#struggles is a book on Christian discipleship in a world where technology and social media are getting more attention than ever before. Did you look at your phone the first thing this morning? Was it the last thing you looked at before going to sleep? Have you ever posted on social media and felt the urge to check it a minute later to count the number of “likes?” This book is written for you.

Groeschel knows a thing or two about technology and social media. He is the pastor of LifeChurch.tv, the second largest mega church in the U.S. The church produces the YouVersion Bible app that has been downloaded over 199 million times. He knows technology, uses it well, but provides some counsel on keeping it in check so we don’t lose focus on what’s most important.

Sometimes our culture celebrates overuse…

Writing this review, I hear a commercial on the radio for a real estate agent where the announcer says doctors had to take her phone away during a stint in the hospital because she refused to stop working. The thrust of the message is that she works so hard you should call her to help with your real estate needs. Is this an example of being on the phone too much?

When was the last time you were more than an arm’s reach from a screen? How long did it last before you had anxiety and wanted to check it?

The author admits to having #struggles himself, and gives examples from his own life and others he is acquainted with to make his points. If the end result is bringing more attention to Jesus in a God honoring way, Groeschel will support it. However, if it is a distraction from Him, or worse, he offers guidance to help.

With average users posting 75-80% of their social media content about themselves, it is easy to see how Jesus and other people can be left out of the equation. For Christians, focusing this much attention on oneself is a serious problem.

This book is a very practical guide from an author who is tune with his target audience. For its relevance and timeliness, it receives five stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Review: Prayers That Changed History By Tricia Goyer


Prayers That Changed History by Tricia Goyer

25 historical individuals and a nation’s people spanning a date range of 155 A.D. to World War II in 1945 make up the profiles in this book. Most of the names are familiar to those with a traditional education. For those currently in the educational system, many will be new. All did amazing things. Very few with public school instruction will know that these people would not have accomplished the historical things they did without prayer.

This book is geared to a younger audience, and is chalked full of history. Prayer is the common thread that each chapter focuses on. Those in fifth to twelfth grades will most appreciate this book published by Zonderkidz. The men and women profiled by the author each led examples of a faithful Christian life, with examples of prayer to draw lessons from. Tricia Goyer also quotes from scripture in each chapter, making comparisons with Biblical characters as well.

For those interested in historical figures, this is a good primer. It is also good for personal study or small group devotions. Each chapter can be studied as a self-contained lesson. The examples are basic enough that all Christians can benefit from the book, without fear of doctrinal or theological issues spoiling the fun.

With almost all of the figures written about being deceased, some readers may have a hard time connecting with the subject matter. However, for anyone who appreciates history, the stories will resonate. Due to the wide span of history, this book is best suited for middle and high school students. While elementary students can also benefit, one will need to be prepared to give them historical context to fully appreciate it.

This book is recommended with four stars out of five.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2015 Voter’s Guide Isn’t What It Used To Be

Map of Washington highlighting Yakima County

Map of Washington highlighting Yakima County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ballots are in the mail for the General Election 2015. Being the political nerd I am, it was not necessary for me to do additional research when casting my ballot. However, a social media contact in another city asked if I was familiar with a candidate for their school board. The candidate in question did not submit a statement for the Voter’s Guide.

After making a quip about how a serious candidate will utilize every tool to get their message out, I was surprised to learn it is the incumbent school board member for that district.

This got me curious enough to pull up candidates on my ballot in Sunnyside. One incumbent candidate for City Council did not submit a photo or statement.

One Sunnyside School District Director did not submit a photo or statement either. Another only submitted a photo, without a statement. (None of my local school board members are opposed on the ballot, but still!)

Having been on the ballot before, I find this surprising. Submitting a photo and statement to the Yakima County Auditor does not cost the candidate any money, and might just help them with issues of concern. It is true that some voters know enough to make a decision without this resource, but candidates seeking to connect with their community should not skip this step in running for office.

Many Some A few people still look to the Voter’s Guide to help them decide how to vote.

As long as the County Auditor continues to publish the Voter’s Guide, all candidates should take a few minutes to submit information for it. If they don’t, voters should ask why they are even running in the first place; or why the County Auditor is tasked with publishing it.

To see the Voter’s Guide, go to the Yakima County Auditor’s website here: Voter’s Guide, November 3, 2015 General Election

Farmhouse Burns Near Sunnyside

An old farmhouse on Van Belle Road was ablaze this morning at around 9:00 a.m. It reportedly has been uninhabited for several years.


The black, acrid, column of smoke was visible for miles around. Personnel from Yakima County Fire District No. 5 responded to the scene, but allowed the structure to burn.

Yakima Herald-Republic: Abandoned farmhouse burns in Sunnyside

What Zonderkidz Did To This Bible Will Have Girls Clamoring For More

Can a publisher possibly do anything to a decades old Bible translation to make it fresh and interesting for kids? The answer is a resounding yes! We are blessed to live in a time when there are more translations and editions of Bibles available than ever before. As parents, teachers, grandparents, and role models, we have an obligation to pick from what is available; in a way that will bring our children closer to the word of God.

When it comes to girls, ages eight and up, the NIV faiThGirLz! Bible is a wonderful volume to consider. First, the NIV translation has been around a long time now, and is generally accepted in many churches across most Protestant denominations. This Bible contains the complete NIV text that children and adults of all ages can benefit from, with supplemental material geared especially toward young girls.


The reviewed version is hardcover, sporting a girl friendly design of blue pastels, pinks, and purple, with a unique magnetic end flap closure on the right side. The supplemental material is authored by Nancy N. Rue, who has authored over 100 books, and is also a speaker and radio guest.

Features in this Bible include various sections to help understand, and motivate. “Dream Girl” prompts readers to imagine they are in the setting where the various stories take place. “Bring It On!” includes self quizzes, with Biblical references for more information depending on the answers. “Oh I Get It!” provides additional facts and information on the topics in a section of the Bible. “Is There a Little ____ in You?” asks the readers if they can see character traits from names of the Bible in themselves. “In Your Own Words” provides a review format in which readers are asked to complete a “Recap” of what happened. This is a great way for adults to check for understanding in young readers.

The Bible also has introductions to each book, including a list of “Cool Characters You’ll Meet” and “Bad Guys to Watch Out For.” Reference material in the back of the Bible has a table of weights and measures, a section called “How To Begin a Relationship with Jesus,” “Through the Bible in a Year,” “Promises from the Bible,” “Perspectives from the Bible,” and several blank journaling pages with a heading of “My Notes.”

Despite the whimsical cover, this is a Bible to take seriously. Anything that encourages kids to read more of the Bible is a great thing. My own eight year old daughter can’t keep her eyes off my review copy, which is a testament to the great job the author and publisher have done.

This edition gets five stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

When Prime Comes To Town

Recently, I used a promotional credit to get a discount on an order placed with Amazon Prime Pantry. The idea of ordering some groceries online was intriguing enough for me to give it a try. This service option, available to Amazon Prime members, allows for orders of selected grocery products, with a flat rate delivery fee of about $6.00 per box.

In certain situations, customers might appreciate being able to stock up on things without making a trip to the store. The savings in gas and time are an appeal. On the other hand, thrifty shoppers looking for discounts on store brands will not find many here.

Without doing a careful analysis of items I purchased in this order, I can not say that I saved any money ordering this way. My promotional credit took care of the shipping charge, but I am not in a big rush to order significant numbers of these boxes again.

One nice aspect to this service is the ability to order some items that are not usually stocked in the local stores. If you like items that are hard to find, you might take a look at Amazon’s availability of products to see if they have what you are looking for.

Prime Pantry orders tell you the percentage of the box that is filled as you click on various items and quantities.  The buying process is fairly simple, and within a couple of days you will receive your goods. Some folks may have trouble handling a box weighing 40-45 pounds, which is another thing to consider for home delivery.

This service gives customers yet another alternative to buying groceries, especially boxed, canned, and other non-perishable food items. However, for fresh items, the local stores can’t be beat.

My kids will appreciate the items I purchased for snacks and their school lunch boxes.

The delivery service, if expanded to include more inventory, could result in Amazon taking a sizable share of the grocery market in the future. Time will tell if customers appreciate this new buying option.

Vote For One In Each Race

Can’t make this stuff up. All seven seats on the Yakima City Council are on the ballot this year because a federal judge decided previous elections unfairly disadvantaged Hispanic candidates. If you don’t think that topic is on the mind of voters, consider this.

Several people have contacted the county auditor’s office and asked for clarification of instructions printed on the ballot, especially the phrase, “Vote for one in each race.” Their question: Does that mean I need to vote for one HIspanic and one Caucasian candidate?

To read more, see:

The Yakima Valley Business Times, July 24 – August 7, 2015, Random Notes by Bruce Smith, Page 4.


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