Monday, March 30, 2015

The Set Apart Woman by Leslie Ludy

Product Details

The Set-apart Woman: God's Invitation to Sacred Living.

If you want your life changed, then I recommend this book.  Leslie takes you on a personal journey to becoming the woman God has created us to be.  She is practical; she shares personal excerpts from her life and she challenges each and every woman to be sold out 100% for God, no exceptions, no excuses.

One of the things that hit me the most and that I am working on improving was the area of prayer time/personal time with God.  Since our daughter was born, this had really fallen by the wayside, but she challenged me that there is not a time in our lives to let this all-important part slip to the side.  We need that time with God to be able to face the day and I know she is right.  I am working on doing better at making it a crucial part of my day.  I have a long ways to go.

Leslie ends each chapter with a group study and discussion questions and verses to look up and also a personal reflection with some more verses and questions.  It would be a perfect complement to your quiet time that would cause you to examine your life and dig deeper into becoming the woman God has made you to be.

What has become an idol in my life? Money, relationships?  Am I more interested in being a humanitarian rather than changing the world for God first and meeting physical needs as a break out from that?  Do I have the sacrificial love that God calls us to?  Am I willing to step out of my comfort zone to do the work God has called me to? Am I even open to finding out what that work might be?

I hope I can be more God-conscious as a result of reading this book and being reminded once again of my need for God to have control over every area of my life.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to be changed and who wants to be 100% sold out for God.  Prepare to have your thinking challenged and your mindset changed.

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

The Berenstain Bears God Made You Special by Mike Berenstain

The Berenstain Bears God Made You Special

Yup, another Berenstain Bear book and yup, I love it as much as I loved the other one I reviewed. This is a book for children ages 4-8, though I think younger and older ones can benefit from it.  It is the story of a special Bear named Tommy.  It doesn't say what disability Tommy had; just that he functioned on a lower age level than his actual age.  The purpose of the story is to express how God has made us all special regardless of our mental capacity or our physical ability.

The pictures were clear and followed the story line in an age appropriate manner.  I like pictures that are captivating and that can tell a story in themselves and this book accomplishes that.  I think Mike did a good job of getting his point across that God loves all of us and while some may seem to be "different" from us, they are still special in God's eyes and they still have something to teach us.  In this story, Tommy was always happy regardless of what else was going on.  I enjoyed the book and am looking forward to reading it to my daughter again someday when she can understand it.  I would recommend this as a good resource as well for helping our children to understand and appreciate the value of those "special children".  This book, I think, struck home a little more too as I remember the day of wondering if we were going to be the parents to a "special" child.

This book was given me by Book Look Bloggers for the purpose of reading and writing a review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Miss Brenda and the Loveladies by Brenda Spahn and Irene Zutell



A disclaimer:  this is now how my my book looks, but it seems to be the same story.

This is the story of how one took on the Alabama justice system and against all odds established a whole way house for women newly released from prison with nowhere to go.  The prison system doubted her success and the first group of women they sent to her were label as unrehabilitateable (yes, I may have just made that word up, I'm not sure).  They were a hard group of women led by an angry lady named Shay who was convinced they were going to be forced into a maid's uniform and become slaves to this rich lady.  The book is laugh out loud funny, such as the description of their first trip to Walmart, but it is also extremely sad as you listen to some of these ladies stories and their childhood: the abuse, the lack of love, the exposure to drugs. Heartrending.

While I may not be in agreement with all of Brenda's beliefs, I believe she has a heart for God and a love for these ladies.  After getting kicked out of their original house because of upset neighbors, they bought an old hospital, renovated it and today, the Lovelady Center is the biggest and most successful nonprofit transitional center in the country.  They serve about 450 women and children a day.  It's amazing what one person can do when fully committed to God.

I would recommend this book for reading, though I would also recommend caution because some of the descriptions are a little graphic.  Let's say I wouldn't let my children read it until they were in at least their upper teens.

This book was given me by Blogging for Books for the the purpose of reading and writing a review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, March 23, 2015

By Your Side by Candace Calvert

Product Details

This was a good chick flick.  The normal romance: girl with a tough past meets heroic police officer who helps to save her life at least once.  They fall in love and live happily every after.

However, I did enjoy the writing style and enjoyed the feel-goodness of the story.  While I am well aware that real life is not so cut and dried and not always so dramatic and definitely doesn't always have such a "happily ever after" feel, it was a well-written story.

I especially enjoyed it because of the medical aspect of it.  I enjoy reading stories about nursing even if they aren't true stories.  Candace was an ER nurse, so I felt that the medical side was portrayed pretty accurately.

As far as: what can I take away from the story and apply to my life? I think the one thing would be to be thankful for parents, for having a home.  Macy was a foster child after her mother died.  Before that they lived in the car.  Her dad wanted nothing to do with her and wrote her off with a substantial check.  It makes me grateful for a nice home to grow up in.

I am looking forward to reading the other two Candace Calvert books I have that I haven't read yet.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Henry Hodges Needs a Friend by Andy Andrews and illustrated by Colleen Madden



Let me say first and foremost: I loved, loved, loved this book.  It's a children's book about a little boy who lived at the end of a "long dead end street" and had no friends to play with.  His parents promised him a pet that was going to be one of a kind just like him.  He commenced to dreaming about the kind of pet that would be unlike any other.  In the end, he finds a puppy who looks just as lonely as he feels.  It's a fun story written in rhyme that reminds me just a little of Dr. Seuss.  I read the story to my 3.5 week old daughter, but I don't think she got too much out of it, though I'm hoping to fuel her obsession with books as young as possible!! :) :)  I would say this book would be for toddlers and up to maybe 1st or 2nd grade?  I'm not real good with when a story like this would no longer be interesting.

The message of the book was summed up in the last line, "just like your friend needs you." I would take the message to be that everyone needs a friend.  The illustrations were amazing.  Henry dreamed of funny animals like skating hippos and short necked giraffes and Colleen did a really good job of illustrating them in a kid-friendly manner.  I loved the pictures, they went perfectly with the story line for each page.  I wouldn't say there was a strong spiritual message in the book, a few lines toward the end, but it was a good, solid book that I would definitely recommend to others.

This book was given to me by Book Look Bloggers for the purpose of reading and writing a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Today was the Day

Last May, when we moved into this house, I used the top part of our china hutch and created a Nicole spot, full of things that memorialized her--her footprints, handprints, books, teddy bear, etc. etc.  I liked it, but I imagine for some people it was a little weird to see in a living room.

Well, now we have two daughters and somehow it didn't feel right to me to leave that spot like it was.  The difference is Amber Hope fills our living room-- there are baby blankets and burp cloths and a car seat and a pacifier and a baby hat, etc. etc filling our living room.  And, if you come at the right time, there is this adorable little girl sleeping on the couch.

So today was that day to take down her things.  The swirling of emotions that ensues with something like that is hard to reconcile.  On one side, the tears were flowing as I looked at the book my co-workers gave in memory of Nicole and read the card given by a very good friend.  On the other side, my second daughter screamed for attention. I picked her up and she was instantly quiet, but this mama just needed her, so I wrapped her in her Moby and we bonded for a bit.

I know I've dwelt on this before and I don't want to become a stuck record, but this is my life right now.  I love Amber with all that is in me and so far am totally loving being a mom, though today was a bit stressful.  But, when I get pics of Nicole's grave and I look at her things and I think about her, I really, really, really miss her.  And so, for the rest of my life, I believe these two emotions are going to coincide and I don't know or understand how they mix, but somehow they do and it is right and it is good.  I can't have Nicole here and so I am going to love Amber with all the unrelinquished love that's been building up in me for the last 14 months.

I do know this-- I love Amber more fully because of losing Nicole.  I am working hard to treasure the moments because of the moments I never got.  A common phrase from me these days is this: "She's so cute. We are so blessed."  And that is how I feel.  Pain and grief have somehow opened our hearts to a greater intensity of love.  I don't say that those who have never lost cannot love like we can.  I do not mean that at all, but I think the kind of love or the way or something is different.  I don't know. Feel free to correct me on that.

Someday, I will do a picture post whenever I get my pictures uploaded from my camera.  It's on the to-do list for Thursday or Friday, I think, so maybe next week, I'll get some on here.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Bella's Gift by Rick and Karen Santorum with Elizabeth Santorum



Bella's gift is a beautiful story of love. Bella is a Trisomy 18 child.  The diagnosis of Trisomy 18 is generally equal to a death sentence, but the Santorum's set out to prove the statistics wrong.  They fought the odds including many medical personnel who viewed Bella as an unsustainable liability, which is very sad.  Bella is now almost 7 years old and while she is completely dependent on her family for every basic need she is full of joy and love and laughter.

This is a well-written book about the challenges and joys of a special needs child.  It addresses the challenges and struggles to accept the role of a parent with a special needs child, but I believe the Santorum's have embraced their role wholeheartedly and are enjoying their little girl to the fullest. The book also describes some of Rick's campaign for Presidency, but it isn't a huge factor in the book except where it affects Bella and the responses of people when they heard about her.  I believe the Santorum's are dedicated Christians and I feel the book is a great testimony to what Christ does in a life.  To love selflessly, devotedly, and cheerfully through stress and sickness and 24 hour high-energy caring requires a Higher Power and the Strength that only comes from faith in Jesus Christ.

I would definitely recommend this book to others.  For me, it was especially interesting-- I have known parents who have had Trisomy 18 children, but I know no living Trisomy 18 children. Being a nurse and knowing the statistics, this book was especially interesting to me.  Rock on Bella!!!

This book was given to me by Book Look Bloggers for the purpose of reading and writing a review on it.  All opinions given are my own.

Fragrant Whiffs of Joy by Dorcas Smucker (It's Giveaway time)

Ah yes, this was just what the doctor ordered. I've wanted to review Dorcas' last book or two and was always too chicken to ask, b...