Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Wedding Shop by Rachel Hauck

Product Details

So it's no secret I'm a bookworm, but this book, oh this book, it dragged me in and held me. Even with an energetic 18 month old, I read this book in 3.5 days. This morning when I should have been doing other things, more profitable and uplifting things I was glued to my book.  Rachel does an amazing job.  I had this mental image of a 50's something author and then I saw her bio picture and she doesn't look even as old as I am. How do people churn out books like this?

This is the second book I've read by Rachel and I will be totally on the lookout for any new ones I see of hers. I'm not sure how to describe her style, but it grabs me and pulls me in.

Just a brief story line. A girl, Haley, held by a pinky promise, comes back home after going to college, being a captain in the army, getting tangled up with the wrong man, a married man and decides to reopen The Wedding Shop. The second part of the story, tangled throughout the book is the story of Cora, from back in the 1930's and her own journey of going through the Great Depression when her dad walked away, the man she loved also turned out to be married with kids, and then nearly losing the man that was right for her.

For those who like a linear story where it flows from one to the next, you may not like it, because it does hop from character to character and from decade to decade, but to me I think that added to the intrigue. I don't always like this in a book, but Rachel did a really good job of making the story flow.

The other thing that was well portrayed in this book is the story of redemption and forgiveness. God is willing to take our broken pasts with all its junk and filth and he's willing to restore us white as snow. He loves us and wants us to come back to Him and let Him work His way in our lives. He's willing to give us second chances. The other theme of forgiveness goes down the line of forgiving ourselves for our past mistakes and opening our hearts to love again and also to forgiving those in our lives who have let us down. Cole, Haley's "friend" and then husband, had to forgive his dad and let go of the bitterness and hurt that had built up as a result of his dad going to jail for fraud. Cora had to forgive her dad for walking out on them in the middle of the Great Depression.

As I think I made pretty clear, I really, really enjoyed this book. And for those of you who are fiction lovers, but still read my blog, bear with me. I have one more fiction book coming up and then there will be a string of nonfiction, some pretty amazing nonfiction.

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

Monday, August 29, 2016

Where Hope Prevails

Product Details

By Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan

This is the third book in the Return to the Canadian West series. I didn't realize it when I requested it, so, of course, I had to get the other two books from the library first so I could get a full picture of what the story was about. And it was definitely worth it.  It has been awhile since I had read any Janette Oke books and I thought that while she was a good writer in her day, her style was a little outdated for my tastes. Well, then I read this series and I think I am wrong. Yes, I'm not a big fan of calling siblings darling and dear, etc. but she put wove some very solid, timeless truths into all of these books.

In this third book, Beth, the main character, has returned to a little town out west to teach school again. To be honest, I'm not quite sure what the time setting was-mid 1900's maybe. There were cars and telephones and electricity in the modern cities. Anyway, she has returned to teach and has found that the district has hired a second teacher, one she decides from the get-go that she doesn't like. He is modern and humanistic and in her mind, pompous and will definitely corrupt the children in her care. She wants to undermine him and let everyone know how awful he is, but Molly, her second mother, gives her some good advice. It's hard for Beth, but by the end of the book she is willing to defend her co-teacher against some wrongful accusations.

Listen:
"Ya, see, the Bible way of fussin' don't mean you can't speak. It just tells ya the right way to do it. And did ya notice those words 'to every man that asketh'? Sometimes our best course is ta wait until we're asked."

"Don't be too quick to give up on him yet, to think he's beyond the love of God, beyond hearing the voice of the Spirit."

"Ya gotta let God be God, and ya gotta remember that you ain't Him."

"Best as I can say, ya follow the two rules. Ya love the Lord yer God with all yer heart an' all yer soul, and ya love the rest like ya would yourself."

"But, Beth, you ain't the Almighty. You can't ever entirely protect no on. Ya do what you know to do, an' He does the rest."

"When ya take control, yer rollin' the dice that ya understand it all. That yer able to see the end from the beginning. But none of us can. All we can do is go right back to number one and number two. We gotta love -- and love some more. An' we gotta pray that God will do His part and do the safekeeping we ain't able to do."

And that's what I need to remember. Love God first, my neighbors second and remember I'm not God and I don't know the plan. I just need to pray and do what I know God has called me and not take matters into my own hand.

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

Saturday, August 27, 2016

An Unexplainable Life by Erica Wiggenhorn

Product Details

A 10-Week Bible Study of Acts 1-12
Recovering the Wonder and Devotion of the Early Church

Once again I was completely surprised by the size of this book. I knew I had ordered a Bible study book and so I expected it to be the size of most Bible Study books, about a 5x7 and a 1/4 inch thick or so. Not so this book. It's more like an 8x12 and an inch thick. Note, measurements could be way off due to the author's complete lack of ability to size things up accurately.

However, this book looks like it is just waiting for me tor me to delve in. It is a 10 week, 50 day Bible Study. Yes, I know the math doesn't compute there, but each week has five lessons, which I really like because it gives you a chance to catch up if you fall behind or for me, weekends tend to be tougher for me to get in my devotions because of the mixed up schedule or lack of schedule.

Some of the questions Erica asks in the intro are:

"What if Christ were to become my greatest reality?"
"What if His message and mission were my deepest desire?"
"Would my worry, anxiety, unrest, discontent, and angst be replaced by the abiding reality of the Prince of Peace ruling in my heart and mind?"

And then the question that is meant to challenge and awaken in me a longing for more is this one:
"Do I truly believe that losing my life for His sake results in the greatest discovery of all time?"

Yes, I want to know more. I want to grow deeper. I want to delve into this Study and learn and be drawn closer to my Lord and Saviour.

As I said, each week is divided into 5 lessons, with a few verses from Acts that are to be read aloud. This is followed by some questions and then a short devotional/explanation and then the practical questions to be applied to my life. Some of the lessons have a little doodling box that I can use to draw in, write in, pray in etc while I ponder what the Holy Spirit wants to teach me.

I am really looking forward to doing this study. I already know I'm going to have a hard time just writing in this book, but I want to do it and I want to draw closer to God. This book can also be used for small groups. You can get more free resources at www.ericawiggenhorn.com.

This book was given me by Moody Press for the purpose of reviewing. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Gertrude McFuzz and We have a Winner

Ahh, finally, the giveaway is over and Our Little Heaven won. So that was fun.

So if you didn't know before, you are quickly learning. I am a Dr. Seuss fan. Just a side note, I am a very big non-fan of my computer right now. (So if stuff doesn't quite make sense, it's because I'm a phrase or two or three ahead of the all-wonderful computeing brain of my computer and therefore I cn't see my spelling until it's a line away and then to try and go back is sheer torture for my instant gratification self. So?...) And by the time, I had all that typed out, the computer had mostly caught back up, but I decided not to correct myself on the basis of I'm not sure what.

Also of note, is the UPS man was just here and I'm rather anxious to see what he brought. I've been waiting on a couple books that I am to review. Even though I have five staring me in the face, I have six out there yet, I believe. The one is only a coloring journal and I am simply waiting until September as I was asked.

Enough of the blah's of life and back to Dr. Seuss. So when I bought Yertle the Turtle, the book comes with three lovely life lesson stories. I really need to read them to D, perhaps he would enjoy them more than the rhyming stories that Amber is hung up on now. Books like "But Not the Hippopotamus", etc. Anyway, Gertrude McFuzz is a very unhappy bird. Why? Because Lolla-Lee-Lou has two feathers on her behind and Gertrude only has one.

This is a problem that has been present since the day Adam and Eve sinned in the garden. Why did they sin? One reason I could see is because God knew more than they did and Satan convinced them that that wasn't good. So Gertrude sees Lolla-Lee-Lou with one more feather and she is completely discontented and unhappy. So she goes to see Dr. Dake and he tells her to go to the pillberry tree and eat a berry after telling her that her tail is just right for her.

So off to the tree goes Gertrude and sure enough

"Yes! There was the vine! And as soon as she saw it
She plucked off a berry. She started to gnaw it.
It tasted just awful. Almost made her sick.
But she wanted that tail, so she swallowed it quick.
Then she felt something happen! She felt a small twitch
As if she'd been tapped, down behind, by a switch.
And Gertrude looked 'round. And she cheered! It was true!
Two feather!  Exactly like Lolla-Lee-Lou."

And as is so often the case, when we get what we finally think we've always wanted, we quickly become unhappy and want a little bit more or a little bit better.

"Then she got an idea! 'Now I know what I'll do...
I'll grow a tail better than Lolla-Lee-Lou!'
'These pills that grow feathers are working just fine!'
So she nibbled another one off of the vine!

She felt a new twitch. And then Gertrude yelled, WHEE!
Miss Lolla has only just two! I have three!.....
She snatched at those berries that grew on that vine.
She gobbled down four, five, six, seven, eight, nine!
And she didn't stop eating, young Gertrude McFuzz,
Till she'd eaten three dozen! That's all that there was.

Then the feather popped out! With a zang! With a zing!
They blossomed like flowers that bloom in the spring.....

And still they kept growing! They popped and they popped
Until, 'long about sundown, when, finally, they stopped. ...

Then she spread out her wings to take off from the ground,
But, with all of those feathers, she weighed ninety pound!
She yanked and she pulled and she let out a squawk,
But that bird couldn't fly! Couldn't run! Couldn't walk!"

"To lift Gertrude up almost broke all their beaks
And to fly her back home, it took almost two weeks.
And then it took almost another week more
To pull out those feathers. My! Gertrude was sore!"

But in the end she was smarter because she realized that she had been made with only one feather for a reason.

How often is that? We get what we think we want, but it only drags us down until we can hardly move. We're mired in, either with the weight of financial debt, emotional baggage, relationship crisis, whatever and we can't go anywhere. And not only that, but generally it is a very lonely spot to be. We are all by ourselves. Thankfully, Gertrude cried out and somebody came to her rescue, but sometimes we hide and try to act as though everything is normal when inside we are crying out for a friend.

I'm not going to say that sometimes we don't have these things weighing us down and it wasn't because we were searching to have the latest and the greatest. I recognize that these things can happen apart from our poor mistakes, but in this example we're talking about things that we pursued that left us lonely and helpless.

I believe it is Ravi Zacharias who says, "The loneliest moment in life is when you have done that which you thought would deliver the ultimate and it has let you down."  Gertrude McFuzz thought she was going to be the coolest chick in town with her array of beautiful feathers and in the end all she had was a sore bottom.

Okay, I'm pretty sure quoting Ravi and Dr. Seuss in the same blog post isn't "politically correct" or in this case "bloggerly correct" but hey, I think it fit.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Jefferson's America by Julie M. Fenster

Product Details

The President, The Purchase, and the Explorers who Transformed a Nation


Wow!! I did it. I finally made it through this book. It feels like I have been reading and reading and reading and reading, are you getting the idea, it.

When I was looking to pick a book a long while back now, I wasn't finding anything that was striking me and I decided I should read more history and learn about the past, so I saw this book and thought it would be a good one to start with. I was unprepared for the size of the book. I'm not sure why I thought it would be a smallish book, think novel size, but it's a nice hardcover book instead.

It turned out to be a very interesting read. It talked a lot about Lewis and Clark and their explorations and also some of the other ones that you don't read as much about. Zebulon Pike, for example, I knew the name, but never realized that's where Pike's Peak got its name. Then there were explorers like Freeman and Dunbar who I had never heard of. So it definitely fulfilled the thing of me reading history and learning more about our country and the people that helped discover and settle it.

I will be honest, I was probably looking for a little less in depth history lesson, but I thought Julie did do a good job of getting the details. To me, there were so many names and places mentioned that if you didn't read it consistently on a daily basis, you lost track of who she was talking about. Another thing I didn't like as well was she could switch from explorer to explorer to talking about Jefferson, the President, to some other place all within a page or two, so it hopped around a lot. I didn't like that as much, but I will say Julie made the transition very easy. The writing isn't disjointed or hard to follow

So if you are looking for an in-depth view of the Louisiana Purchase and the Cold War of that era between the United States and Spain, then I would recommend this book.

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

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Mommy Guilt Revisited

I've been thinking about where I want to go with my blog and if I want to have a theme and a focus that predominates on here and beings I am in the beginning stages of the trenches of motherhood, it makes sense to gear this more towards moms. But then I thought about some of the other things I write about and I don't want to give that up either. And obviously there will still be my book reviews that will be shared on here, likely more frequently than any other post, but I'm not interested in making this a book blog or a reading blog or anything down that line.

So mostly, this blog will continue as it has been. I think I will make a greater effort to share some of my homemaking experiences. I am striving to be a good wife and mom and to make my home a haven. For the first five years of our marriage, I worked and our home often reflected that busy stage and didn't always stay up to par as far as decorating. Along with that, was a serious lack of energy and ambition to try and make our trailer look like we were in the 21st century. (This is the 21st century right? I get so confused about that. :) ) So while I would blame work, that was just an excuse. Now we've moved into a rental house and I read "The Nesting Place" and it has inspired me to make our home cheery and happy and inviting. I have also listened to Sally Clarkson on "At Home with Sally" podcast and while she strikes me as so idealistic that it's unattainable to me, it has challenged me in that regard to try and create memories even now when Amber will never remember them, but it sets a stage for when she does remember. 

I have also been challenged to try and see stories and life lessons in the mundane around me. I was picking raspberries a few weeks ago and kept pondering the life lessons that could be learned from picking food among the thorns, but never was really able to pull anything together. Maybe I still will yet. 

One of the things I do want to do is encourage other young moms who are in the same stage as I am. I don't have any answers, but I can share stories and lessons I have learned that will maybe help others to realize they are not alone. I don't know. That was a lot of gibberish to say that really nothing is going to change. 

Now to the real meat of this post. I had a case of mommy guilt yesterday and this was real and true and certainly needed. I took Amber shopping after her nap. First mistake, I think, was to not give her a snack first. She seemed incredibly hungry by the time we were heading home. The second big mistake was to take my phone with me. I had gotten an unexpected package from UPS just before we left and I was trying to figure out if I had won a giveaway or something. It's a beautiful coloring book/journal from Tyndale House. So we went to where Mom was still working and I was distracted by trying to figure this out and so I wasn't paying attention to Amber like I should have been or to anybody else. I'm sorry to all that were affected. Amber then took to running a little wild, not really anything bad, just not taking kindly to being told no. This then led to me saying those words that I don't think you should ever tell a child, "You're embarrassing me". We left and she fussed about getting back into her car seat and I was left wondering why we came to town. The next stop was much better. It hit me though. I was consumed by my electronic device and I wasn't giving her the proper attention except to tell her "No, you can't do that. No you can't have that. No, come here." Etc. etc. My pride took a nose dive, my guilt escalated, and while I hate to admit this, it was what I needed. 

My daughter is more important than any electronic or other distracting device. My relationships are much more important than any electronic or unexpected package. If I cannot give the undivided attention I need to be giving to the people around me because I am distracted by my phone, then I need to leave the device at home or at least in the car. I do use a few shopping apps if I'm going to Walmart, etc, but I don't need to be controlled by my phone and if even that is causing me to lose focus, then maybe I need to revert to pen and pencil.

I don't know if other mothers have faced this or not, but it was a hard lesson to learn and it has been sitting there niggling at me and bothering me. I also realize that now I need to let it go. I messed up, I made a mistake. God and I have discussed it and know I need to learn from it and move on.

What things have you learned from shopping with littles?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Yertle the Turtle

So I went thrift shopping yesterday and there is a distinct chance I might have bought too many books. I think I'm going to have to promise D to pack and move all the book boxes myself!!! It's the only thing he seems to care about in relation to my need to hoard collect books.

I got a couple Dr. Seuss and one of them was Yertle the Turtle. I had never read it before and I have to say it really struck me while I was reading it. I read it aloud to Amber, ha ha, who was rather crabby and not that interested, so basically I read it to me, but it was fun.

So here's a few snippets from it.

Yertle the Turtle is the king of all he can see and all of a sudden he decides that he can't see enough, so he orders turtles to climb on top of each other so he can see more.

"So Yertle, the Turtle King, lifted his hand
And Yertle, the Turtle King, gave a command.
He ordered nine turtles to swim to his stone
And, using these turtles, he built a new throne.
He made each turtle stand on another one's back
And he piled them all up in a nine-turtle stack.
And then Yertle climbed up. He sat down on the pile.
What a wonderful view! He could see 'most a mile!

'All mine!' Yertle cried. 'Oh the things I now rule!
I'm the kind of a cow! And I'm king of a mule!'...

And all through that morning, he sat there up high
Saying over and over, 'A great king am I!'
Until 'long about noon. Then he heard a faint sigh.
'What's that?' snapped the king
And he looked down the stack.
And he saw, at the bottom, a turtle named Mack.
Just a part of his throne. And this plain little turtle
Looked up and he said, 'Beg your pardon, King Yertle.
I've pains in my back and my shoulders and knees.
How long must we stand here, Your Majesty, please?'

'SILENCE!' the King of the Turtles barked back.
'I'm king, and you're only a turtle named Mack.'

'You stay in your place while I sit here and rule.
I'm king of a cow! And I'm king of a mule!
I'm king of a house! And a bush! And a cat!
Bat that isn't all. I'll do better than that!
My throne shall be higher!' his royal voice thundered,
'So pile up more turtles! I want 'bout two hundred!'"

And then poor Mack he was really hurting by this point as all the new turtles had to step on his head to climb up, but the mighty King had no time to listen

"'You hush up your mouth!' howled the might King Yertle.
'You've no right to talk to the world's highest turtle.
I rule from the clouds! Over land! Over sea!
There's nothing, no, NOTHING, that's higher than me!'....

And so he decides to go even higher, but...

"But as Yertle, the Turtle King, lifted his hand
And started to order and give the command,
That plain little turtle below in the stack,
That plain little turtle whose name was just Mack,
Decided he'd taken enough. And he had.
And that plain little lad got a little bit mad
And that plain little Mack did a plain little thing.
He burped!
And his burp shook the throne of the king!...

For Yertle, the King of all Sala-ma-Sond,
Fell of his high throne and fell Plunk! in the pond!"

I just had to think while I was reading this how true this is to real life which may very well be what Dr. Suess intended to portray. How often am I so concerned about getting to the top and having the best relationships, the best house, the best car, the most money, the nicest DIY decor, the best-behaved child, etc. etc. etc.? And I don't think about all the "turtles" I am crawling on to get there or all the ones I am stomping on in my own self-importance or how much pain I am causing those of my own kin and family in my impatience?  It is definitely something to think about because I don't want to take that big mighty splash into the pond and live the rest of my life in mud. I want to be considerate of those around me, to treat people with compassion and not as stepping stones to my own throne.

What do you think Dr. Suess intended to portray with this story?

Also, I am trying something different with the comments. I was told that some cannot comment and for that I apologize. It's hard to enter for a giveaway if you can't comment. So I am going to extend the giveaway one week and also add that if you comment on this post and give some thoughts on Yertle the Turtle you will also add an entry for the book. So comment here and/or on the giveaway post. Each comment earns you one entry.

Monday, August 8, 2016

A Month of Sundays by Paula Hartman

A Month of Sundays: Striding Toward Spiritual Refreshment One Sunday at a Time by [Hartman, Paula]

Striding Toward Spiritual Refreshment One Sunday at a Time

A Month of Sundays provides food for the body as well as the soul. It offers thirty-one weeks of delicious Sabbath meals along with reflections on the need for true Sabbath rest. This book will leave you feeling spiritually refreshed, reconnected with your Creator, and at peace with yourself.

That is the book cover description. 

I got this as an ebook which I often end up regretting. I like to hold a book in my hand, plus I feel like ebooks can tend to have a few more grammatical errors and misspelled words than a paperback. I don't know if that is really true or not, but this book did contain some minor errors like that.

Paula did have some good thoughts on rest and refreshing oneself on the Sabbath. While I don't necessarily agree with it being relaxing and refreshing to do my housework on Sunday, I can understand that for some people it is. And like the book description said there were menus with each chapter. The thing I liked about those was there were also calorie counts included, but I'm not very likely to go find an ebook to find a recipe I want to make, so while being nice to scan over when reading the book, the recipes will not be very practical to me.

I do think it is so very important to take that day of rest to rest and regroup and allow the Lord to work in our hearts and fill us with a sense of peace and refreshment.  

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

Today's Moment of Truth by Lee Strobel and Mark Mittelberg

Product Details

Devotions to Deepen Your Faith in Christ

This is a beautiful padded hardcover devotional book. It contains 180 devotions that are intended to strengthen a Christian's belief that there is a God and that the God of the Bible can be trusted.

Lee Strobel is well-known as the atheist that went searching to disprove the Bible and instead became a Christian. Mark, I hadn't heard as much about, but now after reading this book, I would like to read some other of his books.

It's hard for me to just pull out one phrase or even devotional from this book. It was just good. It was faith strengthening to see how science and history confirm over and over and over again the validity of the Bible, how the very idea of a moral right and wrong confirms a Higher Power and so many other examples that Lee and Mark gave.

There are devotionals on who Jesus is, how we can know there's a God, truth, etc.

It was a very good book and I highly recommend it for anyone. It is deep and I feel like I only scratched the surface because I was racing to get it read.

It would make an excellent Christmas gift if anyone is starting to think that direction.  This is one book I would consider giving away and yet I want my children to read it and so it might just be a good option for buying another one as a Christmas gift. I'll have to see.

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, August 4, 2016

This is What It's All About

The day was long, but the to-do list was longer. There was laundry to do and bills to pay and bookwork to enter. There was food to make, cupcakes with yummy frosting and rice krispy bars and then bread because why not choose today to make bread. It doesn't matter that fresh homemade bread hasn't been churned out in close to two years, but today is the day to change that. Then there's the random spur of the moment decision that the birthday cake I need to make for Sunday should be an ice cream cake and there's ice cream on sale at Gordy's and so I should go today and get said ice cream. Nobody please tell me that WalMart's ice cream is always cheaper because I might just sit down and cry.

So it's not really that long of a list and really didn't take that long to do, but the other factor that wasn't considered here was a little 17 month old girl who decided that today was the day she needed mom to sit with her on the floor while she played, that she really wanted more of Mom's attention than Mom wanted to give. Now I don't mind sitting on the floor with her if I can read my book and generally that works.

But evening rolled around and the grumpies were hitting hard. The nap had been short and long ago and so, of course, the perfect solution is an early bedtime. Ha Ha. So after repeated attempts and much crying, we had a snack, because what if hunger was causing the uneasy settling. It's not like it's normal for her to wail her eyes out in her crib.

We rocked and we sang and then we tried again and still wailing. So what do you do when you don't know what's wrong? You get the Tylenol bottle out and you give her a dose. Then the rocking and singing commenced again along with a cuddly blanket and soothing backrub.

Then it all came together. The cuddling changed to a relaxed posture and eyelids dropped shut and my little girl fell asleep in my arms. Now for many of you moms, that's nothing to write home about, but this is the girl who we have to basically let cry herself to sleep at church because she will not just go to sleep when we are holding her. This is the girl who doesn't do much cuddling except just before bed and never to the point of going to sleep. But there she was, sitting upright, sucking her pacifier, leaning into her security blanket, and wrapped in a pink fuzzy blanket, and I was singing, "We Have This Moment" and the tears came to my eyes. Yes, this was a moment, a moment when time could stand still and I rocked a little more just treasuring this moment of peace and quiet and my little girl contentedly sleeping, with only the occasional crying hiccup that accompanies that first sleep after a bout of crying.

These moments make the long days, the longer evenings, especially when Daddy is gone, it's these little moments when it all comes to come together and I am reminded that it's worth it, it's so worth it.

My Great Big God by Andy Holmes

Illustrated by Marta Alvarez 20 Bible Stories to Build a Great Big Faith This is a beautiful hardcover board book that tells 20 Bible ...