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The Anomaly Mind-Set by Sandi Krakowski

In all aspects of life- school, work, church- we are expected to conform to the common standards. A common message is “fit in, or leave.” 

One of my close friends tells others I’m her friend who “didn’t fit in church, so I went outside the walls of tradition and created online Bible studies.” I cringed and took this as rejection, until I read The Anomaly Mind-Set  by Sandi Krakowski.

Reading The Anomaly Mind-Set is a spiritual experience often with great discomfort. You’ll have the feeling of Heaven on Earth as Krakowski painfully removes the curtain of conformity to this world, then invites her readers into the uniqueness of God‘s Kingdom Plan. Written for both men and women, this is a useful business book, self-discovery book, and faith-based book.

Reading this book showed me its okay to be outside the box and to stop hiding my uniqueness. I saw similarities with Sandi’s story in myself and in my unique daughters. Delivered of fear, anybody can soar to places of their highest abilities. Delivered from conformity, great leaders and inventors thrive.

For any parent raising a child with Asperger, autism, or OCD… Sandi Krakowski reveals… gives PERMISSION … that it’s okay to be different. Can we get an Amen? She writes,”The world needs businesses built on integrity and faith. The world needs anomalies.”

Sandi refers to herself as a unicorn, an anomaly. When did the world, the education system, and the previous generation decide for our unicorn kids… what “normal” will be.

Written as a biography, Sandi coaches her readers through each of the ten chapters. Journal exercises and spiritual takeaways add personalization to the experience.

Throughout the book Krakowski reveals her spiritual identity as a daughter, calling God “Papa.” Her words are tender as she shares moments of faith at work. Her Christian theology is uninhibited by doctrine and rules; she pours from her heart.

I look forward to reading this with book club friends and discussing our uniqueness.

SAMPLE BOOK QUOTES FROM THE ANOMALY MINDSET

“The quirks and things we think of as odd and set us apart could be the stepping-stones to a career.”

“When we see how we’re all designed to not fit in but to live in beautiful harmony together, you’ll see that other anomalies inspire, motivate, and even give you courage as they press forward on their path.”

“As I began to grow my business, discover myself, and learn to walk in my truth, it was then that I realized my brain was exceptional, not broken; it was remarkable and beautiful, not weird or unsafe.”

“How did we ever get to a place where opposition is supposed to be feared and being passive is to be revered?”

“Our beautiful diversity, when brought together in harmony, brings us to a higher place of unity than we could ever get to alone.”

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How I Got Approved For Free Amazon Products

featured image: Hautestock.co Amazon Vine is a wonderful program to help sellers and buyers. I’ve been a member of this program for several years and written more than 600 reviews. It took some determination on my part to get approved as a trusted Amazon reviewer.

Recently I shared with a friend who asked how she could get free products from Amazon. Applying my method, she was approved too!

Are you interested? First, you need to know that this requires work and its not available to all who ask. The program is constantly changing so my methods may work today, but not a month from now. All I can say is test it for yourself, and keep testing your eligibility.

You should know up front, I’m a regular and consistent shopper on Amazon. My established shopping history gave me credibility as a fan of the store. For years I’ve been buying ebooks (some are less than a dollar) and I’ve collected many wonderful books for my library.

When I heard about the Amazon Vine program from another mom, I started looking to see if I was eligible. Many times I’d inquire and get a message to discourage me.

But I remained persistent and once a week (sometimes twice a week) I’d search these two words: Amazon Vine. Typing the words into my Amazon search bar gave me a not eligible response.

Until one day I hit the golden ticket and they said YES!

Looking back I see a few things I’ve done to earn my reputation as a trusted reviewer:

I wrote lots of reviews for Amazon products I purchased

I was honest (and still am) in all my reviews. I am writing these with the next buyer in mind, thinking what might help them learn about my personal product experience.

Some of my reviews were low, some were high ratings, and many in between. It was super important to demonstrate integrity in my reviews and I would never compromise.

Even if other Vine reviewers were giving great product comments, I always told my experience truthfully.

After writing 10 more reviews for Amazon this week, my review ranking DROPPED instead of going up! So I discovered something…
 
Amazon TOP 10 REVIEWER RANKS is based on the “helpful votes” not the actual number of reviews written. Ratios are high on top reviewers… i’ts super fun to see them rise. 
 
There are some discomforts to this program as well. As you just saw, my Amazon reviewer ranking DROPPED. 

Sometimes the boxes are enormous and they pile up in my trash. Twice I had to hire a hauling company to get rid of them.

Sometimes the products are not wonderful and as a member of the program I am not allowed to give them away, sell them at yard sales or donate to charity. This makes sense because if a product is recalled after reviews, then it can be a hazard for the next owner. So a few times I’ve had to”junk” something and have it hauled away.

What a fluffy pink coat… my dog likes it!

Amazon provides me with a tax form stating how much the products are valued, and I am required to report this to the IRS. It’s a mystery to me how they set the tax value. Sometimes the tax value is higher than the sales price, so I decide not review those products.

Read Amazon Policy on Reviews

You probably want to know what free products I have received? In the Amazon Vine program I have a product que and I can choose from preselected items. I’m not allowed to randomly pick something and ask for it free. The sellers set the products into the que and limit the number available.

Want to see this in action?

Visit my Amazon profile, read a review and if you like the review click the “helpful” button. It’s that easy!

A reviewer’s ranking is determined by the number of helpful votes from other customers. Customers tend to value substantive, informative, detailed and objective reviews, regardless of whether the review is positive, negative, or neutral.”

21 Books in 21 Days: Spring Reading Challenge

Spring Break is in the air. As the season changes new habits begin to grow. For the next 21 days I’m unplugging from the busyness of electronics and devouring 21 books. Upon completion of the books I’ll share reviews on these books.

Immediately after asking for encouragement from my friends they posted their concerns about my comprehension, the number of pages in the books, and speed reading. None of these are concerns for me. Here’s why.

Since third grade I’ve had a great ability to comprehend what I read. I’m not a speed reader and I did have a GREAT early education for reading comprehension. Each day after school I went to the public library, read two or three books, and repeated it the next day.

When I graduated high school I received an English scholarship for UC Berkeley.

Later as an adult I worked at two different libraries.

Reading is a lifelong habit for me

We don’t have cable television in my home, and I’m not a big fan of watching the news. This allows me opportunities to read before work and after dinner. In fact, from 7 PM until 11 PM when my eyes are tired.. I relax with four hours of reading time!


To keep myself from getting bored, I rotate book authors and themes. Changing reading rooms also beats the sense of boredom. Sometimes I’ll read on the sofa with a blanket, or in my favorite chair with a dog on my lap. I’ll jump into the recliner chair when its unoccupied.


I’m teaching myself to be focused, learning new ideas, and expanding my vocabulary. Encourage me!!

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Uncommon: Pursuing a Life of Passion and Purpose

Carey Scott, in her book Uncommon: Pursuing a Life of Passion and Purpose takes the word ‘uncommon’ and unpacks it into a positive experience through the lens of Scripture. You’ll want to read it twice: once alone as you cry, and again with a group of friends on the same journey of uncommon womanhood. Get out your highlighters and get started on this book today! -Christine Abraham

This book lives up to the title, because its uncommon to surrender when the world tells you to conform. Through life experiences and personal stories, Carey takers her reader on a journey of boldness in faith. Her readers self-discover their own passion and a revived trust in God’s Word.

When Carey Scott asked me if I wanted to read a copy of her newest book “Uncommon: Pursuing a Life of Passion and Purpose” I did not hesitate to say yes. I met this amazing woman online though social media and was immediately captivated by her passion and purpose. Then she writes this incredible book and now I want to drink coffee with her and stay up all night chatting about Jesus.

She’s authentic and every word in her book is soul-catching for me. Because of her book and story, I feel like we’re sisters -though we’ve never met in person. It’s THAT powerful. I’ve enjoyed this book so much it’s one of my 10 Favorite Books of the Year.

Favorite Quotes

  • I was at the crossroads of questioning God and trusting God, and I had a choice to make. Carey Scott
  • It’s easy to trust God when the stakes are low, but this wasn’t one of those times. Carey Scott
  • You cannot live extraordinary when you live in the bondage of ordinary. Carey Scott
  • Perfection is a lie, and it’s nowhere close to God’s heart for us. Carey Scott
  • We can’t live uncommon lives if we’re so consumed by what others might think of us. Carey Scott
  • This isn’t dress rehearsal, friend. No, we are living on the stage of life. Carey Scott

About the Author: Carey Scott is an author, speaker, and life coach, honest about her walk with the Lord… stumbles, fumbles and all. Her passion is reminding women of their immeasurable worth, something the world is quick to discount. She speaks to women’s groups and writes about the issues that matter most to the heart of a woman.

Published: Shiloh Run Press (July 1, 2017)

Disclosures: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. 

Photo by Tirza van Dijk on Unsplash

New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional

When you begin the day with a new attitude based on the Bible, you know it’s going to be  transformational in how you look at people and events. Beginning the day with New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul David Tripp is a trip (pun intended) through power-thoughts! Let me tell you why…

This is a devotional book that does not collect dust on your bookshelf. It’s a “pick-up-and-read” daily book with a power-packed message each day, for 365 days. I am amazed how spot-on these messages are. They’re not long to read but the words linger throughout the day.

It’s similar to Oswald Chambers “My Utmost For His Highest” with convincing words- for both a new Christian and a mature Christian. It’s different in the absence of the actual Scripture verse, perhaps intentionally, so the reader is not struggling with Bible translations. Instead of writing out the verse, the reader will use a Bible alongside the devotional and look up references. I found it helpful to use an electronic Bible for this purpose.

I’ve enjoyed this devotional so much it’s one of my 10 Favorite Books of the Year. Now I have a Kindle version so I can carry the devotional when I travel, a PDF version from my book review, and a hardcover to give as a gift. Yes- I do enjoy this book!

365 Gospel-Centered Devotions for the Whole Year

Mornings can be tough. Sometimes, a hearty breakfast and strong cup of coffee just aren’t enough. Offering more than a rush of caffeine, best-selling author Paul David Tripp wants to energize you with the most potent encouragement imaginable: the gospel.

Forget “behavior modification” or feel-good aphorisms. Tripp knows that what we really need is an encounter with the living God. Then we’ll be prepared to trust in God’s goodness, rely on his grace, and live for his glory each and every day.

Favorite Quotes

  • I must always remember the grace I am given and extend that grace to the people in my life.
  • In every situation, location, and relationship in our lives there is a war for control of our hearts.
  • The grand delusion of every act of sin is that we can be disloyal to God and everything will work out in the end.

About the Author: Paul David Tripp (DMin, Westminster Theological Seminary) is a pastor, author, and international conference speaker. He is also the president of Paul Tripp Ministries. He has written a number of popular books on Christian living, including What Did You Expect?Dangerous CallingParenting, and New Morning Mercies. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife Luella and they have four grown children. For more information and resources, visit paultrippministries.org

Published: Crossway; 1 edition (October 31, 2014)

Disclosures: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. 

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

The Volunteer Church: Mobilizing Your Congregation for Growth and Effectiveness

Book Review: The Volunteer Church: Mobilizing Your Congregation for Growth and Effectiveness by Leith Anderson and Jill Fox.

This book is packed with detailed ideas and storytelling from personal experience. The writing style is analytical with identification of problems and solutions to common volunteer challenges. Many biblical references support the volunteer structures outlined in the book.

This is a terrific book for anyone leading a local church, parachurch, or ministry. A wealth of wisdom is tucked into each chapter for recruiting, training, managing, and terminating volunteers. I’ve read several books on the subject and so far, this is the best one yet! The authors repeatedly emphasize exploring the spiritual gifts and adjusting the volunteer into positions where the gift are magnified. A reward system is outlined for thank volunteers- beyond the usual coffee mugs and annual thank-you lunch.

Many levels of volunteer placements are discussed as examples- from the youth ministry, ushers ministry, Bible camps, and small groups. It’s a well-rounded point of discussion from the experience of senior church leadership teams.

The Volunteer Church was developed out of the ministry of Leith Anderson at Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, where a vital and vibrant volunteer program boasting 4,000 participants grew under the leadership of Jill Fox. The principles and training have been applied in churches of all sizes and denominations in seminar settings across the country as well as at Wooddale Church.

In The Volunteer Church, leaders will

  • Learn how to effectively recruit and train volunteers
  • Discover how to build sustainable, long-lasting ministries led by volunteers
  • Find methods for encouraging and maintaining your volunteers for success
  • Know how to build teams of volunteers
  • Understand how to find the right service that fits a willing volunteer

By the time I finished the book I was so excited I immediately contacted our Womens Bible Cafe™ leadership team and asked them read it too! Together we are mapping out a plan for our volunteer team based on the Intel gathered from this valuable book. We were able to identify areas of strength and weakness in our existing program and create an action plan for future growth and development.

As a ministry director, I am exceptionally grateful to the authors for writing this resource handbook. It has already been beneficial to our team and is a handbook we’ll continue using in the future.

Favorite Quotes:

  • Religious organizations led the list of volunteering opportunities…at their core, churches are volunteer organizations.
  • Volunteering is one of the primary ways we become Christ-like.
  • The volunteer church is more than a slogan or a nice book title. It is God’s design, and it’s the biblical pattern.

About the Author:  Leith Anderson serves as president of the National Association of Evangelicals. For thirty-five years he was the pastor of Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. He is a graduate of both Denver Seminary and Fuller Theological Seminary.

Published: Zondervan (August 4, 2015)

Photo by Edward Cisneros on Unsplash

Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Be More 77 Secrets To Your Powerful Life by Sandi Krakowski

As a Executive Director for Christian Ministry, I found BE MORE: 77 Secrets To Your Powerful Life by Sandi Krakowski a great reference book for living intentionally. Her book is a pure delight to read! The unique format includes 77 different themes with proven and powerful techniques from Sandi. I purchased both the Kindle and hardcover book and I love both formats! The hardcover is a beautiful cranberry red printed on high quality paper…PERFECT for gift-giving!

The #BEMORE book by Krakowski is divided into five parts:

Part One: Be More Connected to God

Part Two: Be More In Tune With Yourself

Part Three: Be More Attentive To Yourself

Part Four: Be More Engaged With Your Community

Part Five: Be More Mindful Of Your World

The book structure is similar to a devotional, yet it’s business themed. Instead of daily Scripture verses and prayer, the days are arranged by “secret number.” The writing style is energetic and positive, so the exclamation point is used frequently!

My favorite feature in the Kindle version is the “Tweet this” quote and #BEMORE link. The book is interactive and fun with this added feature.

I found the #BEMORE book enjoyable and easy to read. I like the structure and format, and chose to read a few “secrets” per day rather than plow through the book like a novel. It’s a book I will reference again and again.

SAMPLE QUOTES FROM #BEMORE BY SANDI KRAKOWSKI

“When we place too much value on what others have, we become dissatisfied with our own gifts and blessings.”

“One of our biggest barriers to success is our tendency to prepare for failure.”

“Shutting out the devil’s chatter and tuning in to God’s promises will allow you to BE MORE.”

“We have to do the work of a champion to live the life of a champion.”

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Disclosures:This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com I purchased a Kindle AND a printed version of the #BEMORE book by Sandi Krakowski. I was so excited by the book, I later asked Sandi to be on her “book launch team” and she agreed.