Monday, September 27, 2010

City On Our Knees by TobyMac

Can you tell by my blog that Bethany House has been very generous this month with sending books for review?

This weekend I received City On Our Knees by TobyMac in the mail. Each section in the book is named after a line from the song by the same name and includes a collection of stories about well known people in the church such as St. Patrick, Charles Spurgeon; as well as a story of a conscripted soldier in Hitler's army and modern day Christians that God has used and is using to change the world.
In TobyMac's own words, "City on Our Knees .... offers stories of people who have stepped across lines. Lines of discrimination, persecution, doubt, prejudice, pride, bitterness, self-isolation, and despair. I pray and hope that you will be inspired to see how just one person, or one small group, can be a mechanism for change. God can use us right here. Right now. All we need is faith that He has our best in mind." The stories are inspiring, though I had heard a few of them before they were well worth reading again. The beginning of each section includes several Bible verses and quotes from people for contemplation as well as a TobyMac blog. The section then ends with a one-minute remix and a prayer. The layout would be very conducive to using as a devotional and would be acceptable for a youth group setting. My one complaint is that it would have felt more personal and inspiring to read of what God has done in TobyMac's life rather than him relating other's stories. Yet, it does do what it sets out to do - remind Christians of the importance of prayer and obedience.

Thank you to Bethany House for providing this book for review. 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

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Masquerade by Nancy Moser

Historical romance readers will love Nancy Moser's book on America's gilded age. In Masquerade she weaves a tale of scandal, adventure and romance.
Charlotte "Lottie" Gleason is a wealthy, young English socialite in 1886. She is forced to face reality when she learns of her father's sin and loss of money. Trying to save her from disgrace and provide for her future, her parents send her to America with instructions to wed Conrad Tremain, a wealthy man she has never met. Lottie decides she wants to have a chance to control own life even if it means disobeying her parents and giving up the lifestyle she is accustomed to. She convinces her lady's maid, Dora, to trade places with her.
Dora considers this her chance to escape poverty and avoid a lifetime serving others. She takes Charlotte's place and enters the world of fancy clothing, parties, and leisure. She discovers that all is not well in the Tremain household and even though she likes Conrad and considers him a friend, she learns that it isn't always easy to live a lie.
Charlotte faces many hardships in the streets of New York; robbers, unhealthy living conditions, hard work and unsavory crowds are a shock to her system. She begins to regret her decision and wants to take her rightful place in the Tremain home. Will she learn how to support herself, or will she expose Dora and ruin Dora's chance at happiness? Both ladies must learn to seek God first and trust in His guidance.
This was an enjoyable book worthy of an all-night read!
Thank you to Bethany House for providing this book for review. 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

Friday, September 24, 2010

A look back to God's healing and provision

Just found this in my "drafts"....a blog written in August 12, 2009, that for some reason was never posted. I had been working at Living Water that day when Mark called saying that Ben was really sick and we needed to get him to the Amarillo hospital. So, now a look back to what we were doing a little over a year ago

Things I learned this week:
Anyone reading this probably already knows the story of Benjamin's hospital stay, so I won't bore you with the details again. But here are a few things I learned this week (in no particular order...) Reminder: Pampa Dr. did a CAT scan and blood test in Pampa - and sent results to Amarillo - they declared it appendicitis. Our pastor and Mark prayed over Ben in Pampa. The doctor in Amarillo (a christian ) wanted to double check results before going to surgery. No surgery was needed, and by the next day you would have never known Benjamin had been sick.

1. It isn't fun or easy sleeping in a hospital bed, even if you aren't sick.

2. BSA has an awesome pediatric floor and nurses.

3. I don't want to go back to work as badly a I thought I did.

4. I've lost a lot of brain cells since I last held a job.

5. I'm too old for this. I'm sitting here exhausted, Ben is begging to play outside.

6. Appendicitis and a virus have very similar symptoms at times.

7. Cat scans are more expensive in Pampa than Amarillo.

8. God is my provider and will take care of all the bills! :-)

9. Gib is a very understanding man with a panicked mom. (by the way, Becky I had an unusual call as I was leaving L.W. - Gib handled it, I think, even though the caller insisted on talking with you. It didn't seem to matter that you weren't there.)

10. Ben is a very, very brave kid! He drank 2 cups of "nasty stuff" for the cat scan, had an IV, thought he was going to have surgery, and much, much more, yet never complained or cried. Just asked lots of questions. (One lady later told me it is very similar to drinking two cups full of laundry soap. gag!)

11. Telling the DPS that you are going to the hospital because your little brother is sick can get you out of a speeding ticket. Scott and Sarah were concerned about Ben...

12. ER nurses aren't necessarily good with children. I don't think telling the possible risks of anesthesia and surgery in front of kids is a good idea.

13. A nurse telling a father "you're signing your life away" scares kids. ("what does that mean?!!?" he asked)

14. My sister is extremely good at her job, and very, very understanding about the fact that I am extremely lousy at it.

15. My daughter is very helpful. (She brought her brothers home and stayed with them while we were in Amarillo.)

16. Having Christians in the medical field (Drs. and nurses) is a blessing!!

17. You can encourage others no matter what your job. (The cleaning lady came in saying "you can just call me Cinderella" and told me she was praying for my baby.)

18. You know how kids can get so tired that they can't sleep? I do that too.

19. A hospital stay costing well over $2000 is a quick way to get over a really bad virus.

20. Prayer is an even better way.

A great big Thanks to all who expressed concern and prayed for us! Think I'll go to bed and stay there all day tomorrow. :-)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Vigilante's Bride by Yvonne Harris

Imagine a Louis L'Amour book with a feminine touch and you will have a good picture of this debut novel by Yvonne Harris. This western tale begins with orphan Emily McCarthy being told by the orphanage director that they have arranged a marriage for her in North Dakota.
On the way to her Christmas wedding, the stagecoach is robbed. When the robber, Luke, returns and takes Emily with him, she wonders if he is her kidnapper or her savior.

An enjoyable book with mild references to relationship with God. I think that perhaps the character of Luke should have struggled more with remorse over stealing and killing. If he had been a real living person I would have wanted to remind him of God's declaration that "vengeance is mine." (Romans 12:19). There is a fine line between justice and vengeance. The lack of lawmen in the 1800's in the American west did lead to men taking justice into their own hands, hopefully with godly motivation, but all too often the system was not ethical. I simply felt that the issue of vigilantism could have been explored a bit more in the story.
All in all, a great, humorous,and lively book for a rainy day.

Thank you to Bethany House for providing this book for review. 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

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Love's First Bloom

This is the second book of Delia Parr's that I've had the opportunity to review. I love her writing style. I must say that I enjoyed this book from the cover picture to the very end. Having goose feathers for a weapon, using brooms to celebrate July 4th and an annoying pet turkey are a few examples of Mrs. Parr's creativity in her newest book, Love's First Bloom.

The story begins as Ruth's father places a baby in her arms with explicit instructions that she must change her identity and board the ship headed to a small community in New Jersey. She must make some big, life-changing decisions and learn how to discern whom to trust along the way. The two innocent victims of scandal, Ruth and the baby Lily, find refuge in the home of a kind, loving couple living near Toms River.

Ruth obediently and tirelessly cares for the child left in her care. Discouraged and grieving, Ruth begins to seek God as she tends an abandoned garden at the banks of the river. She meets Jake Spencer, a man she believes to be injured and in need of her help. Ruth begins to trust Jake and wonders if he can help her protect Lily from harm. How will Ruth react when she discovers that Jake is actually one of the newspapermen intent upon marring her good name?

This book points out the dangers of media telling all and destroying innocent lives in the process. It is an easy and enjoyable read. I have 2 more Bethany House books to review this month so be looking for more to come.

Thank you to Bethany House for providing this book for review. 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

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Somewhere to Belong by Judith Miller

Judith Miller's book Somewhere To Belong is the first in a series based upon the Amana colonies in Iowa. The colonies were a group of God fearing people who believed in communal living. Their livelihood came from farming and fabric mills. These people of faith believed in spending as much time as possible in studying the Bible and in prayer. They were assigned jobs by a Bruderrat council; the jobs included working with children, gardening, cooking, working in the mills, stable work, and many other duties. They lived a devout, simple, hard working life.

Johanna had lived all of her life in Main Amana and yearns to see the outside world. She longs to begin her adventure by visiting her brother in Chicago. Berta is a young lady who had lived the life of wealth in Chicago. When Berta's parents decide to move to the colonies, she struggles to adjust to this new life. Johanna is assigned the responsibility of teaching Berta and the adventure begins. Both young ladies discover that not even parents always live a life free of deceit and both learn the importance of truth and honesty.

If you enjoy the Amish books that have become popular, then this book will be one that you appreciate. The link above gives a lot of information on the Amana colony and is quite interesting. Anyone want to visit with me? Honestly I did struggle with hearing some of the requirements the families had to live with in the colonies, but the book was interesting, well written and educational.

Thank you to Bethany House for providing this book for review. 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

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Shhh...don't tell!

Last night my family ate spinach, broccoli, peas, sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, and red peppers. Tonight we will add cauliflower and zucchini. Shhh....please don't tell them!!! They just think we had pizza and will think we're having chili tonight.

I've always been known to "hide" vegetables in my kids food. Mainly, I'd grate carrots into any tomato based or ground beef meal we had. Tacos, spaghetti, meat loaf - were all good ways to get a veggie into my kids. You'd have to be a part of our family to appreciate it, but my kids are always laughing at me - letting me know I didn't fool them. In fact, last time Sarah was here, she let me know that I no longer needed to "hide" it - that they were all old enough to know the carrots were there. :-) But as funny as they thought I was, it worked! They would eat the vegetables. I didn't really want to "fool" them, but teach them to eat vegetables willingly, so I never denied my attempt at deceit.

Several months ago I was given an electric steamer. I thought "this takes up so much space in my kitchen, I'll play with this awhile then donate it." but then yesterday I declared a play day for me - and went shopping. I went to a book store and came out with The Sneaky Chef and Deceptively Delicious cookbooks that I found on sale - really cheap. I went home played all afternoon - cooking! (Yes, I'm weird, I know, but I LIKE cooking.)
I fell in love with the steamer - not only does it cook perfect rice, but it works great with all the recipes in my new cookbooks. It may have earned its' space in my kitchen, at least until I lose interest. I made and froze several vegetable purees to add to recipes. Because the vegetables are steamed and then pureed in the food processor, a small amount of puree goes a long way - one cookbook called it "nutritionally dense". I wish I'd had this when my kids were small! No one noticed the difference, but I did notice that everyone ate less pizza than normal, with the vegetables in the sauce, I think it was more filling. (maybe that was my imagination). I'm thinking this is going to be great - not only were the kids eating better, so were the adults. (I normally wouldn't touch sweet potatoes or cooked spinach). How great would it be if it works on my mother-in-law, the world's pickiest eater? I have to admit, it was FUN being sneaky. (maybe one day I'll tell them.) So, what do you do that makes your family think you're strange - or maybe I should just ask what do you do to spend a fun day alone?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Boy Who Changed the World by Andy Andrews

Mom's review:
My son and I had a fun time tonight reading a review copy of the children's book The Boy Who Changed the World by Andy Andrew. The artwork in the book is great and the story drew us both in.
Using the lives of Norman Borlaug, Henry Wallace, George Washington Carver, and Moses Carver, the book teaches the butterfly effect - how each of our actions affect not only us, but the world! I loved that the book taught history in such an engaging way. The story included tales of each of the men as young boys. Norman played with his sisters in the corn fields, Henry went on expeditions with George and teased about hippos in Iowa. George made a crutch for a friend and Moses had a rooster named Buzz. Each of these things made the book appealing to my son. I would imagine that girls would be just as engaged in the tale as he was. It states that the book is for children ages 4 - 8, but I think this is a book for all ages! Each page has wonderful images of butterflies and ends with an abundance of butterflies and a reminder to the reader that "every little thing you do matters" and "you can be the kid who changes the world". I thoroughly enjoyed the book and am sure we will be reading it many more times!
Son's review:
The Boy Who Changed the World is a book about helping and sharing. Norman helped the world by growing special seeds that fed two billion people. Henry Wallace helped by telling Norman to make the seeds. Henry became the vice president of the United States! George Washington Carver helped Henry by teaching him about plants. But George couldn't have helped without Moses, his adopted father, who saved him.
This book was a very good book. It was about helping and about sharing food. It taught me that what we do is important and can help others.

I received this book free from the publisher through the 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