Marriage Rebranded

Marriage Rebranded
By Tyler Ward
Moody Press
Retail Price $13.99
Amazon Price: $11.82

Book Description: 

When Tyler and Analee got married, they read marriage books, learned about each other’s personality and habits, and exhausted three-step relational formulas. Yet a year and a half after their wedding, they had fallen into a pattern of fighting and unhappiness.Tyler knew he and his wife needed more than formulas and counseling sessions. They needed a vision for marriage that extended beyond just finding happiness and falling in love. They wanted a vision that dealt with the realities of life and gave them a picture of marriage worth fighting for.As a business professional who helps companies “rebrand” when their image doesn’t match up with their identity, Tyler realized that marriage has an image that doesn’t match up to what God designed it to be.Marriage Rebranded will help you replace four modern misconceptions about marriage with more timeless perspectives enlightened by biblical, personal, and historical studies.We need to rethink our modern brand of matrimony. It’s time for us to develop a new vision for marriage-a vision that’s worth fighting for.


Author Tyler Ward is one clever man.  He took his vocation of rebranding and used it to make us take a new look at how we as a culture and a people of faith perceive the institution of marriage.  Basically, he gave marriage a new look! Ward makes several valid points and shares insights for those newly married, helping them view marriage in such a way that will position them to be in it for the long haul.  This makes a great addition to a shower or wedding gift or to use in premarital counseling.

~Reviewed by Gloria R.


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    Win a Free Copy of Middle School: The Inside Story

    Product Details

    Middle School: The Inside Story
    By Cynthia Tobias
    Focus on the Family
    Retail Price $14.99
    Amazon Price: $12.30

    Book Description:

    Remember middle school? Many parents would rather not. It’s often a rough ride, filled with insecurity, peer pressure, awkwardness, and world-rocking change. This book provides practical, hands-on advice for helping your child through this minefield—with information about what he or she is really going through, but isn’t likely to share.

    Best-selling learning-styles expert Cynthia Tobias and veteran teacher Sue Acuña reveal what they’ve found by listening to kids when parents aren’t around—and give you insider tips on how to bless your middle-schooler with success in class, at home, and in relationships. Topics include advice for keeping communication lines open, predictable physical and social issues, and solutions for problems like self-centeredness and over-the-top emotions.


    This is a fantastic book for parents and teachers alike that will help you to understand the mind of the middle-school student.  You will gain insight not only into HOW they think, but WHAT they are thinking about, and the culture that they are immersed in.  This book was filled with great suggestions and the authors made use of stories and quotes from middle schoolers.  They share share better ways of communicating about a variety of topics where parents often miss the mark.

    The middle school years are difficult, no doubt.  But I remember talking to one of my kids favorite teachers and she told me that she truly enjoyed teaching this age group.  In fact, when she was deciding which grade to teach, she decided to teach middle school because she felt that “these kids deserved a teacher that liked them.”  This book will help you to become THAT teacher or parent who actually LIKES this age group.  This book is a winner.

    ~Reviewed by Helen M.


    Do you have a story or tip to share that will help others understand Middle Schoolers?  If you would like a chance to win a free copy of this book email us  your story by the end of the month.  Be sure to include the your name and address in the body of the email!


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      Make Social Learning Stick!

      Make Social Learning Stick!
      By Elizabeth A. Sautter
      AAPC Publishing
      Retail Price $27.95
      Amazon Price: $19.65

      Book Description: 

      This book offers a social learning diet of concepts and actions that can be used in everyday life to increase verbal and nonverbal language, listening skills, understanding of hidden rules, perspective taking,executive functioning, and more. The activities are recipes for social and emotional learning for which parents, teachers, and therapists typically already have the ingredients. With close to 200 fun and easy activities, including contributions from leading experts, this book offers numerous ways to embrace teachable moments throughout daily routines without having to do extra work! Events like getting ready for school, preparing dinner,going to the doctor, and celebrating Thanksgiving become opportunities for teaching and reinforcing expected social behavior. Geared toward children in preschool through elementary school, the ideas are meant to inspire creativity that suits each specific child. Activities can be easily tailored to meet a child s developmental level, needs, or challenges.


      This book is perfect to use with children who have difficulty interacting socially.  Many of these kids have trouble communicating and feel awkward in a group setting, never really fitting in.    This book is for those who work with children who have social difficulties, whether a parent, a counselor, or a teacher.  There are plenty of ideas here to use and the author shows you how to use teachable moments, so you don’t have to spend time reinventing the wheel! The guide is informative, and very well organized so you can find the information you need effortlessly.  This is an excellent resource.

      ~Reviewed by Helen M.

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        The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet

        The Best Homemade Kids' Lunches on the Planet: Make Lunches Your Kids Will Love with More Than 200 Deliciously Nutritious Meal Ideas

         The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet
        by Laura Fuentes
        Fair Winds Press
        Retail Price $24.99
        Amazon Price: $19.28

        Book Description: 

        We all know that kids need to eat right and get the nutrition they need to be their best all day long. So why not make lunches that will power their growing brains and bodies? Making lunches at home is a great way to keep your child healthy. Not only does it allow you to nourish your child with the most pure and wholesome ingredients, but it also gives you the peace of mind of knowing what has gone into every bite your little one takes. Full of recipes to suit every age and stage, The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet shows you how simple and easy it is to prepare food that’ll be the envy of the lunch table. The 200+ adorable and inspiring recipes in this book are just as much a joy to make as they are to eat! There are even entire lunchbox meals that are gluten-, soy-, and/or nut-free. Make your own super-delicious, super-nutritious homemade lunches today—it’s guaranteed to be at the top of the class!


        Kids are constantly changing. They get taller, bigger, faster…and naturally, their food choices need to reflect this unique period of growth. What we feed our children can surely affect their health, wellness, and eating habits for years to come.  When it comes to preparing and creating tasty lunchtime meals for your kids to enjoy, coming up with something new and exciting every day can be quite a challenge! How do we create nutritious and delicious meals our kids will actually love to eat? This book has the answer!  The author offers so much variety and ideas your kids will never be bored. The recipes are easy to make with step by step directions. I am so glad I found this book…it is awesome!

        ~Reviewed by Beth G.


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          Family: the Good “F” Word

          Family: The Good F Word: The Life-Changing Action Plan for Building Your Best Family Family: the Good “F” Word
          By Troy Dunn and Dr. Phil McGraw
          Birdstreet Books
          Retail Price $25.95
          Amazon Price: $18.90

          Book Description: 

          Troy Dunn shares his tested and proven tools for repairing a broken family. He believes that whether you are just feeling a little stagnant in your home life or are already at your wit’s end, there are clear steps to restore joy, connectedness and unity within your family or partnerships. This book focuses on recognizing both personal and family needs, how to break old patterns to improve individual happiness, as well as happiness within a partnership and within the family unit as a whole. Dunn explains that although we can’t necessarily fix our given family, we owe it to ourselves to fix the family we have or are founding. His Life Changing Action Plan (LCA) includes four steps to determine what is wrong with your relationship, embrace the idea of change in a long-lasting way, repair damage and rebuild one’s marriage or relationship, and provide empowerment and tools to permanently stabilize a family. Also dissected, diagnosed and given rules for remedy are 10 Relationship Roadblocks, including the biggest taboos of all: money and sex! This is a wake-up call for anyone who needs a little or larger dose of relationship remedy.



          I come from a dysfunctional family of origin and feel that many toxic habits have seeped into my own nuclear family.  I have found this book to be very insightful and beneficial to me as I try to make changes to repair damage done by following old patterns that just don’t work. The authors promote family values and give great advice and plenty of tips that will improve your relationships as you begin applying them to your life. It is well-written and interesting.  The authors write from their own experiences and share from the heart.  I highly recommend it.

          ~Reviewed by Janice C.



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            Delaying Social Security Could Increase Lifetime Income

            For those who are nearing retirement age can increase their lifetime income if they can wait a bit to start drawing Social Security benefits.  It is between the ages of 55 to 64 when folks start thinking seriously about retirement.

            Workers can start taking Social Security at age 62. But for those who can wait, the benefits go up.

            “If you need Social Security early, take it – you’ve earned it,” said Virginia Reno with the National Academy of Social Insurance, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. “But waiting even a year or two can make a big difference in the long run. The extra benefits are there for life.”

            Payments increase by 5 to 7 percent for each year of delay between ages 62 and 66, and by 8 percent for each year of delay between ages 66 and 70. The increases stop at age 70.

            For someone who can wait until age 70 to take Social Security, the reward is a lifetime monthly benefit that is 76 percent higher than if taken at age 62.

            For example, a worker who qualifies for a Social Security benefit of $750 at age 62 would receive $1,000 by waiting until full retirement age (66 for people born in 1943 to 1954). By waiting until age 70, the retiree would receive $1,320 a month.

            The higher benefit would also be the basis for future inflation adjustments.

            Around New York, only about one in three residents who are currently receiving Social Security retirement benefits waited until full retirement age to start their payments, according to the Social Security Administration.

            Getting the most out of Social Security benefits becomes more important the longer retirees live, said Leticia Miranda, a policy adviser with the National Council of La Raza, a nonprofit that focuses on Hispanic issues, including retirement.

            “You may be here longer than you think,” Miranda said.

            About half of seniors aged 65 to 69 get most of their income from Social Security. Many have other assets or work part time. But for three out of four seniors in their 80s, Social Security is the main source of income.

            Nationally, a woman who is 65 years old today can expect to live until she is 86. For men, it’s 84 years.

            Another consideration is how the timing of benefits will affect a spouse’s income, Reno said.

            “If you are the higher earner in a couple, delaying benefits not only means a higher benefit for you for the rest of your life,” she said. “It also means a higher benefit for your spouse if she or he outlives you in old age.”

            In more than half of couples who are 65 today, one spouse will live beyond 90, she said.

            But residents of nonmetropolitan areas  may have a harder time delaying their retirement.

            “In rural areas there is often a challenge as folks move toward retirement,” said Deanna Sharpe, a personal finance professor at the University of Missouri. “They are more likely to face unemployment. Jobs are not as available. And when they are, they tend to pay less.”

            Economic downturns can also affect when people decide to start receiving Social Security, Sharpe said.

            “One of the coping mechanisms during the recent recession was to pick up Social Security at age 62, even if they might not have planned to do that before the recession,” she said.

            Retirees need to make informed decisions, Sharpe said, but too often that doesn’t happen.

            “We find in surveys of financial literacy that quite a large portion of folks don’t understand the basics,” she said. “That’s a concern.”

            But retirees can easily find free or low-cost advice. Sharpe said many USDA Extension Service offices can provide information on retirement planning. She also recommended nonprofit organizations such as the National Endowment for Financial Counseling and Financial Education (

            The Social Security Administration website ( has a calculator that allows workers to estimate their retirement earnings based on their own work records and estimated retirement age.

            And the National Academy of Social Insurance has materials online about the impact of delaying Social Security benefits (

            With national discussions about Social Security frequently in the news, some workers may worry whether the system will be there when they need it. Sharpe said people should stay abreast of the issues. “That’s part of making an informed decision,” she said.

            But Reno said that should not influence a personal decision about when to draw benefits.

            “Social Security will be there if you wait,” she said. The system is fully financed for about the next two decades and is three-quarters financed thereafter, she said.

            “Despite what you may hear, lawmakers have some good options to fix the system for the long haul,” she said.


            Tim Marema is editor of the Daily Yonder (, a national website that covers news about small cities and rural America.

            Roberto Gallardo is an associate professor at the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

            Support for the research and production of this article was provided by the National Academy of Social Insurance. The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the Daily Yonder, which is published by the Center for Rural Strategies, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Whitesburg, Ky.

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              Credit Card Rules You Should Live By

              Credit cards

              Scrapbooking has been around for ages, but it has recently experienced a surge in popularity. People from all walks of life have discovered the joys of creating albums to showcase their treasured photos and keepsakes. But with all the elaborate scrapbooking techniques and myriad embellishments available, getting started can be intimidating.

              The truth is, anyone that can use scissors and glue can scrapbook. And you don’t have to spend ridiculous amounts of money to create attractive pages. With some basic supplies and a little imagination, you can create lovely scrapbooks that will be adored for years to come.

              What You Need

              You can get started scrapbooking on a small budget. Here are the things you’ll need.

              * An album – Scrapbooking albums come in all shapes and sizes. The most popular are 8 1/2″ x 11″ and 12″ x 12″. They can be found at most craft supply stores if you don’t have a scrapbooking supply store nearby.

              * Paper – Scrapbooking paper can be found in a variety of solid colors and patterns. This will be the basis for each page. You may also use scrapbooking paper for journaling and to create your own photo mats and embellishments.

              * Cutting tools – You can easily get by with just a good pair of scissors. But an Exacto knife might make photo cropping easier. And if you’re no good at cutting straight lines, you might want to invest in a paper cutter.

              * Adhesives – There are all sorts of adhesives one could use for scrapbooking. Glue sticks and double-sided tape are quite popular. Some scrapbookers also use rubber cement or glue dots for certain applications. But when you’re getting started, just use what you’re most comfortable with.

              * Photos – Beginning scrapbookers often start out with old photos that they’ve accumulated over the years. This makes for a nice, nostalgic album. Of course you can also take new pictures for your scrapbook. A digital camera and photo printer are two modern conveniences that make scrapbooking easier, but they are not necessities. Photos taken by a film camera work just as well.

              When purchasing scrapbooking supplies, it’s important to make sure they are acid-free. This will keep them from harming your priceless photos.

              Basic Techniques

              You don’t have to know a lot about scrapbooking techniques to create an attractive album. Just a few simple techniques will suffice.

              One of the first things many scrapbookers learn is how to mat photos. This can be accomplished by simply cutting a square or rectangle that is about a half inch longer and wider than the photo you want to mat. Then glue the photo to the center. To make a photo really stand out, double mat it by cutting out a shape a half inch longer and wider than the first mat, and center the matted photo on it.

              Journaling gives scrapbook pages a nice personal touch. Simply write a note about the photos on a page, telling what was happening or sharing your thoughts on the subject. Use paper that coordinates with the background, and be sure to write with an acid-free pen.

              Adding borders to your pages gives them a finished look. You can make them out of strips of coordinating scrapbook paper. You don’t have to border all four sides. A strip along the top, side or bottom will do. For easy embellishing, use some stickers.

              There’s no need to throw in the towel if you don’t have the time, money or know-how to create elaborate scrapbooks. Just start off simple, and learn new techniques as you go.

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                Fun and Frugal Family Outings

                The time we spend with our families is priceless. But most popular family activities are quite expensive. Even a simple

                night at the movies can put a serious dent in the budget by the time you buy tickets, popcorn and drinks for everyone.

                Fortunately, there are cheaper alternatives

                to expensive family outings. They provide the opportunity to have just as much fun at a fraction of the cost. Some are even free.

                Movies and Music

                Kids are often itching to see the newest releases at the movie theater. Doing so even once a month, however, can get pricey. One alternative in some areas is the drive-in. Admission is usually much cheaper than it is at a regular theater, and some let you bring your own drinks and snacks. Drive-ins usually show fairly new releases, so the kids can say they saw something that’s not out on video yet.

                Some theaters offer reduced-price matinees during the day. Some even have free kid-oriented movies on weekend days. These options offer the theater experience without the outrageous cost.

                Kids often want to go to concerts, but tickets to see the most famous bands are far from cheap. Check your local paper for free concerts in the park. Many areas have them during the warm months. Young children can enjoy the music without the huge crowds and deafening sound systems, and older children might gain an appreciation for less well-known bands.

                The Great Outdoors

                Nature offers a wealth of possibilities for family outings. Camping is a wonderful activity for families, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be as simple as pitching a tent in the back yard, or you can spring for a camper and rent space at a campground. Bring the grill and some hamburgers or hot dogs, or catch some fish to fry.

                Parks are great for day trips. Those with playground equipment can keep youngsters entertained for hours on end. Hiking trails offer opportunities for exercise and exploration. Most parks have picnic facilities, so you can pack a lunch instead of eating out.

                Other Ideas

                Here are some more inexpensive family activities to consider:

                * Play miniature golf. Admission is usually quite reasonable, and it provides the opportunity for relaxed yet engaging family competition.

                * Visit a petting zoo. These small zoos do not have the exotic animals you see at larger ones, but kids can feed and pet the animals.

                * Go to a museum. Some offer cheap or free admission, while others cost more. But the larger and more expensive ones often sell season passes, so if you live close by, you can visit numerous times for one low price.

                * Go boating. If you’re fortunate enough to live near a body of water, boating is fun and relaxing. Canoe and paddleboat rentals are inexpensive, and when you’re done boating there are usually other cheap or free activities in the area.

                * Attend events at a nearby college. These may include plays, concerts, dance recitals and movie showings. Prices are low, and student discounts usually apply to kids, too.

                Having fun as a family doesn’t require a six-figure income. If you look hard enough, you can find lots of free or cheap activities that parents and kids can enjoy just about anywhere.

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                  Motherhood Realized

                  Motherhood Realized
                  By Powers of Moms
                  Retail Price $15.95
                  Amazon Price: $12.30

                  Book Description: 

                  We believe that family life is beautiful and that motherhood is a privilege. But we also believe it is often really hard to see all that beauty when we’re in the midst of mothering. So often, we feel like we’re spread too thin. We feel like we don’t match up. Our hearts want to do more than our hands can manage. And every day, as we cycle through household duties, discipline, errands, conversations, teaching, and hundreds of unexpecteds, we’re often left tired, worried, and in need of some extra inspiration and encouragement. Power of Moms is an online community of deliberate mothers. Since 2007, millions of mothers from all backgrounds who are striving to be the best they can be have gathered to our website to learn and grow together. Time and again, our posts receive comments that say something like, “I am going to print this out and put it on my nightstand so I can read it again and again.” We’ve been concerned about those nightstands . . . getting all cluttered up with paper. So we’ve selected dozens of our most popular posts and compiled them neatly into this book just for you. Motherhood is the hardest job we’ll ever love, and it’s so much better when we’re doing it together.


                  This book is a compilation of blog posts from the bog Power of Moms.  I only recently heard about this blog from people in my MOPS group.  The blog is for moms who are “deliberate” mothers, being a place to share ideas and help each other to enjoy this experience of motherhood.  Originally being blog posts, the chapters in this book are short, making it very easy to read since it is written in small chunks.  It is organized well into sections making it easy to find topic you are interested in.  Each chapter ends with some life-applications questions, because you learn best when you apply your knowledge to your own life.  The book is very inspirational as you get to see what other REAL moms are going through and you can learn from their experiences.  It sends the message that you are “okay” right where you are and the only person your mothering skills need to please is yourself.

                  ~Reviewed by Lynn W.

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                    A Year of Grace

                    A Year of Grace: 365 Reflections for Caregivers

                    A Year of Grace
                    By Laraine Bennett
                    Our Sunday Visitor
                    Retail Price $16.95
                    Amazon Price: $14.53

                    Book Description: 

                    Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7

                    Nationally-known speaker and author Laraine Bennett knows the highs and the lows of the caregiver’s world-she juggles her own work and family life as she helps meet the needs of her talented, artistic mother now completely incapacitated by a devastating stroke.

                    In A Year of Grace: 365 Reflections for Caregivers, Laraine offers daily respite for the weary caregiver, a chance to recharge and refresh the mind and spirit, and to look anew, with gratitude and hope, at the value of every human life.

                    Each brief daily reflection includes a Scripture reading or quote, and a reflection for the day. Enlightening, refreshing, and upbeat, A Year of Grace, is a daily reminder for you-the caregiver-of the important role you play to bring Christ’s love to those in your care.


                    Laraine Bennett has written the most helpful book I have ever seen for caregivers. The daily encouragements are based onher faith, personal experience, and the stories of others – and they speak to me where I live each day. My sister was totally disabled physically in 1999. I have been part of her care since the beginning and her primary caregiver since she began making her home with my husband and me in 2002. This book has been a highlight of each day since I received. It certainly is help and encouragement for the weary soul.

                    ~Reviewed by Janice C.

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