Thursday, January 29, 2015

Love with out Limits by Nick Vujicic with Kanae Vujicic

Product Details

This was a really good story.  Nick was born without arms and legs and has definitely learned to overcome and work with his handicaps.  You can read about that process on Life without Limits. This book is the story of his love relationship with Kanae, how they met, some of the struggles they faced, etc.  I admire Kanae's commitment to love and take care of Nick.  She says she often forgets he doesn't have arms and legs and just loves him so much. I find that kind of sacrifice to be amazing.  Looking on, I am not sure I would be up for the challenge. Sometimes, I can find just the normal day-to-day sacrifices annoying because I'm being selfish and self-centered; this is a whole different level that Kanae deals with cheerfully on a day to day basis.

This book records their love story from the time they met, through their dating, early marriage and first child.  It is a very realistic book.  In many ways, the dating and early marriage accounts are geared more for those who aren't married and looking for a partner.  It offers tips on what to look for, standards to have, etc.  But then once Kanae found out she was pregnant after only three months of marriage, (not in their plans), it moves on to the struggles of adapting to a child and making the necessary adjustments in the marriage relationship as well.

To be honest for me, it painted a rather gloomy picture of life after kids.  But it was a good reality check for me.  It probably stuck out to me more because of realizing these changes are going to be our changes in just a few weeks, give or take a little.  I've been having these grandiose ideas of everything I'm going to do after the baby comes and this book kind of blows some of those ideas out of the water when Kanae talks about the postpartum recovery, the "baby blues", the colic and the general feeling of tiredness.  It did make me realize how much I need to treasure these last days when it's just US and yet we are both rather excited to make it three of us. I don't know if this is making any sense at all.

All in all, it was a really good book; one I would recommend to anyone.  If you are feeling overwhelmed or discouraged or just want to have a good pity party, read this book and also Life without Limits and you will be blessed to know how good you really have it and you will also be challenged by what true love and a relationship with God will do for a person despite obvious handicaps and disabilities.  A true challenge to love my husband with such a selfless love.

“I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed here in are my own.”

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Bunny's First Spring by Sally Lloyd-Jones, Illustrated by David McPhail

I am excited to again be sharing with you a lovely children's book.  This book comes in hard cover with a dust jacket.  What that means is it won't be going in with my assorted children's books that I have in a basket, but will instead be preserved nicely on a bookshelf with my other books like this.  I can't wait to read it to my little girl.  It's listed to be for ages 4-8, but I'm hoping she will be interested in it much sooner than that.  In other words, I hope she takes after her mom rather than her dad in her love of books!!!  This is a beautifully illustrated book about a bunny who was born in the spring and how he watched the world come alive around him in the fullness of summer, but than saw the leaves fall off the trees and the flowers fade and was quite concerned the earth was dying, but wait!!!  After, the long cold months of winter, spring came again and the earth once more became alive with green leaves and new birth.  The story was written in a way to carry you along with the message and I felt you could almost feel the suspense of the young rabbit as he tried to figure out what was going on.

Like I said earlier, David did a great job with the illustrations: I would classify the pictures as more of a muted, soft picture that just went well with the type of book that it was.  While there was no message of God in the book, to me it was a confirmation of God's promise that as long as the earth stands, summer and winter will continue its cycle.  For those of us in the land of snow and cold, it's a message of hope that spring will come again.  I'm still enjoying winter, but for those who aren't, this is your hope.  I would recommend this as a good book to buy if you are looking for a nice, high quality book with a good story line.

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.”

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Berenstain Bears and the Biggest Brag by Mike Berenstain

I'm so excited about this review.  I have loved the Berenstain Bears from little up.  We never had the books growing up, but I remember going with Mom to the Hardware store and making my way to the children's book section where I would read Berenstain Bears until it was time to go. So when I got the chance to review one of their books for free, I couldn't resist.  I know some people don't like the Berenstain Bears because Mama Bear seems to run over Papa Bear, but this book had nothing like that in there.

This is a great children's book for ages 4 and up.  I can't put a stop age on it, because I still like them at 32, so....  The story line is Brother and Sister Bear continually bragging and trying to outdo each other.  Gramps comes along and gives them some Biblical advice after he hears them shouting at each other over who can see the best pictures in the clouds.

I especially liked this book because of the Christian message carried with it.  I knew that the authors had become Christians but this is the first book I had read that had such a clear Christian message.  I thought the questions at the end were age-appropriate and good questions for discussion especially the one that talks about you as a person feels when someone else is always bragging and trying to one-up you.  The activities of saying good things about others in the family and encouraging the use of God-given talents was also a good addition to the book.  The illustrations were well done and appropriate to the story line that went with them.  I would definitely recommend this book.  It has a good lesson to teach.  Nobody likes bragging.  And bragging to each other and trying to one up siblings is a good way to cause fights and squabbles.

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.”

Like a Flower in Bloom

Product Details

Like a Flower in Bloom by Siri Mitchell

One of my goals in this new year was to dig out the gold in the books I read for reviewing purposes and then to blog about the things that stuck out to me and that I can learn from.  If I can't learn anything from the book, is it really worth reading?  Well, this was one book, I'm not sure I would recommend on that basis.  This is the second Siri Mitchell book I have read and I'm not sure it won't be my last.

The basic story plot is about a 21-year-old girl who was all into botany and helping her father publish books. She had no concern for social parties, etc. until her uncle declared she needed to be married. His words: "You're a handsome girl, Charlotte. Sturdy, Sound. Snugly put together. It shouldn't be too difficult to put you to the launch."  This is what I pulled out of the book: I thought those few lines were rather funny.  Charlotte had little etiquette though I give her credit for trying to learn.

I just thought the book was rather frivolous.  Not many girls in that age bracket are so completely backwards and don't know or care that they are.  I know girls who beat to their own drummer, but often, at least, they are aware that they do and are okay with it.  Charlotte was completely unaware of the social norms of the day.

If you're looking for a very light read that talks a lot about plants and very little of anything inspirational, than try this book.  If you want a fiction book with a little depth and at least a few lines or phrases that could encourage and inspire you, I'd recommend trying a different book and a different author.

This book was given to me by Bethany House for the purpose of reading and writing a review about it.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Mothering From Scratch

Product Details

Mothering From Scratch: Finding the Best Parenting Style for You and Your Family by Melinda Means and Kathy Helgemo

This was an interesting book to read at this stage in my life.  Having not yet been given the chance to "practice" mothering on my own children, I'm hopeful some of the ideas lodged into my brain somewhere and will help making mothering easier when my own children are born.

Because of the fact that I haven't "practiced" mothering yet, I did find the book a little hard to relate to and yet I thought the authors had some really, really good points.  One of the things that they stressed over and over again was the need for a relationship with God and being in tune with the Holy Spirit.  Making time for quiet time with God is a nonnegotiable to be able to be the mother God has called you to be.  Along with that is being okay with mothering in your own style and not being a people-pleaser to the detriment of your kids.  One thing that stuck out to me was the admonition to be careful what you blog about in relation to your kids.  If they were to read it, would they be embarrassed or humiliated?

Just a few quotes that I thought were good: "We can spend so much time talking about our children online that we never actually talk to our children." "Why not take mothering out of the category of competition?" I think this is something I will really need to remember.  Instead of competing in our mothering methods, ask for help.  When you see a mom who seems to have it all together in one area, ask them how they do it?  Don't go to shame because you can't do it as good as they can, be humble and ask for advice.  They may just have a good tip that will revolutionize your own life and you also may have just discovered an ally in your mothering that you can go back to and bounce other ideas off of.

I did really like this book.  My biggest need for me will be to remember to take it to God first and to be okay with my own style and not the style my family and friends have or that I think they would want me to have.  Raising children is a serious responsibility, but it isn't a competition.

This book was given to me by Bethany House for the purpose of reading and writing a review about it.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Car Seat Blanket

I am so very tickled with how this turned out.  It was terribly easy as well.  Scared me to just stick the blanket in the car seat, line stuff up, and then cut down the middle of the blanket, but it seems to have worked out well.  Just one little note to self--when buying fabric for things like this, you might want to take into consideration the color of the car seat and the number of projects you are doing that pertain to the car seat.  While I have a real eclectic collection of flannel for this baby, I decided after I bought all the material that the two blankets for the car seat really should have some matching colors. So, I have changed my plans and now I have a lovely purple minky fabric to find something to do with.  I just hope I will actually put it to use instead of saving it as I am way too apt to do.  This is the blog where I got the basic pattern off of.  I didn't follow it exactly because I didn't see the point in trying to do that weird corner rounding thing.  Mom cut it out for me and we just did a little corner round so it's more friendly looking and I'm guessing it will work just fine and is way easier.  I also didn't use the bias tape, just a zig-zag over the holes.  I just need a baby now to try it out on. Anybody want to bring theirs over for a demo?

Oh and did I mention how cheap this was?  I had gotten the fleece some time when I got carried away with other projects, but my guess is I didn't pay over $4/yd for it and the flannel I bought on Black Friday for a little over $2/yd.  I think my blanket measures about 39-41 inches.  I actually can't remember for sure, but at any rate, this blanket cost less than $10.  The other thing I really like about this blanket is: we are borrowing the car seat so it also serves to hopefully help protect the car seat from getting too dirty and I can just pull it out and wash it and be good to go instead of trying to scrub a car seat.  

Okay, well, I thought I had uploaded two pics of this blanket: one that would show the other side that you will see when the baby is all wrapped up, but I guess not.  Oh well, my next project has that material on it as well and maybe I can upload the other picture then too.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Happy Birthday Nicole Brooke

The beginning of this post is being written at the one year mark when everything seemed as relatively normal as it could be.  We were still battling the unknowns of a special needs child, but life was evening out a little emotionally at least momentarily while we waited for the next appointment.  A year ago, we had spent a good portion of the day at D's work Christmas party.  It had been a good day. It's so weird, you go to bed and everything seems normal; you wake up and your world falls apart.  Some days it would just be better to stay in bed!!

One year later and I feel like my time needs to be split between celebrating Nicole's short life and treasuring the life growing inside and doing everything I can to protect it.

Happy Birthday Nicole Brooke Glick!!!!!!  I don't know how they celebrate birthdays in heaven, but I can only imagine that it's pretty amazing.  I hope they have a party with cupcakes and party hats and singing and dancing and a special Happy Birthday from Jesus.  Because really Nicole, the only thing that makes it somewhat tolerable that you went to heaven so soon is knowing that you are with Jesus and that He is looking out for you and taking the best care possible of you.  Mom and Dad would have done their best, Nicole, but we can't hold a finger to the care that Jesus gives you.  And so on this one year mark, we are choosing to celebrate your life down here on earth.  Mom and Dad and your Aunt Hannah lit a candle and ate a cupcake in celebration.  Yes, there were some tears shed because I miss you so much, but I know you are happy there and I want to choose to look at your happiness amidst my grief.

So go celebrate my little Treasure and rejoice and live and laugh and dance and someday I hope to celebrate your birthday with you instead of celebrating each year remembering you.

How does it feel to be at the one year mark? How is it supposed to feel?  In some ways it feels like we've survived.  It's got to get easier from here, right? I don't know.  While the initial pain is deadened, there is and will always be an empty spot in our lives--the place Nicole was going to fill. This year there feels like such a mix of emotions, sadness over Nicole and stress/joy over the coming baby.  In some ways the distraction is nice and in other ways it feels unfair.  I don't know if this makes any sense or not.  But the fact is, life moves on.  I don't say that to sound calloused at all, because I don't think I am.  My desire is to hang on to the memories and pass on the little that we have to Nicole's little sister.  I want her to know about her awesome big sister in heaven and to celebrate the gift of her life no matter how short it was here on earth, but I also don't want her to feel as though she is second-best because of Nicole.  I want her to treasure and to be treasured.  Okay, before I get myself and everybody else all confused with my rambling thoughts, I better stop.

(You can all back away from the computer screen now!!!!! That is as much of a picture of me as you will likely get for right now.)

If anyone would like a cupcake to celebrate, feel free to stop in.  There are still some left, though they aren't quite as good as they were earlier because I'm having a hard time taking them off of display and putting them in a good and tight closed container, but I can serve you milk to go with them.  The flowers will be going on her grave--a gift from her Grandma Mast.  And a special thanks to her Aunt Hannah for making and decorating the cupcakes for me.  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Song by Chris Fabry

Product Details
by Chris Fabry based on the motion picture screenplay by Richard L. Ramsey

This book generated some very mixed emotions in me.  The book was written to be a modern adaptation of Solomon's life based on Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon and to provide wisdom for committed love, true beauty and satisfaction in relationships.  I have to be honest though, it took me awhile to get into the book.  I like Chris Fabry as an author; his style is a little different from the norm and can capture my attention, so I was really looking forward to reading this book.  I have to admit though that for the first half, I read it more because I needed to.  It felt so predictable.  Singer meets small-town girl, they fall in love, get married, he goes off to make his fame and fortune, she stays home to raise the family. He comes home every now and then because he needs his wife and she is not interested in being needed only for her body. He falls into lust with his co-lead singer and goes down into the pit of drugs, alcohol, and adultery.

About there is where it really started to capture my attention and pull me into the story line.  While I was sure in the end, he was going to choose to go back to his wife, the journey down and back did really hold my attention.  For me, I enjoyed dissecting both Jed and Rose and seeing how each could have done things differently to prevent the downfall.  Obviously, I place the blame for adultery on Jed; however, I think we as wives do have a huge responsibility to make our homes a haven-- to be for our husbands what they need.  I'm not just talking sexually either; I'm talking about making home inviting.  Pick up on those things that mean a lot to your husband and do them.  For my husband that is doing things for him--keeping the house tidy, making him food, serving him.  Right now, I feel so inadequate in this area because he is the one serving me exclusively right now, but that will change.  For Rose, this would have meant going with Jed on tour, putting him first rather than her dad, making him feel important, etc. etc.  It's so easy to see how others should do or should have done it and so much harder to see it in ourselves.

Okay, there's my little sermon on that.  I also want to pull out a snippet that really stuck out to me from the beginning of the book:

Rose got pregnant shortly after they were married and while she was confident and competent about a lot of things in life, being a mother scared her.  She was scared of losing and allow me to quote from the book something that I have thought about some myself, though maybe not in this way.

"Lose what?"

She held back at first, then manged to choke out, "Myself. I look at moms in church and their kids become their whole life.  And that's good. Children are a treasure and they're important, but if your whole life centers around your kids, don't you lose yourself?"

Jed's response: "Maybe in losing yourself you actually find yourself. Maybe instead of making you feel like you're dying inside this baby will make you come alive in a way you've never been before."

That really caught my attention because this is a fear of mine.  I don't want to become a mom whose whole world is her children and she knows nothing outside of that. I don't want to lose my identity and simply be known as so and so's mom.  But maybe it is in losing that you find your greatest joys and delights in life.  Maybe it is in losing, that I will be able to gain better perspective and be able to reach out more and touch more people.

So this got a little longer and maybe more preachy than I intended it to be, but my goal this year is to pull something from each book that I can take to heart and pass on to you. I did enjoy this book and I would definitely still keep Chris Fabry on my list of authors to read.

This book was given me by Tyndale House for the purpose of reading and writing a review on it.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, January 5, 2015

I've Changed my Mind

It's January 5 today.  Remember how a few short days ago, I wrote about January being the start of a new year and a clean slate or whatever other stuff I wrote about it.  Well, I just want you to know that I've changed my mind.


I know that's a strong statement, but January is starting to feel like a foreboding month to me.  Two years ago, we were trying to pick up the pieces after a miscarriage that left me more heartbroken than I ever expected.

One year ago tomorrow, our world was turned upside down by the potential prospect of a Down Syndrome baby and then only 8 days later to give birth to our precious baby girl, Nicole Brooke who went straight to heaven.

So what about this year?  Well, we just got home after spending a weekend in the hospital trying to stop preterm labor for the little miss that isn't scheduled to make her debut until March.  Now, I suppose because they were able to get the labor stopped and I am back home again, that that should be cause for elation and it is. I am so glad to be home!!!! And I am so glad for NICU's and high-tech hospitals and all that stuff. I truly am, but we are only on the fifth day of January and my pessimistic attitude says a lot could happen this month yet.  But, the good news to that is if little miss decides to come early, the NICU doctor says her survival rate is as good as a full-term baby.  Now, that is enough good news to make me like January, but I have decided I don't like January and I'm sticking to it.

And that's really all I have to say about it, so I will move on to other glamorous things like writing in my new 2015 planner and reading my stack of books that I need to get through all while trying to ignore that it's January on the calendar!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Always on my Mind by Susan May Warren

Product Details

Well, now doesn't that look like the typical romance book, Christian romance of course.  And you would be correct in drawing that conclusion, but I do really like this series of books.  It's the fourth in a series about the Christiansen family and this book deals a lot with love and forgiveness and overcoming past mistakes and being able to move forward.  I'm really not going to give a lot of the story line behind the book except to say that Casper is the middle child with the need to save the world.  He wants to find the lost treasure, he wants to heal the hurting lady, he wants to prove himself to his family that he isn't just a failure.  So he first runs away to dig for pirate's treasure, but then comes back home and tries to forget the woman he fell in love with who happens to have a past that kicks him in the gut.  Interested yet?

But here's what I really want to focus in on-- some advice that John, Casper's father gave to him.  Listen to a few lines pulled from the book: "See, I was my own worst enemy back then. My pride told me I deserved better.  A bigger life. But my dad figured it out--there is no life bigger than the one lived, every day, in awe of God. God showing up in our lives to love us despite ourselves. That is a treasure we can find every single day....How do you keep loving someone who doesn't love you back? Like Jesus did, Son. Faithfully praying, faithfully abiding, faithfully loving anyway.....You don't think Jesus sees our choices, our decisions, and wants to run out in front of us with semaphores? He does, in fact warn us over and over of the ways we're destroying ourselves. But we don't listen. And what does love do? Forgives, Comforts. Protects. Saves. Renews. Loves.....If what we call love doesn't take us beyond ourselves, require more of us than we ever dreamed, then it's not the unconditional, divine love God intends for us. God's love is not cautious, not wise, not sensible, and not remotely conservative. In fact, loving another person the way God loves them is the greatest adventure we can have. The greatest treasure we can find."

This speaks to me: we all have people in our lives we don't understand, we struggle to get along with or we have completely broken relationships with them.  Our first step must be to pray for them and then to love them irregardless.  This is not humanly possible. This backs us up to the first quote, the one that says there is no life bigger than the lived every day in the awe of God.  God loves me despite my shortcomings; how can I do anything but love the next person despite his or hers?  This is my goal, this is my resolutions for the year 2015 and this might be worthy of posting on my refrigerator.

This book was given me by Tyndale House for the purpose of reading and writing a review on it.  All opinions expressed are my own.

The Beginning of 2015

It always feels a little awkward to start writing the date for the new year.  It seems to take a big to get used to it and yet as I said yesterday, a new year feels so well NEW!!!  A fresh page, a brand-new start, dreams and goals all open and exciting.

So, what about resolutions, schmezolutions?  Do you do them?  Or do you laugh at people who do and make bets about how long it will be before they break them?  If you do make resolutions, are you a staunch, write-it-down-post-it-on-the-fridge sort of person or is it just kind of a general idea that you would like to pursue in the new year.

Me?  I think I've done a little of each.  Never posted them on the fridge though.  That would be going to far for me-- maybe in my daily planner.

To be honest, I didn't think a lot about resolutions until I wrote yesterday's post and realized it's that time of year.  One resolution that I think would be good for everyone will be posted in my next blog post which is coming right after this--in a book review no less.

I have some goals for 2015: have a baby, figure out what a new normal for life is like and feel good again.  I know that sounds selfish and whiny and egocentric, but that's kind of at the top of my list right now.  Along with that are things like going back to work, cooking and baking and cleaning again and tackling a long list of hobbies and projects that have been waiting in the shadows tempting and enticing me.

That was all pretty vague and noncomittal and that's probably what my resolutions are going to look like this year.  There are a few though I want to commit to--one being to follow through on Ann Voskamp's 1000 gifts journal idea.  I did it two years ago and tried last year and just stalled out, but I want to do that again this year.

For this blog?  I don't know how many of you read my book reviews, but I love getting brand-new, newly published books for free in the mail.  My punishment?  I have to write a review on them and post them on my blog.  Having a blog that is regularly updated is a prerequisite for getting these free books.  And like a sucker I just signed up for two new blog review programs, bringing my number to four companies I review for.  To say I'm pumped about this is no understatement, but I do sort of dread the thought of writing all those reviews.  But from those two new companies I am getting the book "Love without Limits" by Nick Vic??? however you spell his last name.  He's the man without arms and legs and it's his love story.  Also, I'm getting a Berenstain Bear book.  Now, I know there is a lot of controversy about these books, but I have loved them from little up and we didn't have them at home, but more on that when I write my review after I get the book in the mail.  In the meantime, I have 4 books waiting on me and only one is read so far.

But back to my blog, I am determined to dig out of these books things that I can learn from and share with all of you--lessons learned even from the fiction books.  I will be honest, I tend toward fiction if I don't recognize the authors and have the option.  I can get a little gun shy of devotional, inspirational books written by people I don't know and haven't heard recommendations for because of the risk of teaching that is contrary to my beliefs.  I do get one nonfiction a month from Bethany House and I try to read it carefully.  Along with my book reviews, I am hoping to add other posts as well.  I keep wondering if there is a certain direction I should go with my blog: should I start posting food?  Sewing projects? DIY projects, which would mean my blog would remain pretty much empty. Relationships?  Etc. etc. I think I will keep it random. I like not being restricted by what my blog is supposed to do or say.  Hey, it's my blog, my privilege right?

So what other resolutions and goals should I have?  I don't know and quite frankly I'm not sure how much I care.  For the month of January, sewing is my biggest goal and getting the necessities for hosting a baby in the house.  The other thing I keep toying with in my head is writing some posts about Gary Chapman's book "The Five Love Languages."  I'm reading it right now and think it's a fascinating topic and one I need to be reminded of now and again, but I'm not sure I consider myself enough of an expert in relationships to even begin to tackle it, but hey that's what can make a blog interesting right?  I'll continue to ponder it.

But now, on to what I consider a big and monumental resolution.........

Big Trucks Getting the Job Done Together, Illustrated by Sergio De Giorgi

A dozer, a digger, a crane and a dump truck work together to get the job done. Written in rhyme, it reminds me a bit of the book "L...