Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Lincoln Hypothesis {Deseret Book Review}

 Abraham Lincoln became the sixteenth US president during a very dark time in America's history. Author Timothy Ballard explores the crucial role that President Lincoln played to bring this nation closer to heaven. Readers will see Lincoln as a man inspired of God who invoked a covenant relationship between America and its maker—not unlike the national covenants invoked by righteous leaders in the Book of Mormon. In addition, The Lincoln Hypothesis reveals documented evidence that Abraham Lincoln did, in fact, check out the Book of Mormon as he struggled with making some of the most critical decisions of his presidency. Did he read it? Did it influence him? Was the Book of Mormon a key factor in Lincoln's success and the healing of a nation? 
The author states, "As you read, you will, like a prosecutor reviewing a case, or like a jury determining a verdict, identify valuable pieces of evidence that can be fully substantiated. You will also identify pieces of evidence that cannot. I ask you to consider all the evidence and weight it accordingly. Through this study, many questions regarding the interplay between the restored gospel and the Civil War will be answered. New questions may emerge that will not be so easily answered. Either way, in the end you will find yourself on a most exhilarating investigative journey."
I wasn't sure what to make of this book...I'm still not exactly sure what I make of it?  Did Lincoln read the Book of Mormon??  In his book, The Lincoln Hypothesis, author Timothy Ballard takes a look at the evidence that points to the idea that Abraham Lincoln did not only read the Book of Mormon, but that many of his leadership decisions were directly influenced by what he read.  Starting with the birth of our nation Ballard examines George Washington and how the country was founded to give us an idea of where nation started.  Then using first hand accounts from a prime witness, Lincoln's secretary of state, William Henry Seward, he investigate the leadership decisions that Lincoln makes comparing them with scriptures, stories and heroes from the Book of Mormon itself.  He also makes comparisons between Abraham of old and Abraham Lincoln himself demonstrating how he relied heavily on God to assist him in his life.  An easy to read, conversational tone makes this book easy to understand and a treat to read.  Not only do you learn a lot about our 16th president, you learn a lot of history about the church and what the nation was going through during this pivotal period in time.
Did Lincoln read the Book of Mormon?  I suppose we may never know for sure, but after reading through this book it may be easier for you to decide for yourself!  
About the Author: TIMOTHY BALLARD graduated cum laude from Brigham Young University in Spanish and political science, then went on to receive and MA (summa cum laude) in international politics from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Tim has worked for the Central Intelligence Agency as well as an agent for the Department of Homeland Security. He is also the author of The American Covenant: One Nation under God. He lives in Southern California with his wife and six children.
Disclaimer:  I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my very own.  Thank you Deseret Book!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Laura's House at Rocky Ridge Farm

  We had a chance a couple of weeks ago to visit Laura Ingalls Wilders house at Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, Missouri...  It was pretty fun.  They have a great museum and gift shop and you can tour both her farm house and the little rock house that Rose built for her Mom and Dad...

The girls had a pretty good time and I'm glad we went.  I hadn't toured the little rock house before, it hasn't been open to the public for very long...  It is so quaint, I think I want one!

Marriage Isn't For You {Book Review & Giveaway!}

What is the best marriage advice you ever received?
For author Seth Adam Smith, it was the advice from his father, who said, "Marriage isn't for you. It's about the person you marry." These few words completely change the way Seth looked at his relationship with his wife. His thoughts on the subject became an online phenomenon. Paired with beautiful images, they are now available as a book—the perfect gift for newlyweds, those who are celebrating an anniversary, or anyone who wants to learn how to make a relationship stronger.

This little book (size 7x7 and only 48 pages) is big in advice for the newly married and the old n' married alike.  When Seth Smith started feeling concerned about marriage and feeling apprehensive about his future bride, (was she the right one, was he making a mistake, would she make him happy??) he asked his father for advice.  Before his wedding his father told him this:  "Seth, you are being selfish.  Marriage isn't for you.  You don't marry to make yourself happy...you marry to make someone else happy."    Seth described this advice as shocking and revelatory.  The more he looked at marriage the more he realized that his future bride really WAS the one for him and he knew that he wanted to do everything in his power to make her smile...   Marriage wasn't for him...it was for her!  

This book is adorable and would make such a good wedding shower gift!  The advice given is so sweet and tender.  The pictures are fun too!

Learn more about the author by visiting Seth's links!

You can currently purchase Marriage Isn't for You from Deseretbook.com for $14.99 in hardcover.

Would you like to try to win a free copy?  Enter the rafflecopter below!  Deseret Book is giving away 5 copies!

Disclaimer:  I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my very own.  Thank you Deseret Book!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Discover America: From Sea to Shining Sea {Shadow Mountain Blog Tour}

Follow the patriotic journey of a little red balloon as it makes its way from the West Coast to the East Coast of the United States.  Through delightful illustrations and the words of "America the Beautiful," one of America's most beloved anthems, children will discover the beauty and diversity of their country.  At DiscoverAmericaBook.com children can launch their own virtual balloon while learning fun facts about all fifty states.

Discover America: From Sea to Shining Sea is an adorable picture book full of wonderful illustrations by Julie Olson.  Follow the travels of a red balloon.  First given to a little boy in a striped shirt on a California pier, the little boy sets the balloon aloft, waving goodbye from the sunny beach.  The balloon travels through Arches National park, through the purple Rocky Mountains, over the great plains, right past the Gateway Arch, through the big woods, Independence Hall, finally ending up at the Statue of Liberty, where it is caught by a small curly haired little girl.  So so cute.

Learn the words to America the Beautiful, see the lyrics defined in pictures and discover the geography of our beautiful nation through the eyes of a child!

Visit the website at DiscoverAmericaBook.com where you can launch your own virtual red balloon, download lesson plans for the classroom or homeschool, print off state maps to color, learn the state capital, bird, and flower!   This book is not to be missed!  My girls loved it!

Discover America: From Sea to Shining Sea currently retails at DeseretBook.com for $16.19 as a nice hardback.

Disclaimer:  I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my very own.  Thank you so much to Deseret Book/Shadow Mountain!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Diary of Two Mad Black Mormons {Deseret Book Blog Tour & Giveaway!}

You’ve read the title, and now you’re scratching your head, wondering if this book is for real, right?  It is. Yes, the authors are bona fide Mormons. And hilarious, too! They call themselves Sistas in Zion.  
Did we mention they’ve got enough faith to move mountains? Well, they haven’t moved any mountains just yet, but that’s not stopping them from keeping right on praying and believing and knowing that the gospel of Jesus Christ is worth it.
Their unique perspective on their own diary entries will have you laughing one minute and exclaiming “Amen!” the next. They talk about personal experiences and lessons they’ve learned about relationships, sisterhood, standing up for what you believe, embracing diversity, and dealing with adversity—what being a Christian is all about.The Sistas’ humorous and poignant outlook on life will strengthen your faith and remind you of the joy to be found in living a Christ-centered life. You’ll soon realize that the authors aren’t mad-mad—they’re crazy-mad, funny, and inspiring!
Ok, so when I was given this book to review I knew, just knew, that I wasn't going to like it.  I'm not good at keeping a diary.  I'm not mad.  I'm not even black.  The only thing it had going for me was the fact that I was a Mormon.  So, it was with much hesitation that I cracked open this book and began reading through it.  Imagine my chagrin when the very first sentence said "Oh, so y'all are just gonna judge our book by its cover!"  Hahaha....  You got me!  So, I read on and I was pleasantly surprised by the lessons to be learned from from the "Sista's in Zion."

Zandra Vranes and Tamu Smith a.k.a Sista Beehive and Sista Laurel met as members of Genesis.  Genesis is an official auxiliary of the Latter-day Saint Church and serves as a support group for African American members, their family and their friends.  Fast forward to today and now Zandra Vranes and Tamu Smith are popular multimedia personalities and the authors of the online blog -SISTASinZION.com.  Their radio show focuses on the humorous aspects of faith and Mormon culture, seek to uplift, inspire, bridge religious divides, and create healthy dialogue.  

This book Diary of Two Mad Black Mormons is written as journal entries either by one sister or the other and often both.  They use personal stories and experiences and relate them to gospel principles in a way that leaves you laughing and inspired.  Their way of speaking is translated into this book using terms like "check yo'self" and "holla" and their method of delivering their message is very real. You can learn more about the Sista's by visiting their website SISTASinZION.com.

Diary of Two Mad Black Mormons currently retails in hardcopy on DeseretBook.com for $19.79 and as a Deseret Bookshelf eBook for $11.99.  

Deseret Book is also giving away 5 copies!   

Enter their giveaway by using the Rafflecopter below.  
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Look! No Training Wheels!

After many, many, many failed attempts* Kayley finally learned how to ride her bike without training wheels!  We have this nice slope in our backyard that was perfect for shoving her off down the hill where she could learn balance and have a nice, soft place to land.  Yay Kayley!

*No children were harmed in the making of this blog posting.  LOL!

Easter Scavenger Hunt

Here are some fun photos from Easter (better late than never right?)  We did an Easter Scavenger hunt complete with riddles and clues.  It was fun.   We opted to do Easter on Saturday morning so it wouldn't interfere with the Sabbath and it worked out great!  I'm glad the Easter Bunny was willing to deliver a day early.  *wink! wink!

Every egg contained a piece of candy and a clue/riddle...
These clues had them running all over the yard... 

 The deck...
 Under the tables...

 In the car...

 In the shed...
 In the washing machine!
Until they finally found their baskets loaded with goodies!
That was a LOT of fun!  I think we may have to ask the Old Easter Bunny to come early next year too.  We weren't rushed to get to church and could spend that Saturday morning playing together!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Through the Deep Waters {Book Review}

A beautiful girl, born in a brothel in Chicago during the 1800s sets this amazing story by Kim Vogel Sawyer.  Destined to a life of prostitution, young and innocent Dinah could only dream of living a better life, far away from the grime and filth that has always surrounded her.  When she sees an opportunity to become a "Harvey Girl" waiting tables along the railroad at fine hotels she jumps at the chance.  Earning money in one single, shameful night she is able to flee by selling the only thing she had, her virtue.  Once she arrives, she is horrified to discover that she is too young to be a Harvey Girl and has no other choice but to take a job as a chambermaid.  Living with the shame of her past Dinah feels worthless and continues to work hard to earn her place as a Harvey Girl when she is old enough, all the while desperately hoping that nobody recognizes her from the brothel.  Dinah knows, in her heart, that no one would ever truly love a sullied woman like her.

Amos is a local chicken farmer who suffers from a physical disability - a lame leg.  When he meets Dinah he is immediately interested in this skittish girl who doesn't know about Christ, who had never been to church, and who doesn't trust anyone.  As  he gently befriends her he resolves to help Dinah find the peace she needs in order to move on with her life by introducing her to Gods healing grace and showing her how to love and to accept love from God...and from Amos.

I was so fascinated by this story!  I had heard of "Harvey Girls" but didn't have any idea what they did or who they were.  Seeing how the people lived along the railroad and what kind of work was available for a young single lady was really interesting.  The calm and gentle way that Amos pursues Dinah is so tender and sweet.  This was a great read and I'll be looking for more books by Kim Vogel Sawyer!

Read an Excerpt!

You can purchase this book on Waterbrook Multnomah's website or other retailers.

“I received this book for free from the publisher’s Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.  Thank you so much!”

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Less Tresses for Steph!

I finally took the plunge and went and cut my long hair.  I opted to donate it to a non-profit company called Children With Hair Loss (CWHL).   They are an organization based out of Michigan that provides wigs to children FREE of charge for ALL reasons including alopecia, burns, cancer and other rare disorders.

Pretty short!

It feels so light and nice!  Perfect for summer!  I celebrated by buying some new clothes.  LOL.  Haircuts require new clothes right?  ;)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Firefighter or Scissors?

I finally figured out how to transfer over my videos from my old blog!  Yay!!

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