The Apologetics Study Bible Review

I’ve had this Bible for several months. I’ve been using it in my personal devotion time to get a feel for it and see what I think about it. Now, I’m ready to give you my full review.

I have the hardcover version, but it also comes in a hardcover thumb-indexed version, an eBook version, a brown imitation leather version, and a navy imitation leather version.

The Bible translation is the Christian Standard Version, which I really like for personal devotion. If you’re unsure of how you’ll like a translation, you can always go to BibleGateway.com and read some passages in the version of your choice. It can help you get a feel for the version without committing to buying it.

Apologetics is the defense of the faith, answering those big questions we might have. This Bible not only explains the Bible in the footnotes sections, but it gives some answers to big questions through articles peppered throughout by Christian apologists.

There are several articles in the front of this Bible to explain some more general concepts. These are articles that cover more than just one specific area of Scripture.

Each book of the Bible has a rather lengthy introduction. It sets the scenes, explaining the context of the book. It also covers some topics related to that specific book. For example, Genesis covers the reliability of the book of Genesis and the relationship of Genesis to Ancient Myths. Clearly, these are only short articles. If you wanted a full study in those areas, there are plenty of complete books, but these articles are enough to at least touch on the topics before you move into your Bible study.

Throughout, there are full articles on various topics, written by a variety of authors. Again, they won’t cover the topics in depth, and related to each of these articles are entire books written about the topic. But they do give you some TL;DR answers to some hot topic issues— maybe even some issues you’ve never even considered.

My favorite feature of this Bible is the Twisted Scripture blocks. They are just small, quick explanations of how some people misuse Scripture. I found those bits to be extremely helpful in my reading. Again, these quick writings are in no way in-depth discussions on the topics, but they will help you as you read to not get lost in the weeds of heresy.

The footnotes are quite expansive. You’ve got two layers of footnotes. The first is the standard Bible footnotes. The second layer is the bigger layer, and they explain the issues of the Scriptures on a deeper level. In some books, they are quite expansive; in others, they are more minimal, depending on the Scripture.

There is a full and pretty awesome concordance in the back. It is pretty lengthy and includes a lot for a simple Bible concordance.

It also has some pretty awesome full-color maps in the back. (I’m a sucker for a good map.)

Now, this Bible is not for those outside of the Orthodox Christian faith. If you believe something that isn’t in-line with the rest of the church, this is going to step all over your toes. If you don’t believe what is in the Apostle’s Creed, this Bible is not for you. (And you probably need to read it anyway.) It doesn’t take stances that I would say are denominational; however, it doesn’t shy away from tough issues. And it just straight “calls it like it is” and doesn’t “beat around the bush” about it.

It calls out bad theology by name. I found that helpful in knowing exactly who or what they were talking about. Some books try not to call out the groups by name, and it can be confusing who or even what they are talking about.

So, be aware that if you believe something that isn’t in the Canon, you will likely be offended at some point in your reading.

Honestly, that candidness is what makes me like this study Bible so much. It is very clear in what it is telling you. I really appreciate this Bible. I love the CSB version, I have several Bibles in that version, and that is my preferred version for personal Bible study.

I recommend this Bible pretty highly. I know the nature of apologetics doesn’t appeal to everyone. There are some who choose to be inspired rather than challenged. This would make an excellent Bible for a teen, young adult, new Christian, or someone solid in their faith who isn’t quite sure what they believe or who wants to deepen their understanding of their faith. They do make a version for students, but I am unsure how it is different from this version. This Bible is for anyone who really wants to get down to answering the questions they may have. Again, this is a Bible. It is intended to be a help as you read and study your Bible. There are entire books on apologetics that you can read if you want, but I do think this Bible will help as you are studying God’s Word to answer some of those big questions. This Bible can be a help to different people across many life situations. While perhaps not the right choice for everyone, I really like it.

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ESV Family Devotional Bible Review

The last few months, I have been using this Family Devotional Bible from Crossway. I wanted to use it for a little while before I gave my review of it. So, I’ve been pulling it out during family devotion time. I have the hardcover edition, but it is also available in blue or brown imitation leather.

Now, when I think of a family Bible, I think of an heirloom quality Bible. Something pretty and significant. I don’t think of a picture Bible. But this is not necessarily intended to be that stately family Bible. This is far more practical. It is a Bible a younger family can walk through together during family devotion time. I’m not sure if you’ve gathered this or not, but I am a very big advocate for family devotions.

This Bible has plenty of full color pictures. Now, the colored ink on the Bible paper does wrinkle the page a little bit. I’m not sure if you can tell from this picture, but there is a rippled texture throughout the picture pages. While the paper is thicker than standard Bible paper, it still didn’t hold up perfectly with the ink. But the pictures are beautiful.

They aren’t childish cartoons, you have these beautiful illustrations throughout. They do remind me a little of the Bible storybooks in doctor’s office waiting rooms, but I love the illustrations in those, so it works out.

There is a small amount of ghosting on the backs of picture pages, but they don’t interfere with being able to see the pages. It is very light on footnotes.

The devotions are the real highlight of this Bible. It has these interspersed throughout Scripture. They are with the Scripture you are talking about. I really like the questions they give. They are directed enough to stay on topic, but open ended enough to give real thoughtful discussion. Smaller kids won’t benefit from the questions as much as older kids, tweens, teens, and you will. I think that makes these devotions great for a family with a wide age range. While I wouldn’t say this devotion would be ideal for families with only teens in the house, it becomes ideal for those who may have a teen or two along with a younger kid. With the younger kids, the story and illustrations are going to be where they gain the most. For older kids, tweens, teens, and parents- the discussion is where you gain the most. If you have younger kids, you may want to skip the discussion or go light on it. But if you have kids who are older, definitely make sure you leave time for the discussion questions.

The devotions focus on the hero type stories in the Bible. You won’t find a single devotion in the book of Psalms, for example. They are Biblically based and don’t really veer into any specific theology. They stay focused on the Bible stories.

30 devotions are in the Pentateuch. (None in Leviticus.)

24 devotions through the historical books.

0 devotions through the books of wisdom.

2 devotions in the major prophets.

1 devotion in the minor prophets.

56 devotions are in the Gospels.

14 devotions in the book of Acts.

1 devotion in Philemon.

1 devotion in Revelation.

(For a total of 130 devotions.)

It is reasonable to think you could go through all these devotions in one year. And you can go through them in any order you wish. You could start at the beginning. Or, if you’re starting later in the year, start with the Gospels to get further into the life of Jesus around Advent time. You can go straight through or jump around. They do tell you what page the next devotion can be found at the end of each devotion, but there is also an index in the back where you could pick the devotion that best fits you right now. (Either fits what your preacher talked about this week, fits where you are in the liturgical year, fits what you are studying in school, or just fits where your mind and interests are right now.)

I love the ESV version for kids. It is on a 10th grade reading level, so it still has a poetic, non-childish feel. But when read aloud, it is easy for them to understand in modern language.

There are 8 really nice maps at the end of this Bible. I like how they illustrated them. They are very interesting for kids, but also easy for them to understand.

Overall, I have really enjoyed this Bible. I think the devotions are excellent for a wide range of ages. The illustrations are beautiful. The Scripture is right there with each devotion so you’re not flipping around to find what you’re reading. The ESV version is a great read aloud version of the Bible for kids. I think this is an excellent resource for families. I wouldn’t say this Bible is a good Bible for kids, but rather as a family resource.

**I received this Bible for free in exchange for my honest review. I am in no way obligated to review it favorably. **

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The Complete Jewish Study Bible Review

I have been very into various Bibles lately. There are just so many different study Bibles that capture my attention. Some capture my attention in a negative way. “Why would anyone make that study Bible?!” But most capture my attention in a positive way. So, I’ve been picking up a few here and there to read through, use in my own personal devotion time, and see what my thoughts are on these various study Bibles.

The Complete Jewish Study Bible caught my attention. I grabbed a copy of the hardcover edition, but there are fancierleatherversions. This hardcover is a shiny, glossy cover, but it is really good quality. Just for aesthetics, I like the color and the intricate stained glass patterns they use throughout.

And guys- two sewn in bookmarks! That makes me really happy. I’m still waiting for a Bible to come with three. One for the Old Testament reading, one for the Psalms, and one for the New Testament reading. The Pastor wants 4- Old Testament, Psalms, Gospel, and Letters. The font is easy to read and in single column format. The margins are very narrow and not really suitable for writing in.

This Study Bible is packed full of useful study tools and information. I’m not the intended audience for this Bible. However, I have really liked this Bible. It has helped me see God’s Word in a new light. It has given more life and deeper meaning to things I’ve been reading my entire life. It has been a challenge to use, but it has made me slow down and really study the Word and not just breeze right through it. This won’t be the Bible for everyone, and I will get to that later, but it is an excellent study Bible.

The first issue to note is that this Bible is not in our typical English order. It still begins with Genesis and ends with Revelation, but it is not in the same order in between. You have the Torah first (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). Then you have all the prophets together (Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel [1st and 2nd], Kings [1st and 2nd], Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi). Followed by the Writings (Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, Chronicles [1st and 2nd]). In the New Testament, you have the Gospel first (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), followed by Acts, then you have the letters broken into three categories; Letters to Communities (Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians), Pastoral Letters (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon), and Messianic Letters (Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude). And then you end with Revelation. If you’re not used to this, you’ll have to just use the table of contents as you acclimate to the order of the books.

Next, you’ll likely notice that you don’t recognize the names of the Bible. The aim of this particular translation was to restore the Jewishness of the Bible. So the names of the books have been taken back to their Hebrew names. No worries, though. The English names appear on the right hand pages with the Jewish names on the left.

I also found I didn’t know any of the people or places in the Bible! Those got put in Hebrew, as well. I actually really appreciated this. It made me read it a little outside of my language. It also had me noticing who was doing what a little bit more. And fortunately, they included a handy Glossary of Hebrew (with pronunciations!) to English. So, I could look them up as much as I needed to.

Each book of the Bible has a great introduction to bring you into the book, including an outline. It also goes ahead and tells you the main names and places in English so you don’t have to look them all up straight out of the gate.

The Complete Jewish Bible also contains a great amount of introductory material. It tells why they translated it the way they did. It goes into translation issues. It brings up the vision and potential audience of the translation. They go into detail on why the Bible is God’s Word to humanity. It explains poetry, law, legalism, and more. It fully outlines the prophesy of the Messiah and how Jesus is the fulfillment of that prophesy. The introduction is almost a full book of great information to help as you study God’s word.

Now, this Bible is not going to be for everyone. There are plenty of people who are about calf-deep in their walk into the river of God’s Word and this will just make them almost drown. If you were just stepping in and knew nothing of the Bible, this would be a fine place to start. No worries there at all. But there are people who are not yet fluent in the Bible but are getting there. This is going to overwhelm those people. People completely non-fluent in Scripture and people very fluent in Scripture will find something amazing here. But those middle people may need to get a little more comfortable with The Word before diving into something like this. I’d hate for anything meant for good to be a stumbling block. This Bible is very much of the scholarly side of things. This is not about life application or practical application of doctrine. This Bible helps you understand the world into which Jesus came into and the world the Jewish people came from. It brings you back into those Hebrew roots so you are better able to read the stories and the words more in their context. It is an extremely eye opening experience.

This Bible is packed full of even more features than I’ve listed. Articles from Jewish scholars. Information of Jewish customs. There is just so much here. It also has footnotes that describe the culture of what is going on within the Scriptures.

I will definitely be hanging onto this Bible. It makes the Scripture new and fresh. It brings to life deeper meanings. It brings more understanding of Jewish faith and culture. And all along the way, you can see Jesus woven throughout. It just highlights those threads of grace so we see the shadow of the cross stretching across the entire span of man’s history.

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ESV Illuminated Bible Review

I might be a little bit of a Bible fanatic. I am always looking at the new Bibles coming out soon and admiring them. When I saw that Crossway was releasing the ESV Illuminated Journaling Bible, I was immediately obsessed. All the pictures just looked so beautiful! I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

Just know the pictures don’t even come close to capturing the beauty of this Bible! Crossway made this Bible in 4 editions. This is the green hardcover version. You can also get a burgundy imitation leather or navy blue cloth bound hardcover. They also had a black topgrain leather version that is no longer available. And yes, they all feature the beautiful gold patterns on the cover. The green hardcover, this one, has a book jacket. The other three have a slipcase box. I’m honestly never a fan of either and both end up getting tossed in my house.

Each book of the Bible has a beautifully illustrated title page. Every illustration in this Bible is shiny gold. It is a best of both worlds kind of journaling Bible. It already has beautiful, finished illustrations. But it also has plenty of room to add your own illustrations or notes.

As you can see, there is a bit of ghosting in the margins. The paper is thick for Bible paper, but it is still Bible paper. It is thick enough that you don’t have to be precious about which highlighters you use. I find Crossway journaling Bibles to be thick enough to color and even paint on. It just takes a little practice getting your paint thin enough or your paper prepped so it won’t bleed.

There are small illustrations in the margins throughout the Bible. They are all so pretty. You could leave this Bible on your coffee table just to flip through, it is so lovely.

You can see that even though it is full of beautiful gold illustrations, there is still room to add your own doodles, art, and notes. The margins are completely blank, but I still think this would make an excellent Bible for someone who wants a beautifully illustrated Bible, but is more of a note taker. You can also see that the pages lay pretty flat.

Really, the only “extras” in this Bible are these pages at the end (there are more than pictured) that have pictures of each book’s cover page and a brief explanation of the art you see there. I would absolutely love to have these as art prints to frame on the wall, but there are so many! But they are so beautiful! I just want them out where I can see them all the time. But there are no maps, no concordance, no topical studies. This is just a single column ESV Bible text with wide margins and lovely gold illustrations throughout. Very simple. Very beautiful.

This Bible ended up being so much more beautiful in person than I imagined, which was a difficult task because everything I had seen was amazingly beautiful. The Illuminated Journaling Bible is just so beautiful and such high quality. This is just another great way to fall in love with God’s Word.

**This Bible was sent to me from Crossway Bibles free for review. I am in no way obligated to give a favorable review. Because I received this item free for review, none of the links in this post are affiliate links.**

Choosing A Bible Translation

We have a huge blessing available to us in modern Bible translations. Not only do we have the Bible translated into our language, but we have multiple translations that are great for various walks of life and situations. We are abundantly blessed. So, don’t get yourself worked into a tizzy over which translation is the right translation. They’re all translations. You may prefer one, but our preference does not equal rightness. You may find yourself in a spiritual drought at some point, needing the Word to be fresh for you. A different translation can be all it takes to make the Word come alive again. You may find yourself discipling a child and need something on their level, but not a Bible storybook level either. You may find yourself reading the minor prophets in a new translation that makes it sound so poetic and beautiful and you experience Scripture in beauty for the first time. You may be helping a new Christian and need something readable for someone with no personal Christian history. Read on and find the translation for you now.

Translations are made one of two ways. Well, that simplifies it a little too much, but for the sake of this conversation, we’ll go with it. If you’re looking at a foreign language and you’re going to translate it, you can either translate each individual word or you can translate the whole thought. Translating word for word can lead to some things that just don’t make a lot of sense, since we arrange our words in English very specifically. (Did you know we even have a specific order for arranging adjectives?) So, in translating word for word, you can see you’ll run into problems. However, when translating thought for thought, you may not accurately convey the right word or the right emphasis. You find people complaining about the exact accuracy of thought for thought translations. But all translations will fall somewhere between an exact word for word translation and a thought for thought translation.

Each translation also comes in at a different grade reading level. Lower grade levels are typically going to have a less expansive vocabulary used.

King James Version (KJV)

This translation is a word for word translation with a very high reading level. (12th grade) While many people that grew up in a conservative church find this to be the Bible translation they are most familiar with, new Christians typically struggle to make sense of this translation. It is more like reading Shakespeare. It is incredibly beautiful in its language, but can be difficult to understand or get to the point. This translation is often a good one for memorizing Scripture because the poetic language is easier for some people to memorize. The flow just lends itself to getting lodged in the brain. However, for new Christians, people feeling spiritual draught, and younger Christians, the reading level is just too high and they have trouble making sense of the Word. This translation was published in 1611. This is a very common choice for a family Bible because it feels and reads like an old classic.

I John 1:9 “ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Psalm 40:2 “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.”

New King James Version (NKJV)

This translation is still a word for word translation. Modernized a little and the reading level brought down to a much more readable 8th grade level. It still has a lot of the poetic feel of the King James, but makes a little more sense and is easier for most people to study. This is often the choice of pastors for their preaching Bible translation. Again, Scripture memorization may be easier with this version as it is more poetic and sticks in your head like a song. This translation was published in 1982. It is a classic, conservative feel that is understandable by more people. I use this translation as our homeschool Bible. This is the translation my kids learn their memory verses from and we do our group reading from.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Psalm 40:2 “ He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps.”

New International Version (NIV)

This is a mixture of word for word and thought for thought translation. A little of both has made this a pretty standard choice. It is just below an 8th grade reading level, so it is pretty well understood by most people. This was published in 1978 and is now the most read and the most trusted translation choice.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Psalm 40:2 “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

New Living Translation (NLT)

Like the NIV, the New Living Translation is a balance between word for word and thought for thought translation. The reading level is just above a 6th grade level, so this is a very understandable translation for most people. This was not a translation of a translation, but a brand new translation undertaking by 90 Biblical scholars. This translation flows smoothly and makes a lot of sense. It is less poetic, but much more readable and understandable. This is an excellent translation for new Christians. Published in 1996.

1 John 1:9 “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

Psalm 40:2 “He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.”

English Standard Version (ESV)

This is a word for word translation in a little above a 7th grade reading level. This is the most popular choice for Bible Journaling. It is very readable. It isn’t unnecessarily wordy and makes a great modern choice for Scripture memorization. Publish in 2001, it is an updated version of the Revised Standard Version. This makes an excellent family Bible. I use this translation in my Bible Journaling and we have a family Bible in this translation. This also makes a great gift Bible.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Psalm 40:2 “He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.”

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

This is a modern word for word translation at a higher reading level, 11th grade. It has a more formal feel than most of the other modern translations. Published in 1971, updated in 1995. This is very readable, but also more of a scholarly translation. This is a great choice for a preaching Bible or a Christian ready for deeper Bible study. Not always the best for Scripture memorization as it does get a little wordy. This also makes an excellent family Bible.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Psalm 40:2 “He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.”

Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

This is more of a word for word translation. It has a 7th grade reading level. This version is clear and concise. It is excellent for Bible study. It can also be a great translation for New Christians. I think my primary recommendation is for Christians experience spiritual dryness in their life and need the Word to come alive again. This is the translation that you can read the stories you’ve heard your whole life and see something completely new and shocking in it that has always been there, but you are just seeing it. It is a good eye opening translation for personal study. I think it would make a great preaching Bible, as well, but I don’t know many pastors who actually use it for that. This is the Bible I use as my church Bible and for personal Bible Study.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Psalm 40:2 “He brought me up from a desolate pit, out of the muddy clay, and set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure.”

International Children’s Bible (ICB)

This is a thought for thought translation in a third grade reading level. This is a translation meant for children. If you’re a children’s pastor, this would be a good preaching and teaching Bible for you. This is a good choice for a first Bible for a child. It is very easily understood. Published in 1982. This can be difficult for kids to follow along in service or Bible study if the leader isn’t using this version.

1 John 1:9 “But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins. We can trust God. He does what is right. He will make us clean from all the wrongs we have done.”

Psalm 40:2 “ He lifted me out of the pit of destruction, out of the sticky mud. He stood me on a rock. He made my feet steady.“

The Message (MSG)

This is a thought for thought, paraphrase version. A lot of hate out there for this version, but I think it definitely has its place. This translation is excellent for seekers who have no Christian back ground or experience. It was published in 2002, and can sometimes seem too flippant for many conservative Christians. But a teen who has never read the Bible will find this an invaluable source of God’s Word. And not just teens. The reading level varies with the passage, but it is about a middle school average. This can also be a good version for those experiencing spiritual aridity, but it doesn’t make for a very good study Bible. You will hear and notice things you didn’t before, but not in the same way you will with the CSB. This is a difficult version to follow along with in service or Bible study because of the paraphrasing.

1 John 1:9 “ On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.“

Psalm 40:2 “ He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip.“

New International Reader’s Version (NIrV)

This is a blend of word for word and thought for thought. This has the lowest reading level of any of the translations, just below 3rd grade. This is a translation for very young children. This was published in 1994 and updated in 1998. It is a beginner’s Bible. Excellent choice for a first Bible for brand new readers. This is a good resource for homeschooling parents to use to teach young kids to read or write using the Bible. This is the translation I usually buy my kids as they are learning to read.

1 John 1:9 “But God is faithful and fair. If we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins. He will forgive every wrong thing we have done. He will make us pure.”

Psalm 40:2 “I was sliding down into the pit of death, and he pulled me out. He brought me up out of the mud and dirt. He set my feet on a rock. He gave me a firm place to stand on.”

This isn’t all the Bible translations available to you. Check out biblegateway.com if you want to compare more translations. These are just a few that I hope might help you in choosing the Bible that is right for your situation.

Another note: I used to find myself feeling bad for owning multiple copies of the Bible. That was surely a luxury many in this world do not have. And that is correct. There are many who don’t have the luxury of owning one single full copy of God’s Word. So, it often felt very first world of me to own many copies. However, I have come to accept that a Bible used in my house by me or my children is to God’s glory. No matter how many Bibles we have- if we are using them, it is for His glory. Also, supporting Bible publishers is supporting Bible translators. These companies can do good around the world with my support. Supporting them is supporting the work of furthering the spread of the Gospel. Choosing to put my money in their pockets is better than what I would have spent it on elsewhere. Also, I am always willing to give my Bible away. Whatever copy I may have in my hand at the moment, if someone else has no copy- I’m always ready to give mine away. I am not hoarding Bibles, though it may seem that way.

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Feng Shui Mommy & Musings on Being A Mother


I had the opportunity to review the book Feng Shui Mommy by Bailey Gaddis recently. It took me a little longer than usual, since we have been traveling for what seems like forever. And I see these Instagram posts of parents having this relaxing, chill time while traveling, reading and sipping pretty cups of coffee. That is so far from my life. For me, traveling is a bunch of yelling at kids to please, don’t scream in the bus. And please, don’t throw a half eaten orange on the floor. And then trying to get them settled wherever we are staying is trying. Please don’t break anything. Please don’t scream. Just behave for a couple days, guys! My kids really need time to run outside and be wild children. They just get all crazy without it. And then trying to find decent food on the road while the kids are yelling “Look! Burger King! We haven’t been there in years! Please!!!!” It is just far from relaxing. And there is zero time for me to accomplish anything other than keeping the kids alive.I wasn’t entirely sure about this book. Feng Shui isn’t my think, neither is Eastern mysticism. But I figured I had read any other pregnancy book I could get my hands on, why not this one too? And I am a believer that wisdom can be gained from anywhere. You just have to be able to put in the wisdom and leave whatever doesn’t work for you behind.

I’ll start with the good. Bailey is hilarious. I’m sure we’d get along great in a Mommy group. The book is very encouraging, yet honest about the process of becoming a mother. It is really applicable for a first time mom or a seventh time mom like myself. We all know pregnancy is this giant miracle, the piece of creative work here on earth. But we also know it comes with hemorrhoids, stretch marks, uncontrollable belching, and plenty of other super fun things they write entire pregnancy books about. Bailey acknowledges these unfortunate parts while still reveling in the miraculousness of it all. And the commonness. Let’s face it. My pregnancy is life changing. For me. And my family. Not so much for everyone else. Pregnant women are everywhere. Babies are born every day. We don’t stop and revel in that daily miracle, unless the miracle is in our arms or our circle. Not that you, pregnant woman, are not special and your baby isn’t the most awesome thing ever. But there is comfort in knowing that you’re not alone in your journey. This isn’t a path not taken. Women have babies. It is what we do.

She lays down a lot of good advice about letting go of fears and accepting and allowing this experience to shape and change you. Motherhood is going to change you. You won’t be the same. Not that you will not be you, you’ll just be a better you. Motherhood has the opportunity to let us get beyond ourselves, see things in a more broad light, and see the world not just for what it is, but what it could be for our children. You hear a lot of women talking about loosing themselves in motherhood. That has not been my experience at all. I have found myself in motherhood. I have tapped into creativity, problem solving, stamina, strength, wisdom, and more through becoming a mother. Motherhood has made me a more complete person.

There are other nuggets of wisdom throughout this book. There are little aspects similar to hypnobabies, for those not necessarily wanting to jump head in to that or wanting a little more than that. Each chapter has a riddle and the answer is the code for a free relaxation recording on her website. (Yourserenelife.wordpress if you are wanting to check out the website or just purchase the recordings.) If you are a bit high strung, this will definitely help you quiet your mind and rest. The recording go alongside the chapter. There is some great information about prenatal nutrition, exercising, dealing with your anxieties, figuring out your birth plan, breathing, breastfeeding, and postpartum self care. A lot of the things she suggests are very “woo” (hippie, might seem weird to most mainstream folks), but try them and you’ll find so many benefits (without side effects). This book is really packed with a lot of natural birth type basics, specifically helpful in the preparing stage.

I genuinely expected the major focus of the book to be decluttering and a form of minimalism in a family home. While there was a little of that, it was more about decluttering your mind and letting go of the junk you keep stashed in there, less about what you keep stashed under your bed. (Though it does briefly address that aspect, too.)

Now for my only big critique. As much as I enjoyed the book, Feng Shui isn’t my language. You may know what I am talking about. You read pregnancy affirmations and they just don’t resonate with you, not because they are wrong, but they aren’t the language of your heart or soul. Aligning my soul and my life with nature isn’t where I find myself. I appreciate the natural world, as a creation of our God that reveals His nature to us. So while I do find myself able to adapt and use much that I find in this book, it isn’t in the language of my heart. Same with the relaxation tracks. I can find wisdom in them. I can apply them to myself. But in all, they aren’t my language. My heart resonates with Scripture, with the voices of those for the cause of Christ. So, I did find that I had to leave some of this, and adapt the rest to fit my particular worldview. I find that Scripture is what I need to quiet my soul and release my anxieties. I memorize Bible verses, not birth affirmations because Scripture speaks to me. If you aren’t a solid Christian though, this can be much harder to do and not get lost with incompatible philosophies running around in your head. However, I think the overall tone of the book, being supportive and encouraging embracing motherhood and letting it change you, is completely in line with Christian beliefs and is what many Christian women need to hear. So, I do recommend the book, despite the difference of religion and worldview that is there.


I am going to have to figure out how to cut down on this rambling for a more concise Amazon review. But this book is a great jumping off point in discussing our expectations of motherhood and what the reality could be if we let go of our fear and become the mothers we were made to be. Our culture has a lot of myths about birth. We just don’t trust it because it is the wild, uncontrollable, unknown. We try to control it in any way we can. But pregnancy, birth, and motherhood are not beyond us- they are us. Their strength that we try to tamper because it is scary is our own strength. Our culture still paints women as these frail objects that are affected by birth. But women ARE birth. It is the work of women to BIRTH. We work alongside God in the creative act of bringing forth new life. That is amazing. That is powerful. And that is who we are and what we were made to do. For those without children, that strength is still there. It is still part of who you are. And I’m not talking about having some secret power you don’t use. You were made with the power of a mother, whether you are one or not. And you can embrace the strength given to you by God, too. One baby, ten babies, no babies. This is mystical. It is mystery. But it isn’t a nightmare or something to fear. Embrace it. Roll with it. Let it shape you.

** I did receive this book for free, however, I am under no obligation to talk it up or give it a good review. All thoughts are my own. **

Pregnancy and Childbirth Books on My Bookshelf

I’m pregnant with baby #7. And I am working on teaching free childbirth classes in my community. So I had every single childbirth book I own scattered across my dining room table. I often have people ask for recommendations, so I figured I’d share that particular “bookshelf” and tell you my thoughts on each, in case you were interested. 


*In no particular order. Post contains affiliate links.*

1. Holy Labor: How Childbirth Shapes a Woman’s Soul

By Aubrey Smith

A really encouraging and insightful look into the theology that goes along with pregnancy and childbirth. Very eye opening and brings even more meaning into this part of your life as you better understand how pregnancy and birth reflect our God.  I very, very highly recommend this book. 

2. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

By Ina May Gaskin

Full of birth stories and real practical advice for natural childbirth. Helps you more fully see the role women play in bringing forth life as well as gives you the practical tips and tricks of the birthing trade. Kind of a substitute for that passed down from woman to woman information that we have lost in our modern culture. Most of the birth stories are very “hippie”. And some of it definitely has a new age vibe to it.  
3. The Birth Book

By William Sears, M.D. And Martha Sears, R.N.

Very informative book on birth. A little dated. No frills. No fear mongering. Just information.

4. The Lord of Birth

By Jennifer Vanderlaan

A devotion for pregnant women. Now, this one goes a little far out there. It definitely isn’t for everyone. I think Holy Labor is much better. But this book does have some good reminders, if you can take what helps you and leave the rest. If this statement bothers you: planning to have an epidural in a normal labor is lack of faith on your part because you aren’t trusting God to get you through. You should skip this book. The book is really short, only 70 pages, with a lot of breaks in there for questions and such.

5. Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born

By Tina Cassidy

If you are really hormonal and sensitive, this may not be best to read while you are pregnant as some of the information is really disturbing. (Human history is always tainted with the disturbing.) It really isn’t just a book for moms, but anyone interested in the history of how we give birth. It definitely makes you view birth choices in a different, more cultural, less “right and wrong” sort of way. Understanding where we have been and why some things still are the way they are. Very interesting, and slightly disturbing, read.

6. The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth

By Henci Goer

As an information junkie, this book is one of my favorites. I have read and reread and rereread this book. I’m surprised my copy is still holding up. It is the science behind childbirth choices. Laid out in a pros and cons sort of way with all sources cited so you make your own birth decisions. Yes, the author does give her opinions at times, but the evidence backs those up. Extremely informative. Extremely helpful.

7. The Natural Pregnancy Book

By Avila Jill Romm

This is a really helpful introductory guide to having a natural pregnancy. What things should I really be avoiding? What nutrition should I really be focusing on? Is red clover safe during pregnancy? What can I naturally do for heartburn? Those are the sorts of questions this book answers. I even have mine all tabbed for quick and easy reference.

8. Your Best Birth

By Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein

You’ve seen The Business of Being Born movies, so you decide to grab the book. Good call. This is like a dumbed down version of Henci Goer’s book. It is much more for the average person who doesn’t want all the studies cited and statistics quoted. It gives you your options, pros and cons, and you make your choices. I mean, let’s be honest, you’ve seen the movie, clearly there is going to be a slant toward the natural side of things. But I do think they tried to be as informative and non-biased as possible on the subject. Some things in American Obstetrics are just wrong and it is hard to find any words to justify them. I do recommend this book. I actually recommend it in person more often than The Thinking Woman’s Guide, simply because of accessibility. This one seems more for the masses and not just science nerds.

9. Gentle Birth Choices

By Barbara Harper, R.N.

First, the picture on the cover is just adorable. Tell me that little face doesn’t make you look forward to giving birth. Gentle Birth gives you some of the history of modern obstetrics along with more natural alternatives to common practices. Very pro-midwifery. Very challenge the system. It has good information, even if you are planning a hospital birth. Although, if you know you are delivering in a hospital, you may want to try other books, since this one might increase your anxiety about it.

10. Birthing From Within

By Pam England and Rob Horowitz

When I first got this book, I thought, “What on earth have I just purchased?” However, it has been extremely helpful over the years. I have read and worked through it multiple times and recommended it to people. This book helps you recognize your preconceived ideas about childbirth and address your fears and traumas through art therapy. It sounds very woo, but it is incredibly helpful. It does have a slight new age vibe, as I find so many natural childbirth books do. But if you find yourself anxious about childbirth or needing to process your birth experiences, this book can help you do that.

11. The Christian Childbirth Handbook

By Jennifer Vanderlaan

Basically, if it has the words “Christian” and “Childbirth” in the title, I’m going to buy it. I am always looking for really good Christian alternative for the new age stuff that seems to be so prevalent when discussing natural childbirth. I have found I can glean wisdom from those other sources, but not deep understanding and deeper meaning. This is much better than her Lord of Birth devotional. There is the informative stuff, and the author is very pro- natural birth. But there are also Bible verses throughout, which I found to be helpful. I do like this book. And this book is much bigger. It is 400+ pages of actual information, not a devotional, though it does have devotional thoughts.

12. Christ Centered Childbirth

By Kelly J Townsend

Again, in my search for good Christian childbirth books, I came across this one. Some of this one is a little hokey and just not for me. It does have good information, it just isn’t laid out in the most user friendly way. I do like that it includes Scripture to read. However, it isn’t really the best Christian childbirth book I have read. It is good, just not awesomely great.  

13. Spiritual Midwifery

By Ina May Gaskin

This book is very new age. It has a lot of very hippie birth stories, which can help dispel the fear of the birthing process. I found the birth stories prepared me better for birth than anything else. This book also has a lot of really great information. The second half of the book is basically a midwifery textbook. And while I really enjoy that sort of thing, not everyone needs that level of information. The birth stories are probably the more popular reason for buying this book. The stories were similar to Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, but I still thought they were worth the read.

14. The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth

By Sheila Kitzinger

This book has a very basic week by week pregnancy guide in the front of the book. Then gets into the standard pregnancy book stuff. Like a better version of What To Expect When You’re Expecting. It has good information, full color pictures (some are graphic, because… birth), and helpful tips from pregnancy all the way through birth. A very good book to cover all the basics. Like a childbirth class in a book.

15. Easing Labor Pain

By Adrienne B. Lieberman

This book is specifically natural labor techniques. If you are planning an unmedicated labor, this book would be a good one to read. I found it more helpful than the Bradley method or Lamaze breathing techniques. This one has actual helpful things to prepare for labor and then for handling labor once you’re there.

16. Waiting In Wonder

By Catherine Claire Larson

This book is a week by week guide to pregnancy and a pregnancy devotion book all in one. Each week has information about your growing baby, a prayer list for that week, a memory verse, and then several individual devotions to do throughout the week. There are 4 devotions per week, so it isn’t a daily thing. But it has room for thought and reflection. This would make a really lovely gift for the expecting couple, or buy it for yourself as you walk through each week of pregnancy with your focus on God. It can be used as a journal, as there are places to write in answers to questions, thoughts, feelings, etc. on the pages.  

17. Our Bodies, Ourselves

By The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective

There are specific versions for pregnancy, but I have the big women’s health reference book. Honestly, I just don’t like it enough to bother with the Pregnancy version. Extremely liberal. Not my cup of tea at all. With information from everything from addiction and relationships to anatomy and menopause. I just found there was way more political and opinion writing that actual scientific information. It isn’t a book about health, but rather, feminism with some anatomy and health related issues thrown in.

18. A Good Birth, A Safe Birth

By Diana Korte and Roberta M. Scaer

This book goes through birth options and birth issues. Even a chapter called, “How to Have A Normal Vaginal Birth”. (How sad is it that we have gotten to the point where to norm is now something we have to seek after and really try for?) It has really good information, I just think The Thinking Woman’s Guide to A Better Birth and Your Best Birth lay it out a little better. A good book, but not necessarily my highest recommended one on these specific topics.

19. Great With Child

By Debra Rienstra

This is more of a memoir. The ramblings of a mother through her pregnancy. It is very poetic and thoughtful. I wouldn’t necessarily say it is of any “help” in pregnancy and childbirth or even a book to only be read through pregnancy and childbirth. It is more of the internal musings of becoming a mother and carrying another person inside you.

20. Baby Name Wizard

By Laura Wattenberg

They now have a hugely popular website, which kind of makes the book obsolete, unless, like me, you prefer an actual book to information on a screen. The website is way more in depth than the book could ever be. The books also focuses more on the trends of the names than the meanings or where they came from. So, it isn’t a typical approach to naming, that is for sure. But check out the Baby Name Wizard website if you’re wanting to search naming trends. A lot more information. And its free. (The book isn’t free.)

21. The Mama Natural Week-By-Week guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth

By Genevieve Howland

This one is really, really new. I have been following her YouTube channel, so when the book was coming out, I pre-ordered it. It came out April 2017. (So, super new as I am writing this.)

This is a week by week guide, which I love. Something about weekly pregnancy guides. It must not just be me since there are dozens of week by week pregnancy guides and apps out there. This guide is for us crunchy mamas. Although, I would actually say it is Demi-crunchy. I have definitely seen more hippie types. This si much more balanced. Very similar to The Natural Pregnancy Book, only laid out in a weekly style. My favorite thing about the book is the recipes included for each week. The specific nutrition focus is based on how the baby is developing that week, so big brain weeks, the recipes are fish. Plus, the recipes are ones I will actually use. Like, stuff I can actually find and make and will willingly eat. I am absolutely loving this book!

22. Cool Names for Babies

By Pamela Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz

Again, another silly baby name book. This one is primarily lists. What did celebrities name their kids? What about rappers? Ooh, what are names of models? How about their kids? Those are the sorts of things in this book. You’ll find normal name along with Danger Mouse and Moxie Crimefighter. It is totally amusing. You may find THE NAME in here. Or maybe you’ll just find a name to tell your Mom to get her to stop asking you what the baby’s name will be.

23. From Conception to Birth

By Alexander Tsiaras

This is a coffee table picture book. It has the little close up pictures of sperm meeting egg. Then you have the pictures as the cells duplicate. Then pictures of the baby as he develops. My kids love looking through this book. I’m not standoffish at all about how babies are made or how they are born. These are the facts of life, so I don’t hide these from my kids. They mostly focus on the development pictures and like finding pictures that correlate to their new sibling’s current stage. Look! She has a tail! We have gotten a lot of use out of this book.

24. Your Pregnancy Week By Week

By Glade B. Curtis and Judith Schuler

This was my old favorite week by week guide. Now, I have a new one. But this one is so much better than What To Expect When You’re Expecting. (Can you tell I hate that book?) Still more on the mainstream medical side, but not too much horrible freak you out information. I think Mama Natural is prettier and has better information, but if the word “Natural” freaks you out, this might be the way to go. (Though I still recommend Mama Natural, hands down.)

25. The Pregnancy Book

By William Sears, M.D. and Martha Sears, R.N.

I still have the old version of this book, not the new updated version. So my take is that the old version is old. It is more of a month by month guide, but I don’t think in terms of months when I am pregnant. I think in weeks. When someone asks me how many months pregnant I am, I honestly have no idea. Purple? My brain just doesn’t process pregnancy in months. Maybe that is an age thing, I don’t know. I think the book has good information in it. It just never was my “reach for” book. I read through it once or twice, and then it has been a bookshelf sitter.

26. The Babycenter Essential Guide to Pregnancy and Birth

By Babycenter (a bunch of people who work for Babycenter)

I can feel some people rolling their eyes so hard right now. But seriously, you gotta keep it balanced, people. I need info from all sides. And then I can roll my eyes at them. This is a week by week guide with actual mom concerns. It is very mainstream. And it has some bad information in it. It isn’t bad, but you can honestly get this information on Babycenter for free, along with the asinine comments from random people along with it. Plus on Babycenter, you’ll get the added bonus of someone’s drama that is better than watching soap operas. Really, I don’t know why Babycenter is considered “expert” advice. It should just be considered “advice”. And like all free advice, take it for what you paid for it. Now, the book, sure, buy it if you want. But Mama Natural is a much better week by week guide and other books have much better “experts” giving advice.

27. Pushed

By Jennifer Block

 Warning: do not read this book while pregnant. Don’t. It isn’t going to be healthy for you mental state. However, once you have birthed and processed said birth, read this book. For so many of us it is extremely validating. It is the book that tells us we aren’t crazy and the system is flawed. A lot of history. A lot of technical information. But all information is cited, which I appreciate. I know the book cover says you need to read this when pregnant, but for many women, it would just cause too much anxiety. You know if that applies to you. It is really good information about the inner workings of our system and the problems in how hospitals and insurance companies work. I wouldn’t say it is conspiracy theory. I think we are all awake to the problems in our medical system and the bed that is made between medicine and politics. This just looks at that from an obstetric side. As someone who was cut because of my provider’s malpractice insurance, I found it very validating. (And slightly maddening.)