Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Hidden Flame by Davis Bunn & Janette Oke

The Hidden Flame takes you back in time to the early church. You can feel the heat of the day and the cobblestones under your feet as you walk through the streets of Jerusalem with Abagail. She is a quiet, unassuming, gentle lady who has two suitors vying for her hand in marriage. The history of the early church comes alive. You feel Abagail's joy and pain as she experiences celebration and hardships during the growth of the early church and the beginning of persecution of the followers of The Way. I love the way Bunn & Oke show the traditions and daily lives of the Jews using both fictional and Biblical characters.
This narrative explores the lives of the early believers in ways I'd never thought of. Who were the families of Ananias and Sapphira? Were they angry at God and Peter for the death of the couple? What about Stephen's family? Were they proud of his sacrifice or confused by what God had asked of him? As the authors explore these questions in this fictional story, they present many truths and make the characters come alive.
The Hidden Flame is the second in the Acts of Faith series. I haven't read the first book The Centurion's Wife but do plan to pick it up soon. However, it is not necessary to read the first in the series to be able to follow the story in this book. It was a book that was hard for me to put down. I'll be looking forward to reading more in this series!
*Thank you to Bethany House for providing this book for me to review. All opinions expressed are mine.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Psalm 138:8

"The Lord will accomplish what concerns me: Your lovingkindness and mercy, O Lord, endures forever:
Do not forsake the works of Your hands."

~Psalm 138:8

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sense and Sensibility Insight Edition

Having never even glanced at a Jane Austen novel, I was afraid that reading this book would not be fun. Yet I found myself caught up in the story of two sisters, one levelheaded(sometimes hiding her emotions) and the other very dramatic. This is a tale of sisters who struggle to learn what love is truly about and of their unending loyalty to each other.
What made the book interesting to me were the notes added by the editors. They included Historical and cultural details, information on Jane Austen's life, references to Sense & Sensibility in films, an unscientific ranking of the novel's most frustrating characters and themes of faith drawn from the novel or Austen's life. I actually caught myself laughing out loud as I read some of the side notes. The comments helped lighten the tone of the book and made it painless and even fun to read. If I were homeschooling my daughter, I would definately use The Insight Edition! If you are a die-hard Jane Austen fan or a novice like me, this edition will show you why Sense and Sensibility is considered a classic.

*Bethany House supplied this book free of charge as part of their book review program. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen

When Olivia fled from her home in fear, the last thing she wanted was to know Lord Bradley’s secret. After all, she had enough troubles of her own. Yet the knowledge she acquired from her unintentional eavesdropping afforded her the job of the silent governess. She had found a refuge from her troubles until she could discover what had happened the night she ran. Had she killed her own father?

As I began reading this book, I failed to read the back cover. When I did read it, I was not shocked to discover that the author, Julie Klassen, is a fan of “all things Jane”. You can definitely see the influence of Jane Austen in her writing. I enjoyed her style of writing, the story is well written and very entertaining. Her characters are richly developed and leave you wanting to know them even better. Olivia learns that the event of intentionally losing a bet as a child was not what truly estranged her from her father and Lord Edward Bradley discovers the truth of his birth. Klassen cleverly shows her readers the power of living in truth.

*Thank you to Bethany House for supplying this book free of charge as part of their book review program. I received no monetary compensation for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lent = Spring!

As Ben and I sat at McDonald's today, I happened to remember that it was Ash Wednesday. So, I started to explain what little I knew about Ash Wednesday and Lent to Benjamin. Basically I explained that those who practice lent put ash on their foreheads as a sign of repentance and compared it to Mordecai's fast in the book of Esther and how he covered himself in ashes to show his grief. Then explained that the people give up something for 40 days to help them remember Jesus' sacrifice of dying on the cross so that they would be ready for Easter morning.
Benjamin's immediate response was, "Can I do that?" I asked what he would give up and he started a long list of electronics - T.V., games, computer....and I said "Wait! You don't want to make it too hard, forty days is a long time!" What was I thinking??? I'm not sure why my first impulse was to discourage him. After all, sacrifice is part of the lesson, right? Right? What exactly is Lent anyway???

Soon after that, Ben ran off to play on the playground. I began wondering how in the world we are going to practice Lent since I know little to nothing about it?!? Then Amy W. called. "Oh!", I thought with relief, "someone who knows about lent and can help me!" When we talked, she handed the phone to Jay and he graciously explained Lent to this Baptist girl. (All mistakes are my own, not Jay's! So, correct me if I get this wrong.) Lent literally means Spring. Oh! I get it (maybe...). Spring, renewal, reconciliation. A time of listening to that still, small voice. Jay called it a time of re-examining, the focus being not on what you give up but upon learning about Christ's ministry and death on the cross. Like Advent is preparing for the celebration of Christ's birth, Lent is preparing for the celebration of His resurrection Whew! I can do this!

At Jay's suggestion we started today by reading in Matthew 4 about the temptation of Jesus. First thing Benjamin noticed was that Jesus fasted for 40 days too! (okay, not sure I get the count of 40 days - it's actually 46, I think, but we don't count Sundays?? Where is Jay when you need him?? LOL) We talked about how important it is to know scripture so that when we're tempted we can respond like Jesus did. We also discussed that if Satan would tempt Jesus, he will tempt us too. I'm always amazed at what Ben picks up on as we study the Bible together. So, as we give up what Ben calls electronics, together we'll be spending that time learning. It may be tough. I will only be using the computer to do the book reviews I need to do to keep that commitment or for research that I need for school. (Ben also approved me blogging about Lent. ha!) No T.V. - Ben assured me that the Olympics weren't that big of a deal. I can't wait to see what Ben and God teach me in the next 40 days!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sewing 101

Each time Ben sees me sewing he begs me to teach him. So, when I saw a paper card sewn online, I decided it would be a good Valentine's Day project and beginners sewing lesson too.

I couldn't help but think of Tim the Tool man Taylor and his cry "more power!" on the old sitcom Home Improvement. Ben loved switching back and forth between a zigzag and straight stitch as well as changing the stitch length. Many times. On the same card.
At one point he forgot to lift the sewing machine foot off the material and I told him to "lift the foot" I didn't realize he was - lifting HIS foot. Oops. My fault. We had to stop and go over the names of the machine parts.

He was actually very careful and good with the machine. I, on the other hand, discovered that it was MUCH easier to watch from behind a camera. It kept me from taking over or correcting every mistake and from being so uptight about those little fingers being so close to that fast moving, sharp needle.

Here's a sampling of the cards. I've really got to learn to take better pictures.

These were a little too girly for his taste, but were some of my favorite. He was very particular about which fabric to use for each person.

This transformer card is a good example of his use of the different stitches and lengths. He really loved moving those knobs and back stitching!

He very excitedly told me "I love sewing! What if I got to do this for my job? That would be fun!" So, I had to look it up. A male seamstress is actually called a sartor, seamster, or tailor. So, there you have it. My little sartor. Happy Valentine's Day!