Month: April 2019

Devotion Review: God Right Here by Lisa North

God Right Here: Seeing God’s Big Story in My Everyday Life
Author:  Lisa North
Published: April 21, 2019
418 pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Jessica’s Rating: 4 Stars

Devotion Description:

This 180 day devotional takes elementary children step by step through the Bible’s big story of God’s redeeming love. Each day’s reading includes a Bible passage, discussion questions, a biblical lesson, a personal story, a guide and space for the reader to insert his or her own personal story if desired, and a suggested topic of prayer. The book was designed to…

Introduce children to all of the foundational elements, or building blocks, of the gospel in one school year. This book is designed to bring all children, including those who have never heard about God or the Bible and those who have heard various Bible stories “a million times”, to an understanding of how the Bible flows together as one big story with God’s love and pursuit of people at the center. It takes children, step by step, through all of the foundational concepts of the gospel. Each concept, or topic, builds on the previous ones. Within each topic, there are roughly ten devotions. The goal is to get children thoroughly familiar with each topic before moving to the next. This devotional is ideal for teachers, since it is designed to fit in one school year.

Help children see the Bible stories and God himself as actively connected with their everyday lives.  In each devotion, a personal current-day story or description is included. However, personal stories from an adult they know and love can have a greater impact on children. A story prompt and guide is therefore provided to enable parents, teachers, and children’s ministry leaders to insert their own stories if they wish.  Older elementary children may also enjoy inserting their own stories and sharing them with friends.

Engage children’s attention and encourage them to evaluate and apply the information they learn. Each devotion begins and ends with a discussion question that reviews or extends concepts from the devotions. In order to encourage children to evaluate and apply what they have learned, most of the questions require children to use critical thinking skills rather than just recall facts. For classes or groups, the questions give children a chance to connect with one another on a spiritual level as they hear each other’s thoughts. They also provide a way for parents, teachers, and children’s ministry leaders to identify and correct any misconceptions and encourage or extend any good ideas the children express.

Help children develop a desire to read the Bible for themselves. For this to happen, they must see it as intricately connected to God, the life of the person leading the devotion, and their own lives. A Bible passage is therefore woven into each devotion in a way that connects to both the biblical lesson and the personal story.

Inspire children to love God and interact with him. Prayer is one way to do this. While scripted prayers can be helpful at times, a topic of prayer, rather than the prayer itself, is given. This allows children to express their own hearts and thoughts to God while still taking into account the things they have learned in the devotion.

Engage children at varying levels of development. Each devotion has a simple concept and can be read in 2-3 minutes. The discussion questions then take the concept to the next level in terms of the depth of thought and understanding required. With the discussion questions and prayer time included, the devotion times can take up to 15 or 20 minutes. This flexibility allows teachers, parents, and children’s ministry leaders to use the devotional in ways that fit their unique schedules, the children’s varying attention spans, and the children’s levels of cognitive development.


Jessica’s Review:

God Right Here is a devotion written by my friend Lisa North.  It is written for elementary age children and aimed to help them learn about the Bible and to create a desire for the child to want to read the Bible. There are 180 devotions, which is the number of days in a school year. Over the course of the school year, they children will learn at school and they will also learn about God! Each devotion includes a Bible verse/passage, questions for the children, a lesson, and a personal story shared by North.  The adult leading the devotion could share their own story instead of North’s if desired.  There is space for the child to write their own story if they want (but don’t feel they have to!).

The individual devotions are grouped into sections and build on each other over the course of the whole devotion as a whole. A few of the groups include: What is the Bible, Who is God, Why does God Care About my Choices, and What is Sin and why does it Ruin Things?.

If read daily with each school day, the last devotion will end on the last day of school.  Over the course of the school year the child will have learned things and hopefully grew spiritually through this devotion.  This devotion could be read as parent and child,  in small groups, or in the classroom in Christian schools.   

Each devotion North mentions the specific Bible verse used.  She talks to the children with her personal story in a way that they will understand. North mainly uses the New International Version of the Bible, and she also uses English Standard Version.

I would recommend this devotion for upcoming first and second graders to start. Not Kindergarten, as they are already experiencing enough changes with going to ‘big school’ for the first time. If you want your child to get a good foundation of the Bible, pick up North’s devotion.  As an adult, I enjoyed it myself and felt I learned a few things as well.

Purchase Links:
Lisa’s Website  (If you place an order of 5 or more you get a discount!)
Amazon US
Amazon UK

First Line Friday #107

Today’s First Line Friday is the first in a series, and it starts with interesting  first lines….  It is also a Netflix series.

If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book. In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is not happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle.

Dear Reader,

I’m sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.

In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.

It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK



Blue Asylum

Author: Kathy Hepinstall
Published: April 10, 2012
288 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Amid the mayhem of the Civil War, Virginia plantation wife Iris Dunleavy is put on trial and convicted of madness. It is the only reasonable explanation the court can see for her willful behavior, so she is sent away to Sanibel Asylum to be restored to a good, compliant woman. Iris knows, though, that her husband is the true criminal; she is no lunatic, only guilty of disagreeing with him on notions of justice, cruelty, and property. On this remote Florida island, cut off by swamps and seas and military blockades, Iris meets a wonderful collection of residents–some seemingly sane, some wrongly convinced they are crazy, some charmingly odd, some dangerously unstable. Which of these is Ambrose Weller, the war-haunted Confederate soldier whose memories terrorize him into wild fits that can only be calmed by the color blue, but whose gentleness and dark eyes beckon to Iris. The institution calls itself modern, but Iris is skeptical of its methods, particularly the dreaded “water treatment.” She must escape, but she has found new hope and love with Ambrose. Can she take him with her? If they make it out, will the war have left anything for them to make a life from, back home? Blue Asylum is a vibrant, beautifully-imagined, absorbing story of the lines we all cross between sanity and madness. It is also the tale of a spirited woman, a wounded soldier, their impossible love, and the undeniable call of freedom.

Kim’s Review:

Finally, a book set in the Civil War that is not automatically against the Confederacy! I was a little hesitant to read Blue Asylum, just because I’m sick and tired of the PC “the Confederacy is evil” crap that everyone is spewing nowadays. Thankfully, this book handled it very well; it talked about the evils of slavery combined with loyalty to the South and to states’ rights, without mixing them all together. I appreciated it very much. I also loved the setting of Sanibel Island, off the coast of Florida! I already looked it up and apparently it is a popular vacation destination. Ivan and I might have to go . . . Cuz it sounds beautiful and tropical and sunny and warm! And of course, an asylum!

Unfortunately, there were no illegal experiments going on, but I did like the look into true insanity vs. true sanity. I think the most interesting, if annoying, character is Dr. Cowell. I liked seeing him grow and his viewpoints change as he meets new patients. He is a very realistic character who seems to fit the historical setting around him. As much as I like Ambrose, his character was a bit predictable for me. He has a simple case of PTSD, there, mystery solved. His story of war time horrors was also a little on the bland side. The one surprise element of his story did indeed surprise me, hence I didn’t write him off completely. Iris was ok. I wonder what it’s like to literally have multiple men chasing you . . . I really hate women like that. Especially when they act like they don’t know it. Give me a break.

Overall, this was an interesting read. Definitely not a YA book; way too many sexual elements. But I did enjoy reading it, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good historical fiction book.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK