[Book Review] Celebrating A Christ-Centered Christmas by Emily Belle Freeman and David Butler

[Book Review] Celebrating a Christ-Centered Christmas by Emily Belle Freeman and David Butler


“Discover how each figure of the Nativity can lead your family closer to Christ this Christmas season. This children’s edition of Celebrating a Christ-Centered Christmas will guide you through seven meaningful traditions inspired by the Nativity setting. These simple experiences are not meant to add more to an already crowded holiday season but to offer something different. They will give your family an opportunity to escape from the frantic bustle of the Christmas season and spend time reflecting on the baby Jesus and the miracle of His birth.
This interactive book invites children to watch each figure approach the waiting manger and encourages them to ask what they might have done if they had been there on the night Jesus was born. Seen beautiful ornaments have been created to accompany the lesson each figure teaches. Displaying the ornaments throughout the Christmas holiday will remind your children of the lessons they are learning about the baby Jesus. Your free download of the ornaments can be found at www.christcenteredcelebrations.com.


My Review:

Children’s picture books are one of my favorite things, and Christmas books are even better! I love reading them, and I especially love reading them to my kids…still! Even though they are big (my baby is 9!), they will all sit and listen. This book will be a wonderful addition to our Christmas books, I am so excited to share it with them! I love the illustrations in this book; they are beautiful; whimsical, and yet so full of emotion.
You’re supposed to begin reading this book a week before Christmas. Each day you read another page and add another figure to the Nativity scene. There is a question for every day, and as you answer the questions and ponder about the person discussed, you learn more about yourself and your feelings toward the Savior. There is also a quick activity you may do with your family that is suggested for each of the seven days. For example, on the second night it says,
What secret act of Christmas kindness could your family participate
in this season? As you perform your secret act, think of Joseph. 
His quiet acts went uncelebrated, but they were
so needed. When you have finished this activity,
place Joseph’s figure in your waiting stable.
The activities are mostly activities you may do anyway, and I’m sure you could do your own activities if you already have these traditions. It’s just a simple way to get the family together at the end of the day and remind them of the true meaning of Christmas. There is also an ornament for each day. You may purchase them ready-made or there is a free download on the website listed above. There’s also a cute banner that you may purchase, along with a simple Nativity scene. You don’t need anything fancy; just spending time together thinking of the story of the Nativity will bring the true spirit of Christmas into your home. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it!
Content Rating G

Rating: G (Clean!)

Recommendation: Everyone

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

[Book Review] Getting To The Place Where You Can Trust God With Anything: Even This by Emily Belle Freeman

Getting To The Place Where You Can Trust God With Anything
Getting To The Place Where You Can Trust God With Anything:
Even This
Emily Belle Freeman

“In Even This Emily Belle Freeman shares her own deeply personal experiences of feeling forgotten by God–from the fear of abandonment in a dark hospital room to the desperation that followed months of unanswered prayers. In a moment of honesty, she found herself asking the question she had been afraid to consider: ‘Where is God in this?’ Through biblical insight, genuine realness, and beautiful prose, Emily will help you discover how to:
  • Diminish the power of doubt by coming to understand why the place of deepest asking is where the believing begins.
  • Stop letting fear dictate the depth of your belief through daily reflections that will restore your confidence in God.
  • Let go of your need to control by discovering what is holding you back from being completely vulnerable to God.
Trust that God may have something different in mind for you–something better.”
My Review:
This book could not have come at a better time! Many of my readers may know that my 15 year-old son has been very sick since last April. He’s been to two ERs, enjoyed a four day hospital stay, had a feeding tube for over a month, has been to countless doctor appointments, and tried way too many different kinds of medicines. Nothing has really helped, and everyone seems clueless as to what is going on. This past week we finally got a few results and think we may now be on the right track to getting him better. However, if it’s what we think it is then it will be a very long, slow process to recovery. The poor kid missed the last seven weeks of the last school year, and hasn’t been able to go this year, so luckily he has an amazing home and hospital teacher that comes and helps him with his school work twice a week. Honestly, this has been the most difficult 5 1/2 months of my entire life. We are all exhausted. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. All the time. Watching your child suffer so much for so long is heartbreaking. Our other three children have been champions through all of this. They are amazing, and I’m so proud of them! They are patient, loving, empathetic, and resilient. This trial  has definitely humbled me, and I’ve spent hours on my knees in prayer. I have to admit that there have been some dark days where I have wondered where God is in all of this. I’ve been able to trust God with lots of things in my life, but this one–this one I have tried to control. I hate not being in control of this situation!! Why can’t I fix this? Well, after reading this book I know that I need to trust God with Even This situation. While my kids were fishing at a nearby lake yesterday, I was reading. There were several passages that I wanted to remember. I fished (haha!!) through my purse and found a post-it note. This is what my book looks like now:
I would have more, but I didn’t start actually bookmarking the parts I liked until I was half way through the book. When I first started reading, the different chapters seemed random and unconnected; I was a tad bit confused. However, as the book progressed it all kind of came together, and I loved how Ms. Freeman explained everything. Her insights and examples are very personal and touching. It’s easy to get caught up in your trials and think that everyone else has it good, but when you read her book you realize that everyone goes through difficult things. I thoroughly enjoyed learning from Ms. Freeman. She does a great job of breaking down well known biblical stories and helping you see the application from the story in your life. Here’s an example from the book. The biblical story she is referring to is Joseph. His brothers threw him into a pit and eventually he was taken to Egypt as a slave. He was thrown into prison and ended up interpreting the Pharaoh’s dream. Pharaoh was so impressed that he put Joseph in charge of storing the food during the good times in preparation for the upcoming times of famine. Joseph’s brothers came (not knowing who he was, of course) and asked for food. Joseph was able to provide for his long-lost family because of the experiences he had been through.  

Joseph being able to provide for his family after many years was the miracle. So “the truth of it is that the trials are what enabled Joseph to be in the exact place God needed him to be. To provide the rescue. To prepare for the deliverance. To orchestrate the miracle God had in mind from the very moment Joseph was thrown into the pit.” Looking at my (your) trial from this point of view puts it in a whole different perspective. I loved this book. It is a bit random at times, seemingly jumping from one experience to another, but in the end it gave me a better insight into the trial I’m going through, and it allowed me to realize that I’m not in control–thank goodness!!–God is in control, and he can see the whole picture. As a mom it’s hard to let go of that control, but if I (we) can, then I’ll (we’ll) be able to see the miracle at the end. Thank you Ms. Freeman, for helping me see this long ordeal in a better way, and for helping me to trust God with Even This. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is suffering or going through tough times. Have faith! God is good, and he will take care of us if we put our trust in Him. 
Rating: PG (It’s clean!)
Recommendation: YA and up
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 
Also by Emily Belle Freeman:

The Christ-Centered Home

The Christ-Centered Home by Emily Belle Freeman

“Imagine Jesus came to your doorstep. How could you prepare to welcome Him in? In the hectic scramble of a world that asks us to do everything, be everyone, and make it all look easy, we often lose track of the experiences that really matter most–quiet moments in our homes with our families when we feel the peace of Jesus Christ. The lessons Jesus taught in the homes of His followers were simple. They were basic. And the were–and are–essential. In The Christ-Centered Home, you will discover how to fill your family’s hearts with the principles Jesus taught in the most sacred of classrooms: the home. There is a humility that comes when we invite the Lord into our most private spaces. Within the hush we hear the gentle whisper of His voice, we experience the touch of His hand, and we feel the prompting to rise. Invite Him in, and experience the added measure of peace, strength, courage, and hope that comes when Jesus Christ becomes the central focus of your home.”
My Review:
I’m always looking for ways to improve my family. As a mom, I want my children to be healthy and happy. I also want them to be good citizens, do well in school, and be kind and caring. Something else that is very important to me is that they have a strong foundation of faith built on Christian morals and principles. I want them to know and understand the scriptures, and live their lives knowing the Savior. When I was contacted by the publicist of this book I couldn’t refuse. I had to see if there was anything in this book that would help me achieve these goals; anything that would help me to do better. I am so thankful I agreed to review this book. I don’t often review spiritual books, but this one is definitely worth reviewing. This book is not written for any specific religion, it is based on principles found in the New Testament and in the teachings of Jesus Christ. It is written for Christian homes. I love the format of the book. I know that sounds strange, but I enjoyed looking at the different doors that accompany each chapter. They are beautiful. And very symbolic. The book is set up so that families can take one chapter a month and study the lesson. They’re not long, but they are packed full of insight and great ideas. There are questions you may ask yourself, and places to write your reflections. There’s a recipe with each chapter so that while your family studies they may have a yummy treat, which always helps with kids! The verses the stories are taken from are listed so that you may read the story straight from the Bible. On her website Ms. Freeman also has some beautiful printables that coincide with each chapter so that throughout the month you may hang the printable and remind your family what it is you’re working on. 
I loved this quote: “Perhaps our gratitude to God is best expressed through action rather than words. When our actions become the expression of our gratitude, then our time, our sacrifice, and our obedience become gifts rather than duties.” (pg. 145) And, “Maybe this month, we could focus on performing our assigned household duties as a gift rather than a chore.” (pg. 147) Wouldn’t that be great? Wouldn’t it be great if our children learned to help around the house by giving it as a gift of thankfulness rather than an unpleasant chore to whine and complain about? Hahaha…..we are far from that ideal, but it’s definitely something to work towards! I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I didn’t stop and share with my family because I needed to finish it to review. However, we’re going to start this week! One lesson a month I can do, right? I’m excited to see what happens. Maybe I’ll report back in a few months to let you know. If my children start saying, “Mom, please give me more chores because I’m so thankful you’re my mom” or “Dad, you work so hard to provide us with a nice home! We’re so thankful! Please give us more weeding to do so we can show our gratitude” then I’ll let you know! 🙂 This book is easy to read and implement. It’s well written with stories that are easy to relate to, and with lots of examples. She has given it a lot of thought and has some wonderful ideas. I highly recommend this for any Christian family that would like to improve their faith, gratitude, and unity. 
Rating: G (Clean!)
Recommendation: Everyone
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.