Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Thought on Parenting with Spiritual Power

Julie Nelson is the author of Parenting with Spiritual Power and today she's sharing a thought with us:
"I know that being a parent is the most difficult job and some days can be discouraging, but there are also those incredible moments of tremendous joy. I have 5 children with only 2 left at home and have gained a new appreciation for the power and insights the scriptures offer parents. What would Alma or Moroni or Hannah tell us if we asked them how to be a good parent? In "Parenting With Spiritual Power," I examine the lives of parents in the scriptures as real people who struggled like us, but left behind great examples.  We won't be perfect, and neither were they, but they may just inspire us with hope to do a little better each day."

Visit Julie's website


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Review of The Inventor's Secret by Chad Morris

Does anyone else have a tough time finding the perfect read for their kids age 8-12ish? Well, it's always a challenge around here. Luckily there are so many great books that I've been introduced to that lately my kids and I have been thoroughly enjoying our reading time.
The Inventor's Secret by Chad Morris is one of them. I'm reading it to my girls right now and from the first pages they were hooked!
Before I share more about the book with you, I'd like to note that this is Chad's debut novel and the release coincides with some rough times for his family. Shortly before the book's release, they discovered that their nine-year-old daughter had a brain tumor and she underwent surgery to remove it. She is still in recovery.
Here's more details so that you can follow Chad's story:

Book: CRAGBRIDGE HALL: THE INVENTOR'S SECRET (Shadow Mountain, 3/5/13)
The blog post where Chad talks about his daughter:
Twitter: @ChadCMorris

And what is this book about?

Imagine a school in the year 2074 where students don’t read history, but watch it happen in 3-D holograms—where running in gym class isn’t around a track, but up a virtual mountain, and where learning about animals means becoming one through an avatar.

Welcome to Cragbridge Hall, the most advanced and prestigious school in the world. Twin siblings Abby and Derick Cragbridge are excited as new students to use their famed grandfather’s inventions that make Cragbridge Hall so incredible. But when their grandfather and parents go missing, the twins begin following a trail of clues left by their grandfather. They must find out where their family is, learn who they can trust, discover what secrets are hidden within Cragbridge Hall, and decide whether they should learn from history, or attempt to change what has already happened.

Online reviewer, Kevin Hiatt, in possession of an advance copy, writes on GoodReads:  “I love books that can combine learning with a good storyline/plot, and Chad Morris pulls it off in a big way with this book.  I will add that there were some incredible facts in the book that must have cost the author hours of research time to get right. Impressive in scope and detail.”

If you're looking for an incredibly unique spin on a fantastic adventure through history, Cragbridge Hall is the place to be. I want to go there! But I'll settle for reading the books with my kids.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


SECTION 4:  HOW IS CHRISTIANITY TO UNITE? – a Vision by Eric Shuster

Christianity has been in a state of increasing division since its inception. The four chapters of Section 4 answer the question posed by examining the unification process from the smallest to the largest units of Christianity including the individual, family, church and community. This is a concept Shuster calls the Model of Christian Unity. As each unit is strengthened spiritually the impact on society is not merely cumulative, but rather exponential as a result of spiritual synergy.

Chapter 14:  Strengthen the Individual
The first and most basic unit in the kingdom of God is the individual. The Savior said “I am the vine, ye are the branches,” and as branches nourished from the same vine we are to “bringeth forth much fruit: for without me [Jesus Christ] ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). Jesus told Peter “…when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Because conversion is a continual process those who are more mature in their conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ (along the Christian Continuum) should lift up and help those who are not as far along.

Chapter 15:  Strengthen the Family
The second rung in the Model of Christian Unity is the family. Family reaches beyond genetics or a physical home. The family is under constant attack from the adversary seeking to destroy is goodness and influence in a multitude of ways leading to disastrous results. Whatever the configuration, strengthening the family is of critical importance in the spiritual unification process on the road to Christian Unity.

Chapter 16:  Strengthen the Church
The third rung of the Model of Christian Unity is the church. Strong individuals and strong families should make for a strong church; however, that is not always the case. Bringing together two or more strong families full of righteous individuals does not always guarantee church unification where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It is a challenge to achieve spiritual synergy. Strengthening the church is an important aspect on the journey to unifying disparate Christians toward a stronger society.

Chapter 17:  Strengthen the Community
The fourth and final rung in the Model of Christian Unity is the community. The ideal scenario is for a community to be made up of strong individuals, families and churches. There is a phrase “think global, act local,” a phrase which has great applicability to the concept of the church community. There are hundreds of community building efforts among diverse Christian congregations operating and changing lives of individuals, families, churches and communities around the United States.

Unifying Christianity is not just a utopian pipe dream. The Model of Christian Unity is already hard at work.

Our 5 week journey has briefly summarized who the Christians are from a historical perspective; what a Christian is from a spiritual perspective; where the Christians are from a behavioral perspective; and how Christianity can be strengthened and more united from a societal perspective. Thank you for joining us on this journey.

Go to to watch the book trailer, find out what type of Christian you are, and to order the book

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Bit of News

A bit of news for you, small and big: I blogged today over at Mashed Potatoes and Crafts about the Idaho College Savings Plan. Check out IDeal and my blog post to find out more. It's a great idea and I love that my parents set up a fund for each of my four kids courtesy of IDeal!

Ready for the BIG news? I just put my house up FOR SALE! Yep, after 7 years living in a fantastic neighborhood, we are moving. My husband has been commuting for the past four years (a 65 mile commute) and we'd really like to try to get closer to his work.
So we've been working like crazy to pack boxes and get our house ready to show. We love our house, so this has been a tough decision, but it feels like the right thing to do. I guess we're ready for an adventure.

How about you? What adventures are in store for you?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Guest Post by Eric Shuster, Where Are the Christians?


The five chapters of Section 3 answer the question of “where are the Christians?” by revealing the five major types of Christians in America today:  Departing, Adequate, Hesitant, Laboring and Latent—and how the reader can complete an exercise to identify themselves among these five.    

Chapter 9:  They’re leaving—Losing Their Belief as Departing Christians
The first Christian type to be explored is the Departing Christian. These are Christians who are literally or psychologically losing their faith. These are Christians that don’t believe as they once did (or perhaps never did), who are living watered down doctrines of Christianity, and losing their testimony of the Savior through inactivity and prolonged sin without repentance. Simply put, these are Christians who have one foot in and one foot out.

Chapter 10:  They’re Hiding—Not Practicing Their Faith as Adequate Christians
The second Christian type identified is the Adequate Christian. These are Christians that are not leaving but rather “in hiding,” concealing themselves in the shadows unseen, ducking any and all spiritual responsibility in a desire to be left alone. 

Chapter 11:  They’re Vacillating—Living Under Their Potential as Hesitant Christians
The third Christian type profiled is the Hesitant Christian. These are Christians who are not departing or hiding, but are instead dithering and vacillating with great faith waiting to be cut loose! These Christians have enormous potential but are sitting on the sidelines indecisive about entering the game of true discipleship.

Chapter 12:  They’re Endeavoring—Living Discipleship in Christ as Laboring Christians
The forth major Christian type is the Laboring Christian. In the ideal Christian world the disciples of Christ continually embrace all of the values discussed in chapter 6 and live lives exemplary of the Savior; such is the journey of the Laboring Christian. The fifth Christian type is extremely rare as one exercising abundant works, but with little faith to support those works—this is the Latent Christian which is only briefly discussed.

Chapter 13:  What Kind of Christian are You? Complete the Exercise
Christians in America are spread out among those who are departing, feeling adequate, hesitating, and laboring (understanding there are very few who are latent). These Christians—meaning all Christians—move along a continuum based upon the exercising of faith unto works in an often erratic and volatile way. The book offers an exercise to help the reader identify their Christian type on the day the exercise is completed. Come back a year later and perhaps that type has shifted up or down the Christian Continuum.

The question of “are you a Christian?” now becomes irrelevant and is replaced by “what kind of Christian are you?”The Christian community can eliminate the judgmental spirit of deciding who is a Christian and who is not by moving to a more useful and productive dialogue of where believers are along the Christian Continuum. With readers understanding where the Christians are it is finally time to chart a course to greater unity among these hundreds of millions of people, the vision of Section 4.

Go to to watch the book trailer, find out what type of Christian you are, and to order the book

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Drawing Out the Dragons by James Owen, My Review

One thing I love about blogging is I get to tell my friends about fantastic things like BOOKS! I absolutely loved reading this book, Drawing Out the Dragons by James A. Owen. James Owen has a story to tell and it is fascinating and inspiring. Last year when I attended LTUE he was a keynote speaker and I listened to his address which is mainly the gist of this little book. I think it's fabulous that it is in hardback form so that everyone can "hear" his story even if they aren't lucky enough to meet James in person.

Here's a little about the book:

I believe in you. You have a great destiny. You are meant for great things. And it's possible to live a wonderful, extraordinary life. That is the promise offered by bestselling author and illustrator James A. Owen in this remarkable and inspirational meditation. In Drawing Out the Dragons, James shares personal stories and the deep truths he learned while navigating past obstacles and adversity toward a life of lasting belief and joy. We all have a grand destiny, but sometimes we feel we lack the power to achieve it. But we always have the power to choose. Every drawing, every life, is nothing but a series of choices and actions. Make your lines. Make your choices. . . . What you create from there is entirely up to you. Drawing Out the Dragons has the power to uplift, inspire, and change your life.

One of my favorite lines from this book that is repeated several times is this one:
"If you really, really want to do something, no one can stop you. But if you really don't want to do something, then no one can help you.
--James A. Owen, Drawing Out the Dragons

You should read this book if you are creative, if you need inspiration, motivation, and a rekindling of hope in your creative forces. You should read this book if you want ideas of how to help and inspire your children and others who are working toward goals. You should read this book because it has life lessons that will help and inspire everyone, no matter their talents or dreams.
James Owen is a master.
You should read this book!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN? by Eric Shuster

SECTION 2:  WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN?—a Definition by Eric Shuster

The next leg of the journey will define what a “Christian” is. A simple task, right? Think again. There are hundreds of definitions of a Christian that have been generated by individuals and institutions over the centuries. Not all of them can be right as the variations are sometimes mind numbing. In the next four chapters Shuster digs deeply into the definition from multiple angles to reveal the confusion, clarity, illumination and complication of coming up with a practical and meaningful definition of a Christian.

Chapter 5:  It’s Confusing According to the World
The first stop is to research the definitions of a Christian offered by respected secular publications, religious organizations, America’s ten largest Christian Churches and the internet at large. The result is a convoluted set of definitions with little commonality and plenty of confusion. 

Chapter 6:  It’s Clear According to the Bible
The title of the chapter suggests one need only proceed to Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, or 1 Peter. 4:16 (the three places in the New Testament where the word “Christian” appears) and read a sentence that begins with “a Christian is…” Unfortunately it is not that easy. Jesus taught that we must “search the scriptures” (John 5:39). After finding little satisfaction in the previous chapter’s effort Shuster searches the Bible and uniquely segments the words attributed directly to Jesus Christ in the New Testament and those attributed to the New Testament authors starting in Acts. The effort leads to a clear two-part definition of a Believing Christian and a Practicing Christian.    

Chapter 7:  It’s Revealing According to the Data
The definition of a Christian developed in chapter 6 is put to the test in Chapter 7 using data from a number of landmark quantitative studies conducted in the United States from 2000 to 2012. Analysis from the studies reveals how the major Christian denominations in the United States today are performing in inspiring their members to be Believing and Practicing Christians. The results are nothing short of astounding.

Chapter 8:  It’s Complicated According to the Critics
Complicating matters in defining a Christian is the existence of Modern-day Pharisees—the “critics” among the Christian community. Jesus Christ during his public ministry was often confronted by the Pharisees who challenged his authority and spiritual legitimacy. The Pharisees viewed themselves as defenders of the Mosaic Law and the oral Torah just as Modern-day Pharisees view themselves as defenders of “true Biblical doctrine” as they interpret it. A review of America’s Founding Fathers and other historical figures helps demonstrate the dangers of reckless spiritual profiling.   

After completing the first two sections of the book readers are armed with a knowledge of Christian history (the “who”) and a comprehensive understanding of the profile of a Christian (the “what”) preparing them for the next leg of the journey to answer the question “where are the Christians?” While readers may have some inkling as to the answer, nothing could prepare them for what is offered by the author in Section 3.

Go to to watch the book trailer, find out what type of Christian you are, and to order the book

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Thought and a Giveaway from Cami Checketts, Author of Poison Me

“The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache.”
Marjorie Pay Hinckley
Cami says:
I love Sister Hinckley’s infectious attitude. Every day I struggle to make the choice to be happy or sad and when I choose happy life is so much better for me and everyone else in my life.

Poison Me by Cami Checketts
Jake Merrill was raised by his grandmother, Ruby, and her hilarious friends. After a suspicious death at the retirement home where Ruby lives, she enlists Jake and Chanel, the beautiful activities director, to help her find the killer.

But secrets Ruby has kept for decades threaten her family and the man she’s always loved but could never have. Chanel’s unstable ex-boyfriend, a presumably dead relative, and vicious criminals add to the confusion. Time is running out as Jake, Chanel, and Ruby desperately search for clues to solve the murders and fight to save those they love.

Praise for Poison Me

Poison Me made me laugh out loud and thoroughly enjoy myself. I wish I had a friend like Ruby! Snappy dialogue, romance, and a strong sense of family made this book well worth reading.

Rachel Ann Nunes, bestselling author of Line of Fire and Before I Say Goodbye

Author Cami Checketts

Cami is a part-time author, part-time exercise consultant, part-time housekeeper, full-time wife, and overtime mother of four adorable boys. Sleep and relaxation are fond memories. She's never been happier.
A portion of the proceeds from Cami's books will be donated to The Child & Family Support Center. For more information on this worthy cause, please go to

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Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My Review of Baked Alaska by Josi Kilpack

Josi's latest release in the Sadie Hoffmiller culinary mystery series, Baked Alaska, was another tasteful experience in sleuthing and culinary delight! I've read almost all of this series and I've been pleased with the level of Josi's writing--it just keeps getting better. Sadie is a well-loved character with plenty of genuine issues which add depth to her personality. After reading so many of her experiences, I feel like I know Sadie and can't wait to read her happy ending. I also love Josi's books because they are clean and well-rounded with a bit of humor, plenty of mystery, and nail-biting suspense.

If you haven't read Josi Kilpack yet, then you're definitely missing out! Here's more about her latest novel:

Baked Alaska by Josi S. Kilpack

An Alaskan cruise is the setting for amateur detective Sadie Hoffmillers latest adventure. Sadie plans to spend time relaxing with her two grown children, Breanna and Shawn, and her boyfriend, Pete, while enjoying the luxury and cuisine of an elegant cruise ship and helping to plan her daughters upcoming wedding. But even as the crew prepares to leave port, Sadie has suspicions about the voyage ahead and the relationship between her normally easygoing son and a mysterious female passenger he obviously knows but refuses to discuss. When the woman is discovered unconscious during the second night at sea, Sadies apprehension escalates. Over the last few years, Sadie has developed an extreme dislike for secrets and it would seem her son is keeping one from her. *Includes eight new mouthwatering recipes, tested and approved by the official bakers of Sadies Virtual Test Kitchen.

Praise for Baked Alaska
Josi Kilpack has done it again. You would think that all these events that occur in Sadie's life wouldn't be natural, but Josi Kilpack has a way of making you believe that it just "happens" and it is normal. I have grown to love Sadie's character, even if she is a busybody, you can't help but cheer for her as she attempts to solve a mystery or crime. One of my favorite series. :)
~Goodreads Reviewer Lacey McNeill

Author Josi S. Kilpack

Josi S. Kilpack grew up hating to read until she was thirteen and her mother handed her a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond. From that day forward, she read everything she could get her hands on and credits her writing “education” to the many novels she has “studied” since then. She began her first novel in 1998 and hasn’t stopped since. Her seventh novel, Sheep’s Clothing, won the 2007 Whitney Award for Mystery/Suspense, and Lemon Tart, her ninth novel, was a 2009 Whitney Award Finalist. Josi was the Best in State winner in literature for 2012 and currently has two books (Banana Split and Tres Leches Cupcakes) as finalists in the 2012 Whitney awards.

Josi currently lives in Willard, Utah, with her family.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Who Are the Christians? Guest Post by Eric Shuster


Albert Schweitzer once said "One truth stands firm. All that happens in world history rests on something spiritual. If the spiritual is strong, it creates world history. If it is weak, it suffers world history.” Section one of Where are the Christians? takes on the daunting task of providing a concise and compelling history of Christianity to give readers a background of where it all began as a foundation moving forward. To help the reader navigate an otherwise complicated history Shuster divides the 2000 year period into four segments, one for each of the four chapters in section 1.

Chapter 1:  They Were Evangelizers and Builders (up to AD 299)
While some might think Christianity began the day Christ was born, Christianity was long prophesied in the Old Testament. The over two centuries that followed during the Evangelization and Formation Period were defined by seven major categories of events:  persecution of the church, martyrdom of its early leaders, the spreading of the gospel outside of Palestine, the conversion of Paul, the formation of the church, early heresies, and the writing of the New Testament.

Chapter 2:  They were Legitimized and Codified (AD 300-999)
The Legitimacy and Codification Period from AD 300 to 999 was a time for Christianity to continue its global proliferation, while codifying its doctrines and legitimizing its place in religion and politics. This period of Christianity was defined by seven categories of events:  the continuation of persecution and evangelization, increased heresies, doctrinal codification, hierarchy and politics, validation, and the seeds of corruption.

Chapter 3:  They were Corrupted and Divided (1000-1499)
As the Christian Church neared the millennial landmark it began to be faced with significant issues of leadership that would rupture its unity. Although Christianity was still spreading throughout the world, the organization of the Church would be challenged by its integration with the political structure and an increasingly corrupt leadership.  The Corruption and Division period (1000-1499) is marked by four categories of events including doctrinal evolution, church and state integration, corruption and division.

Chapter 4:  They were Reformed and Scattered (1500 to the Present)
The final segment of Christian history covers the year1500 to the present and is called the Reform and Denominational Proliferation Period. During this period individuals came forward to challenge the established Christian Church to reform itself from corruption. This period is marked by five major activities including the carryover of corruption, the emergence of refiners, reformers and restorers, Christian movements and influencers, the propagation of published scripture and the proliferation of denominations.

Modern-day Christians are influenced by the past and are products of their own history. It is a history that produced the best and worst of humanity over a 2,000 year period. Our faith walk today is affected by and reflects these four periods of Christian history. Having a better understanding of where we came from as a Christian people we are now ready for the next leg of our journey to answers the question:  “What is a Christian?”  

Go to to watch the book trailer, find out what type of Christian you are, and to order the book


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