Thursday, December 25, 2014

Book Review: Angels and Saints by Dr. Scott Hahn

FTC disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All Opinions are my own.  This post does contain affiliate links.

Angels and Saints: A Biblical Guide to Friendship with God's Holy Ones by Scott Hahn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I went through RCIA, the one topic that we didn’t get to cover well was saints.  I was excited to find out that Scott Hahn has a book called Angels and Saints, A Biblical Guide to Friendship with God’s Holy Ones.

I am a big fan of Scott Hahn, and I highly recommend his books and this one is no exception.  As someone who grew up Protestant, this was one of the more difficult teachings in Catholicism for me.   As is true of all of Dr. Hahn’s work, he explains so well the teachings of the Church that you either agree with him or at least understand where the Church is coming from and why they do the things they do.

One thing I really liked about this book is how Dr. Hahn talked about how we honor our loved ones who have passed away and then relates it to how we view saints.  Too many people I have cared about have passed away this year.  When I visited my mother’s freshly covered grave, I talked to her as if she was right there and could hear me.  Therapeutic?  Yes, but also who is to say she isn’t able to listen.  If we reverence the place where our parents are buried, shouldn’t we also reverence relics of the saints as they have faith we can only pray to have.

Dr. Hahn also discusses angels and their place in the world.  So many people in my life have passed away this year and with every person I have heard “Heaven gained another angel”, yet that isn’t scriptural although it may be a good thought.  People don’t become angels when they die.  In this book, angels are discussed and their role in the heavenly realm.

I feel like I lost so many people this year, but at the end of this book Dr. Hahn discusses when he met his (then) soon to be wife’s extended family and realized they would become his family as well.  He compares that to the saints.  We are part of the family of God, and St. Francis is part of our family of God just the same as our brother in law is part of our earthly family.  By realizing the richness of those who have gone before us, it can encourage us to live our lives in the way that we should.

I really enjoyed this book.  As I always say with Dr. Hahn’s books, it took me a while to get through because there was so much I wanted to consider and ponder.  I recommend this book for any Catholic, as well as anyone who wants to understand why Catholics believe as they do.

You can purchase this book here:

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Observing Advent -- for the first time

In the non-denominational church I grew up in, Advent was never mentioned.  When I started going to a Nazarene Church, the Advent candles were lit by people who attended the church.

But I never realized it was a time of longing for hope.

Yet O Come, O Come Emmanuel is my favorite Christmas Carol.  Or is it?  It's an Advent song.

I haven't been able to put up a Christmas tree this year.  There is come remodeling being done on the house.  So it's been a forced waiting on Christmas.  Advent.  Waiting.

O come, Thou Day-Spring from on high
And cheer us by thy drawing nigh
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice!  Emmanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel.

Death.   We often don't think of it in relation to Christmas.  Yet, that's what I associate with all of this year.  My mother passed away, my grandfather-in-law passed away, 3 church leaders of mine from the past, two neighbors, and yesterday I lost another friend, making it three people I went to school with who passed away this year.

Everyone who is born will die.  Including Jesus.  In this season we are waiting for our Redemption and our Hope to arrive, because as our Hope, we had to suffer for us.

Right now I'm waiting.  For Hope.  Maybe for the first time this year, Easter will be the time I recognize that hope.  My grandmother passed away on Easter 1995.  Easter has always been wrapped up in death for me.  Maybe I can turn that focus to Christmas.  It's more appropriate with the Slaughter of the Innocents.  

Waiting on hope.   And waiting.  And waiting.  Come, Lord Jesus.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Book Review: Chocolate Covered Cashews

Most of my posts contain affiliate links.  What this means is that I receive a small commission for you starting your shopping here at NO cost to you!  Thank you for your continued support.

Chocolate-Covered Cashews caught my eye because I thought it was going to be about the big surprise that Wiley Baxter had one day.  He received a phone call finding out he was the father of twins who were in their 30s.  With a story like that, I expected it to be focused mainly on this huge revelation and how it changed his life.  However,  this took up only the first few chapters and a mention of the end.

This book was more like sitting down with someone and them telling you their life story.  It could have used a lot more editing, because even with this being a mere 66 pages, there could have been several pages less if there were unnecessary words left out, examples being "The next day in the evening" instead of "the next evening" and "someplace called Kings Dominion" where "someplace called" is not needed -- it seems to diminish the experience instead of just using the proper noun.   He stated that he was very sad the day his brother died.  That is a common emotion when a family member dies, and I didn't feel it needed to be told.  Because I love English and grammar, the writing style bothered me.  While for a personal letter it would be fine, I expect a book to be a bit more polished.

There were a number of stories that I think could have been left out entirely.  His sister having a Beatles wig when they were kids was irrelevant.  Also, the mention at the end of his daughters, he says that one of his daughters quit having contact with him.  There was no explanation of why.   Since his daughter is living and has children, I feel like this should have not been included or this book should have only been available to people who know him.  As a stranger, I felt like I was being given information that should be reserved for family.

This book could have been interesting.  If the final book would have been a rough draft, I would have said it has potential (except for the most interesting part being at the beginning.  That might work for Frantz Kafka but not for Wiley Baxter.) I would have recommended this book either be a memoir in a bit more chronological order or been a book about learning he had twin daughters.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers < book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <; : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, December 15, 2014

Tightening the Belt Financially

Most of my posts contain affiliate links.  What this means is that I receive a small commission for you starting your shopping here at NO cost to you!  Thank you for your continued support.

I know it's unusual to see a post about frugality this close to Christmas.  Most people wait until after the holidays to start saving money and trying to cut back.  Possibly we would be the same, but right now it's a time of high spending for us and we're trying to save all we can.

Photo courtesy of

It is less than six months until the wedding.  (Talk about expenses.)   Plus I decided it was time to do some major renovations on the house.  When I won a bad kitchen sink contest, I don't think that's being wasteful.  The living room carpet is about 60 years old.  The entire house is paneled.  I would like to get the house looking a little more 2000s and a lot lets mid-century retro.  (Which would be cool if it was the neat designs of mid-century!)

My fiance and I have started reading The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness.  In a way this feels odd to me because I've always been good at managing money.  But I also know it's time to cut back.

I'm going to have to be a "spending saver" for a while.  Flooring for the house.  Drywall.  Wedding expenses.  But I'm going to try and cut back in other areas.

One thing that I'm cutting out is my rather regular fill up of my soda mug.  I found a 100 ounce refillable mug a while back.  For under $1.50 I can get it filled with Diet Pepsi.  (Love that stuff.)  But if I did that every day for a month, it would cost over $40.  I need to get myself used to drinking water, but for now I'm making iced tea.  A five pack container of generic Crystal Light costs about $2.50.  Because it makes five mugs, that's about $15 a month.  I'm still spending money, but less than I would be otherwise.  And that $25 I save?  Two months of that and I have saved enough for a high end can of paint for the house.

Over the next few months, I will be spending more money than it cost me to get through college back in the 1980s/1990s.  But I want to make wise decisions about how I spend my money.  I feel like so many of these house repairs are needed. This was a fixer-upper when my parents bought it and while they put $10,000 into it in the mid-1980s, not too much has been done since.  It's also been difficult living in the same house after both my parents passed away.  (I helped Mom out the last few years of her life.)  By painting the rooms, making things more "mine" will help me realize it's now my house and I can let my personality show through.

I'm excited about fixing up the house -- and terrified of the cost of it.  But I know it will be worth it in the end.

Monday, December 8, 2014

How To Prepare Your Cell Phone For Winter

FTC disclaimer:  I am part of the U.S. Cellular Better Moments Blogger Brigade.  This is a sponsored post but all opinions are my own.

U.S. Cellular offers a FREE PRINTABLE Parent Child agreement to help you discuss safety of the Internet, cell phone usage, limits, and courtesy with your teen or tween.  You don't even need to be a U.S. Cellular customer to access this, although I have been for 10 years and highly recommend them.

I live in an area where the majority of our severe weather happens in the winter months.  From the time I was little, I learned winter preparedness.  In the late summer or early fall until winter hit, my mother used to stick a couple extra non-perishable groceries in her cart every time we went to the store so there would be extra food in the house in the winter in case we couldn't make it to the store.  There were a number of rituals we had in getting ready for winter.  In fact, my future mother in law was visiting this weekend, and I had to explain the boxed meals to her.  During Hurricane Sandy, we were hit with a blizzard from that storm, and my mother and I were stuck in the house with no electric (which meant no heat) for three days.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Jesus Daily Devotional Ends 12/12

It's the 12 Days of Christmas promotion with Hachette Book Group, and I'm excited to be a part of it today.  I get to tell you about the Jesus Daily devotional book and then host a giveaway!  This item would make a great gift to yourself or someone who is a Christian who really enjoys Facebook!

The Jesus Daily: 365 Interactive Devotions is a new twist on devotionals.  It is inspired by the 27 million fans on Facebook, and this book gives you a devotional in book form and an idea on how to take your faith on the Web and social media for each day of the year!  What a fantastic idea to help combine private devotions and reaching out to others via the web.

A few examples are:

Posting a favorite verse on a certain topic
Letting others know how much you enjoy their photos
Visiting a website of another faith and praying for those people
Exploring sites that minister to the poor (One of my favorites is  Nuru International )
Cleaning out your e-mail and responding to as many messages as possible
Writing a note to a hurting friend

I've heard things about how faith doesn't really extend to social media.  While overpowering others with the Gospel is not always the best way to go, gently reminding others of God's love can make a huge difference in their lives.  I'm excited to see a devotional that integrates our personal walk with God to reaching out to others.  We live in such a cyber connected world, I'm happy to see this great resource being utilized.  I have some Facebook friends that offer to pray for people every week.  They have a day they have designated as a prayer day and post something like "How can I pray for you today?" While you can message them anytime, sometimes I don't think to ask my Facebook friends for prayer.  Or sometimes it doesn't seem like "that big of a deal" to post a status update about it -- so this is a great way to know that someone is praying for you, and I admire their commitment to do this every week.  Other Christians I know call Facebook a waste of time.  I see it as a tool that can be used either way.

For giveaway I have one copy of the Jesus Daily devotional and a t-shirt for one lucky reader who is 18 or older and lives in the United States.  This giveaway will run until December 12th.  Winner has 48 hours to e-mail me or a new winner will be chosen.

FTC disclaimer:  In exchange for this post i received a copy of the Jesus Daily devotional and one to give to a friend.