Sunday, December 1, 2013

College Prep Genius: Gabby Moms Review

I cannot tell you how excited I was to be able to review the College Prep Genius DVD SET  through Gabby Moms!  I have a daughter who is in tenth grade and is at the beginning of the process of preparing for college, studying for her PSAT/SAT tests, and researching scholarships.

This resource couldn't have come at a better time!

My daughter has already expressed her worries about knowing how to prepare for this test and wants to earn the highest test scores possible as early as possible.   How awesome to know that this program exists  - and not only exists, but promises to help high school students prepare for the test to have the best chances of earning enough scholarships to attend college for free!

What a tremendous resource!

I liked the fact that this DVD/workbook set was set up in a very organized fashion.  The DVD hostess even outlines how to study for these tests and breaks it down into how to prepare by grade.  After watching the DVD, I thought back to my time of taking the SAT MANY YEARS AGO and I couldn't help but wish this resource had existed then!  It really is that helpful!

I learned a lot by watching this DVD series.  I didn't realize that you aren't required to answer every test on the SAT - that the PSAT is used for deciding who is qualified to be a National Merit Scholar - and that you can approach the tests with logic and strategy to earn the highest score!

I loved the fact that the DVD teaches students to approach different parts of the tests with different strategies, easily remembered through the use of ACRONYMS.  How many of us still remember the colors of the rainbow or the notes on the musical staff because of the acronyms we were taught to remember that information?  I learned some effortlessly by only watching a section of the DVD ONE time; how much more will a student retain by really studying this material!

This DVD set also teaches to each type of learner:  
  • The visual learners like me can watch the DVD and follow along in the workbooks as the hostess teaches each section.  The DVD mirrors the books exactly and even includes visual lists and helps.
  • The auditory learners can listen to the DVD narration as they review the concepts.
  • Lastly, the kinesthetic learners can take breaks and move around as they "attend this DVD seminar" - and - once the hostess reviews the material for each section, the student is encouraged to do a practice test to practice the new concepts.

I am blown away by how much information I learned in such a short amount of time.  My daughter is also excited to know that just by watching these DVD's, practicing the tests, and following the advice of the materials and using the lists, she will have everything she needs to prepare to do her best on the PSAT/SAT.

I highly recommend this product to every high school student to use as they prepare to take this test.  After considering the price, I am convinced that it is more than fair for the amount of material presented, the completeness of the set in fully preparing a person to take the tests,  and the fact that the DVD's  can be used again and again for multiple students.  

* Disclaimer:  I received this DVD/workbook for free 
in exchange for my honest review. *

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Review of Chivalry by Zach Hunter

Click here to see the book on Amazon

Just seeing the title of this book made me want to read it right away.  All of my life I have been attracted to the era when Chivalry was the code of honor embraced by brave gentlemen knights.  These men above men would strive to be more than common; embracing this honor code enabled them to develop character and live a life dedicated to serving others and fighting evil.

Such a romantic proposition:  an army of men who are united by a common goal and calling of self-sacrifice to take care of and save others in the line of danger.  Fighting a dragon to save a damsel in distress is a common theme in many stories from that era in history.  I love reading books like that! ;-)

A common question asked today is, "Is Chivalry dead?"  Most would say a resounding yes, as our society isn't populated with many knights dashing around fighting the evil with swords and shields - - -  but as you will soon learn, Zach Hunter calls upon the men AND women of our world to rise together as one, united by a common calling, to fight the spiritual battle against evil, with the Universal Code of Chivalry as our guide.

I do believe that God calls us to follow His Code and have a heart for the lost in our society; Zach's book was a wake-up call for me as I started to realize that I have also been called to be a Warrior for the LORD in the battle for lost souls.  My words can be a vehicle and His Word can be my personal weapon to fight the lies of the enemy and protect the Ones who are loved by our God.

All of us are called to embrace this Call and choose to govern our behavior with the virtuous Code of Chivalry.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book - and plan to read it again to saturate myself in the Truth of Zach's message and testimony.  To learn more about this book, please be sure to watch this video and click on the link below* to read his Q&A with Tyndale House Publishing.

Chivalry is NOT dead - and I thank God for young men warriors like Zach Hunter who are standing up boldly, proclaiming God's Truth to this new generation.

To GOD be the GLORY!

Strive to be a man or woman of Honor - 
to the Glory of God!

*To read Zach's interview with Tyndale House, click here!

My thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cassie and Caleb Book Review (Moody Publishers)

Cassie and Caleb Discover God’s Wonderful Design was written to "teach the beauty of God’s design to boys and girls" through short, realistic stories with cute characters. This book of 20 stories is meant for children between the ages of 5 and 8, but I know that children who aren't in this age group will still relate to these characters and learn something from them. 

Parents are encouraged by the LORD to be intentional about teaching their children about God and His Truth; I wholeheartedly recommend this book to parents who want to spend time learning with and leading their children to God's Word about the following topics:  
  1. “God created man in His own image…male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). 
  2. Jesus is present in all of Scripture and that God's plan to redeem mankind is the uniting theme of the Bible.
  3. The Bible is our guide for living and loving God.
  4. We exist to worship and glorify God.
  5. We are part of His church - the Family of God!
  This book is bound to be a good foundation for parents to start teaching their children about God in a format and manner than children can grasp and then put into practice.  Each short story has colorful, eye-catching illustrations and begins with a verse (NIV or ESV) that presents the theme -the Truth - the story will illustrate. 

Each individual story is followed by discussion questions on the level of the child, suggestions for more Bible reading, a guide to praying together using Scripture, and some stories even include a section where parents can choose to go over the questions - and answers - of the First Catechism from Great Commission Publications ( {Reformed Faith Doctrine}. 

 All in all, I was very impressed with the layout, material, and resources that this book provides.  The size of the book doesn't make it intimidating; once I looked through the book I felt ready to  start reading it with my three children right away.  I have no doubt that others will have the same reaction! 

My favorite part of this book was the fact that it provides a real-world example in a certain chapter of how the Church, God's family, can be a blessing and an extended family and support to the overlooked ones in our congregations: the father-less, the widow, and the single mom.   

 Whether you use this book as a springboard for deeper study or used as a stand-alone resource, once you finish this book, your child will have a deeper grasp of the following topics, just as a start:  
  1. They will be able to share why God made men and women differently and how they complement each other;
  2. They will be able to explain why it's important to have a good attitude; and
  3. They will know why it's important to make Godly decisions in life.
 * There is also a bonus page with a "family" recipe for Snickerdoodles
that you can make WITH your child . . .  
just like the ones that the main characters eat in the book! * 

  *This book is part of the Plants and Pillars Series at Moody, inspiration for the name taken from the following verses: *  
Psalm 144:12
English Standard Version (ESV)
12 May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown,our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace

Moody Publishers offered this book to me for free 
in exchange for my honest review -
and then to be a giveaway* for blog readers!

You can order your own hard copy 
of this book here and e-book here!

This book was offered as a giveaway 
on my other blog in this post!


To God be the GLORY!

Gina Marie 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist: learning to be free" by Amanda Jenkins (Tyndale Book Review)

From the moment I received this book in the mail, I was hooked!  As a (former/current/future) woman who deals with the bondage of self-imposed perfectionism, each word spoke to the deepest part of my soul, the part of me that I thought that nobody else understands, the part of me that I try to forget and ignore.

There is a secret part of me that is afraid of looking like I do not have it together - - - the part of me that needs God's strength and power to overcome my pride and fears - the part that longs for the stability of "perfectionism" to rule and keep my life in line.

After reading this book, I have been able to learn that Amanda knows those fears and has also looked through the bars of her own self-inflicted prison of perfectionistic thinking: thoughts about being a people pleaser, of trying to impress others, of not losing control over our lives.

The amazing thing is that we are not meant to be perfect; our imperfections are places where Grace can make it's home and do a work in our lives for God's Glory.  I was so touched to read of her experiences and learn of the Hope that comes from God's Truth - His Word - that she includes in each reflection.

I really enjoyed this book.  I am grateful that Amanda's blog posts were collected and put together for me to discover and enjoy reading again and again.  I have read the book once, but this time I mean to read it again, with a highlighter, and really devour it.


I welcome you to read the first chapter for yourself, free, at this link:  First Chapter


Amanda has also been so gracious and has given an author interview to Tyndale Publishing.

I am including it in it's entirety below.  (Found here)

About the Author . . . 

Amanda Jenkins attended Northwestern Bible College 
and graduated with a degree in biblical studies and communications. She has 
worked in sales and marketing for a number of Christian retailers, as well as 
in visual communications and advertising. For the past 14 years she has 
taught Bible studies for women of all ages and is passionate about 
communicating truth in a culturally relevant and humorous way. She lives just 
outside of Chicago with her husband, Dallas, and their four young children, 
including their newly adopted son.

1. What is your hope for this book, Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist?

That my transparency would get readers one step closer to freedom from their own impossible 
goals; that it would open their eyes to the strangleholds we sometimes don’t even see, but 
shape the way we think and spend our time; that it would get us laughing at the stuff we hide; 
that when brought into the open, things like vanity, materialism and desire for recognition 
would lose their power/hold on our minds and hearts.

2. In your book, you talk about your addiction to perfection. What were the signs that this was 
an issue for you?

Little things. For a long time, I didn’t let my husband see me without makeup. I got really 
upset/frazzled when people dropped by unexpectedly. I got easily embarrassed when I messed 
up, and I wouldn’t admit to struggling. And I thought I had life pretty together—that I actually 
didn’t struggle/mess up/sin as much as other people did. 

3. You talk about God speaking into your life, waking you up to the true cost of your addiction to 
perfection. Can you tell me about that?

Praying and listening to God have changed my life because they’ve changed the way I think. But 
in the beginning, it just good old-fashioned conviction. He’d been in my ear for a while, pointing 
out when I was being ruled by perfectionism—more accurately, by my insecurity and fear of 
being outed for NOT being perfect. After an embarrassing moment, He said to me very clearly, 
“You can fight the process, but this is happening. You’re taking off the mask. I suggest you get on 

4. Tell me about the journey of letting go of subtle yet destructive idols of perfectionism and 
replacing them with God’s truth. What did that look like for you? 

Simply put, I talk about my sin and the things I’m struggling with, to God and to others. It’s 
amazing how many opportunities there are in a day to be honest. And it’s amazing how being 
honest diminishes the power certain strangleholds have.

5. What advice might you give someone in your same situation so that God can release her from 
her obsession and accept the true freedom that comes through the love of Christ? 

Get specific with God first. Ask Him to show you not just what the strangleholds in your life are,
but all the ways they’re manifesting. Perfectionism was a stranglehold that was showing itself in 
all kinds of destructive ways in my life. And God dealt with them one by one, and being honest 
with and accountable to others was a part of that process for me. 

6. When did you realize that you had to share this story? What message do you hope will 
resonate with your readers?

As I started to share a little of my own struggles, I quickly realized I wasn’t the only one 
drowning; that my issues were common, and that being open and honest diminished their hold 
on my heart.

7. What encouragement would you provide to those who feel overwhelmed by their own 
perfectionist expectations? 

God doesn’t allow His kids to stay trapped when they don’t want to be. He baby-steps us, one
vice/chapter at a time. 

8. In your book, you talk about the “tragic irony” for Christian women of basing our self-worth 
on what we can and cannot get accomplished. Can you talk about that a bit?

The whole point of being rescued from our sin by Jesus is that we didn’t earn it. But then 
somewhere along the way, we start trying to deserve it—which means we’re prideful when 
we’re doing “well” (meeting our own expectations) and insecure when we’re not. The tragic 
irony is that we lose sight of the grace that saved us in the first place, for ourselves and 
everyone else. 

9. Is this something that is an ongoing struggle, or do you feel as if your perfectionist days are 
behind you?

I’m experiencing freedom I’ve never known before, but my perfectionism continues to rear its 
head. My standards for myself are still too high, but I’m aware of them and their 
destructiveness. I’m allowing God total access, and I’m working hard to surrender to the 
changes He’s making in my heart/mind. I’d say that God has my perfectionism on the run.

10. What is the best advice or encouragement that you have received?

Start talking and keep talking. Satan wants us to be quiet—to hide our sin from ourselves and 
everyone else. But sin gets bigger and more powerful in the dark, which is why God wants us to 
live in the light. So we need to talk. We need the encouragement and accountability that comes 
in numbers. And we need to share the stories of how God is rescuing us. Again

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Tyndale Blog Network

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Review of Healing Hearts with Helping Hands

So many times, we as Christian women, desire to be the Hands and Feet of God in the lives of other people when they are going through a time of crisis or loss of a loved one.

We desire to be able to offer a tangible gesture of love and care; we want to be able to ease their pain and lessen their loss.  We want to be a support and encouragement to them in a positive way.

We worry about doing or saying the wrong thing.  Sometimes that fear keeps us from reaching out at all.

Lorrie Flem, from Eternal Encouragement, has written a book that addresses these concerns and desires to help and heal the pain in the hearts of our family members or friends.  It is called, Healing Hearts with Helping Hands.

As a member of the Gabby Moms, I was given a copy of this book to review - - and I found it to be full of ideas to use to reach out to others in a meaningful way when they need support.

The book starts out with reminding us of how we can minister to others through our presence and attitudes.  We should listen to and pray for our loved ones who are hurting.  The greatest gift we can given them is a supportive shoulder and listening ear, the gift of our time.

We can also be a blessing in taking part of preparing and providing meals for a family when they are in crisis.   I loved how Lorrie included some recipes in the book too!  (I actually got very hungry when reading them and had to make myself a snack!)

We can also minster to others without food - through our acts of service such as offering to run errands, pick up some groceries, and taking the kids of the family on an outing for a while.  We need to be mindful that someone who is grieving may find it hard to ask for this type of help and it may be something that is needed but hard to ask someone to do for them.

In being mindful of their needs, we can anticipate and seek out special ways to meet them.  We can be a blessing to them in their time of loss and grief.

Probably the most important tip I will remember from this book is the importance of offering and giving a short-term gesture of care, along with remembering to be considerate of their needs and the grieving process over the long-term.  After all of the meals are eaten, the extra dishes are taken away, the flowers are dead, and the sympathy cards are put aside, that's when the person in grief is still in a huge need of someone to be aware of the loss and reach out to them.

This book is going to prove to be a wonderful resource for me as I refer to it when I mean to reach out to a loved one in pain.  I know that you will gain insight and appreciate the resources inside it as well.

You can order it on Amazon or from the Eternal Encouragement site here.

*Between May 1-3, you can get a copy of this book for only $.99 on Amazon!*

You can buy and read Kindle books, even if you don't have a Kindle! To download the free app needed to read Kindle books, go here.

If you want to learn more about Eternal Encouragement and be able to benefit from a free subscription to Lorrie's articles, go here to learn more!

 Disclaimer:  I received a copy of the e-book in exchange for an honest review. *

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring Reading Thing - Hosted by The Musings of a Book Addict

The Musings of a Book Addict

Books I hope to read between now and June 20, 2013:


Unglued Devotional - Lysa TerKeurst
As Silver Refined - Kay Arthur
Girls With Swords - Lisa Bevere
Made to Crave - Lysa Terkeurst
Calm my Anxious Heart: A woman's guide to finding contentment - Linda Dillow
Desperate:  Hope for the mom who needs to breathe - Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson
The Virgin Diet - JJ Virgin
Live Like You Mean It - Kathy Troccoli
The Bible Cure for Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia - Don Colbert, MD
Whirlybirds and Ordinary Times - Katie Savage
Spaghetti for the Soul - Kathy Troccoli
Raising Maidens of Virtue - Stacy McDonald
Give it All to Him - Max Lucado
Kisses from Katie - Katie Davis
Chronicles of Downton Abbey - Julian Fellowes


From a Distance - Tamera Alexander
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
The Penny - Joyce Meyer
Any Minute - Joyce Meyer

I plan to update this list as I finish these books - and - add more :-)

Happy reading!

Gina Marie

Monday, March 18, 2013

Stepping out of my comfort zone - baby steps at a time!

  Over the last year, I have noticed that God has challenged me to act immediately when He starts prompting me to do or say something, rather than putting it off until I can "fit" it in.  I think my human nature - the part of me that loves planning, organizing, and attending to the details -  tries to understand the beginning, middle, and ending of something before I jump into it.

 I am not a spontaneous and outgoing person as a general rule - - oh, but the LORD is definitely stretching me and encouraging me to go out of my comfort zone step-by-baby-step... and the experiences He gives me when I am faithful to listen to Him and walk by faith really take my breath away!


Today, I feel led to share that God is stretching me and pushing me to the edge of the nest.  He knows that my life up until this point has prepared me to take my first flight with my wings of faith; I am just peering over the edge of the nest and feeling the wind lifting my wings.  I am just about to jump  - -- how about you?


 Like I mentioned at the beginning of this article, God is growing me, stretching me, and making me get really close to the edge of the nest as He is bring me to the end of myself and to the beginning of me living and moving each moment through His strength and faith.  

One of the biggest areas that God is challenging me in is being able to let go of perfectionism and live in the moment.  

Can anyone else relate?  It's hard to even admit that, but God is reminding me that His Grace is all sufficient and able to cover where I come up short.  

Just like a mother bird watches over her precious hatchlings, the LORD watches over me and is ready to swoop down and lift me up on His strong wings of Deliverance.

Praise you Father - just like the birds don't worry, neither will I be worried about tomorrow as you have each day in your Hand and YOU will provide for my needs and keep me safe..

Matthew 6:24-34 24 
 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. 
25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?  
26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 
27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 
28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing,  
29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  
30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 
 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  
33 Seek the Kingdom of God[d] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 
34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.