Living not striving…

Random thoughts and daily adventures in my life

Whatcha readin’? January 24, 2012

Filed under: Book reviews — erikaivory @ 2:34 am

Last year I don’t remember making any real New Year’s Resolutions.  This year I am FULL of them:)  I just see a LOT of areas where the Lord is asking me to become more disciplined and grow up a little.  My natural tendency is to set a very easy goal that is super attainable so I feel like I have accomplished something.  But I am slowly learning that it is okay if I don’t completely meet each goal….but it is far better to set a high goal and get as far as I possibly can.  I just might surprise myself!

One thing I want to do this year is read two books a month.  May or may not happen but I am definitely going to try!  I love to read and reading acts as both a stress-reliever and personal motivator for me.  When I make time to read a book (not just blogs) 10-15 minutes a day I find my mood to be better, much more productive and less stressed.

So for January I am almost done with these two books:


Mark Batterson is one of my favorite authors.  This book has challenged me in so many ways to learn to “pray through” and to do the work of praying and dig deep.  Some of my other New Year Resolutions involve concepts and learning disciplines laid out in this book.  Batterson also really advocates dreaming and then making goals.  One of my life goals is to attend a service at the church he pastors, National Community Church in DC.  Anything he has written is awesome, in my book:)


I’ve read a lot of books on raising boys, etc but honestly this one surprised me at how insightful it has been.  I’m not quite done but I highly recommend it.  It is very complete in the way it touches on so many things I have read in other books.  I have learned new strategies and information though and it is very simply laid out.

Here are some of the books I hope to read this year:

There are quite a few more I am interested in, but these are the ones I definitely want to read.

How about you? Do you have any suggestions for me? Some good reads you are going to pick up in 2012?


Love and War February 16, 2011

Filed under: Book reviews — erikaivory @ 9:16 pm

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a book review on here.  A year ago I read the book Love & War by John and Stasi Eldredge.  It was great!  I really, really wanted my sweet husband to read it.  He said he would and had the best intentions, but it has sat on his bedstand for a year.  Kind of like the way I get out eight buckets of clothes in March to switch out cold weather clothes to warm weather clothes but somehow I don’t finish the project until September.  He just isn’t a book reader.  He actually reads a lot between articles on the computer and magazines but he just doesn’t prefer to pick up a book.

So when I heard that Love & War was coming out as a couple’s devotional I was excited!  Then when given the opportunity to receive a free copy and blog about it…perfect!!  We do family devotions together every day and try to do a couple’s devotion once a week (at least that is the plan:).  We have done several that we liked by people like Tony Evans and James Dobson.

John and Stasi Eldredge are the authors of Wild at Heart, which we have both read, and Captiviating which I have read several times.  Both books are easy to read and full of original and insightful truths.  Love & War Devotional for Couples is described as “the 8-week adventure that will help you find the marriage you always dreamed of.”  It is a small book and each week has five daily devotions.  Each devotion starts with a Scripture and ends with a prayer and another Scripture.  The readings are short and non-intimidating, but give you a nugget to take with you and meditate upon.

We aren’t done with the book yet.  It is designed to do 8-weeks straight but we are taking much longer:)  If you are looking to start doing a devotion time together as a couple this would be a great book for you.  I am thankful that this terrific book is now available in devotion form.  Check it out at your local bookstore or online sources like or

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.


This Little Prayer of Mine May 11, 2010

Filed under: Book reviews — erikaivory @ 1:34 am

Another cute little book I had the pleasure of reviewing is This Little Prayer of Mine by Anthony DeStefano and illustrated by Mark Elliott.  The pictures are absolutely beautiful.  It is a sweet little book, great for bedtime.  I think my boys will enjoy flipping through and looking at the pictures as much as they will enjoy listening to it.  It pictures a little brother and sister as they pray together before bed.  It deals with handling fears, hopes, disappointments and sin.  Very innocent and sweet.  Would be a great baby gift for a new little one.  I look forward to sharing this with my little guys.

Below you will find a summary of the book as well as the author and illustrator.

And don’t forget you can purchase the book from the Random House website.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Book: This Little Prayer of Mine

Author: Anthony DeStefano, Illustrated by Mark Elliott

Summary: Author Anthony DeStefano’s adult books, The Prayers God Always Says Yes To and A Travel Guide to Heaven, have sold a quarter-million copies. Illustrator Mark Elliott’s cherished artwork has appeared in popular picture books and novels for young readers, including Gail Carson Levine’s ever-popular Princess Tales series.

Now, these acclaimed inspirational experts have come together to create This Little Prayer of Mine, a beautiful and alluring book designed to guide children into a very simple, real and expressive relationship with God.

Through engaging  rhymes and alluring illustrations, This Little Prayer of Mine shows children—and their parents and grandparents—that complete dependence on God is what brings peace and fulfillment. It invites children to know and believe that God is always  just a simple prayer away and that He longs to respond to them with a resounding, “Yes!”

This Little Prayer of Mine appeals to readers from all different faiths. Easy-reader format allows children to read alone, or with someone older, and encourages them to openly express their fears, thanks, and needs directly to God.

Cover art:

Author Bio:

Anthony DeStefano is the author of The Prayers God Always Says Yes To and A Travel Guide to Heaven. He has received prestigious awards from religious organizations worldwide for his efforts to advance Christian beliefs in modern culture.

Mark Elliott’s brilliant illustrations have appeared in popular picture books and novels for young readers, including Gail Carson Levine’s Princess Tales series. His acclaimed artwork delivers inspiration, wonder, and timeless beauty on every page.


Down to business

Filed under: Book reviews — erikaivory @ 1:25 am
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I really do have some good posts floatin’ around in my brain but I have been horrible about posting on time to review the books that I have been blessed with.  Time is flying by so I want to post about some of these great books:)

I read another book last year by Allison K. Pittman and thoroughly enjoyed it so I was excited to jump into The Bridegrooms by Pittman as well.  The story is about 4 sisters and their altered lives after their mother mysteriously walks out of their lives when they are very young.  A strange incident involving a baseball team, an mysterious unconscious man and an imposing stranger with a secret that could change their lives are all elements that are woven together in this humorous but emotional story.

The characters are interesting and quite unique but likable.  The largest mystery revolving around their mother’s disappearance keeps a cloud of intrigue floating throughout the book but their are many subplots.  It is a happy book yet touches on some very deep topics.  It has a spiritual element but that is very light and mostly indirect.

I enjoyed the book.  I am hoping their will be a sequel because I was left with some unanswered questions and am anxious to see what becomes of some of the relationships and situations.  I look forward to reading more of Allison K. Pittman’s work and hope she keeps them coming!

Below you will find a summary from the book cover:

Tragedy hits the Allenhouse family on a hot summer night in Ohio when a mother of four vanished. Eight-year-old Vada virtually grew up overnight and raised her three younger sisters while her father lost himself in his medical practice in the basement of their home.

Now, Vada is a grown woman, still making her home with her father and sisters. Her days are spent serving as an errand girl for Cleveland’s fledgling amateur orchestra; her evenings with Garrison Walker, her devoted, if passionless, beau.

Dizzying change occurs the day the Brooklyn Bridegrooms come to town to play the Cleveland Spiders and a line drive wallops the head of a spectator. The fan is whisked to the Allenhouse parlor, and questions swirl about the anonymous, unconscious man.

Suddenly, the subdued house is filled with visitors, from a flirtatious, would-be sports writer to the Bridegrooms’ handsome star hitter to the guilt-ridden ballplayer who should have caught the stray shot. The medical case brings Dr. Allenhouse a frustration and helplessness he hasn’t felt since his wife’s disappearance. Vada’s sisters are giddy at the bevy of possible suitors. And Vada’s life is awakened amid the super-charged atmosphere of romantic opportunity.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.


Day Late & a Dollar Short March 23, 2010

Filed under: Book reviews — erikaivory @ 1:35 am
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I was supposed to post this book review two days ago.  Major whoops!  I try to stay on top of these things but I didn’t get to finish the book.  Partly because McCall and I started the Percy Jackson series and he is way ahead of me…and partly because it is a great book but would be super for high school or college aged audience.

It is written by twin brothers Alex & Brett Harris.  Start Here is actually their 2nd book.  their first book was, Do Hard Things.  I reviewed a book a while back that their brother Josh wrote.  In this book they help their readers tackle HOW to do the hard things and also to look for ways to be used by the Lord right where they are.  They give practical tips and very hands on ways to get started, stay focused on God and handle the consequences of doing hard things.  The book is short, easy to read and full of real life stories.  Check out the more complete summary and bio info below.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.


At the age of eighteen, Alex and Brett Harris wrote Do Hard Things—and launched a movement that would change a generation. Young people around the world were ready to be inspired, ready to move beyond complacency, ready to rebel against society’s low expectations.

Now the highly anticipated companion book, Start Here, answers the questions Alex and Brett have received from thousands of teens on their worldwide conference tour and popular online community: How do I get started? What hard things does God want me to do? How do I keep from getting discouraged or burned out? What is the best way to inspire others?

Filled with stories and insights from Alex, Brett, and other real-life rebelutionaries, Start Here is a powerful and practical guide for young people who are ready to take the next step and blast past apathy. Let the rebelution continue.

Cover art:

Author Bio:

Alex and Brett Harris are the coauthors of the best-selling book Do Hard Things, which they wrote at age eighteen. Today the twins speak regularly to audiences of thousands on The Rebelution Tour, maintain a hugely popular online presence through their blog,, and have been featured on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and in the New York Times. Raised in Portland, Oregon, the brothers currently attend Patrick Henry College in Virginia.

You can purchase the book here:


Good reads March 6, 2010

Filed under: Book reviews — erikaivory @ 3:42 am
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Last year I read the book The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson.  It was like a shot in the arm for me as a mother.  It helped me put all the hard, long days into perspective.  It took me from a tunnel vision mommyhood to a panoramic vision of motherhood.  I am a vision kind of gal.  I need to feel inspired, like I am seeing the bigger picture.  I drown in the minute details of crumbs under the booster chair, vitamins on the placemat, dentist appointments missed and empty band-aid boxes.

So when my blog fairies sent me a new Sally Clarkson book to review I was SO excited!  It is called Dancing with My Father: How God Leads Us into a Life of Grace and Joy.  I am about halfway through it.  It is taking me a while, not because it is not interesting but because you can’t rush through a Sally Clarkson book.  She has lots of humorous stories and it is not a difficult read, but if you skim through there is so much depth that can be missed.  So I am working my way through it.

Clarkson does a great job of being very transparent.  She is a woman in ministry.  She homeschooled her children and writes books on how to be a great mom.  I love how she is truthful about how it doesn’t always feel good and sometimes we will feel down We can struggle and still be a true Christ follower.  Yet she also walks through how to make safe passage through those times and seasons.  The chapters are set up with questions at the end which are great for journaling but would also work wonderfully for an accountability group or ladies Bible study as well.  I highly recommend it and honestly all things Clarkson:)

I have not started the Mother Daughter Duet yet by Cheri Fuller.  It too looks wonderful.  Although, obviously, I don’t have a daughter (at least not yet) who can’t benefit from some refinement in their relationship with their own mom?  Also so much of life and how we view ourselves as women can be traced back to interactions with our own mom.  So I look forward to gaining insight into how we as women can help each other move through some of those hangups.  So check out the summaries and author bios below.  You might find a good read for spring break!

Here are some links where you can purchase the books online or pick them up at your local bookstore:

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Book: Mother Daughter Duet

Author: Cheri Fuller


When a daughter is born, her mother has a thousand hopes and dreams for her, especially that they will be best friends one day.

Unfortunately, even the best of intentions can go awry. There are so many challenges on the journey to adult friendship that the reality is fraught with friction and frustration. But a harmonious relationship is possible.

Award-winning author Cheri Fuller and her daughter, Ali Plum, have been there and have discovered the keys to a healthy relationship. In Mother-Daughter Duet they share their story—each from her own perspective—in which they have experienced distance and tension, growth and challenge, and, ultimately, acceptance and harmony. Filled with personal anecdotes and based on several basic principles (letting go; listening; respect; setting boundaries; and more), Mother-Daughter Duet helps moms repair the breach so that daughters want to draw close.

The mother-daughter dynamic is intense, personal, complex, and unique. But mothers and daughters can achieve mutual respect and learn to celebrate their differences when they learn the two-part harmony of the mother-daughter duet.

Cover art:

Author Bio:

Cheri Fuller is a best-selling, award-winning author whose books have sold more than one million copies. She speaks to a wide range of women at women’s conferences and is a frequent guest on national radio and television programs.

Ali Plum is Cheri’s daughter, a writer and songwriter, a wife, and a mother to Noah and Luke. She and her mom have weathered the ups and downs of their relationship to find one of the most treasured, honest relationships of their lives. Ali has recorded background vocals for popular musicians, and Mother-Daughter Duet marks her debut into book publishing.

Book: Dancing With My Father

Author: Sally Clarkson


The reality of living in a broken, fallen world can leave women feeling overcome by fear, guilt, and weariness. Many develop “sawdust souls,” numb to any sense of joy.

In this warm and wise book, author Sally Clarkson invites readers to take God’s hand and let Him lead them into a life of anticipation, passion, and purpose. With the voice of a trusted mentor, she reveals how, by getting in tune with the rhythm of God’s presence, women can nurture an inner attitude of anticipation and celebration even in the stressful seasons of life.

Through rich biblical insights woven with real-life stories, women will be inspired to recapture a spirit of joy as they follow God’s lead on the dance floor of life.

Cover art:

Author Bio:

Sally Clarkson is a popular speaker, known across the nation and internationally for her work with women. She is the author of several books, including The Mission of Motherhood, The Ministry of Motherhood, and Seasons of a Mother’s Heart. She has worked in various ministries, including Campus Crusade for Christ. With her husband, Clay, she is cofounder of Whole Heart Ministries, which encourages and equips Christian parents. The Clarksons, parents of four, live near Colorado Springs, Colorado.


Love & War February 13, 2010

Filed under: Book reviews — erikaivory @ 4:56 am
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I realize it is hard to believe but I actually finished a book this time prior to posting my review of it:)  And this is pretty amazing when you consider the last two weeks of my life which have included pink eye, a car accident, out of town guests, and 4 family members enduring the stomach bug, including myself.  However, this shows just how AMAZING this book is.

The book is Love & War by John and Stasi Eldredge.  I have read Wild at Heart by John and Captivating by Stasi.  I thoroughly enjoy their writing style and I love the way they both speak to the spirit and soul of a person instead of simply the mind.  So I was excited to be part of this blog tour.

I have read many, many books on relationships and tons of self-help books.  These days I often find myself skimming most of these books because so much are full of things I have already heard or learned.  Which is fine but I was very pleasantly surprised to need to read Love & War carefully and slowly because it was so full of “new” and helpful information!

They are very transparent about their struggles both in the past and recent issues that they are still dealing with as a couple.  This isn’t a pretty little Christian book on marriage.  They deal with making daily choices to love, the side of marriage that is hard and tiring, the internal battle that goes on during conflict, the spiritual attack that marriages are under and the internal work we need to do as individuals to have a healthy marriage.

Mark and I have been married 10 years and actively work at keeping our marriage healthy and growing toward each other.  I learned a ton from his book.  For my Valentine’s Day gift this year I asked Mark to read this book so we can discuss some of the things they address.  One of my favorite parts that I am currently chewing on is the emphasis they place on prayer in marriage.  They discuss in detail the power of prayer individually and as a couple in combating the plans that the enemy has to destroy our marriages.  They challenge couples to pray and do spiritual warfare for their marriage and the issues they face.  They include specific prayers and all the excuses we use to avoid praying together.  Good stuff.  They don’t sugar coat things and I love that.

I think an engaged couple or newly married couple could benefit from this, but I believe couples that have been married a couple of years and realize just how hard it is to stay “happily” married can truly reap the greatest benefit from Love & War.  It is definitely one that I will reread.  I am SO, SO thankful for the opportunity to read this.  I highly, highly recommend it.  I think if you read it you will want to pass it on to other couples that could use it.  They also offer a dvd/group study that I think would be an awesome experience.  So check it out!  I have included the book summary and author info below as well.

So this Valentine’s Day, sure grab your honey some chocolate or a cd but consider picking this book up and looking it over together.  It might just be the best Vday gift you ever give each other:)

You can purchase this book and others online at:

This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

Book: Love and War

Author: John and Stasi Eldredge


What the Eldredge bestsellers Wild at Heart did for men, and Captivating did for women, LOVE & WAR will do for married couples everywhere. John and Stasi Eldredge have contributed the quintessential works on Christian spirituality through the experience of men and the experience of women and now they turn their focus to the incredible dynamic between those two forces.

With refreshing openness that will grab readers from the first page, the Eldredges candidly discuss their own marriage and the insights they’ve gained from the challenges they faced. Each talks independently to the reader about what they’ve learned, giving their guidance personal immediacy and a balance between the male and female perspectives that has been absent from all previous books on this topic.   They begin LOVE & WAR with an obvious but necessary acknowledgement:  Marriage is fabulously hard.  They advise that the sooner we get the shame and confusion off our backs, the sooner we’ll find our way through.

LOVE & WAR shows couples how to fight for their love and happiness, calling men and women to step into the great adventure God has waiting for them together. Walking alongside John and Stasi Eldredge, every couple can discover how their individual journeys are growing into a story of meaning much greater than anything they could do or be on their own.

Cover art: