Wednesday, March 21, 2018

God made the World: a book review

I  was pretty excited to see this little treasure arrive in the mail!  Now I just have to keep it tucked away till some dear toddler's birthday this summer. :-) I can't wait to see her light up when she pulls it out! It's a board book, so it will even be safe from her not so careful younger sibling. (always a plus in this house).

The illustrations are simple, yet in beautiful full color. The book goes day by day through the six days of Creation and God's final day of rest. (I still love that He modeled rest for us, because He knew we would struggle to sit still)  Each pages illustrates the next step in Creation through artistic renditions of the sea, moon, trees etc. And it typical children's book fashion, each set of pages ends in rhyming words (made/played, kind/find).

This book is perfect for preschool age children.  My only wish was that it had the number of the day on each page so she could connect what God made on Day 1, Day 2 etc. Now I just need to find a good hiding place to stash it away for her birthday. :-)

I received this book as part of the Tyndale Publishers Blogger review program, however all of the views are mine.  And I specifically requested this book, because I thought I would enjoy it.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Hello Mornings: a book review

For years I've risen (though not always early) to start my day with time in the Bible. It was a simple habit, based on a simple have the right focus for the day. I also knew that life's craziness would probably happen, and if I didn't get it done then, I probably wouldn't get it done. It was also simple because I was only responsible for me. That was it. Barring unforseen circumstances, my mornings went as I planned them. That's not how it is currently.....

Currently we creep out of bed at 6:30 trying to make as little noise as possible so we can extend the quiet as long as we can.  When I get downstairs, I rush to let the dog out so her frantic "Help, I've been in my kennel all night! Let me out!" noises don't become high pitched shrieks and wake the sleeping littles. Should we hear the toddler's voice begin the initial calls, instantly my husband and I lock eyes and one of us says in a voice like we just woke the sleeping dragon..."she's up". Lately it's been 7 or 7:15, so our quiet time is short and sacred.

I've enjoyed listening to Kat Lee's podcasts 'Inspired to Action' and 'Hello Mornings' and was when I saw her book, Hello Morningswas out to review. My expectations were met in this book!  I've drawn stars by key points, folded down corners to mark favorite sections, quoted on Facebook, and shared a couple Instagram snapshots of the pages.

Kat Lee's platform, which she shares on her website, podcasts, Facebook community and now her book, is for women to start their day intentionally.  Her three minute morning routine (which you can expand on in time) focused on soul care, time management, and your health.  Starting simple eliminates most of the excuses we give for not spending time with God, nor being mindful of our time and health. In three minutes, you can read and pray Psalm 143:8, read your calendar/pray over your day, and drink some water. In time, you can expand the Bible time to include your own devotional plan, expand the planning time to include writing out and prioritizing items on your to-do list, and expand the health time to include a short workout or walk.

Kat focuses on developing a solid habit or ritual that part of who you are. In each season of life, it will grow and shrink due to the demands on your time, but it will always be there. Some of the points she covers include the importance of planning, setting up your personal space, developing accountability, establishing a habit, and the blessings that follow when you commit your first moments and your day to God.

This is more of a heart book, dealing with our personal excuses for avoiding this habit and calling us forward to see that more is possible. Honestly, I'm not sure what that looks like in this season. For me, it currently involves writing out my daily intentions the night before because my day starts off running, dealing with two hungry littles and a cooped up dog.  I would love to have a slow morning to sit and savor the Word, make a plan, and exercise, but I can't convince myself to get up at 5 yet. :-) Especially not as long as at least one of the kiddos is up in the night.  But Kat's book is grace filled, just calling us to do what we can in our season. If nothing else, we have three minutes in the shower  or the work commute to pray, plan, and think of something to care for yourself (fill your water bottle, plan a healthy supper, stretch, walk the long route to the office, etc).

I received a complimentary copy of this book as part of the blogger review program with Booklook Bloggers. However, this book was on my dream wish list and all of the opinions are mine.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Life Giving Table: a book review

(I don't even remember what all was in this meal from our vacation, but it probably was not the healthiest choice :-) 

19,710......the number of meals you could have with your child before they turn 18.  Even if you don't count some meals due to summer camp, sleep overs or weekends at grandma's, that still leaves you in the thousands.  Thousands of opportunities to invest in that life. Over the years, how many life changing decisions, battles won, hearts encouraged, or wisdom shared has happened over a cup of coffee or a shared meal. Food brings people together, unites us in a common activity, then invites us  to share our experiences in that safe (ideally) space.

     In her book, The Life Giving Table, Sally Clarkson challenges us to use meal times and coffee times with intentionalityThe power of the right word combined with the comfort of a good meal or hot drink warms both the body and spirit, and provides a sense of hope.  The camaraderie developed over frequently shared meals knits people together in bonds that can be closer than family.

     I love how in  The Life Giving Table, Sally made it clear that to be memorable, a meal does not need to be elaborate. Currently some of my daughter's favorite moments are eating her cheerios and raisins in the morning while I read to her, and getting cheese burgers with dad. Hopefully, when she is grown she will treasure her memories of cheese burger dates with dad when she was a kid.  She already looks forward each week to when I'm gone to study, and she gets to watch a movie with dad and eat 'cokcorn' (popcorn). She loves making it with him, but never really eats it. :-)   Cheery Coke is our drink of celebration and survival. When we got engaged, his cover up errand was for us to get Cherry Coke.  Cherry Coke was also bought ahead of time, and packed into the hospital bag to wait for the arrival of our firstborn. It is also our drink of choice when we feel we have fought the long hard battle of the toddler 'will' that day, and require extra strength to finish.

     The key is to be intentional with the time we are given and opportunities presented to us to be a blessing in the lives of those around us. That invitation to dinner, cool drink on a warm summer day, or hot coffee might be the key to creating a safe place for someone to open up about the deep things. Giving them the invitation lets them know they are valued and their voice in the world is welcome.


     This book is not a quick read. Rather it goes indepth into Biblical celebrations that happened over a meal, and how Jesus used food and drink to reach people where they were. It also provides plenty of opportunity for soul searching as she leads you through seeing how being intentional with people looks like in different seasons.  Sally shares stories and personal testimony of being intentional during the season of small children through her friendships with her now adult children.  She also shares how being intentional with invitations blessed her in return during seasons spent in new communities and during times where she needed the invitation herself.

Life passes so quickly, and it was never meant to spend alone. We are given the opportunity to breath the breath of spring into the winter of someone's situation, and they in turn to ours.  I look forward to studying the book more closely to see how I can implement some of the principles. Start simple. Perhaps instead of quickly handing out the afternoon snack to a child, it involves sitting down to share it with him/her. And just...being.

I was given a copy of this book for review purposes by Tyndale Publishing Company, but the viewpoints are entirely mine. When given the opportunity to read this book, I jumped on it as I have heard so many good things about Sally Clarkson's writing.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Zaide: Mozart's Lost Opera (a book review)

Not being an opera fan, or a lover of classical literature, I was unsure of what I would find when I cracked open Rollan Wengert's new book Zaide: Mozart's Lost Opera.  Intrigued by the story line, but mostly wishing to support a local author, I agreed to read it with no promise of how long it would take (having little ones tends to limit the reading time).  However, I finished the book in record time due to it's engaging story.

The book fleshes out the missing details from Mozart's unfinished opera around 1780. It follows the story of Zaide, a slave in the Sultan's harem, as she meets and grows to love Gomatz, a new slave of Puritan background. Desperate for happiness, and for someone to really care for her as a real person, she schemes to be near him which endangers her position of safety in the Sultan's harem. She must then decide between comfortable safety and knowing real love.

The author went to great pains to develop the story around the pieced together details we have of this incomplete opera. Woven throughout the story are musical references that both set the tone for the current events and remind the reader that this was originally intended to be a musical masterpiece. The story was well developed and contained detailed descriptions of the characters and setting to help the reader experience the story. The ending will leave you wanting another act to be written.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Character Builder's Bible book review

One thing I feel we can never have too many of are children's Bible's laying around our house. The little one often pulls out one, then the other to "read" herself or to beg us to read it again to her.  She often surprises us with her accurate retelling and the details she retains.

Somehow Jonah has become her favorite Bible character. I'm assuming it has something to do with the giant fish and unusual event of being swallowed by it. Even our garden gnome was graciously bestowed with the name 'Jonah".

One copy she likes to "sneak" is The Character Builder's Bible.  It's a rather fitting title...Character Builder's.  Don't we all need some work done with our character?  No matter how much I learn or grow, there's always some new area that requires growth.  With that in mind, it becomes an even more humbling experience to dwell on my responsibility to shape my children's character as best I can.  I need all the help I can get.

The Character Builder's Bible offers 60 different themed mini lessons with full color illustrations to grab your little one's attention. Each mini lesson contains a memory verse, child friendly Bible story, character trait, and a short comic modeling that character trait in action. All the illustrations and comic pictures are of kids.

If you are looking for a simple 5-10 minute reading/character lesson to do with your toddler through early elementary age child, this is it.  It comes fully toddler approved. :-)

Image result for character builders bible

Our new friend Jonah

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Marvelous Mud House:a book review

I just received this charming book in the mail this week and LOVE it!  It's just a children's book, but the message hit square in that little spot God's been nudging me on. It's the story of a family that was constantly looking for more....more toys, more house, more stuff.  There was no joy in simply being with each other, nor contentment in their own belongings.  This family visited Kenya and met George and Mama George who live in a vastly different world.  With their new friends, Ben and his family learn the value of family, caring for others' needs, and gain a much different perspective of "stuff".

Oh, how familiar is this cry for more!  My toddler has started proclaiming, "But I want it!"  But how quickly that perceived 'must have' item is quickly tossed out for another 'must have' item.  :-)

The more I parent, the more I realize how God must view me.  Far too often, I cry for more instead of delighting in the blessings I'm all ready covered in. Too often do I move from one answered prayer to the next request, instead of just dwelling in a moment of gratitude and praise. Too often, I sound like my toddler.....content until she realizes someone else has something she doesn't.

I look forward to giving this to her for Christmas, so somehow we can both walk this journey of learning contentment, dwelling in gratitude, valuing eternal things the most, and caring for others.

I was giving this book by B&H Publishing for review purposes, but the views held are my own.
The Marvelous Mud House