Awakening to God App Review

It’s very common, in my experience for Christians to say things like “I wish I had more time to read the Bible” or, “I know I should be reading the Bible, but…” or, “my devotionals are taking a backseat these days because…” and I think that is true for a lot of people.  There is always a lot going on, and a lot of excitement.

From when we were newlyweds, up until while I was pregnant for the first time, I used to do daily devotionals with the Bible app on my phone.  It was excellent.  I would get up early, make myself a cup of coffee and sit down with my little Bible app and dive in.  The ones there had Bible verses, as well as things to think about.

That changed when the babies came, and I was up late with them, and I was waking up at the same time as them.. and on days when I tried to wake up early so I could do something like that… it’s like they sensed it and then they woke up early, too!  So… my devotionals have been taking a backseat these days 😉

But NO MORE.  I was recently approached to review a new app in exchange for an Itunes gift card, and I jumped at the chance.  Not just because of the itunes gift card (though I do have my eye on that Moana soundtrack 😉 ) but because of the app itself.  I’m so excited to share my review with you!

Awakening To God Today, or ATG Today app, is basically a mini-devotional.  There are daily Bible verses, and daily questions to reflect on.  There are questions you answer in the morning, and then more at the end of the day to look back on how your day went.

This app includes:
·         Ability to journal your walk with God on your iPhone, iPad etc.
·         Create and remember significant touches from God, everyday events, and prayers.
·         Build your faith through scripture memorization and by looking back at answered prayers.
·         Inspiration and guidelines to help you take your walk with God to another level.
·         Learn how to hear from God and to live your day out from 8 minutes with Him at the start of the day.
·         Evening entries to remember your day and give thanks to God.
·         Encourage your family and friends by sharing daily scriptures and thoughts.
·         Inspire and strengthen your family devotions.
It does cost money to buy, but you can feel good in your purchase because the profits are going to help people in India, which I really liked about it.
I also really like how there’s something you can do at the end of the day.  I have a blank journal that has been sitting beside my bed for a while.  More often than not, I have a bunch of things I need to do before I go to bed, and so my husband goes to sleep before me.  Well, I’m not going to come into the room and turn on the light!  This is perfect because I can sit beside him in the bed and do a nightly devotional and not wake him up with excessive light, because it’s all on my phone.
Plus, it truly is a journal because you can look back on what you said previous days, and reflect on that.  This app keeps all of that for you.  You can add pictures as well.
Mostly, I love how simple this is.  This app doesn’t need a lot of bells and whistles to make it great, it is simply a devotional.  And if it inspires me to read more of the Bible or pray for longer, great!  I think this app is a great starting off point for people who need to kickstart their devotional practices.
It’s something that I can even do with my kids at the breakfast table as we start our day.  At this point, they’re too little to really answer the questions, but I think that if they see me doing it, it might be something they’d think about, too.
If you would like to find out more, please check out the Awakening to God Website here!  This app can be used on apple or android products.
xoxo,
Alysa
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An Easter Basket for a Baby & a Toddler

Last year, I shared what we had in our one year old’s Easter basket (here).  This year, we have a nearly one-year-old and a nearly two-and-a-half year old!  Very different needs when it comes to their Easter baskets!  I know it’s a week after Easter, but I still really wanted to share.  I had so much fun putting them together!

First of all, can I just talk about how cute these little bunny baskets are?  I got the pattern from Sew Much Ado!  It’s a free pattern for personal use only, but here’s the directions to make your own!  I had only one bunny bag last year, and now that I have two kids, I needed to find a second one, or make two new ones.  I went with option B.  I really like the idea of Easter baskets that match each other.  Each child gets their own, but they also go together.  Also, if we have another baby, I can whip up a third one very easily.

Here’s what’s IN the baskets:

Toddler:
Easter Cup
I really liked giving my daughter a new cup last year at Easter.  So, I got them both similar ones for this year!  Unfortunately, last year’s cup didn’t last very long.  She dropped it and the lid shattered.  I hope to get more use out of the ones from this year.  They’re so much fun, especially with the curly straw!

Knit Bunny
I made knit bunnies for my shop as a free gift with purchase for those who purchased a bunny bonnet from me this spring, and while I was making those, I made a couple that were slightly bigger so I could put them in the Easter baskets.  You can find the instructions to make your own here!

Aero Lamb
I decided to get the same chocolate for the Easter basket this year as I did last year.  My daughter still isn’t having tons of sweets, and this was a nice small treat for her.  Plus, she’ll be getting a chocolate bunny from her Grandma, and she doesn’t need two! 😉

Big Girl Underwear
How much fun am I? I like to add these necessities in the Easter basket (and stocking) because she’ll need them anyway, and they’ll be fun for her to open up on Easter morning.

Shampoo
Told you I was a fun mom 😉 But for real, this shampoo has Frozen characters on it, so she’s going to love it.  She’s obsessed.  And she’s starting to have enough hair now that it might be a good idea to wash her hair with shampoo instead of the all in one baby soap.

Sunglasses
I was so excited to find these. My daughter has been really into putting on sunglasses lately, and these will fit her face!  She loved getting them and doesn’t ever want to leave the house without her glasses haha

The Story of Easter Book
Last year, I looked for a cute Easter book and I was so happy to find one this year!  It’s got a simple story that is easy for little ones to understand.  It also has great pictures.  It’s a lot of fun to read to them both.

Baby Basket:

Easter Cup
Aiden doesn’t really drink that much water out of cups just yet, so I thought this would be a great way for him to start learning, with his very own cup.  It’s also so cute, and it matches Autumn’s.

Knit Bunny
I made both the knit bunnies, and this one is Aiden’s! I loved the yarn I used, and I love how it turned out.

A Book of Bedtime Prayers
Such a cute little book.  It has gold around the edges of the pages, too.

Owlies
To be completely honest… I just put this in because his basket seemed a little … well… empty in comparison to his sisters.  I put this because he loves them and I wanted to give him something he could eat, too.  It actually worked out really well because Aiden didn’t really care about his basket at all, so I’m glad that we didn’t overdo it this year.

What did you put in your little ones baskets?

xoxo,
Alysa

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Parenting with Grace and Truth: Book Review & Giveaway

I read a lot of parenting books. I really enjoy reading about different styles of parenting, and in each one I definitely take things away that I can use in my own parenting journey.  So when I was contacted to review Parenting with Grace and Truth by Dan Seaborn, I jumped at the chance of reading it!  I want to be able to parent in a way that is modelled after Jesus, and that is what this book is about.

As I say, I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for this review.  Everything said here is my own opinion.  This post also contains affiliate links.

When I start reading any parenting book, I usually start by looking at the author’s bio on/in the back of the book.  I look to see what their qualifications are.  Dan Seaborn mentions on the back of this book that he has four kids with his wife.  That makes me think, ok, so he kind of knows what he’s talking about!  I read a longer bio that also said that he has worked as a youth pastor, so he really knows what he’s talking about with regards to teenagers.  I think it’s important to mention this, because there have been books I’ve read in the past that the author didn’t mention anything about whether or not they were a parent.  I know there are lots of non-parents that are very smart and everything, but as a parent, I take the advice of fellow parents more seriously.  So, I really like the fact that he mentions on his bio that he has children.

The way Parenting with Grace and Truth is set up is each chapter is about a truth about parenting.  Some examples are, The Truth About Developing Good Character in Your Children or The Truth about Effective Parenting.  I found it really interesting that Seaborn talks about these parenting issues as basic truths, and not just any truth, but truth with a foundation in Jesus.  I really liked that.  Another thing he does in each chapter is, he finishes each chapter with a number of questions to consider.  I think that makes this a good book to read with a small group.  There are questions that would make wonderful discussion questions with other parents.  And finally, he has a little blurb at the very end called “Dan’s Reality Check” where he is real about the truths he just talked about in the chapter.

Reading through this book, I found myself nodding my head in agreement about quite a few things.  I found myself hi-lighting sections of the book because I wanted to remember exactly what it said, so I could tell other people about it later.  I think that this is such a great resource for parents!  Though I am currently in the baby/toddler stage of parenting, and he talks a lot about parenting teenagers, I still got a LOT out of this book, and there was a lot I could take away and use in my life right now.

One of my favourite chapters is when Seaborn starts talking about specific parenting styles.  So he describes authoritarian style parenting, helicopter style parenting, and the very best parenting style: Jesus style parenting.  The way he describes Jesus style parenting made it seem actually attainable.  Jesus style parenting is perfect, but the way we do it doesn’t have to be perfect.  If we’re striving for Jesus style parenting, that is enough.

Another thing that I really appreciate about this book is the fact that there is scripture throughout each chapter.  Seaborn writes about parenting in a way that is based in biblical truth.  I think that is the one of it’s huge assets.  You can read exactly which verse he means when he gives his advice.

Parenting with Grace and Truth by Dan Seaborn was a really great read, and I think it will be one that I go back to again and again as my children get older.  And good news, friends!  You have a chance to win a copy of your very own as well!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway open to US/Canada.  Good Luck!

xoxo,
Alysa

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Our Verse for 2017

For the past two years, I’ve done the ~Word of the Year~ thang, and shared it in my blog.  This years word is BOLD.  Another thing we’ve done as a family for the past two years is choose a verse to go along with that word!  Here is the verse for 2017

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength
They will soar on wings like eagles
They will run and not grow weary
They will walk and not grow faint”
– Isaiah 40:31

Last year, our verse had to do with starting a new journey.  We knew we were going to be looking for a new place to call our home church, and we knew we were starting out on something new.  This year, the word we thought of when we were praying over what verse we should put in this spot was strength.  We found our new church and we have begun making friendships and connections there.  We want to strengthen our friendships and relationships with the people we’ve met in 2016 at our new church, as well as with our friends.

It’s tough making friends, especially as a mom with little ones.  I have found that this is definitely a time of life where the phrase “for a reason, a season, or a lifetime” comes up a lot.  There are friends we don’t talk to as much anymore, and there are friends who have become even closer to us in this time.  I’m so grateful for the people in my life who have stuck by me through the pregnancies and births of both my children.  It means so much to me, not only that they’re still wanting to spend time with us, but also how much they love and care for my children.  This year will be about strengthening and developing those relationships <3

xoxo,
Alysa

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The Blessings of Unity: Book Review & Giveaway

The Blessings of Unity book review

I was recently given the opportunity to review a marriage book, “The Blessings of Unity” by Richard T. Case by Flyby Promotions.  The book was given to me in exchange for my review, and the opinions expressed here are my own.

As per the back cover, “The Blessings of Unity offers insight and ideas for creating godly unity in our marriages centered around two key concepts: 1. Abiding in the vine and walking in the spirit, and 2. Learning and applying the concept of unity.”

This was a short book, but it covers a lot of material.  Each chapter offers many, many examples in scripture, as well as many itemized lists.  There are many tips for ways we can live together in unity in our marriages, and based on scripture.

However, I found this book to be a little dry for my liking.  I much prefer books like this to include personal stories where the advice given either works, or examples of when the advice was needed.  I enjoy books that are a little more conversational.

When I read books such as this one, I often check the author’s bio in the back, to see about their life and their marriage.  I found it really interesting, and a little weird that there was no mention of a marriage in this author’s bio.  Is he even married?  His bio talks about his business experience, and I felt that was a little out of place for a book on marriage.  Additionally, I have to say that I was a little turned off by the introduction when he talks about how children are bombarded with peer pressure, and includes “the gay agenda” as a type of peer pressure.  What is the gay agenda?  This did not seem to come up in the rest of the book, either, so it felt very out of place.

I agree that unity is a huge thing in a marriage, and, especially when kids are involved, being on the same page as your spouse is very very important.  “The Blessings of Unity” covers a lot of really great material on that.  And I really liked that it is primarily based on scripture, and gives actual usable tips on what we can do to have more unity in our marriages.

How would you like to find out for yourself?
You can win your own copy of this book! Open to the US and Canada!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Or, you can purchase the book here!

xoxo,
Alysa

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the
Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

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Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family Review & Giveaway

Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family

Recently, I have been reading Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul David Tripp.  At this current stage of parenting, I have found the the other parenting books I have read in the past to be a little bit of a moot point.  I started reading this parenting book anticipating that I would be reading more about things that might come up in the future for my children.  There were certainly a lot of things in the book that were for parents of older children, but in a lot of ways this book is for every parent.

I find it funny that the title of the book has the word “change” in it, because one of the biggest things that Tripp talks about in the book is the fact that we, as parents, CAN’T actually change our children.  Parenting isn’t about trying to make our children change their behaviour, or the way they are, or to try to fit them into some little box.  It’s about being their leaders, and guiding them in the way that they should go.  Tripp talks about how many parents view their children with a certain amount of ownership.  Parents use their children to complete their identity.  It’s not the right thing to do.  Our children are not our property.  It is not our job to make them submit to us, or behave for us.  It’s our job to guide them and lead them.

There are 14 Principles listed in this book, but the overarching theme is that of Grace.  We need God’s grace every single day, and our children need our grace every single day.  This book was pretty eye opening and I would definitely recommend it to other parents, even parents of very little children like I have. 🙂

And if you’d like to read it, too, I have a copy to give away!  <3

a Rafflecopter giveaway

xoxo,
Alysa

I received this book in exchange for my honest review, the opinions expressed here are my own.

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How to Go Church Shopping

How To Go Church Shopping

Very recently, my husband and I came to the conclusion that the church we were attending was not the right fit for us anymore.  It was pretty disappointing for us.  He had been attending that church his entire life, and that had been my grown up home church.  We were both baptized there, we were married there, and we dedicated our child there.  It was a blow that we no longer felt welcome in a place that had always been our home away from home.  But it happens, and when it’s time to move on, it’s time to move on.  I haven’t talked about it too much just because it was such a complicated situation, but it is what it is.  We needed to go church shopping!  At this point, we have found a new home church that we just love, and I’m so happy to have found something, especially before the new baby comes.  It’s hard to move around a lot with a fresh little one, so having a home base church is going to be a huge help.

Here are the steps we took in deciding on our new church:

  1. Sit down and discuss what you’re looking for
    My husband and I sat down together to talk about the specific things we wanted when we were looking for a new church.  Among the things on the list, we wanted to find something with only one service, was small-medium sized, and had children’s programming/children’s ministry.  These were the top three things that were most important to us when finding something.  It could be different for you, but it’s so important to talk it out first so you each know what the other wants in a church.. and so that you know that you’re both on the same page.
    If you’re church shopping by yourself, maybe it’s writing down what is most important to you.  As long as you have some ideas of what you want before you start really looking, then you won’t pick one just because.
  2. Research, research, research
    My husband and I each did our own research and came up with our own lists of churches we were interested in going to look at.  We didn’t outright cross anything off our list, but we compared lists and started with the ones that we both had on our own lists.
    In doing our research, it was important to us that the churches we were looking at have a website, and that they had some kind of mission statement or values on their website.  We wanted to find something that aligned, at least a little bit, with what we believe in.  If a church didn’t have a website, it made it harder for us to select that for the next part of the process, in part because then we couldn’t find out when their services were.
  3. Start shopping
    We started by going to a couple of the churches that made both of our lists, and ended up finding one from there.  Another thing that was important was how welcome we felt when we were at the church.  We went to a church with someone and the only people there who talked to us were the people we were with.  Whereas, at the church we chose, we made friends right away.  It made a huge difference to us if people were actually welcoming, and if people noticed we were new.
  4. Go a few times
    I don’t think it’s fair to pick a church based on ONE Sunday, so we went to the church we ended up choosing a few times to get a good feel for it.  For example, one of the churches we went to had a guest speaker the first time we went.  It wouldn’t have been fair to pick that church based on that particular Sunday, because it wasn’t even the main speaker!  It was a very good service and everything, but if the speaker isn’t going to be there all the time, that’s not a good indicator of what the church will be like on a regular basis.
  5. Pick!
    This is the fairly easy part.  After a few Sunday’s at our new church, my husband and I sat down and fully decided that this was going to be our home church.  We then started giving, and we signed up for the nursery programming for our daughter.  We also prayed about it before fully deciding.  It felt right.

How do you pick where your home church would be?

xoxo,
Alysa

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Books of 2015 – May

books

07. Sippy Cups are Not For Chardonnay by Stephanie Wilder-Taylor (not pictured)
This book isn’t pictured because I didn’t finish it.  I didn’t like it, so I didn’t keep reading.  I was going to let the girl on girl hate slide, because apparently mommy wars are a real thing (not what I’ve seen but whatever)… but then she got super racist and I just could not continue to read the book.  Sorry not sorry. I wasn’t interested in anything else this writer had to say because of the racist stereotypes used in this book.  Some parts, before the racism, were pretty funny though.

08. Carrie by Stephen King
I saw the new movie version of this when it came out, but I was interested in reading the book, too.  I found it in the bargain book section of McNally Robinson, which is where I find lots of great books that I end up loving.  This book was great and I am really glad that I read it.  It totally holds up, and the modernization used in the newer movie version made sense with the original.  It’s a sad story though. Bullying is the worst and all I could think about was how it was too bad that Carrie’s universe was different than that of Harry Potter … or Professor Xavier … or Matilda.

09. Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey
I heard about this almost a year ago, and I’m really glad that I got to borrow it from the library to read.  OF COURSE Jesus was a feminist. I don’t see how he wouldn’t have been.  It was nice to be able to read a book about Christianity and Feminism and how they definitely work together.  I think that if you’re a Christian, how can you not be a feminist?  Very much enjoyed this book.

10. A Lullaby for Little One by Dawn Casey, Illustrated by Charles Fuge
This book is too cute.  For most nights, my husband reads Autumn her bedtime story, and it’s become their thing that they do together.  I was really happy to find a book about a daddy/child relationship and this one was really sweet!  I read it so many times in the last few weeks that I probably have it memorized haha. It’s great though.

What have you been reading lately?

xoxo,
Alysa

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Why we’re giving up TV for lent

Lent is starting next Wednesday, and we’ve been thinking about what we were going to give up for a little while.  Last year, we gave up caffeine, and I also gave up alcohol and pop.  Because I was secretly pregnant.  This year, we’re going to give up TV.  As a new mom, I watch a LOTT of TV.  I’m finding that it’s becoming too much TV.  So, here’s why we’re giving up TV for Lent:

First Thought: I should give up TV for Lent!
Second Thought: NOO!
Third Thought: Sigh.. that means I probably need to give up TV for Lent.

So there you go.  We’re giving up TV for Lent.

What are you giving up for Lent this year?

xoxo,
Alysa

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Happy February!

Can you believe it’s already February?  I feel like it went by in a flash, which is great because January is generally the most dreary and cold month of the year.  All the holiday sparkle is over, and all that’s left is frozen tundra.  Luckily, this month was not that cold!! Here’s hoping February follows suit.

February is one of my favourite months, though.  It’s got Valentine’s Day, and a great excuse to wear pink and red and purple and talk about love all the time.  I love it!  It’ll be especially fun to dress up my little one in cute pink and red outfits for it this year, too!

Here are some other things I’m happy about this week:

My new record player (pictured above!) It had disappeared from the website (but is back now), and I am totally in love with playing music on it.  I am so glad to have found it at the store. It’s so fun

This awesome article about being bold in nursing in public places.  I’m getting there slowly but surely!

5 Questions to ask yourself when cleaning out your closet.  I’ll need this in the next couple of months

Verse of the week:

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;
The mountains and hills will burst into song before you,
And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
Isaiah 55:12

This is more than just my verse of the week, but also my verse of the year.  It goes so well with my word of the year <3

Hope your week is filled with joy!

xoxo,
Alysa

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