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

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Bibleman Bible Storybook

Part children's Bible and part family devotional with super hero flavor, the Bibleman Bible Storybook is perfect for elementary age boys and girls. Bibleman, Biblegirl, Cypher, and Melody, our super heros, invite them to learn from scripture how to fight against temptation and how to be a hero for Jesus.

Each story begins and ends with children's story, then concludes with a family challenge to live out the scriptural principal and a memory verse.  Each lesson is about 8 pages long so it's perfect for a family bedtime story or with breakfast in the morning.  It has eye catching art work with colorful illustrations to draw in little listeners. Many parents want to share Jesus with their children and to show them how God's Word is lived out,  but don't feel like they know how to share it in a kid friendly way.  This book lays out the scripture, main lesson, activity application and memory verse, making it simple just to pick up and use.

I think this book is well put together, and I recommend it.  I'm excited to be able to gift this book to another family.   This was received as part of the blogger review program at BH publishing in return for my honest assessment.  However, all of the views are mine.

Cover Image

Monday, October 9, 2017


Pause.  Step away for a moment. From the chaos, from the noise....into a still moment.


Often when my infant is cranky in the morning, he just needs a 10 minute reset with a bottle and a short snooze. Oh wouldn't that be wonderful?  If we could just  have some milk and a short snooze and have everything be right in our world again?  How often do we long to push the reset button, so we can undue whatever has caused us to be in this stressed, weary, frustrated mindset.  I know that feeling of just being...'done'.  

A Moment to Breath was written just for that purpose. Short five minute devotions to help you pause and reset.  I've only read 81 of the days, but I already have many of my favorites marked to go back to reread. Just as with anything written by humans (anything but the Bible), not every entry will be inspired for you.  But they are so short and simple to read, you can just skip to the next one.  Written by 80 different authors, there is bound to be one voice that connects with you. 

We all need a moment to reset, just to step back and breathe.  When we take our eyes off of ourselves and our current situation, and refocus back on Jesus, we gain a more true perspective of the situation.  Instead of how big it is compared to us, we see how small it is compared to our Savior. 

Let me encourage you to simply pause....often.     Even if only for 5 minutes in whatever form fits you.  Just to listen to His voice....and reset. 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

So close to Amazing: a book review

It's so easy to look through Pinterest boards, Instagram photos, or other snapshots of someone's life, and long for that beautiful moment we see on the screen or in the magazine.   It's easy to see that perfect picnic picture without hearing the squabbling between the kids right after, or the perfect hair style without seeing all the time, money, and product that went into it. We often look at snapshots and assume that person's whole life is peaceful and beautiful, without remembering that indeed it is just a snapshot, a moment of beauty pulled out of the mess of life.  We each have our own beautiful snapshots, if we would just pause to look. As I look around my living room, I can grow frustrated with my lack of cleaning and the piles of kids toys taking over, or I can pause to appreciate the simple beauty of our cat curled up for his nap or the baby's sweet face while he sleeps in his chair.

In her book, So close to Amazing, KariAnne Wood works to find the beauty and life lessons in all of the mess of life. She is the blogger behind Thistlewood Farms and has made many guest appearances in magazines and blogs, sharing her DIY expertise to help others create beauty out of the ordinary. Her family made the jump from big city Texas to small town Kentucky, and began the adventure of restoring an old farm house. She tells the story with humor and honesty, while being mindful of the lessons God was teaching her through farmhouse living.

Her book is the kind you take out in the gazebo on a hot summer day when you need something to refresh your spirit after spending hours with a demanding toddler.  I know......because that's what I did.  Her stories left me laughing along with her.  They inspired me to look for my own beauty, for God's hand at work in our story.  And to persevere in my goals for our home and family.  Some days you'll reach it, and you'll snap that Instagram photo.  Other days, you'll be so close...."So close to Amazing."

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.