Catie Conrad: How to Become the Most (un)Popular Girl in Middle School

This book by: Angie Spady and illustrated by: Channing Everidge is the second in The (Desperate) Diva Diaries which is a Christian alternative to the Dork Diaries. It portrays a Christian girl in public middle school (6th grade) who has to deal with the ups and downs of being a tween. Catie Conrad writes in her diary about all of the drama in her life. In this book, Catie’s family’s mission in this book is to adopt a child through Compassion International. They decide as a family which child they will support as a family. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and Catie is constantly nervous around the boy she has a crush on. She is still struggling with her feelings and actions towards her brother, Jeremy. But when “the Germ” breaks his leg, Catie learns how to serve him with compassion. She gives him advice on how to deal with the boys at school who tease him. She sees the value in her own advice when she has to deal with the school bully, Miranda Maroni, who does everything she can to rile up Catie. Thank God for BFF, Sophie, and the rest of her friends who stand up for her!

After reviewing the first book in this series, Catie Conrad: Faith, Friendship, and Fashion Disasters! I was excited when asked to read and review book 2! I like how real the storyline is. I feel like I am back in the ups and downs of Middle School. Catie shares her true feelings even if they are not always the best but then shares how she decides to do the right thing by recalling scripture, sermons, or parental & friend advice. While the Christian perspective is scattered throughout the book, the salvation message was not as strong as the first book. Still the message of showing compassion and love towards enemies and those who we dislike is definitely woven throughout the book. I really like these books and know that my daughters will like them as well. I have caught my 8 year old reading portions of it along side of me while I was reading. I still feel like my 8 year old is a little young for some of the content (the crush on boys and popular girl trying to get boys to notice her) but she is able to read the book well from a reading level perspective. She loves the drawings throughout the book (see photos in my review for book 1) which actually goes right along with her personality since she always carries around a notebook for writing and drawing. I think that this book is an easy read and would appeal to tween girls. Parents will love the wholesome storyline and that Catie works through her drama from a Christian perspective.

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission I am required to disclose that B&H Kids provided this book for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

*****

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Order at Christian Book Distributors through the following link!

I get credit for all purchases made through my CBD links!

Catie Conrad: How to Become the Most (un)Popular Girl in Middle School By Angie Spady & Channing Everidge / B&H Kids

And don’t forget book 1 in the series!!!

Catie Conrad: Faith, Friendship and Fashion Disasters By Angie Spady / B&H Kids

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It’s a God Thing: Volume 2

This book is created by: Don Jacobson and K-LOVE. The subtitle is “When miracles happen to everyday people.” This book has 58 different stories from real people who give credit to God for the miracles that happened in their lives at these particular moments. The stories include physical recoveries or emerging unscathed from extraordinary circumstances (drowning, hit by a train, car accident, tornado), having moments of peace in the worst of circumstances (death, attack, diagnosis), and being at the right place at the right time, etc.

Overall, I liked this book but, without trying to open a can of worms, I do wonder about some of the stories and if it really was “a God thing” or someone reading too much into it. For example (not from this book), you may remember years ago when someone claimed the face of Jesus was imprinted on a grilled cheese sandwich. Was that really a God thing? Probably not. I think that the people who told the stories in this book really believe that God had a hand in their circumstances and I think that the majority of the stories really portrayed God’s intervention in the lives of these ordinary people. I would just caution readers or hearers of stories like these to make sure that what is being said lines up with scripture. We have what we need in scripture to believe in the Holy God of the universe. I absolutely believe that God can and does perform miracles today but He does not need to because He has already performed the greatest miracles of all… becoming man, becoming sin on the cross, conquering death and returning to life, all so that we might be saved and live with Him in eternity!

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission I am required to disclose that Thomas Nelson provided this book for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

*****

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Order at Christian Book Distributors through the following link!

I get credit for all purchases made through my CBD links!

It’s A God Thing, Volume 2
By Don Jacobson / W Publishing

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The (Desperate) Diva Diaries~ Catie Conrad: Faith, Friendship, and Fashion Disasters!

This book by: Angie Spady and illustrated by: Channing Everidge is a Christian alternative to the Dork Diaries. It portrays a Christian girl in public middle school (6th grade) who has to deal with the ups and downs of being a tween. Catie Conrad writes in her diary about all of the drama in her life. Upcoming school dance, her little brother whom she calls “Germ” and his pet skunk, the popular girl who is also a bully, art competition, upcoming mission trip, friendships, boys, etc. The book is written in a diary format, complete with lined pages, a font that looks like writing, doodles and drawings. Catie writes her honest thoughts, dreams, questions, prayers, and scripture. She learns how to love her enemies, follow her dreams, and how to be brave. Her best friend and her faith in God help her get through all the drama.

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I have never read the Dork Diaries, so I cannot compare this book to those, but I really enjoyed reading this book. I love the diary style (see photos above for examples) and the illustrations! I was a Christian girl in a public middle school, and I found some of the topics relevant to what I remember of my middle school years. The difference being that Catie Conrad has a more secure and stable home than I did. I also really liked how the author incorporated a mission trip into the story line. Catie has the opportunity to share Jesus to girls on an Apache reservation. I also like how the author let Catie be honest about her feelings towards her brother and the bully at school. She also had a struggle between knowing some of her thoughts were not pleasing to God and the story shows how she dealt with them by keeping a prayer journal. A few things to mention (not because they are bad but because I know that Christian families may have different viewpoints), Catie is interested in boys and she wants to go to the school dance with a boy. I think that the book tastefully deals with the drama of middle school crushes & friendships between girls & boys. I personally do not want to think of my daughters having crushes as early as 6th grade but it does happen and we as parents should not avoid the subject. I think that this book is an easy read and would appeal to tween girls. I will definately hang on to this book for when my girls are tweens! Parents will love the wholesome storyline and that Catie works through her drama from a Christian perspective.

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission I am required to disclose that B&H Kids provided this book for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Order at Christian Book Distributors through the following link!

I get credit for all purchases made through my CBD links!

Catie Conrad: Faith, Friendship and Fashion Disasters

By Angie Spady & Channing Everidge / B&H Kids

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The Beauty of Believing-365 Devotions that Will Change Your Life

This book by: Nancy N. Rue, Allia Zobel Nolan, Lois Walfrid Johnson, Kristi Holl, Mona Hodgson, and Tasha K Douglas is a daily devotional for young girls approximately 8-12 years old. This book is apart of the Faithgirlz! collection and is written by the popular Faithgirlz! authors. There are six sections in the book which all have an introduction written by one of the authors. The sections are as follows:

Section 1- Growing Seeds of Faith
Section 2- God’s Promises
Section 3- Finding Strength in Hard Times
Section 4- God Speaks to Us
Section 5- The Helping Body of Believers
Section 6- The Beauty of Believing

Each devotional is numbered (1-365) at the top of the page and is 1-2 pages of reading for each day. They start with a Bible verse and reference followed by the devotional title and text. Towards the end of the daily devotional there is a section that has: More to Explore: Scripture reference for the reader to look up and read, Girl Talk: Personal question(s) for the reader to ponder/answer, and God Talk: Short prayer for the reader to pray. Finally, the daily devotional ends with the author’s name and book that the devotional was taken from.

I think that these devotions will inspire pre-teen girls to have a deeper relationship with God.

I wanted this book because my daughter is almost 8 years old. I thought that it would be a good way to introduce daily devotions to her. While I liked each of the devotions that I read, I feel that a lot of them were over my daughter’s head. I would say that the devotions are more geared to pre-teen ages and not as young as 8. I’m not saying that an 8 year old couldn’t understand these but some of them might require more explanation for the younger ages. It might also be based on individual maturity level. I decided that I will look for a different devotional for my daughter.

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission I am required to disclose that Zondervan provided this book for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

*****

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Order at Christian Book Distributors through the following link!

I get credit for all purchases made through my CBD links!

Beauty of Believing: 365 Devotions That Change You Inside and Out

By Nancy N. Rue & Allia Zobel Nolan / Zondervan

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This Is A Matter Of Life And Death…

Have you heard the GOOD NEWS?

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God Loves You!

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17


Everyone Has Sinned!

“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Romans 3:22-23 & 1 John 1:8


Sin Must Be Paid For!

For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23


Good News! Jesus Christ Has Already Paid For Our Sins!

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8


We Must Receive God’s Gift Of Salvation By Faith!

“…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord… If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness… Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 6:23, 1 John 1:9 & Romans 10:13

 

Praise God! God extended his grace to us when we are completely undeserving! His love and mercy toward us is worthy of my praise and devotion! Prayer and Bible reading is how I communicate with my Lord. The Bible is God’s Word–a letter of love, instruction, and a story of God’s grace throughout history.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16

*****

Related Post:  Who Is Jesus?

(My mom sent me the video link which is on her church’s website.)

Article on Increase of “Fake” Christians

Love this analogy that Theologigal quotes from an article she read:

“We think that they want cake,

but they actually want steak and potatoes, and we keep giving them cake.”

She states:

“…the overabundance of cake-theology is, rightly so, making people nauseous. You can’t survive on cake. Your faith can’t survive on just the parts that tickle your ears and boost your self-esteem – a faith without any substance, any meat, will eventually be vomited up and you’ll go looking for something else to chew on to get that bad taste out of your mouth, and millions of people are doing just that.

But the true Gospel is very meaty.”

I encourage you to read the article and the rest of Theologigal’s thoughts!

True Beauty (Mother’s Day Series- 4)

Mother’s Day is finally here and as Pastor Brian pointed out in today’s sermon; Mother’s Day does not only celebrate moms but all women. I pray that all of you have had (or will have) a blessed day! If you missed any previous posts in my Mother’s Day Series; see the bottom of this post for links to them. Today, I would like to take some time to honor my moms (yes, I said: “moms”). Also, I have a guest writer further down that I will introduce in a couple of minutes.

There was a lot of bad things that went on throughout my childhood; but God put a strong woman in my life who got us through them all. My mom’s strength and faith kept our family moving forward even through the lowest points of life. Until recently my relationship with my mom was always rocky. As the oldest (I have 2 sisters and a brother); I had to grow up quickly and learned how to be independent at an early age. I don’t know where, when, or why my anger started to be a major oppression for me. But, I do know that a lot of it is because of the hardships our family endured as I was growing up. My mom did not have a Godly example for a mother as she grew up. When she raised us; she relied on the example of Godly women who God placed in her life at various times. She was never perfect but I know that she did the best that she knew how. She always put her children before herself; often sacrificing more than most moms do. As we have watched our mom; we have also grown to be strong and full of faith. Her example of what a Godly woman should be; will forever be the reason that all of us are serving God today. Thank you mom. I love you!

God put another strong woman in my life who became my step-mom. Because I was already an adult when she and my dad got married; she did not have the chance to actually be a mother to me. Instead she became a friend. She was unable to have children of her own; but God provided her with 4 from another family who she could call daughters and son. Even though she is no longer married to my dad; she is still a friend, a mom, and grandmother as far as we are concerned. I hope that she knows how blessed we are to have her in our lives.

We have all heard horror stories about in-laws. I never assumed that I would have a good relationship with the mother of whoever I married. But God had a different plan. He gave me another strong woman of faith who has to be the best mother-in-law in the world (I have the best father-in-law too)! I know that she loves me like she loves her own daughters. She has been supportive of me in good and bad times. I’m not sure that she has completely forgiven me for giving birth to and keeping her only granddaughters in Japan but since we have skype she doesn’t complain (too much :)). I am truly blessed to have her as another mom.

God also blessed me with a Godly heritage from my Grandma (and Grandpa) and other women in my family. Thank you for always being there and supporting me through prayer and encouragement. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all of the other wonderful Godly women who have become my family. They will always be apart of my family no matter where they live or how often I will see them. So that I don’t offend (in case I accidently miss someone); I am not going to post names. But most of you should know who you are. If we ever had a deep emotional conversation (laughing and/or crying), if you have at some point held me accountable by asking the tough questions or confronting my sins, if you ever listened to me as I leaned on you and cried my way through a painful moment in life; then you are one of these women. Thank you!

I am going to stop tearing up now and end on a more humorous note. Remember those Kendal Bloopers that I posted last month? Well today; Shane sneakingly gave Kendal a rose to give to me (and of course, I did not notice it behind his back before he gave it to her). She handed it to me and said, “Happy Mother’s Day”. I said, “Thank you! Its so pretty! Did you get this for me?” Kendal immediately and excitedly replied with, “No Mama, it’s my pretty flower. Daddy gave it to me!”

Now I would like to introduce you to my husband Shane;

who graciously honored my request to write a message for my blog today.

As long as I can remember my mom has been my biggest fan. In good times and bad, in right, and especially in wrong. She was always in my corner. Through her love and even her discipline; she did her part to raise me and make me the man I am today.

I later got married and found myself with yet another mom in my life. I was in awe of her strength and virtue. I don’t believe that I could “do no wrong” in her eyes (because I most certainly have). But I do believe that she never turned her back on me. Even when I was at my worst.

It must have been gut wrenching for my mother to watch me grow, invest time and energy into my life, only to let me go. I can honestly say that my mother did her job well in preparing me for that next chapter in life; but I didn’t really understand forgiveness until I met my mother in-law at my darkest hours in life. When I turned my back on my family, they both loved me through it. Though probably not “my biggest fan” they were one of my biggest supporters. Through both these lady’s example; my wonderful wife has learned how to be a woman and a mother of love and virtue. A fact that holds my respect.

My life in the military has allowed me to meet all kinds of people. I’ve been “adopted” over and over again by the families of my buddies. When one of us would go home for the weekend; we would all tag along. This would and probably did overwhelm the families houses we invaded. The couches we’ve slept on and the refrigerators we’ve raided. But the “MA” would love on us and invite us in as if we were her own. What is it about a mom that makes her want to do such a ridiculous thing as to raise more children. In our case, five or six hungry Airmen. I recall one particularly special woman whose hospitality helped me in a time when I was away from the home and life on my own was very new. She brought reliability back into our lives. Because she made it ok for us to to always “come home.” Interactions with my new found brothers at her house will always remain among my fondest of memories. I was deeply pained when I learned she had passed away. Though my pain was not the same as her real family; we all can say that we were truly affected as she was mother to us all.

It would be very easy this time of year, for all of us to get carried away, with yet another “Hallmark holiday” by paying our simple lip service to these ladies. Send them a card, make our  phone call and then go about our day. I challenge you to take this time to reflect on how your mother has helped you to be who you are today. I know that not all families were as complete as mine growing up. Maybe this time of year is yet another painful reminder of this fact. But I submit to you all that whether or not we had a good mother;  she has left an imprint on us in one way or another anyway. The simple fact that she gave us life is good enough for me. It’s what we choose to do with the life she gave us is what makes us who we are today. From her example good or bad we still learn about who we are and who we want to be. I am truly blessed and thankful for all the experiences I’ve had with my mothers. Everything from the good to the not so good has helped me become the husband, the father, and the man that I am today.

My hats off to you ladies. I am your biggest fan. ~~Shane

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“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;

but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:28-30

To all of the wonderful women in our lives: HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

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Mother’s Day Series:

My Valley (Mother’s Day Series-1)

Mommy Brain (Mother’s Day Series-2)

“The Next Survivor Series” (Mother’s Day Series- 3)

Enough Faith To Follow

Today, our church women gathered for a  several hour workshop with the theme,

“God’s Raining Love”

and theme verse:

“Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.” Hosea 10:12

We studied about God’s love and our faith and obedience. The speaker gave several definitions of faith including:

  1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
  2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.
  3. Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance

The second definition is what stands out to me. I believe that there is a lot of evidence (in several fields of study) that supports the Bible, Christianity, and the fact that there is a God (to read recent debates on this subject; see the comment sections of my blogs here and here). But the reality is; we are not supposed to know all of the answers to all of life’s questions. If we did; that would mean that God would not big enough to be our God. To be completely honest; the fact that I don’t know everything is comforting. Instead, I can rest in the arms of Christ and trust that He has the answers and will guide me along the right path.

I will talk more about the workshop on another day; but for now I am going to share a poem that I wrote today during our quiet prayer time with God.

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I have sometimes questioned what I believe.

I have been a doubting Thomas who wished to see.

I have searched for answers, facts, and clues;

When searching for the truth.

The evidence for You is sometimes hard to find.

But other times I would have to be blind;

If I did not acknowledge what

Confirms by faith the Truth.

Here am I Lord; ready to do your will.

I may not understand.

I may not comprehend.

But your will for me is made complete;

Through the love You have given me.