Friday, February 21, 2014

Ruthless: Knowing the God Who Fights For You by Bo Stern

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of the book for the purpose of writing a review.  This did not affect my review.  I was not paid to write this review.   

I would have never described God as One who is Ruthless. Yet through the perspective of Author Bo Stern, I can understand how this word does indeed rightfully describe our God—and I am glad He is Ruthless.  In the midst of the storms and struggles she peers into the character of God, and finds Him to be “standing strong and relentless against the enemies you face.” He is not the enemy throwing and hurling “rocks” at us.  Instead He is the one fighting for us, ruthlessly.  As I examine myself and my own thoughts about God, I realize I do doubt the goodness of God.  But why?  I am called to question why I think God these thoughts about Him.  So I bring to the table all my accusations that I hold inside, and one by one as I read through the chapters I realize how my thoughts have gone incredibly awry.  Why have I resented God for the hardships in my life?  Why did I doubt His goodness?  His love?  There is no cause for it.  Bo Stern calls us to discover our God.

We get to know Him more as Stern takes us through examples in the Bible.  I love that the Bible is  frequently quotes and used in this book. The chapters are short and easy reading.  I find that I can hold onto a nugget from every chapter.  At the end of each chapter are “Worth Pondering” questions that are meant to stretch me, challenge me, and help me discover the thoughts of my heart.

Bo Stern’s heart in this book makes reading so easy, as if we are  arm in arm  taking a stroll and talking.  In life I find myself doubting the goodness of God now and again, and with every chapter I find those doubts in my head take flight.

I do recommend this book for those in search or in need of knowing God.  For those who have doubts about God or even his goodness, I recommend this book to you.  Those who feel shallow in their faith or far from God--I highly recommend this book.  Curious about God and who He is?  This book will allow you to peer into the very character of God.  This is a book I recommend all around, Stern is a very readable author, and has gone through some very tough battles--and her faith and love towards God has grown.  Ruthless is such an encouraging book for those facing really big battles in their lives.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Vegan Plant Based Protein: VEGANSMART Nutritional Shake Review

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post by Naturade through with my unbiased thoughts.
Naturade has given me every product for free and Naturade has not paid me for this review.

Vanilla, Chocolate, Chai
My Review

Having a Vegan Smart Nutritional Shake in place of a snack or lunch was a change for me.  Swapping a Protein Shake during my day energized me and fortified me.  I did feel awesome by doing good by my body.  I also felt full and often did not reach for my snacks.  Drinking Vegan Smart Nutritional Shake gave me that edge I needed to get me through the day.

With each serving packed with Vitamins, Minerals, Probiotics, Omega 3, Non-GMO protein, and more--Vegan Smart's All in One Nutritional shake puts my multivitamin to shame.  Personally this will help me get back on the path to a  healthy lifestyle every morning!  Can I say that I love drinking healthily?
For more information on their nutritional facts be sure to check out more about their products on their website.

Using the Product:
All of the products after shaking and blending in a blender had a smooth consistent texture.  Vanilla was the first flavor I tried.  My mistake was forgetting to use Ice Water.  With room temperature water I could really taste the protein flavor!  Ice cold water is a must!  I quickly blended my mistake with some ice and fruit.  It easily came out just right.  It was far better tasting after blending it up.

On the second attempt with the Vanilla, I simply used ice cold water.  The taste of the protein was there still, but it was not bad at all.  I would not mind having a packet with just ice water on a daily basis.  Vanilla is such a versatile flavor that I find that I can use it with ice cold water and be happy---or supplement my fruit smoothies providing that perfect blend of vanilla taste and fruit.  Directions also say that I can mix-in Vegan Smart with juice, non-dairy beverage, and even as a nutritious supplement in my favorite smoothie recipes!

The Chai was not a strong chai, but I did enjoy it nonetheless.  My only wish is that perhaps maybe in the future there would be a Chai version that was a lot stronger.  On their website, they have one amazing recipe that you might want to try out--Oatmeal Chai Breakfast Smoothie!
Chocolate Strawberry Banana Smoothie
My favorite of the three flavors I tried was the Chocolate.  I made a Chocolate Strawberry Banana Smoothie.  After creating this very nutritious smoothie, I rather thought I was having a Protein Milkshake!  I rather enjoyed the chocolate, and can perceive this a product for myself.

Recipe for Chocolate Strawberry Banana Smoothie:

  • Two Frozen Bananas
  • Handful of Frozen Strawberries
  • 1 Cup of Coconut milk
  • 1 Packet of Vegan Smart Nutritional Shake "Chocolate"
  • 2 tsp of Ground Flaxseed (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of water

In blender place Vegan Smart Nutritional Shake Mix first, then Coconut Milk, Bananas, and lastly the Strawberries.  As I start to blend I added about a 1/4 cup of water to make it a nice fluid consistency.  You can add as much or less water to make it thick or loosen it up.  

Final Thoughts:
 I found that this product did still have that protein smell and taste after shaking it up or blending it into a smoothie.  Apart from still tasting a bit of the protein, I did find that the flavors were still tasty and delicious.  
My husband and I have been looking for a Soy and Dairy free protein supplement, and I think Naturade has provided something that fits well into our family.  My husband is lactose intolerant and has a milk allergy--this product has a strong appeal to families like ours.  Another way it is perfect is because my sister is Vegan, and I found something we could enjoy together! 

Don't forget to connect with Naturade!

Warning: Before taking a dietary supplement, consult a doctor or other health care provider especially if you have a disease or medical condition, take any medications are pregnant, or nursing or planning to have an operation.  Keep out of reach of children.  

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Disclosure: This post  may contain affiliate liinks in which I will be paid.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Shadowed by Grace by Cara Putnam {Book Review}

Disclosure: I received a complimentary free book in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given, and all thoughts are 100% mine.

My Review:
Shadowed by Grace is set mainly in Italy during the time of WWII. Scott Lindstrom faces the task of protecting the art that the Germans and others were stealing or destroying. He finds that his task is further complicated by Rachel, a photographer sent under his care. Her mission seems unrealistic but finding her father in the midst of a raging war is her last chance to save her mother.

The plot line throughout this book is pretty clear cut. I find it always intriguing to see how a woman sent out to a war-torn country would fare—it always catches my eye and interest. Though a strong character throughout this book, Rachel’s quest to find her father sort of lacked a bit of depth and enough support in my opinion. But still Rachel’s resolve to use what little facts she had from the journal spurred on a plight worth reading about. I did like the little bit of romance in the book which seemed easy to spot from the beginning. My preference…love triangles…or a romance that keeps me wondering who will end up with whom. I am not a fan of the way Putnam created the romance, but there were other things that kept me reading.

Bright Points:

I can tell capturing the emotions, the sights, and sounds of the war were truly important to Cara Putnam. From reading the descriptions, I was pulled into walking the dusty roads, seeing the dilapidated buildings, and feeling the helplessness and devastation that those in the WWII experienced. In this respect, Putnam does a great job in recreating the world her characters were in and our past. I feel that this is something we do need to not forget about or take lightly. I do love the deep emotions Putnam evokes to her readers. In my mind I could picture what the book would play out as a movie! 

Overall an okay read. Not one of my favorites, but still a decent read for those interested in Historical romance fiction.

About the book (information from the blog tour page):
She found peace in a time of war.
Desperate to save her dying mother, an American woman accepts her newspaper's assignment to travel to Italy where she takes photographs dangerously close to the front lines during World War II. But Rachel's real motive in this journey is to find the father she never knew, an artist she hopes can offer the comfort and support both she and her mother need to survive at such a desperate time.
 In her quest, Rachel becomes involved with what will become the Monuments Men effort to save great monuments and works of art from the Third Reich. Soon enough she will find more than she ever imagined---in war, in love, and in God.
About the author: Cara C. Putman graduated high school at 16, college at 20, and completed her law degree at 27. The best-selling author of more than a dozen books, Cara is active in women's ministry at her church, teaches graduate courses at Purdue University, practices law, and is a homeschooling mom. She lives with her husband and 4 children in Indiana.

Learn more about Cara at:
Purchase a copy:

A Promise Kept by Robin Lee Hatcher {Review}

Disclosure: I did receive a complimentary review copy of this book for the purpose of writing a review.  This did not affect my positive or negative thoughts on the book.

My Review:
I rather like this style of Robin Lee Hatcher.  I have read her “Autumn’s Angel” in A Bride for all Seasons, and I have to say this more contemporary A Promise Kept is a very welcome change.  Hatcher does a great job in drawing me in.  The backstories created are in depth yet not lengthy that I lose focus.  It is a perfect blend of parallel past and the present.  The book itself reads smoothly and not choppy.  As the story develops I find myself drawn into the world and into the lives of the characters. 

The presence of God, faith, and growth in the characters are believable, relatable, and quite authentic feeling.  I never felt myself rubbed a different way when Hatcher includes God or a prayer.  The way Hatcher displays her own personal faith and beliefs throughout her book is so natural.  The different relationships the main characters had were well thought out with each character serving a purpose in maturing the two women in this book, Allison and Emma.  I have no negative things to say or reserve about this book.  This is a book I would recommend heartily for someone looking for encouragement in how God is faithful to keep His promises.

About the book: 
Information from the Blog Tour (not my writing):

God was going to save her marriage, Allison was sure of it. But neither her husband nor her marriage had been saved.
What had become of His promise?
Tony Kavanagh had been Allison's dream-come-true. They were in love within days, engaged within weeks, married and pregnant within a year. Her cup bubbled over with joy . . . but years later, that joy had been extinguished by unexpected trials.
The day Allison issued her husband an ultimatum, she thought it might save him. She never expected he would actually leave. She was certain God had promised to heal; it was clear that she'd misunderstood.
Now, living in the quiet mountain cabin she inherited from her single, self-reliant Great Aunt Emma, Allison must come to terms with her grief and figure out how to adapt to small town life. But when she finds a wedding dress and a collection of journals in Emma's attic, a portrait of her aunt emerges that takes Allison completely by surprise: a portrait of a heartbroken woman surprisingly like herself.
As Allison reads the incredible story of Emma's life in the 1920s and 1930s, she is forced to ask a difficult question: Does she really surrender every piece of her life to the Lord?
Drawing from her own heart-wrenching story of redemption,A Promise Kept is Robin Lee Hatcher's emotionally charged thanksgiving to a God who answers prayers---in His own time and His own ways.

Meet the author:
Robin is the author of 65+ novels and novellas. Her home is in Idaho, where she spends her time writing stories of faith, courage, and love; pondering the things of God; and loving her family and friends.

Purchase a copy: 
Learn more about Robin at:
Blog Tour/More Reviews: