Thursday, February 28, 2013

Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion {Deseret Book Review}

Latter-day Saints have often wished for an encyclopedic dictionary devoted to latter-day scripture, the Doctrine and Covenants in particular. This volume is exactly that. More than seven years in the making, it addresses some 850 topics — people, places, words, phrases, doctrines, historical context and overviews of each section, and much more — as it provides expansive research in easy-to-read language and format. Numerous photographs of historical documents, places, and persons, as well as maps, charts, and tables, enhance the study of the revelations given to Joseph Smith as the Lord restored his Church in the latter days. 

The entries in this reference companion have been prepared by some of the finest scholars in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: faculty members from Brigham Young University, BYU-Idaho, and BYU-Hawaii, teachers in the Church Educational System, research personnel from the Church Historical Department, and others. Contributors include James B. Allen, Alexander L. Baugh, Susan Easton Black, Larry E. Dahl, Steven C. Harper, William G. Hartley, Andrew H. Hedges, Glen M. Leonard, Truman G. Madsen, Robert J. Matthews, Robert L. Millet, Camille Fronk Olson, Larry C. Porter, Andrew C. Skinner, Brent L. Top, and Robert J. Woodford — more than 125 in all.

If you have ever desired a comprehensive encyclopedia of Church History then THIS is the companion guide for you.   Compiled by Dennis L. Largey and Lerry E. Dahl, a total of 127 authors have collaborated to prepare 850 topics that provide the reader with a simple & unique approach to better understanding the revelations found in the Doctrine & Covenants.  Each entry combines scripture with cross-references and the teachings of Latter-day prophets.  This is more than just a D&C companion though -- this is really a full history reference complete with entries that cover places, people, phrases, doctrine by topic, historical context and overview and a whole lot more!

The first section is an alphabetical reference guide by topic while the second section provides an historical overview of the Doctrine and Covenants sections 1-138.  Tie this up with a large appendix in the third section and comprehensive index at end and you have a reference guide that is easy to use.

Did I mention huge?  This book is about 2.5" thick, 920 pages and literally weighs about 5 pounds (think bag of sugar!).

This book is a real treat for the Gospel Doctrine teacher but still a handy tool for anyone studying through Church History or the Doctrine & Covenants!  I love reference books and I know I will be using this one frequently!   (I'm thinking I may need to consider adding the Book of Mormon Reference Companion to my library as well!)

Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion currently retails at Deseret Book in hardback for $50.99.  Want something lighter?  You can get this as a Bookshelf eBook for $29.99 or the hardback/eBook combo for $59.99.

Disclaimer:  I received Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion free of charge in Exchange for an honest review.  Thank you so much Deseret Book!!

Mormon Messages 2 {Deseret Book Review}

Mormon Messages 2, the second edition of the tremendously popular online video series from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is now available on DVD! This unique collection of 38 short videos uses wonderful object lessons to teach valuable principles of the gospel, including lessons on hope, faith, forgiveness, testifying of Christ, and many more!
Several months ago I was so grateful to borrow a copy of the original Mormon Messages from a friend.  I hadn't heard of this DVD before but was trying to figure out how to play a snippet of Mormon Messages from the internet during my Primary Sharing Time when my friend mentioned that she had it on video.  I had no idea that all of these little short segments had been compiled into a DVD!  I borrowed it from her and watched it several times over using a couple of the little segments in Family Home evening as well.

Now, several months later, I was totally excited to see that Deseret Book has put out a Mormon Messages 2 DVD!  Awesome!!!  

Mormon Messages compiles segments from the online series into an easy-to-use DVD format.  Each segment is only a few minutes long, sharing first a story that teaches a gospel principle in action, followed by a short segment of a talk from a church leader.  Learning from the examples of others, these segments touch the heart and speak of topics such as faith, humility, service, perseverence, love, family, and more.  This new DVD shares 11 messages for family then a whopping 26 Mormon Messages for youth including the story Daytons Legs and a bonus track "Reach Out and Share: The Story Behind Dayton's Legs!"  Can you say Hello Family Home Evening?  Amazing! 

This is definitely a video series worth owning...  Mormon Messages and Mormon Messages 2 are both available for purchase through for  $9.98 (prices are subject to change).

Disclaimer:  I received Mormon Messages 2 from Deseret Book free of charge in exchange in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my very own.  Thank you so much Deseret Book!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Homeschool Creations Blog Planner {Mosaics Review}

I'll be the first to admit that when it comes to blogging I wax and wane.  I will get a sudden spurt of creativity or stamina and I will overwhelm my blog with multiple postings at one time...and then I go through a dry spell where weeks will pass with no posts at all.  I have thought many times that I need to find a way to get organized and spread out my posts, maybe start a meme or join an existing one, or choose weekly/monthly topics to focus on...  Unfortunately, over the last 2 years that I've been blogging as a product reviewer it just hasn't happened...and as the months go by I find myself getting busier and busier until I'm completely overwhelmed by my review stuff!  Aaah!  What to do?

Well, imagine my excitement (and honestly it was kind of a "why didn't I think of this before?" moment) when my first review as a Mosaics Review Team member was a blog planner!

This FREE blog planner created by Jolanthe of Homeschool Creations just fit the bill for what I needed.

The planner is set up to print front to back.   You can assemble it using a 3 ring binder but I chose to print mine and take it into Staples to have it spiral-bound.  (I'm a fan of anything that comes on a spiral!)

The cover page itself is adorable!  I wish I had used a thicker paper to print the cover...from the picture above you can see where the ink on the back side can be seen right through the cover.  Next time I will use a heavy card stock for the cover.

The planner has a ton of great features!
*Year at a glance in the front for 2012 and 2013
*Blank calendar pages allow you to start at any month of the year with a checklist at the bottom for a "Focus of the Month."  (I like check lists!)
*Review/Giveaway info pages (LOVE!)
*Weekly breakdown complete with social media reminder checklists

Additional Planning Pages at the back have:
*A page for tracking monthly analytics for your blog
*Lists of favorite websites with username/password reminders
*Affiliate Program info sheet
*Twitter Hashtag Tracker
*Link Ups page
*Housekeeping/Financial tracker
*HUGE "Idea's in my Head" lists!

So, I'm pleased to say that I have already used this planner a lot more than I thought I would.  I can also admit that I didn't know how badly I needed this until I got started with it!  There are a few features that I appreciate more than others for sure.  I LOVE having all my affiliate info together in a consolidated place.  I must say that while I am not much into promoting my blog via social media, I guess growing my blog hasn't been a priority, but I do appreciate having the option to keep track of what I've already done and what I haven't.  The Review/Giveaway info is a helpful tool and eliminates the 40+ sticky notes that I have all over my computer desk!  I will definitely continue to use it!

If you are interested in downloading your own blog planner, or to see how Jolanthe set hers up, you can check it out at Homeschool Creations.  I love mine and I think you will too!  Best of all, it's completely FREE!

Disclaimer:  I received this blog planner free of charge and was thrilled to share an honest review with you!  To learn more about Mosaic Reviews and see what other bloggers thought about the planners they reviewed visit!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Teach Me to Walk in the Light CD {Deseret Book Review}

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square bring your favorite Primary songs to life in this unprecedented collection of all-new arrangements and recordings. Complete with sacred childhood hymns like “Teach Me to Walk in the Light," "Give, Said the Little Stream," "If the Savior Stood Beside Me,” and “When He Comes Again,” these new renditions provide the perfect dose of nostalgia and fondness for listeners of any age.
Finding good Sunday music, or even daily background music, is hard.  I love it when Deseret Book sends me a new CD to review because I always love them!  Now, I'm going to admit that I am not much a fan of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  Not that I don't like them...just not enough that I would put an MTC CD in my car and "jam" on my way to church, but -- I believe I will with this CD.  Why?  Because it is all kids hymns!  Teach Me to Walk in The Light is a compilation of Children's Favorites.

Tracks include:
  • I Think the World Is Glorious
  • "Give," Said the Little Stream
  • If the Savior Stood Beside Me
  • I Think When I Read That Sweet Story
  • Teach Me to Walk in the Light
  • I Will Follow God's Plan
  • Mother, Tell Me the Story
  • Called to Serve
  • Love One Another
  • Tell Me the Stories of Jesus
  • I Know That My Savior Loves Me
  • Faith
  • Holding Hands Around the World
  • When He Comes Again
  • I Am a Child of God
My kids recognized much of this music right away...I think this will be great music to play softly at quiet time or nap time, not to mention it is just great music in the background especially to help the kids keep a tone of reverence on Sunday.

Teach Me to Walk in the Light is currently on sale at for $16.18
(Check prices because this is subject to change and based on availability.)

You can also listen to samples and download the music as mp3s.
Enjoy this sample:

Disclaimer:  I received this CD free of charge from Deseret Book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you so much Deseret Book!!!!

Joseph Smith's First Vision {Deseret Book Review}

"I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it." 

From the moment Joseph Smith first spoke of it, many have considered, examined, and questioned his account of God and Christ appearing to him in a grove of trees in upstate New York. As the only tangible evidence of the miraculous event, Joseph's recorded statements on the first vision are important today for both believers and critics: the truth of these records attests to Joseph's prophetic calling, the reality of the Restoration, and the assurance that God continues to speak to us today.
In this volume, Church historian Steven C. Harper provides all known accounts of the first vision written during Joseph Smith's lifetime and places them within the historical context of his family, community, and culture. Brother Harper includes practical explanations of the variations and nuances of each account as well as an analysis of three notable critiques of Joseph's statements. Using historical and analytical methodology, Brother Harper helps us better understand what he declares may be the "best document theophany&mdashvision of God—in history." 

This new book by Stephen C. Harper examines the historical accounts from the first vision giving the reader the tools to seek learning through study...not just by faith alone.  His analysis and summary of each account gives the a glimpse into Joseph Smith, his life & times, his parents & siblings and deep insight into the evidence of the first vision.  He maintains, "the testimony itself and our ability to independently test is veracity -- are essential to this [knowing]...reading, remembering, pondering -- all with real intent, or focused purpose." 

Eight chapters in all, the first 1/3 of the book provides historical data introducing the reader to the Smith family up until the vision in the sacred grove.  The next few chapters take a look at 1832, 1835, 1838, 1842 accounts and their transcriptions plus transcriptions of accounts as shared by others including: Orson Pratt, Orson Hyde, Levi Richards, Davide Nye White and Alexender Neibaur.  An entire chapter examines the three main arguments against the first vision including a defense against author Fawn Brodie and the final chapters invite the reader to examine the evidence and seek answers.

18 color plates show pictures of journals, entry pages, and samples of Joseph Smith's autobiography.

This is an interesting book, albeit it is scholarly so a little bit slow as I tried to digest and understand the information.  I appreciate the matter-of-fact manner in sharing the details behind the first vision.  While this book is not dripping with testimony you can feel the strong assurance that Steven C. Harper wants you to find a secure knowledge of the first vision for yourself through study AND faith.

Joseph Smith's First Vision by Steven C. Harper retails at as a hardback for $21.99  and as a Deseret Bookshelf eBook for $12.99. 

You can download the Deseret Bookshelf app iPhone and iPad for free HERE and for Android HERE.

Disclaimer:  I received this book free of charge from Deseret Book in exchange for an honest review!  Thanks Deseret Book!!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

St. Louis Zoo

Last week Maggie had another follow-up with the Rhuematologist in St. Louis.  It's been challenging getting both girls to patiently wait through a couple of doctors in tiny waiting rooms and an even small exam room.  This time I suggested to James that maybe he go with Maggie to the Dr (hehe) and drop Kayley and I off at the Zoo for a couple hours.  He could swing back by and spend some time at the zoo and make the day a little more fun for at least 1/2 of the kiddos.  It worked like a charm!  Kayley and I rode the train around and around in circles, she even got to say "All Aboard!" as the "guest conductor!"


 It was freezing cold and we were shocked to find snow on the ground when we got there.  Silly as we are, we didn't have COATS!  The lady in the train booth offered Kayley her fleecy jacket and we would've been foolish to say no.  We returned it to her about 2 hours later when it warmed up, we were so glad!  She was SO sweet!

Sleeping Hippo.

The St. Louis Zoo was incredible.  
While it is free to get in, everything inside costs money.  
We bought wrist bands that allowed us into everything...

Here Kayley is outside of the Insectatorium.

The butterfly pavilion was so amazing.

The new Sea Otter tunnel!  Very cool!

Errand of Angels DVD {Deseret Book Review}

The hit missionary movie the whole family can enjoy! Set in the scenic mountains of Austria, The Errand of Angels is the story of Sister Rachel Taylor (Erin Chambers), an enthusiastic new missionary who faces the challenges of struggling to learn a different language, eat foreign cuisine, and find common ground with a difficult companion. In the spirit of powerful missionary movies like The Other Side of Heaven and The Best Two Years comes this heartwarming tale of a missionary who learns that sometimes, the greatest change comes from within.
In this movie, The Errand of Angels, Rachel Taylor is blessed to serve her mission in Austria.  We follow Sister Taylor through her tribulations as she struggles to learn the language, find people who want to hear the gospel, eat some extremely disgusting things (not just eat...but have good manners by eating ALL the food on her plate), and struggle to serve with her cranky companion, Sister Keller.  As she continues to feel anxious and depressed she is given a chance to go on a 1 week "split" with another sister missionary, Sister Young.  It is while serving with Sister Young that she is given insight into her grumpy companion Sister Keller.  In like form to President Hinckley's fathers advice while he was on his mission she was encouraged to forget about herself, go to work and get busy serving others, especially serving her companion.  As she begins to lose herself in service, everything falls into place bringing her mission from trial to triumph.  This was a heart-warming movie, I can't believe I only used 1 tissue and now I want to go on a mission -- to Austria.  ;)

The Errand of Angels currently retails on for $19.99.

For behind the scenes info, cast member bio's, pictures and more, visit their website at

Disclaimer:  I received The Errand of Angels free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you to DeseretBook for giving us a night at the movies!

For Times of Trouble {Deseret Book Review}

Our Father in Heaven wants us to be happy. And yet, we all have times of trouble. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland writes, "One of the unfailing facts of mortal life is the recurring presence of trouble...When these difficult days (and nights!) come—and they will—it will help us to remember that 'it must needs be,' that in the grand councils of heaven before the world was, we agreed to such a time of challenge and refinement. We were taught then that facing, resolving, and enduring troublesome times was the price we would pay for progress. And we were committed to progress eternally."

In this tender book, Elder Holland explores dozens of scriptural passages from the psalms, offering personal ideas and insights and sharing his testimony that “no matter what the trouble and trial of the day may be, we start and finish with the eternal truth that God is for us.” Elder Holland's reflections on the psalms provide a powerful witness of that comforting truth.

This is a hard world we live in and I think we all face troubling times.  While many of our circumstances are different we all crave help and support from our Heavenly Father.  In this new book, For Time of Trouble: Spiritual Solace From the Psalms, by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland he shares with us how to find peace through the scriptures, specifically the Psalms.  Historically the Psalms have been classified as prayers and pleadings with God for His help in times of trouble and protection in times of distress.  The Psalms are filled with passages that offer courage, compassion, strength and hope.  

Over 75 Psalms are broken down, verse by verse, concept by concept.  Elder Holland shares his insight and wisdom into each Psalm offering encouragement to the reader and hope for the weary.  His reflections on the psalms provide a testimony that God loves us and we can seek Him and find Him in the Psalms. 

With lovely pictures scattered through out the book you can read this as a devotional, read it like a novel, or read it in times of trouble.  In the preface Elder Holland says, "the entries are primarily meditations,  they are my thoughts alone...the book is more devotional in nature than comprehensive in its commentary."  As such, it wasn't written with heavy doctrine or outside references and I really liked it that way.  There is time enough for heavy doctrine but Elder Holland has written this book like he was sharing his testimony of the Psalms with a dear friend.  I could feel his love for us on every page.
 One of the best parts of this book is that it includes a DVD with 2 hours of Q & A from a live audience where Elder Holland, in his quiet way, addresses the challenging issues of our day.  
Enjoy an excerpt!

Interested in owning your own copy?

For Times of Trouble retails at Deseret Book as hardcover for $24.29

As a BookShelf e-book for only $13.99 (Don't forget you can get your bookshelf e-book reader FREE for your iPad/iPhone or Android Devices!) 

You can also order the Book & ebook combo for 29.28.

Disclaimer:  I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  I didn't have to write a positive review, but I did because I loved it!  I think you will too!  A HUGE Thank You to Deseret Book!
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