

If we are to find our joy in the Lord, why do we feel so down at times? Is your life in need of a renovation to find your lost happy and restore the joy when it seems all is lost? These questions and many more are answered in a way that will bring a smile to readers faces and show how to live your very best life. We were not meant to survive, we are meant to thrive with the Lord beside us. The authors of the previous Fix Her Upper books bring a new installment that is sure to excite readers and bring back the lost Happy!

I don’t know about you, but sometimes it is rather hard to be happy. Even when things are good, it can still be hard to believe it is okay to be happy. I absolutely loved the way this book showed me it was okay to be happy, we deserve to be happy. Our Father wants us to be Happy. Think about that for a minute, our Father in heaven truly wants us to be happy, that is the most wonderful thing of all. Rhonda describes it beautifully when she says, “It’s impossible to whine about the “robe of righteousness.” It’s borrowed from Christ. And though this whiny woman doesn’t deserve it, it fits perfectly.” We don’t deserve the mercy and goodness we receive, but we receive it nonetheless. Each chapter is laced with happy goodness and scripture that hits the point home that we have so many reasons to be happy. Along with scripture, both Rhonda and Beth deliver the message with such humor I found myself laughing out loud at times and praising God for the happy moments of reading these words and taking to heart what was written within. At times it really can be hard to be happy, life is tough and sometimes the darkness can seem overwhelming. During those times, we need to remember these resources we have at our fingertips to bring the happy back to the forefront. I recommend this book to everyone!  No matter what you are going through, look to this book to help you find something to be happy about and remember how much the Father loves us all.


Overcomer.jpgAuthor: Chris Fabry

Publisher: Tynale House

Release Date: July 23, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A inspirational story that is sure to give readers what they need even when they weren’t looking for it.

Sometime life draws up a play that throws everything off.  When the largest manufacturing plant in Franklin closes its doors, it has unseen ramifications.  People now have to leave to find jobs in other places.  Other business close because of the reduced population.  Basketball coach John Harrison and his son Ethan can only watch as the championship quality team they had stacked for the year dwindles down to only four players.  Fortunately, Brookshire School that employs John and his wife Amy hasn’t had to close its doors, but they did have to take a pay cut.  Now without a team, John is struggling to fit in.  When the principal asks him to coach cross county, he reluctantly agrees because he doesn’t believe it is a real sport.  On the day of tryouts, he has one runner come forward and she has asthma.  As John begins to coach Hannah, he finds that he is about to embark on a journey that only God can control.

Sometimes God just knows what book you need to read next.  This was the case for me as I picked up this book to eagerly read about the upcoming feature film.  This story is very powerful and it makes you stripped to your core as a reader to evaluate who you are.  If everything you poured your time into were suddenly stripped away, who would you be?  What could you say about yourself?  Would you be proud?  Or would it make you reevaluate your life?

Having seen several of the Kendrick brother’s movies, I could easily hear the character’s voices as the book played out in front of me, just like one of their movies.  I haven’t read any of the novelizations before, but this one was very enjoyable.  I loved both John’s and Hannah’s stories.  Each was different but connected.  John was used in a way to bring healing to a family full of bitterness for over 15 years.  Hannah was finally able to stop filling her void with useless items and have it filled with love.  There are still some sad parts to the story, but it is worth the read.  Highly recommended for those who love the Kendrick brothers’ movies as well as those who enjoy Fabry’s unique writing voice.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Spartan Way

The Spartan WayAuthor: Joe De Sena

Publisher: St. Martins Griffin

Release Date: September 4, 2018

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Spartan Up! Aroo!

Several people have heard about Spartan races, but what does it really mean to have a Spartan mentality? How do people continually train for these brutal obstacle course races year after year and continue coming back for more?  Joe De Sena, founder of the Spartan Race, breaks down the ten common principles found in the attitudes of true Spartan racers.  Each principle reflects a method to not only conquer obstacles in a race, but how to also conquer obstacles in your life.  These include prioritizing your life, making commitments, drive, and passion are just a few that are included.

Even though this book does have lots of stories about amazing Spartan racers, it is also geared more toward a book to help you succeed. These are the same principles that are found in many of today’s bestselling business books, just presented in a different format.  I was really hoping for more about the races themselves, but De Sena really parallels how these principles can fit into your life.  One of the best aspects of the book is about getting healthy and fit.  De Sena’s missing is to get people off the couch and into the world.  Find an experience and go out and do it, don’t leave yourself wanting.

There is some harsh language throughout the book, but it is fitting with the subject matter at hand. I recommend this book to people who are interested in obstacle course racing as well as need a boost in their life.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Spirit of the Trail

SOTTAuthor: Carrie Morgridge

Publisher: MFF Publishing

Release Date: May 3, 2018

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer; Jessica Higgins

Just when you think you are about to start an epic journey, you realize “epic” means different things to different people.

Spirit of the Trail follows John and Carrie Morgridge’s adventure along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Ride (GDMBR).  The book kicks off with the idea that leads to a decision to do this grueling 2,700 mile ride from Canada into New Mexico. From there Carrie narrates their crazy decision with preparation, training, and traveling up to Canada.  Once there, they realize that this is the last chance to turn back, but they press on.  She then chronicles each day of the bike ride.  She reflects on the hardships, successes, and natural beauty around them as they ride.  She shows how this ride is changing her life and makes her more adventurous.  She then challenges each reader to pick an adventure and just do it.

This was a fun and inspirational read. I love getting to read about real life adventures the make me want to run out the door and get started.  We are an active family and it sounds like this might be something we would possible do one day.  I like that they decided to do the trail on their own terms rather than with a tour group.  I feel like  you would get more out of it that way.  If you are looking for inspiration this year, get started on this book right away.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

A Mother’s Book of Blessings

Mothers book of blessingAuthor: Natasha Tabori Fried and Lena Tabori

Publisher: National Geographic

Release Date: March 27, 2018

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A delightful, inspiring compilation for all mothers to read and remember the joys of motherhood even through the trying times.

A Mother’s Book of Blessings is a fun and delightful gathering of stories, poems, psalms, and quote’s about what it means to be a mother.  With each writing comes a beautiful piece of art to illustrate the journey as well.  There are classics that we have all heard as well as new bits of wisdom sprinkled throughout.  The topics covered throughout include, Mealtimes, Bedtimes, Holidays, Birthdays, New Moms, Weddings, Gratitude and so much more that will celebrate the moments big and small throughout a mother’s life.

These books are always enjoyable to look back at after becoming a mom. So many times we get wrapped up in the busyness of our day-to-day activities that we forget to enjoy the little moments that mean so very much.  Several of the quote’s I had heard and read before but a few were new and very inspiring.  The art was very generic and leaves a lot to be desired as far as diversity goes.  While the art is not very diverse, the writings are from a nice mixture of sources including Christian writings, Native American, Jewish, Muslim, Irish and even good old Dr. Seuss.  This is a great gift for a new mother or even for grandmothers who will enjoy sitting and reminiscing about all the good times they have had with their loved ones.  Book collectors will also enjoy adding this to their collection for the quotes and pictures throughout.  With the broad range of topics covered, there is something inside for everyone to enjoy and be able to take away a little nugget of wisdom to help brighten their day.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.