Thursday, January 19, 2017

Flash the Donkey

A creative story with a great storyline about friendship. The author/illustrator had many spreads that made me laugh out loud. It turns out Flash, the main character, is based on a real life donkey and the author has written another book for adults, definitely piqued my interest.

This book was delightfully illustrated and had a Biblical moral about friendship and good deeds. Definitely a lesson my family is learning. My four school aged kids loved listening and it provided plenty of conversation starters. I would buy additional children's books by this author if available.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in return for this review.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Open by David Gregory

If you are familiar with the book Dinner with a Perfect Stranger by David Gregory, then this is along the similar lines. After relationship troubles and the feeling that she had "settled" on a number of fronts, Emma wonders, "Does God have time for me?" and asks "Where is his love when something happened that really mattered?" She starts to have doubts and decided Jesus wasn't enough and that the Bible didn't provide her with the answers she needed. Her real question was this-Does God exist?

Emma finds herself on a very personal adventure with Jesus that starts with her in a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee in a horrible, gale-like storm. Jesus allows her to be an onlooker to many biblical events in order to prove that not only does God exist, but that He is in fact a very personal God that cares deeply for her.

This book was an easy read with short chapters, but challenging none the less. I envision leaving it in my guest room for travelers to enjoy, Christian and non-Christian alike. I know plenty of people who are wondering the same thing and asking similar questions as Emma. David Gregory does a great job relating Jesus' ministry to our modern day mindset. Highly recommended.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Review of a prayer and praise coloring journal


This journal contains more than 50 entries that include a prayer, a verse, and lined space for reflection. Peppered throughout are blank pages that include a verse and brief instruction to encourage meditation. It has many beautiful pages, I personally prefer the colored ones. A majority of the journal entries has an entire page dedicated to a quote or a Bible verse; which if you really liked, you could remove and frame. 
As far as the actual physical journal, I'm not a fan. It is hardcover, but has an added cardboard layer, that feels uncomfortable when I am holding it and writing. And at $14.99, it seems pretty steep for a simple journal.  Personally, I'm not a fan of adult coloring books as a means of relaxation and de-stressing, but that is for you to decide. And I'm not sure how I feel about the Mandala-like look to the journal's coloring pages. Overall, I give it a 3 out of 5 rating. 
I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Tyndale House.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Next door as it is in Heaven-living out God's kingdom in your neighborhood

This book by Lance Ford and Brad Brisco is all about empowering you to transform your neighborhood for the glory of God. The book can be summarized in this quote, "...we are seeking to give vision to what can happen when heavenly minded people determine to do earthly good in the places they live, work, and play" p 61. This book provides motivation and Biblical reasoning on the why's and how to's of hospitality. It was convicting for me, especially since we have recently moved into a new neighborhood. Perhaps our family can just start off on the right foot. 

The authors, friends and ministry leaders, Ford and Brisco address some of the reasons or excuses we choose not be the aroma of Christ. One of them is that American culture has undergone some dramatic shifts in terms of isolation and detachment. We tend to live as nomads and fail to establish "roots." They also believe that most Americans have resigned to pursing the "American Dream" at the expense of losing connectivity with people in general, but especially the people in our very own neighborhood. At the heart, they believe that most people truly do want to know their neighbors; the problem is that it doesn't just happen, we need to make it happen. So then many people give the excuse of "When?" They address that in a chapter about creating margin. Or "How?" They recommend reviewing your calendar on a weekly basis, do not schedule evening meetings, walk/stroll your neighborhood often with the idea to engage individuals along the way and lastly, unplug from electronics occasionally and ask God, "what is Your agenda for me, for here, for now?"

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation."
As Christians we are "in Christ" and His goal/mission is reconciliation. So what are you doing to live this out in your neighborhood?

I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Tyndale House.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Book Review-Glimpses of Grace Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home by Gloria Furman

Ok, so when I read the book Give them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and her daughter Jessica Thompson, this is the message I thought I was getting... a book about treasuring the Gospel and embracing it in everyday life. Well, that wasn't exactly the case, instead THIS book is just that-encouragement on how daily doses of grace may look and wisdom straight from God's word about His grace in the completed work of Jesus Christ.
I don't know about you, but I have recently come to the realization that I have lived much of my Christian with the whole idea of "works righteousness." I'll explain for those of you who need a definition. Works righteousness is basically doing instead of resting in God, it is striving instead of dwelling with God, it is comparing instead of mimicking Jesus Christ. So, once again this was a great book for me personally and my struggle to "treasure the Gospel" and as a friend put it, "preach the Gospel to myself everyday," thanks Jo.
The author reminds moms that we may not be able to get that one hour of quiet to spend with the Lord on a daily basis, so we look for God throughout the day and find plenty of opportunities to grow in holiness while we merely do life. And we must believe and strive for our hearts to be motivated by love and transformed by Christ. Every effort we make during our day, must be motivated by God's grace.
This book was loaded with Scripture and personal examples of the practical side of adorning the Gospel as mentioned in Titus 2:10. I personally needed this message of encouragement and inspiration and would highly recommend it.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book review-Loving the Little Years:Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic

This book was written by a young mother who at the time of the writing had five little ones, including a set of twins. She admits she doesn't have all the answers, but point readers to God at every opportunity-which I appreciated and encouraged self-reflection. I picked it up because it was recommended by Tedd Trip (Shepherding a Child's Heart) and R.C. Sproul, Jr. I enjoyed it because 1) the chapters were short, which meant I could pick it up at a moment's notice and finish a chapter and 2) it was filled with real-life stories and struggles to which I could relate. It was a parenting book in a way, also aimed at mothers of young children who need a pick-me-up and encouragement along the journey. I admit it is a little jumbly and each chapter stands alone, but she shares some great strategies that I have not tried. I think it would be best understood by moms with multiple children, but I'm sure it will provide encouragement to most moms. She has since written another book, Fit to Burst : Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood which I will probably be getting for Mother's Day.

Book Review-Desperate by Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson

I'm really not quite sure why this book struck my fancy nor why I ordered it, yet it was more than I anticipated. Based on the back cover, it is a book about the struggles of motherhood and the  occasional feeling of being overwhelmed by it all; it boasted answers to honest questions that many moms have and sounded intriguing...so I picked it up while on vacation last month. And as with any book that has not come personally recommended, I read with a wary eye checking for biblical accuracy, etc.

The main author, Sarah Mae, is a Christian, wife, homemaker, mother to three little ones, homeschooler and a popular blogger. She blogs at: http://sarahmae.com

The secondary author, Sally Clarkson, is a Christian, wife and mother of four adult children with a passion for Christian motherhood and parenting. She and her husband started Whole Heart Ministries http://www.wholeheart.org after spending time on the mission field. I am currently reading one of her other books, The Ministry of Motherhood. She blogs at: http://www.itakejoy.com

The premise is this: Sarah met Sally at a women's conference and a friendship was started. Actually, Sally pursued Sarah several times before they began a mentoring relationship. Early in this book, Sarah shares her past struggle of feeling overwhelmed and experiencing feelings of depression; in comes Sally who provided the encouragement that Sarah needed all the while pointing her to the cross. This book is like a back stage look to a real life mentorship between a struggling young mom and a seasoned counselor.

"Each of us has a story, but God, who originated the design of motherhood, is the expert advisor to whom we should turn." p 9 This quote was the first of many that I appreciated pointing women to God, Sally goes on to say that mothers especially need to be women of the Word, as well as women of prayer so that we can 1) know where He is leading and 2) be obedient allowing us to gracefully grow into our role as mothers.

In the chapter labeled, "Oh right, there's sin," Sally talks about how wrong expectations produce anger and depression-why do I forget this? We will never be perfect moms no matter how hard we try, but our success is based on the fact that God is with me and that is more than enough (Romans 8:31).  Again Sally reminds Sarah that it is not sinful to be tempted, but rather it is our response that determines future choices to "give-in" or to "fight." Later on in the chapter, "When the dark invades," Sarah provides hope and a resolution to those in the throes of depression or rather stuck with feelings of being depressed. Sidenote: Although chemical imbalances and organic problems do exist, feelings of depression are most often the consequence of unbiblical habits and/or sinful reactions to circumstances. (Self-Confrontation-a manual for in-depth Biblical discipleship, Chapter 18).

She shares that once she decided to:
1) be in the Word daily
and
2) resolve to trust that God has made her righteous and perfect (Hebrews 10:14; 2 Corinthians 5:21)
her outlook changed because now she was focusing on the right things.

"When we follow the voice of God and rest in His ability to sustain us as mothers, we will find a true and lasting peace." p 135 Sally writes and just how does that look? Yet again, a reminder for mothers that we need to be women of the Word and prayer.

I could relate to Sarah's writing at times, perhaps because we both have three kids relatively the same distance apart. Even though, I don't feel Desperate, I do feel as though I am lacking follow-through in some areas of my life. The only area of improvement would be more scripture references. Overall, I appreciated this book as it provided some insight and biblical hope that I'm sure all of us can use.

Window into my world-a personal interaction
Sally wrote some great ideas to connect women and families-one of which I decided to implement.
She and her husband love culture and the arts and have made family mealtimes a priority. She suggests creating a special atmosphere for dinnertime-lighting candles and playing classical music. Upon returning home, I located the candle holders and found two matching candles (that only took 4 days) and then tried it.  Even though I enjoyed it, my dear husband just isn't into classical music, Josiah said the music was sad and he and Naomi just want to blow the "birthday" candles out! Oh well, the candles are all dripped out, remind me to revisit this idea in a few years!

Sarah wrote about the time that she took the three kids out for breakfast by herself to celebrate her birthday. This inspired me to ask a friend to join me and the three kids for breakfast to celebrate my 35th birthday this past March. It was a fun memory, thanks Sarah for sharing, otherwise I might have had a rather mundane birthday at home.

The link below is to an essay written by J.R. Miller in 1886 on the life of Hannah, called Christian Motherhood. I pray it is an encouragement to you.

http://www.biblebb.com/Misc/Family/wives_and_mothers/Miller_motherhood.htm

Final thought: If you are a mom, you are EXACTLY who YOUR children need; God made it that way!