20 March, 2011

Voyage of the Vikings

Voyage with the Vikings is an exciting story for youth written by Marianne Hering and Paul McCusker as a part of the Adventures in Odyssey series titled The Imagination Station. In this particular book, the reader is swept along with the plot’s main characters Patrick and Beth as they travel through time back to the year 1000AD and find themselves aboard a wooden ship near Greenland! Onshore they meet the famed Viking Erik the Red, along with his wife and son, Leif Eriksson. While in Greenland, their assignment from Mr. Whittaker was to find a Sunstone, but they don’t even know what one is – much less what one looks like! Not only will you be able to discover whether Patrick and Beth do indeed fulfill their mission, but you will also join them as they share God’s love and forgiveness with Erik the Red, who is furious about the new God of the Christians and wants to make Patrick and Beth his slaves! 

I found this book to be fun, lighthearted and intriguing – typical of Adventures in Odyssey! At the back of the book there is a short puzzle to which the reader will discover answers as he or she reads through the imaginative story. This book is the first in its series.

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

FamilyLife Marriage Bible

I was tickled when this Bible arrived in the mail! Dennis and Barbara Rainey, founders of FamilyLife ministry have produced this Bible with the desire to share the good news of the Gospel while equipping couples and families with resources to strengthen their relationship in a way that brings all the glory to Christ. Published in an attractive hardbound New King James Version edition with a protective slipcover, the reader will encounter alongside the precious word of God various sidebars that will direct the reader to further understanding of Scriptures that apply to the marriage relationship. There are also fun little romantic ideas and counsel regarding common marital or family conflicts sprinkled throughout. I recognized several of them as being common to the Rainey’s books and even their daily radio messages, but found them to be still as helpful and fresh as ever. I desire to be the best wife I can be to Dwight and find biblically sound mentoring to be vital and welcomed. :-)

This edition would make a lovely gift for a newlywed couple and includes several pages at the front serving as an attractive spot to record generational lineage information, special dates that occur such as births and new lives in Christ, etc. I love it! Perhaps it will come out in ESV? :-)

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

Secure Daughters and Confident Sons, by Glenn T. Stanton

Secure Daughters and Confident Sons: How Parents Guide Their Children into Authentic Masculinity and Femininity is authored by Glenn T. Stanton, director for Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family here in Colorado Springs. In this book, he bucks the tide of today’s growing belief that both Mama and Daddy aren’t necessary for a child’s wellbeing and growth and that having only one or even a Mom and a Mom (as in a lesbian relationship) are just as beneficial to a child’s maturity if not perhaps even better than heterosexual parenting. He tackles this controversial subject with gusto as he implores that gender matters in a hugely socio-economic way!

The reader will encounter stories, statistics, and Biblical insight which will establish the essentialness of having both Mama and Daddy in the home - not just for the family’s stability, but so that the child is able to be nurtured in the fullest and best sense through the strengths that each gender provides to become a well rounded adult. He details how a father’s physical and action oriented masculinity complements a mother’s nurturing and protective femininity. It is obvious that the author delights in the handiwork of God displayed through the differences of each gender.

Mr. Stanton also directs parents to be aware of the differing needs of their children based upon their gender. Even though he writes that parents need to be cautious about “boxing” their children into a specific mold (i.e., boys shouldn’t want to cook or do anything girly, or girls shouldn’t want to play sports, etc.), he underlines the core of how God created boys and girls specifically and how these differences ought to present themselves in our parenting strategies as we seek to understand our children’s needs. He writes that a boy needs to make a difference, to save the world (even if it incurs destroying something in the process!), to be innovative, to be honorable, and to be respected by those around him (this one caused me to think of the book Love & Respect). In regards to a girl’s needs, he writes that she needs intimacy, community, modesty, security, to be viewed as the most important person in the world to a man, and then to also be able to see herself as capable so that she does not succumb to a victim mentality. As a mother to both a son and a daughter, this book gave me much food for thought. It was very helpful!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review even though it is possible that my husband might encounter the author in the halls today at work. The opinions I have expressed are my own and have no bearing upon my husband’s ability to cut the author’s royalty check. 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.”

Chasing Elephants, by Brent Crowe

Amidst the church at large there is often much controversy. From doctrinal debates to differing theological stances to the preferences regarding the color of the carpet much divisiveness has caused conflict to be a prevalent theme through time. What blight to the cause of Christ! What a sad reflection upon His death for sinners and His triumphant resurrection!

Based upon the premise of conflict already resounding throughout our Christian circles one might come to think that it would be best to avoid any slight of confrontation in beliefs and stance. But one who does not stand for something will fall for anything. It is crucial for the believer to stand firm upon the core truths of Scripture. But what about the areas of life for which the Bible does not specifically state how the believer ought to choose? We must understand that everything we do ought to be for the glory of God and to the glory of our Redeemer, but what if you are faced with a decision that really doesn’t hold to a moral absolute? Pastor Brent Crowe has tackled this thought in his book entitled, Chasing Elephants: Wrestling with the Gray Areas of Life.

In the first half of the book, the author writes on what it truly means to be free in Christ and how that plays out in a believer’s life. He writes on the dichotomy of those strong or weak in their faith and how their choices affect the other. Then in the second half, he addresses (without telling a believer how they ought to choose!) various “gray areas” such as social drinking, social networking, the Internet, entertainment and even assisting those in need. This is a topic that all must prayerfully address in their own life (and marriage or family!), so that one can wisely ascertain through biblical perspective how the Lord desires for them “to walk.” We then need to obey the Lord’s leading for our own life, while extending grace to others as they live how God is leading (ahem… I’m not talking about sinful living… we’re talking gray areas, though and attitude of grace needs to be extended to all as we share the message of salvation with all we encounter!). A worthwhile read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers. 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.”

19 March, 2011

The Organized Homeschooler, by Vicki Caruana


The Organized Homeschooler is written by veteran home educator, mother, and organizer Vicki Caruana to come alongside those of us who need help in this area as a friend would, encouraging us to get the job done while giving practical tips and direction. Although I love to sit and organize, I often find that it just doesn’t stay the way I’d like for it to. And although I can easily offer excuses (i.e., the four of us in a 1-bed apartment, two children under 17 months, my health, etc.) the real issue isn’t the obvious clutter. It is my lazy heart and my failure to see my need for organization from God’s point of view and how it hinders my effectiveness in serving my family – my ultimate ministry! So I appreciate how the author deals with the heart, and then moves into offering solutions for dealing with topics such as: Thoughts, Time, Space, Supplies and Materials, and Paperwork. I found her to be a huge fan of a filing system and she describes how that has worked for her family and their homeschooling “clutter.”

I think ultimately however, even though the need to be organized is universal, the method which will work best for a given family will definitely be quite varied! Admittedly, I was able to walk away from the book with several helpful tips, but I did find her filing system is just a bit too intricate for my personality and our individual family. I need it to be simple folks! :-) And even though I see her heart in admonishing the reader to really take a hard look and evaluate how they are spending their time, I think she took a bit too much liberty in stating what she believed would constitute or define the reader as having “too much free time” based on the little questionnaire found in the book. Overall though, I do feel this is a helpful book and worth taking a look at in a homemakers’ quest for a peaceful and organized home where the Lord can be most glorified and the family strengthened. 

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

17 March, 2011

Left at the Alter, by Kimberley Kennedy

 Left at the Alter: My Story of Hope and Healing for Every Woman Who Has Felt the Heartbreak of Rejection, is the story and testimony of Kimberley Kennedy, a beautiful young journalist and producer who seemed to have it all – a supportive family, an incredible job, and a fairytale love story that was on the brink of what was to be the happiest day of her life – her long-awaited wedding day. Kimberley’s dream was suddenly shattered when she heard the words of her fiancĂ© at their wedding rehearsal, “I just can’t do it.” She candidly shares 
how this pivotal moment in her life affected her life, causing her to tailspin into deep emotional pain, public humiliation and even bewildered anger at God. However, the story does not end there and in this heartfelt telling of her experience, she shares with the reader how she found hope amidst the deep pain and confusion and how she learned that present circumstances do not have to shape our future life story.  She shares lessons of refreshing renewal through tools she discovered of how to heal and move on when faced with rejection from a loved one. And she  closes in telling how the Lord is proving faithful in meeting her deep emotional needs for love even as she continues to be single with the following: 
            “When you fall in love with God, you can be assured of one very special thing: you will never be left at the alter. Instead, you will live with Him happily ever after. And the honeymoon will never end.”

I found this book to be well written and containing very helpful advice to one with a broken heart. I found her to understand. Which is very helpful to one faced with deep hurt. And I love how rather then telling her story with bitterness, she simply uses it as a platform and springboard for sharing hope. I enjoyed reading it.

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