28 July, 2010

A Few of Our Favorite Children's Books

I would have never imagined the extent that we would need to be cautious and selective in choosing books for our children before they are even able to read on their own, but I was shocked and saddened to see how wrong I was when I stopped by a large bookstore chain while yet pregnant with Chloe. There were many titles steeped in New Age or other false religions, books that talked about the excitement of going to stay with Daddy for the weekend (Mommy and Daddy were divorced), books where the child was openly disrespectful and disobedient to their parents, angry with their siblings, etc. It was quite eye-opening for me.

We count it a privilege and a gift (as well as a HUGE responsibility) to be able to instill in our children a love and desire for the things and ways of our Lord, even from a tender age. One way we can do this is through songs and books! :-) I'd like to share some of out favorite titles with you that we feel hold to these values we hope to fill our home with:

1. Moo, Baa, La-La-La

This is a fun little book that Chloe enjoys because we can make the animal sounds with her. I'll be quick to admit, however, that her Daddy has far more skill in this area than I!

2. Country Babies Wear Plaid

I'm not sure about every book in the Country Babies series, but we love this one for sure! Beautiful pictures of a baby enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

3. Spot Loves His Daddy

This is a precious book of a fun day that Daddy and Spot got to spend together. There is also a book titles "Spot Loves His Mommy" that is on my wishlist. They are both wonderful titles, full of gratefulness and respect.

4. The Big Red Barn

This is a well-beloved classic, and with good reason. With a calming storyline and simple illustrations, we really enjoy this book!

* I have written this post due to our enjoyment of these books and have received no product or payment in compensation.

27 July, 2010

The Little Tea Cup That Talked, by Emilie Barnes

This little illustrated children’s book is delightful! It is the story of how a joyful tea cup was shaped from a lump of clay into something far more beautiful than she could have ever imagined. Its application is a clear picture of God’s sovereignty in our lives, how He molds us and shapes us and allows us to endure trials to complete the process He desires for our lives as we become more like Him. Absolutely beautiful!

We gave this for Chloe for her 1st Christmas, and I’m sure it will be a treasure, especially as we get to enjoy tea parties together. I can picture this being a fantastic tool to use in opening a door to share the gospel with young girls. One could simply invite them (and their mothers, as well!) over for a dress-up tea party. At some point in the festivities, this book could be read. I applaud this book. It made me cry the first time I read it! And really, you should check it out. The illustrations are gorgeous!

* I have written this post due to my enjoyment of this book and have received no product or payment in compensation.

Love that Lasts: When Marriage Meets Grace, by Gary & Betsy Ricucci

Although it is suggested that a husband and wife read this book together, I honestly first found it helpful in gaining a biblical mindset of marriage when there wasn’t even a guy on my romantic horizon yet! This book is a candid, God-honoring discussion to spur couples towards growth in communication, romance, conflict resolution and physical oneness and purity. Imagine an older, godly couple taking you under their wing and mentoring you in the privacy of their living room. Now capture that image and put it into book form – that is what I believe this book to be.

Dwight and I do take one caution in regard to marriage books. That is simply to remember that he and I are unique individuals, and that our idea of romance, etc. may not be exactly the same as every other couple (or any other couple for that matter!). So I appreciate that this book is more of a guide towards having a biblical view of marriage and each other, with a desire to grow in togetherness for the glory of God, and it is not a handbook focused on the “10 steps to being a better wife or husband,” where if you follow the steps described, you will have the “perfect marriage.” He and I have so much yet to learn, yet we are not robots or cutout cookies.

This book includes questions for discussion, evaluation and application, which are found at the end of the book right before the suggested reading list. They really help you delve into the chapters and lessons taught.

* I have written this post due to my enjoyment of this book and have received no product or payment in compensation.

Worship Matters, by Bob Kauflin

Although this book is probably intended for those who lead worship at their local church, I enjoyed reading this book just as a reminder about what true worship is. I particularly found this paragraph insightful:

Biblical worship involves proclamation and leads to proclaiming Gods truth with our lives. We’re doing more than emoting or having a “worship experience.” We’re declaring why God is so great, what He has accomplished, and all that He has promised. We all need to be reminded, and proclamation helps us remember.

It may be that you are simply proclaiming God’s goodness to yourself as you sing in the shower, or it may be that you are proclaiming it to your little one as you rock them and comfort them while they are teething. I do not believe that you have to proclaim to an audience in order to be glorifying God. Regardless of the context, it is our heart desiring to please God that counts. I found this book to encourage that, along with exhortation to be passionate about worship (in song) as a way of sharing truth or bringing it to mind.

This book reinforces the necessity for the words to be biblically based, particularly in corporate worship. Is what we are singing founded in Scripture, or does it simply “sound nice?” Throughout this book, Bob Kauflin gives examples of lyrics of songs that permeate with truth. Some are hymns that have been around for a century or longer, others you will recognize as being more contemporary. I found this entire book to be interesting in addition to being thought provoking, and believe it would be an excellent resource for anyone involved in church leadership or musical ministry.

* I have written this post due to my enjoyment of this book and have received no product or payment in compensation.

The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman

Subtitled “How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate,” this book will help you to discover your personal “love language” as well as to possibly identify the particular language of those around you. It describes how God has designed each of us to fell loved most and for simplicity’s sake divides these ways of feeling loved into five categories or “languages/” Learning these will help you in every relationship, not just marriage! (I believe it is a crucial part in gaining the heart of our children.) The five languages given are: Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service & Physical Touch.

I love how in marriage you are on a journey to always learn more about each other and how to express love and commitment to one another. This book is another helpful tool in doing that, and it can be kind of fun (Okay, frustrating when you can’t really pinpoint your own… ehem, the online resources are very helpful!). Even though I don’t like to be put in a box (and Dwight REALLY doesn’t), it isn’t meant to say you only should be loved a particular way but that rather there is a specific way that you KNOW you are loved upon experiencing. Clear as mud? You’ll just have to read the book. ;-)

Take the Quiz for yourself online!

* I have written this post due to my enjoyment of this book and have received no product or payment in compensation.

Feminine Appeal, by Carolyn Mahaney

I love this book. Feminine Appeal is a compilation of lessons gathered from Titus 2 and shared from the heart of Carolyn Mahaney – a wife, mother, grandmother and trusted mentor of many. Subtitled “Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother,” she delves into the heart issues of serving our husbands and children for the glory of God especially amidst challenges, growing relationships, dirty diapers, exhaustion and laundry.

Covering topics such as delighting in our husbands, loving our children, submission, kindness, the honor of serving in and through the home, etc. she exalts the role of homemaker to biblical proportions and to the way our Lord views it – a gift to treasure, cherish and even fight for!

As I’ve read (yup, time and time again – this isn’t a “read once” book!) through the examples shared from both Scripture and Carolyn’s own life, I’ve been challenged and encouraged to live passionately for God in the community He has lovingly placed me in and to develop a true love for the home and every aspect it entail, desiring ever-continuing growth. I recommend this book to all!

You may want to check out her website (hosted by herself as well as her daughters) at Girltalk :-)

* I have written this post due to my enjoyment of this book and have received no product or payment in compensation.

Patton (The Generals), by Agostino von Hassell

This book is a biography about George Smith Patton, Jr., a man who served in both WWI and WWII, who was renowned for both his courageous leadership and ability on the field as well as for the impetuous temperament for which he was often criticized. He was a very determined man with a unique wisdom and foresight when it came to contemplating an enemy’s move or advance and was an expert in combat strategy. He also had a reputation for impeccable adherence to military protocol, demanding nothing less than 110% from himself and those who served under him, although this also led to severe critiques of those in higher command and to several instances where he chose to not follow particular orders but to instead follow his own instincts.

Although the book mainly concentrates on his military service, particularly on the field and trenches of Europe, it also reveals the formative years that shaped General Patton's passion for a military career of excellence as well as interesting endeavors he pursued. It also tells of his impressive work in popularizing the use of tanks for combat by the U.S. military. I found this book to be an excellent narrative of his life and career of military service. Although the author does not deny nor hide General Patton’s harsh character flaws, it still paints an honest and honorable depiction of one of the greatest Generals to ever serve the United States of America.

*This book was gratefully received from Thomas Nelson at no cost in exchange for my agreement to post this review.

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20 July, 2010

The Edge of the Divine, by Sandi Patty

The Edge of the Divine, written by Sandi Patty is a very personal testimony from her life of a very difficult lesson God is bringing her through and the journey to where she was willing to take that first step of faith and trust Him regardless of the outcome He desired for her life. I found this book to be a close-up encounter with the thoughts and feelings she was having during those days where "she stood at the cliff," and appreciated how she often turned to Scripture for direction as well as to spiritual mentors.

The personal trial Sandi writes of is one with severe weight difficulties and her decision to pursue surgical treatment. As one who has never struggled with my weight, I found it helpful to see it through her eyes. I feel that I now have more compassion for those in similar circumstances. I also found that this book is for others, like myself, who may not face this issue, however we certainly do face others! It encouraged me in my faith to seek the Lord with all my heart, to not let anything get in the way, and to be willing to forsake all my "earthly comforts or crutches" to pursue His best. I give it 2 stars.

*This book was gratefully received from Thomas Nelson at no cost in exchange for my agreement to post this review.

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13 July, 2010

Fearless, by Max Lucado

Fearless, by Max Lucado is subtitled “Live Your Life Without Fear” and each chapter delves into various scenarios where our fears may be founded. Perhaps for some it may be their health, other fears may involve their finances, or perhaps even the fear may be unknowns in regards to an employment or relational crisis.

I found this book to be an easy read in which the author uses simple truths to draw in the reader and convey that in Christ our fears can be relieved as we place our trust in the One who is truly sovereign. The author is well known for his easygoing and even perhaps winsome way of writing as he uses parallels stories to each concept he is presenting. As the book’s own jacket review states, this book would be helpful to many as they face the trials life brings, particularly in a world-wide economic downturn. I would not consider the thoughts in this book to be very deep or new.

I found the discussion guide at the back of the book to be a very helpful addition, aiding one in perhaps using this book as a small group study or even for reading time as a family. Questions are given for each chapter to guide the readers in thinking further about each chapter and the particular fear possibility that it presents.

*This book was gratefully received from Thomas Nelson at no cost in exchange for my agreement to post this review.

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06 July, 2010

The Jesus You Can't Ignore, by John McArthur

I believe this book is spot-on for today’s culture, when “finding common ground” is more valued and encouraged than standing for the sacred and fundamental truths of the Gospel. Is today’s “relevant” Christianity a true biblical portrayal of how we are to be the “salt of the earth?” Or is a more radical belief system called for? John McArthur addresses these questions in his book, “The Jesus You Can’t Ignore” with firm conviction.

In this book, he wisely contrasts the response Jesus had towards those whom were genuinely seeking truth (i.e., Nicodemus) with those who were seeking to twist Christ’s words or present an errant gospel (namely the Jewish religious leaders of that day). I found the points presented to be firmly supported with Scripture, as believers are admonished to “fight the good fight” with the realization of the spiritual battle which exists – with an enemy who seeks to thwart sound doctrine, a correct view of a Holy God, and the worldview from which we live our lives.

I appreciate how McArthur sought to point out with clarity that in standing for truth we are not to look for contention or to contend over matters that are not anchored in fundamental Gospel truths (i.e., the “gray areas” or personal preferences). Rather we are to call on the Lord for wisdom in recognizing when the Gospel is at stake, being alert to false teachers and beliefs, and to then stand firmly and passionately for truth - regardless of the opposition - in the grace given to us.

*This book was gratefully received from Thomas Nelson at no cost in exchange for my agreement to post this review.

I review for BookSneeze