Stay! A Top Dog Story by Alex Latimer

The first time leaving your favorite pet with someone else can be a little nerve-racking as you worry about whether your trusted pet sitter understands the signs of your pet, who needs a belly rub or wants to play fetch. When this pet belongs to a child, it can cause much concern.

In Stay! A Top Dog Story by Alex Latimer, a little boy named Ben leaves his dog Buster with his Grampa to go on vacation with his Mum and Dad. Ben was confident Grampa didn’t know anything about Buster’s likes and dislikes or how to take care of him. His Dad suggested he write Grampa a note. Ben quickly got started to write Grampa a note with pictures and some words describing Buster’s likes and dislikes.

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His notes are very descriptive and Ben thinks of so many tips for Grampa. While on their vacation, Ben still wrote more notes to send to Grampa for things Ben thought would be useful. The notes grew and grew and Ben kept thinking of more tips for taking care of Buster. When Ben and his parents returned from their vacation, Grampa gave Ben a note of his own, sharing what Grampa and Buster had been up to.

This colorful and exciting story shares how even children don’t stop thinking about their pet just because their on vacation. Even my own son worried about our dog when we went on trips. Often times we had to ask two different people to help watch our dog because she needed so much attention.

Reading this story to my 6 year old was adventurous and fun, he loves the pictures and the storyline. His favorite part is when Ben tells Grampa not to take Buster to the post office, then it shows Grampa doing exactly that and getting himself banned from the post office!

Any child with a pet or hopes of a pet would love this story. Written by Alex Latimer and published by Peachtree Publishers, this children’s book will be a sure favorite to young boys like mine!

A Simple Prayer by Amy Clipston

An Amish love story featuring a woman, orphaned at a young age, and a Prodigal Son, who left home after some teenage mistakes, this is an easy reading book taking place in modern times. This is a book focused on how simple prayers can change people’s hearts, a practice that doesn’t happen only in books.

Recently, I’ve come to love Amish stories of the amazing community togetherness and avoidance of modern technologies. In daily commutes involving the slow pace of a horse-drawn carriage and the expectations to follow rules of the community, I find the Amish to be an interesting people.

A Simple Prayer by Amy Clipston starts off with a man, Aaron Ebersol, returning to his hometown Amish community after he ran away seventeen years earlier. Aaron was returning because his friend found him after his mother had a stroke and keeps asking for him. Aaron is unsure if he wants to face his family after he abruptly left them when he was only fifteen. He tried to write to his parents and send them money to replace the costs of the bishop’s barn he burned down all those years ago. But he never heard back from anyone so he thought they forgot about him.

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Little does Aaron realize that he would encounter a family who wanted to learn about his Englisher adventures, except for his older brother, Solomon, and his wife Becky. After Aaron began working on his parents home in order to make it more convenient for his mother to get around, Becky began warming up to him.

Aaron also made friends with the woman, Linda, who helped at the bed & breakfast he stayed at nearby. It takes him a while to remember who Linda was, but soon they have very encouraging conversations that soon lead to their desire to talk more often. Linda shares with Aaron about how she and her parents were going home after church and was hit by a big truck that slid on the ice. Linda was thrown from their carriage and sustained some damage and scarring to her leg. While her parents had not survived this accident, Linda stayed with her aunt and uncle.

While Aaron tried to fix things with Solomon, Linda attempted to make things right with her uncle, who was quite mean to her especially after her aunt died. It seems these two were made for each other as they encourage each other through praises and suggestions on how to fix their respective family issues.

The idea of a child getting injured while on a carriage is familiar to me, as I read another Amish book, The Amish Clockmaker by Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner, where a similar incident happened. There is also a similarity where a young Amish man left the community, returning for another reason many years later.

A Simple Prayer by Amy Clipston is an easy to read book that is very difficult to put down. The Amish terms explained in the beginning are helpful to make understanding the conversations a little easier. This is a Zondervan Fiction book.

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Jake’s Monster Mess by Ken Spillman

Sometimes, a wrong choice leads to bigger messes than what we started with, even with the best of intentions. We don’t always see that choice we made as the wrong one until it’s too late sometimes and I can totally relate to Jake in Jake’s Monster Mess by Ken Spillman. In fact, I went through a very similar situation more than once!
Jake’s Monster Mess by Ken Spillman is a children’s book with some humor, especially when read to my 6 year old son. With animated inflections and descriptions of pictures, my son thoroughly enjoyed this book! 
  
The story is about Jake, who loves his father’s dinner parties, but doesn’t quite enjoy the tidying up before the guests arrive. Who does, right? Instructed to tidy up his room, Jakes is told to put away his laundry, which leads to sorting out his drawers of clothing. With clothes all over the floor and knowing everything had to be put away before his father gets back home from shopping, Jake attempted to organize the mess of clothes into his dresser drawers. In his attempt to clear more space for the piles of clothing in another area, toys fell all over the floor, making an even bigger mess.
His father returned and Jake explains that there’s so much stuff he didn’t need anymore and could give it away to someone who could really use them. Great as that idea was, his father gave him limited time to reorganize everything plus vacuum and wipe the tables for the guests. One thing leads to another while Jake is reorganizing and he finds himself testing out his toys to see if it works. In the meantime, a few things break and I he process of getting it fixed, Jake climbs his bookshelf to reach it only to find the whole bookcase come crashing down and the toy he was testing crunched under his feet. 
You see, one thing leads to another, all into a monster mess. Personally, I go through the same things every day. Putting away the laundry leads to refolding clothes and reorganizing, it leads to old clothes being removed to donate and a trip to the thrift store, which leads to strolling around the thrift store to buy more stuff, and coming home to put it away on a shelf that has something misplaced. It’s a typical cycle of daily life! Maybe not as dramatic as Jake’s Monster Mess, but Ken Spillman does a fabulous job with one small task.
Jake’s Monster Mess by Ken Spillman is a fun and adventurous book that young children can enjoy. Published by Star Bright Books, Jake’s Monster Mess by Ken Spillman can be found at Star Bright Books and Amazon.com.

Mama’s Right Here by Susan Kerner

When you have a mama’s boy like mine, it is difficult to pull away from your child. In all my attempts to grow his independence and do things on his own, he is like a rubber band, bouncing right back to my side. I do not see this as a bad thing because I treasure every moment with him, but sometimes, he needs to know it’s okay when he plays with his friends or hangs out with daddy.

At first I thought this book, Mama’s Right Here by Susan Kerner, would teach him about how I’m always with him, no matter where he is or what he’s doing. As I read the book to him, it made me feel like the story is about a mother who is no longer here or lives very far away. Each page was the child doing an activity where mommy isn’t around and the child is with another person, like dad, grandparent, sibling, etc.

  

It places a tear in my eye as I read the story because in this story the child’s mama isn’t around. The words make it seem like she’s missing out on the child growing up, on good night hugs and cuddles. The child can see mama in the wind and the stars and the snow, but mama isn’t physically there.

What a treasure as my aunt just went to heaven this morning after a major stroke, leaving my uncle and cousin. I’d like to share this story with him as soon as I can get my hands on a copy. Even as a grown adult, I think he could use the comfort of knowing she’s still here with him. 
Some children go through childhood without their mama around, whether it’s due to the decisions their parents made or because God simple needed mama in heaven already. Whatever the reasons for a child to not be with mama, this book can reassure that mama is there, every moment of every day.

Mama’s Right Here by Susan Kerner is published by Star Bright Books, priced at $6.99 from your local bookstore or Amazon.com.

Book review: Miracles in You by Mark Victor Hansen

There are many miracles that can be found in scripture. But that was a long time ago, miracles can’t happen these days, right? Or can it? Are we look for these huge events like burning bushes that don’t burn or the sea parting so we can cross it like in the Bible? Or are we looking for miracles in our own personal lives like the birth of a baby or a dear friend accepting Christ as their Savior? What constitutes a miracle to you? 

Miracles in You by Mark Victor Hansen is an easy to read book taking readers through the little things that became miraculous; like sharing the gospel to a lonely teenager, who later becomes an evangelist reaching thousands or hundreds of thousands. It’s one small act created in love that God transforms and reaches the multitudes. 

Miracles are around us every day and we need to live life preparing for it and encouraging it. It is important to be connected with God in order to see and witness these miracles. Miracles in You by Mark Victor Hansen covers many examples of miracles of all shapes and sizes, yet each is centered on a relationship with Jesus. Sometimes we need to train ourselves to focus on miracles and it all starts with our connection with God.

“Take control of your thoughts and prayers and focus them toward positive outcomes for thirty-one days.”

As I read through this book, I was in awe with several miracles in the making stories. It seems so unrealistic for much of these to happen, but I know there’s so much truth in it. It starts with God and our relationship with Him. 

Years ago, I had turned away from God, thinking I can do this on my own. Then I found myself pregnant and as I researched how this baby was growing inside of me from week to week, all I could think of was how miraculous the process really is. How could all this be part of evolution like we were taught in school? There has to be a Master behind all this amazing events! As each week passed I grew closer and closer to Jesus again and now this child is 6 years old; still amazing me each day with how much he learns and grows. It truly is a miracle from conception through pregnancy and all the way through life!

I never considered looking for miracles each day, but I know that it happens all around me. Miracles can happen and you can be a miracle!

Miracles in You by Mark Victor Hansen can be found on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Book review: God of the Big Bang by Leslie Wickman

Comparing the Almighty God of the Bible and the notion of earth being created by the “Big Bang”, Leslie Wickman pulls together the scientific reasonings and evidence that both can coexist. We don’t need to choose one over the other, but both God and science is here on Earth and God of the Big Bang explains a lot of it.

God of the Big Bang begins with Leslie Wickman, an astrologist, sharing a bit about her background as a child in a Christian family and a scientist father, where she followed as she grew older. She goes on to share how she was contracted by CNN regarding a blog and it went viral. This resulted in Leslie Wickman being contacted by Worthy Publishing to write God of the Big Bang

 

I was pleasantly surprised to find the author mention Dr William Lane Craig, whom I got to hear debate an atheist at Purdue University years ago and I had the pleasure to meet him at an apologetics while he was in Hawaii for an apologetics conference at Kalihi Union Church in 2011. God of the Big Bang by Leslie Wickman focuses on a variety of biblical background to there is a cause for everything. For example, I put green chilis in my soup which caused the soup to be spicy, which caused my 6 year old to not like the soup, which caused us to make the child something else for dinner. Similarly, the same goes for creation, ultimately leading to there was a cause for this earth, solar system, and universe being created.

The scientific method is broken down and explained with examples and quotes from popular scientists like Charles Darwin and Galileo Galilei. Scientific method, as I recall from high school, is about hypothesis then attempting to prove or disprove the hypothesis. When it comes to the question of “Is God real?” Is there any proof to confirm or deny that He exists?

When comparing science versus God, one does not exist without the other. In the centuries of written evidence of creatures living on earth, there is no evidence that any creature evolving into something else like the theory of “evolution” suggests. If evolution does exist, why is there no written evidence of any creature evolving into something else?

God of the Big Bang by Leslie Wickman explains that earth is the result of the “Goldilocks Effect” where it’s not too hot, not too cold, not too big, not too small, everything is just right. In other words, earth is not too close and not too far from the sun creating the perfect place for water to remain on the ground and toxic gases are too light, leaving the perfect atmosphere for vegetation to flourish. There are many scientific reasons for how life on earth would not exist if anything were even one degree different from where earth is in comparison to the sun, the author goes into all of this and it is quite convincing that she is absolutely correct. 

Never did I expect God of the Big Bang to discuss the reasonings behind UFOs, but Leslie Wickman even described the likelihood of intelligent life out in the universe and how many light years it would take to get here in addition to all the physical challenges there are to travel at speeds to get here from that distance. This was a section I wish I had read before my husband and uncle had a pretty intense discussion about how UFOs and aliens do or don’t exist the other night. It would have been great evidence to share! It will need to wait for the next time we have dinner.

The beauty of the inclusion of various scientists findings as well as actual scripture placed into this book is quite evident that Leslie Wickman’s findings are supported that God and science can coexist. Written with a scientists perspective with education and experiences in the science field while including Leslie Wickman’s Christian background, God of the Big Bang is a book I highly recommend for the Christian apologist, the scientist, and those who are curious about life on earth and other planets. 

God of the Big Bang by Leslie Wickman can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Christianbook.com for $15.99 available April 14, 2015.