Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty by Angela Hunt

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Oh boy, I like to have positive reviews for the book I read, but I'm just not sure I can on this book.  I'm not a big fan of Biblical fiction for starters, so this book immediately had my bias against it when I started it, but I have read some really good Biblical fiction and thought I would try it.

I would say Angela has a very good writing style and definitely stuck with the facts that we know for sure in the Bible.  It was just some of the fictional liberties she took didn't strike me.  The story is written from Bathsheba and Nathan the Prophet's perspective flipping back and forth between chapters.  To me, while Nathan the prophet was very instrumental in Bathsheba's life as far as correcting David for his adultery, I didn't think writing half the book from his perspective made a lot of sense.  I also didn't care for the idea that Nathan was in love with Bathsheba and had made plans to marry her until God told him otherwise.  I definitely think this could have been the case, but it just seemed weird to me. Angela also had Bathsheba as the granddaughter of Ahithophel and I couldn't find that that was true anywhere.

I think I do appreciate the way that she played Bathsheba as the victim of a royal rape and not as inciting his passion by purposely bathing outside where everyone can see.  From the research Angel had done, it was common for the women to do their ceremonial bath outside because they would bathe in the animals water trough and that generally wasn't located inside the home.

I don't think this book is unscriptural in any way, it just didn't resonate with me and I doubt that I will pick up anymore of Angela's Biblical fiction.

This book was a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Carrying on a Legacy

My next post was going to be about my living room rearranging project or my office clean up, but it's not.  I just read this by Jennie Zimmerman and it set my mind to whirling.  Jennie, I'm not trying to copy you and I'm not sure what I'm about to say even goes with your letter, but my mind rambled on in this direction.

It hurts so bad to lose someone we leave.  I'm getting a real collection of friends and family waiting for me up in heaven and I'm looking forward to the day I can go and see them.  The whole death thing is still so very scary and all that, but I think once I'm passed that and can see Jesus and all my loved ones, it sounds pretty awesome.  But in the meantime, what happens?

I was going through my collection of cards that I've gotten since we moved up here, so about 15 months worth.  When you have a baby and lose a father and people remember you daughter's first birthday, you get a real accumulation of cards in a year's time.  I kept finding cards from Cheryl--I think I might have 4 or 5 cards from her in the last year.  Talk about extremely special!!!!  I can smile when I look at them because Cheryl always spelled my name wrong, but that's just one more special thing about the cards now!!!  But the real thing that got me to thinking this morning was Cheryl's caring.  She cared enough to send me a card.  She gave Dave and I an anniversary gift 6 weeks after Nicole died--just a thinking of you.  She sent me a gift at Nicole's first birthday and she gave some awesome baby gifts. And it struck me-- this is something I can do and should be doing.  I can carry on this legacy: I can care for others in the way Cheryl cared for me.  No, I can't do it exactly like Cheryl--I don't want to.  I'm not Cheryl and to try would only cause pain for me and for those I am trying to care about.  So, I want to be that person that thinks about others and not only thinks puts actions to her thoughts.

We talk about my dad and how he always just tackled the job that needed done.  He didn't mopse around about the bad job, the crawling around in that dirty, yucky crawlspace or that complain about the awful plumbing job he had to do.  The job was there, he was hired for it and so he bit the bullet and did it.  I can learn from that too; instead of procrastinating on the yucky jobs, I need to just do it and do it right away.  

There are so many things to be learned from the people around me--I think I should sit up and take notice and learn now before they are gone.  It's way less painful this way.

So here's my challenge to myself--send some cards this week.  It's been on my to-do list for the last month. This week is the week it will get done and while I'm at it, add someone new to my list and send them a card as well.  It doesn't have to be a fancy card, it can just be a little note card or even just a note on a piece of paper.  I have piles of paper and note cards and I have a cricut sitting at my house that I'm sure would love to be used to make a card.  So get up and get to it and brighten someone's day this week.  I'll try and report back next week with my success at carrying it out.

Deadlock by Diann Mills

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I read my first Diann Mills book last summer during the Summer Tyndale Reading Program.  It was a great book, so I was excited to be able to review another book by her and I was not disappointed.  Both books were from her FBI series.

Deadlock is the fictitious story of two FBI partners working to find a serial killer called Scorpion. The partners couldn't have been more different: different gender, different ways of looking at life. One was a rules person; you followed protocol, you used logic while the other one was a psychology major and would run on hunches or gut instinct. Both had attempts made on their life in the course of the book. And of course, they fell in love with each other.

I realize the book is fiction, but I do enjoy reading this style of book: the intrigue, the many resources available to be able to hunt down murderers and other criminals.  I also appreciate the Christian perspective which keeps the book from becoming graphic because I am not okay with graphic details in stories like this.

I know the Christian perspective would be argued by some: can someone who is willing to shoot another human being be a Christian?  I am glad I am not the judge of that.  I am also glad we have professing Christians and good, honest people in positions like this to ensure that justice is meted out, that wrongs are righted and bribes are not taken or heads turned to ignore the evils.

Diann did a good job of showing the difference God can make in a person's life.  Thatcher Graves, the main male character of the book, seemed to have a reputation for being a womanizer, a bad-boy reputation, if you will.  Before the start of the book, he had become a Christian and this was making a big difference in his life.  He was learning to let go of those things in his life and to trust God to lead and direct him.

All in all, I really enjoyed the book and if given the opportunity would review another Diann Mills book.

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.

Friday, September 18, 2015

An Unlikely Couple

So, I don't know how many people have watched Shrek, but that song phrase: "I'm a Believer" has been running through my head since last evening.  Why?  Because of the unlikely marriage of two things.

For awhile, I have been disturbed by the these ugly marks on our shower surround and on the tub as well.  You know, that soap scum or water marks or whatever it is.  Maybe you don't know because you religiously clean your shower regularly and that takes care of it, but anyway if that's the case, I'm not sure we can be friends.  So this dirtiness, stain, etc. was really bothering me.  I had tried to get it off, but nothing seemed to work.  Websites would talk about the wonders of Dawn and vinegar and I would try it and it would help some, but nothing seemed to really take it all off.

Then I read something about warming the vinegar and adding an equal amount of Dawn. So, last night, I was desperate.  I heated a cup of vinegar, dumped in some Blue Up & Up dish soap (comparable to Dawn and handier than my Dawn), put it all in a spray bottle and went to work spraying the shower.  I sprayed it all down and left it set while I went to do other things like clean the rest of the bathroom.

Oh my!!! I came back and started to wipe down the surround and it was a breeze.  The surround actually shone!!  I declare it sparkled and said thank you all except for the places I missed spraying.  But GONE was the yucky off-colored soap scummy yuck.  It was now smooth surround again.  I looked in the shower again this morning and yup, it's still shiny.

I do not know how Dawn and vinegar work together.  To me, vinegar as a cleaning agent is just weird.  I don't get it at all, but hey it works.

Now, I suppose this analogy could be directed into people marriage as well, but it has potential to have a really good point and a really bad point.  You could say by eliminating the distractions of the third party, the water, the cleaning agents were really able to make their point and get the job done.  Distractions in a marriage can have the same lackluster influence.  Or you could argue the point that the water was the glue that held it all together which would equate to God being in the center of our marriage and then there is no point to make anymore. So here is where all analogies break down and I will stop trying to spiritualize my shower cleaning experience.

I should have before and after pictures, but I'm really bad at taking pictures to begin with and for sure of things that I don't know if there will be an after to capture.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Disturbing or Comforting Passage of Scripture?

The righteous pass away; the godly often die before their time. And no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come. For the godly who die will rest in peace. Isaiah 57: 1-2 (NLT)

I've been making my way very slowly through Isaiah since Dad died.  Isaiah was Dad's favorite book of the Bible and it seemed a fitting tribute to read it in memory of him.  These two verses stuck out to me this morning when I read them and I thought how lucky Dad is; how lucky Cheryl is and how lucky Nicole and Bentley are.  Yes, perhaps many would say, Dad lived out his time, but he still died long before we expected him to. No one will deny that Cheryl, Bentley and Nicole went to heaven too soon and yet look at what they were spared: "the evil to come."

This begs the question: what is wrong with us?  Are we not righteous enough? Why are we still here? Resting in peace sounds like a beautiful thing and yet for those of us who can't see the other side, it is also scary. The unknowns are often scary.

So how do we take this passage? Do we use it as a comfort for those who left us for heaven? Or is it a warning to us on earth that we need to "try harder"? What are your thoughts?

Waiting for Morning by Karen Kingsbury

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Here's the deal: I'm a Karen Kingsbury fan.  I don't read a lot of her books because I have this weird phobia that if I read them all, then I'm all caught up and then what?  Tragic, isn't it? Combine that with the fact that I can barely keep up with the books I read for my reviews and I don't get a lot of Karen Kingsbury read.  That being said,  this is the first in a series and I already have the last in a series and I'm tempted to go borrow the middle one in the series from the library, so I can get the whole story all at once.

This is not a new book by Karen. In fact, it was first published in 1999, so I'm not sure why it was an option for reviewing, but I'm not complaining.  I will say that I didn't care for the style of book: it was one of the short and fat kinds rather than the taller thinner version.  But, I suppose this time the book fit the reader, at least this one!

The story is fascinating: a drunk driver runs a stoplight and slams into a Ford Explorer killing the dad and 15 year old daughter, injuring the 13 year old and sending the mom who was at home at the time of the accident into a hating tailspin.  For the next year, the mom, Hannah, is consumed with nothing but getting the drunk driver jailed.  She was a professing Christian until the accident at which time she decided that God was not there or He would have protected her family.  Not a good assumption to make; I haven't had my family ripped from me in that sense, but I've lost too many people I loved in the last 18 months and God is Someone you need desperately during those times, even if you don't really communicate with Him. The comfort of knowing your loved ones are with Him is healing in itself.

Okay, back off my rabbit trail, but the book's focus is forgiveness.  Hannah didn't seek God again until her daughter lay on a bed of suicide and the doctors were unsure if she would ever wake up again from her coma.  Forgiveness for the drunk driver didn't come until a message was delivered to her from someone who had sat with her husband during his dying moments.  Her husband knew her tendency to hold grudges and refuse to forgive and his final words for her were: "please forgive...forgive."

Another focus in the book was Lamentations.  Lamentations is a sad, depressing read for the most part. Listen:

The Lord determined to tear down the wall around the Daughter of Zion. 2:8a
Together they wasted away. 2:8b
My eyes fail from weeping, I am in torment within, my heart is poured out on the ground because my people are destroyed. 2:11a
He has walled me in so I cannot escape; he has weighed me down with chains. 3:7

But then listen to this:
Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. 3:22-23

This was a great book. Yes, there was a tiny bit of romance, I guess, but hardly.  You knew where it was headed anyway.

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

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Plans I Have for You by Amy Parker and Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

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Written by Amy Parker
Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

This is a lovely children's book for ages 4-8. It is based on the verse from Jeremiah that says: For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

It is written in rhyme and talks about how God has a plan for your life and He made you just right for the job he has for you. The second to the last page says this:

The whole world will be better,
thanks to little ol' you...
all because you did
what I created YOU to do.

That struck me: if we just do our part, we can make the world a better place even if it is just in our own little corner, in our house just taking care of our six month old baby. If nothing else, we make the world a better place, by contentedly and happily doing what God has called us to instead of whining and fussing.

The illustrations are really good--bright, bright colors and pictures depicting various occupations with a theme that coincides very nicely with the story line.

I love this book and have already read it to Amber twice.  She seemed to enjoy the pictures.

This book was given my by Book Look Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed were my own.

The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith

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I promise you guys, this is not a book review, but it should be.  This has got to be one of the most inspiring decorating books I have ever read.  Granted, it may well be the only decorating book I have devoured from cover to cover and tried to drink it all in. I wonder if the library would miss it if I never returned it.  If I never went back to the library for anything ever again, would I have to pay the over due fine?

Let me start by giving you a few lines from  "The Imperfectionist Manifesto"

WE BELIEVE that home should be the safest place on earth.
WE BELIEVE that home has a greater purpose than looking pretty
WE BELIEVE in mismatched sheets and unmade beds.
WE BELIEVE that toys and homework and smelly shoes and spilled milk are signs of life
WE BELIEVE in using the good stuff now, not waiting for some future better purpose
WE BELIEVE that contentment results not from stuff but from gratitude
WE BELIEVE that it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.

These were a few that I need to remember.

One thing she mentions in the book that I also need to remember: don't apologize for your house.

At the beginning of every chapter, she has a quote that is inspiring in and of itself. This book has just made me look at my house so very differently.  Unfortunately or fortunately, however you want to look at it, my head is now swimming with a gazillion ideas on what I can do to make my house even more me.

This woman writes this book while living in a rental house. She's moved a total of 13 times at the time of her writing.  She knows what she's talking about.  You can't push off decorating to your next house, your dream house, etc.  That may never come.

Don't apologize for your house is a big no-no.  It shows discontent and that you don't think your house is up to par.  Every house has good points, emphasize those and work with the rest. She's been very creative: duct tape on her bedroom wall to give it a diamond design, contact paper on the fireplace to improve the ugliness of the eye sore. Go big: get the next bigger rug than you think you might need, get big chandeliers.

Can you tell I love the book?  It has inspired me-- we are only living in a rental as well, but let's make it home.  So my living room has become my first project.  I rearranged it yesterday and mostly I love it.  The couch and love seat are a little crowded together but between them is one of my favorite things about the new look.  I took after pictures, because I forgot before pictures that I will try to post in the next couple of days.  It's not done-- I want to redo the lamps, put the saying on the wall finally, the toy area needs much much help yet, so it's all a work in progress, but I'm very excited.  In the mean time, I do have to tackle cleaning up the office a bit.  There will be no before pictures there because quite frankly it has become a dreadful catch all and is embarrassing; but maybe it will be good for my pride to show my mess as well.  I'll contemplate.  Remembering to take pictures is not in the forethought of my mind when I go to tackle a project.

So, if you're looking for inspiration, go the library and check out your own copy, or borrowed copy, of The Nesting Place and be inspired.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

I need some suggestions

Good morning,

This is going to be very brief, but I have been toying with the idea that it is time to make this blog more than just book reviews.  Oh no, I'm not giving up book reviews; I like free books too well and am loving stocking my library with brand new books and not just thrift store specials that are 5+ years old already.  But adding to this blog, meaning that I would post one to two non-book posts a week.  But I need ideas of what to write about, not that I'll listen or anything, but it might spark an interest or something.

Here are a few things I've thought of:

Amber (for her friends and family who follow my blog)
Home decor projects or sewing projects (I'm reading an amazing book right now and am full of ideas for how to change up my house and make it a real home that reflects me)
Menu options (a thought has been there to get into menu planning for people--any takers?)
Deep theological discussions and thoughts
Random things that strike me funny or cause me to ponder life which could come under the previous idea
And so on and so forth.

I've also thought about trying to expand this blog more and get into some advertising with it, but I just don't know.  I first want to see if I can pull off any kind of a scheduled update first. So there you have it, my non-book review update that wasn't really an update, but rather an update about the possibility of future updates.  This is getting confusing.  I better get to my book work.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Potter's Lady by Judith Miller

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This is a story of a family that took over a potter in the 1800's after the older brother had basically been kicked out of the brick making factory where he had been promised to be made part owner. So they bought this pottery at his sister's insistence.  Then their bid proposal were stolen by the nanny and passed on to another potter who would then underbid them and take the contracts.  And so on and so forth.

For some reason, this book just didn't hit the right nerve with me.  Something felt off about it; I did enjoy the suspense at the end of seeing if they would win this big contest and how they would figure out about the cheating going on, but something felt missing.  I think it didn't seem 1800ish enough; like the mother-in-law ran the house and had the money and there was no mention of what had happened to the father-in-law.

I did think Judith did a very good job of bringing God into the story and talking about prayer changing things and peace happening as a result of trusting in God and asking for His help.  I could learn from that a lot.

I received this book from Bethany House in order to read and write a review on it.  All opinions expressed are my own.

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...