Friday, November 13, 2015

Sky Lantern by Matt Mikalatos

I'm pretty sure that the majority of us have heard the phrase "One man's trash, another man's treasure." Well, Sky Lantern is more of a story of one man's trash becomes the same man's treasure.
One morning, Mikalatos picked up a piece of trash from the end of his drive, he discovered that it was a  sky lantern with a simple message of "Love you, Dad. Miss you so much. Steph." As Mikalatos pondered on this simple message, he felt compelled to write Steph a letter, but since he had no idea who she was or where she lived, he put her letter on the internet to share with the world. You can read it here. The letter went viral. So viral that it found Steph thousands of miles away.
So how is it that this trash became treasure? As Mikalatos shares in this book, it changed the way that he interacted with his daughters, becoming more intentional of leaving a love note for each of them. The trash also became treasure in that it lead him to a rich relationship with Steph.
This book is a wonderful reminder that we shouldn't keep our love for others to ourselves, assuming that our thoughts are sufficient. We can express it in small every day ways as well as capturing it in letters written to them (there are some tips in the book).
The overarching message that I got from the book is that terrible crappy things happen to us and to those we love, but that doesn't mean that the love stops. Love always perseveres.

A copy of this book was given to me for the purpose of review. I'm never required to give positive feedback.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Seven Women by Eric Metaxas

Seven Women is a collection of brief biographies. The women include among others Joan of Arc, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks and Mother Theresa. It's a tidy collection of information on the seven women included. If you've never read anything on them it's even a good starting point.
I enjoyed the chronological order of the book and seeing how the women prepared the way for one another through t heir lives and actions. Some of the biographies, Hannah More and Mother Maria of Paris in particular, get a bit bogged down. I think it's safe to say that's because of Metaxas' personal affection for their stories. My favorite may have been Joan of Arc as I learned the most about her life.
Overall, it's a collection worth picking up for quick reference on any of the seven women featured.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Into the Fray by Matt Mikalatos

I would describe Into the Fray as a commentary on the book of Acts. But it's a bit more than that, too. The pattern of the book is a retelling of stories from Acts followed by personal stories from Mikalatos that help open up the stories that many of us have read so often that they seem ordinary. Mikalatos does an excellent job of helping us remember that these stories are anything but ordinary.
The star of the book of Acts as revealed in this book is the Holy Spirit. The stories that are through out the journeys of the apostles, including Paul, point to the great work that the Holy Spirit was doing in the early church and is continuing to do today.
My favorite story was when the Doctor (Luke) meets Paul. The idea of Paul being a roughly beat up and healed man was not an image that I had entertained before. I read stories of Paul getting beat up and walking it off, but it didn't occur to me that Paul actually suffered from injuries that he would have recovered from time and time again.
Overall, Into the Fray is a refreshing journey through the book of Acts. Mikalatos does an excellent job of retelling the everlasting stories of scripture in a modern context. This is an excellent commentary that would be easy to use with a group in a class setting.

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for the purpose of review.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Nothing Much

Last spring, as I've said before on the blog, I started stepping down from things. To the point now that the only requirements I have are my family, home and a book and movie club that Hannah and I host. No committee meetings, no outsourced Bible studies, no speaking engagements, no wild trips to South Africa. Just me, my family, and our home.
For awhile, I was waiting to see what God was going to put in that big fat hole that He created. I was looking for some kind of greatness to take over, you know something amazing!

I was ready for it. I kept my eye out looking for what it might be, searching for possibilities in others' needs. Wondering what was next. And then I remembered that what I have is just enough. I don't need any thing amazing to be added to my life, because what I have is AMAZING already. I don't need to be anything more than I already am, because what I am is enough.
I find that I'm enjoying what's already a part of my life even more that there is less to do. I'm spending more time surfing Facebook, yes, but I'm also baking more pies, writing more letters, taking more walks. Life is good.
It's rare to find a woman that's committed to the life of homemaker. Even rarer still to find one that's not secretly bitter about the fact that that's their life. But I want to find joy in this place and time. I want to enjoy my family and my home. I want to do the best I can to care for them and to be a part of their days.
Last year, life was so full with things outside of those two categories, that I drifted away, mainly because I had to in order to fulfill my obligations, that I willingly took on. I missed out on things, and I've been enjoying not having to do that today.
I don't know what tomorrow may have in it, maybe something more will show up. But today is enough, I'm glad to be here with this family living a simple life, getting my hands involved in the work that is building our family and home.

Monday, August 24, 2015

One Thousand Wells by Jena Lee Nardella

One Thousand Wells is the birth story of Blood: Water. You may be familiar with the organization that has been championed by Jars of Clay. If not, this is an excellent introduction to their mission and their work.

The majority of the book is how Jena came to be a part of Blood: Water, a testimony of sorts. It's how God spoke to her from the very beginning to bring her to help Africa with not only clean water sources but with the fight against AIDS as well.

My favorite part of the book though was the end. I enjoyed reading about her change in thought in regards to mission work. She went from a bright eyed naive "I'm going to help save Africa!" to a mature understanding of "I'm going to walk alongside Africa, even if the road is tough." The transformation she experienced through heartache and missteps is one that we can all come to when it involves helping others. As she points out, humanity can not save itself, but it can be with one another in the midst of trials.

If you're interested in learning more about the beginnings of Blood:Water, then I can highly recommend this book.

I received a free copy of this book for the purposes of review from Howard Books via NetGalley.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Girl in the Song by Chrissy Cymbala Toledo

Girl in the Song recently came out and I won a copy through the promotion festivities. I was very excited to start reading this book. I remember reading about Chrissy's father's perspective in the book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire. It was something that I had wondered in regards to what she struggled with. I had assumed that she was a junky after reading the book at that she was coming clean from drugs, that was not the case.

Chrissy takes the opportunity to share what happened during her youth in Girl in the Song. She struggled from a very early age with being good enough. It became an obsession that played out in her relationships with young men, one young man in particular.

I enjoyed reading her story, as painful as it was. She was honest about her personal struggle and about her breaking of relationship with her family. Fortunately, this particular story ends in redemption. Chrissy was part of a church community that not only loved her but was committed to seeking the best for her. It is always encouraging to read stories about how someone that was lost becomes found and that is exactly the story that Chrissy shares in this book.

The best part about it is that I know that there are some folks in my life that could be blessed by hearing her story and I can't wait to share the book with them.

This was a personal decision to review the book. I did receive a free copy as a prize, but writing about it was not required. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Faithgirlz Bible, NIV

You know me, I'm a sucker for a new Bible, especially if it's one that I can share with my daughter. H has had several bibles over the years, including the Hands On Bible (a personal favorite especially for helping prepare for youth lessons) and The Jesus StoryBook Bible (she fell asleep many nights listening to that cd). This one is a little bit more feminine than her other Bibles and appears to be quite sturdy. I'm personally not the biggest fan of hardback bibles, they never seem to last as long as I want them too, but they're better than paperback most any day. This particular bible has a cute magnetic closure flap, which is more novelty than anything else. The inside is full of not just the most recent version of the NIV, it has devotionals, quizzes and challenges.
H has enjoyed reading the "other" parts of the bible and she also seems to be connecting with the NIV text. We've been doing bible study the past few years using the ESV, so the NIV is probably a breath of fresh air to her.
Overall, it's a great bible for girls and moms, too, for that matter. The additional content is engaging and easy to find without being overwhelming.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”