Monday, September 2, 2013

Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes

Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist is wonderful! It's the perfect mix of memoir and cookbook. She weaves her life story with awesome recipes and I couldn't put it down. I love Shauna's authenticity and openness. I think everyone can take something away from this book. It touches on many topics and I found myself laughing or crying and saying, "Oh good, me too!" 

I love cooking and I loved the encouragement that she offered to fledgling "chefs" like myself. It was refreshing to read how to view preparing food as a way to love others. The book is divided into chapters with a story from Shauna's life and a recipe that corresponds to that time. It. Was a really neat way to set up a book!

I think this book would make a perfect gift for someone or it would be wonderful if you enjoy cooking/would like to become more adventurous in the kitchen. I would say the only thing I didn't like about Bread and Wine was the inclusion of some harder to find ingredients in some of the recipes. It's perfect for someone eating gluten-free or looking for a great meal to fix for someone who has dietary restrictions. Read this book and be encouraged in the ordinary day to day life of being a Christian and how to incorporate the love of food and cooking into everyday life. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lord, I Give You This Day

I'm reading through "Lord, I Give You This Day" by Kay Arthur and really enjoying it. It is my first thing to read of Kay Arthur's outside of Precepts. There are 366 short devotions that will help you become "equipped to greet each day with bold faith, confident in God's faithfulness, strength, and transforming grace."

I like her straightforward but authentic style of writing in each day. I loved that each devo could take me 5 minutes or less to read through. Each one left me feeling closer to the Lord with a Bible verse in my mind and a prayer to go along with the day's theme. I do wish they were slightly deeper in content, but it's really the perfect devotional to read first thing in the morning when you only have a few minutes to read and meditate on something. I also really liked that each day was for a specific date. I like knowing that if I skip a day, I can just turn right to whatever the next day's date is. 

I recommend this book to anyone wanting to give The Lord dedicated time, but for whatever reason may not have very much of that to set aside. You will leave each reading feeling refreshed and encouraged but also convicted. 

Freefall To Fly: A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning

Rebekah Lyons' new book, "Freefall to Fly: A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life Of Meaning" is a memoir based on her life as she and her family make a big move from Atlanta to New York. It's filled with authentic glimpses into her battle with depression, anxiety, control, and the search for true meaning. It says, "But life looked radically different when her family relocated to the heart of Mew York City. She was forced to navigate a new normal with three kids, two toy poodles, and a minivan. Blindsided by crippling despair, Rebekah wrestled with bigger questions women often ask, Why am I here? Does life matter?" 

I enjoyed most of this book. It was fairly slow in some parts and the language is a little flowery, but overall I liked it! I think it would be a great book to read through with a friend or small group for a laid-back discussion. I think most young, stay at home moms like myself struggle with the questions about life that Rebekah brings to light. Talking about social media, she says, "These worlds are fun to create. They allow us to imagine a world that's a little brighter, fuller, shinier, fancier, and more fashionable than the ones we actually live in...These alternate realities fill our waking hours and give the impression that we are contributing to the world when deep down we feel unremarkable." 

I was also struck by something one of her friend's said. It was, "Many people discover their calling, but sometimes you still have to wait for it, and that can be quite difficult. But God taught us to wait and learn during that time. He helped me commit to joy and being present. He strengthened me to embrace the now." I think it can be overwhelming to know that you want to do something "great" for God and feel like you are "just" living life with little ones. This book gave me encouragement to be content with the now, but not to stop dreaming about what else the Lord has in store for me and my family once the hard, but amazing time of raising my little ones is over. 

I recommend this book to anywoman struggling with anxiety or the feeling of not truly grasping what it means to live life to the fullest. It's not just for moms or young people. I think it's a book for anyone wanting more of God and what He wants for their life. 

The Christian Parenting Handbook

I've been reading The Christian Parenting Handbook and it's great! Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller wrote the book and say you will learn how to: 
Identify character qualities to address problems
Build internal motivation
Use creativity to teach your kids spiritual truths

I love the way the book is set up with 50 short chapters on different parenting tips, common problems, and biblical truths. It's perfect to pick up and read whenever you have a free second. They offer real, practical, and biblical advice. I really appreciated the way the authors gave concrete examples and how to  implement them into your family. 

One of my favorite chapters is titled "Don't Practice In The Grocery Store-That's The Final Exam." It's all about what to do when your child acts out in public. They wisely suggest that you, "practice in the kitchen, bedroom, laundry room, and backyard. Children need to learn how to handle disappointment at home so they can accept a no answer in the checkout line. Kids who haven't learned how to accept correction at home without a bad attitude will miserably fail at the test when they have an audience."  

This is a great book for elementary to teen age parents. It is definitely geared to the older children, and while I really enjoyed reading all of the insight, I wish it had a few more chapters geared to parents of young toddlers. I highly recommend this book to all parents, though, because it is a quick, awesome, and packed read. You learn so many different things to try with your family and it has given me a new perspective on different areas of parenting. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Unglued Devotional: 60 Days of Imperfect Progress

I had the pleasure of hearing Lysa TerKuerst speak right before this devotional came out for review. I loved her! She is one of the most engaging, genuine speakers I have ever heard. Her message on emotions was just what I needed to hear. I haven't actually read Unglued, but after hearing her speak, I felt caught up enough to really enjoy the devotional.

Unglued Devotional is an incredible book! I highly recommend it and loved going through it. It is 60 days long and each day is short, but packed. I feel like handling our emotions is a topic every woman can identify with. Lysa is genuine and honest in each day's lesson. It was refreshing to read someone honestly share their struggles with handling many of life's ups and down, but at the same time offer such hope and encouragement. I think that was my favorite part of the devo. I feel like we can oftentimes either make everything seem so awful or sugarcoat it so it doesn't even seem like an issue. Lysa does a great job of writing about reality but framing it in God's grace and hope.

I hope you take the time to pick up this book! I would recommend it to anyone looking to deepen their understanding of relying on the Lord's grace to help them express their emotions in a healthy and God-honoring way. It has been a perfect devotional for me because my time is short, but I still love connecting with the Lord even for just a few minutes. The day starts out with a verse, then a short message from Lysa, and ends with a thought for the day and a prayer. I love that it is so shareable, too! I found myself sharing the verse for the day or just a little part of the book with my husband. It is a really encouraging and challenging devotional that I recommend to everyone!

Monday, January 21, 2013

90 Days Thru The Bible: A Devotional Journey From Walk Thru The Bible

I was so excited to review this book not only because I love the Walk Thru The Bible curriculum, but I also loved the idea of an overview of the Bible. Walk Thru The Bible does a great job of presenting the Bible as a story that is all connected in one big picture. I knew this overview would bring the same enthusiasm and simplicity to understanding each book of the Bible.

I felt like I could underline so many of the pages, but here are a few of my favorite quotes.

"Between the basic message and some of the well-known stories, deep, dark sections of Scripture remain's entirely possible, then, for us to be well-versed in certain specifics and yet ignorant of major themes."

"Our voices carry no weight when we declare that the God of the universe has revealed himself in the Bible and simultaneously admit that we haven't actually read all of it. We far too often tend to ascribe glory to God's Word and then never get around to exploring it fully for ourselves." (p. xii)

The idea behind 90 Days Thru The Bible is that it gives you a big picture idea of each book of the Bible and encourages you to dig deeper in the Scriptures for yourself. Each day goes over a book or passage and ends with questions for reflection. I think this the perfect book for any age small group. It also includes a 13 week discussion guide in the back. It is light enough to read through in a group, but deep enough to bring out tough questions that make you think. I highly recommend this book to anyone desiring to grow in their knowledge of the Bible. You will learn new truths and be reminded of old ones and you will strengthen the foundation of your faith by going through this devotional.

Bold As Love by Bob Roberts, Jr.

Dallas pastor Bob Roberts asks readers, "As Christians we're called to love our neighbors-all our neighbors. But is that even possible? Can we truly love them well?" Bold As Love is a great read on an often misunderstood topic in the Christian community: interfaith gatherings.

I'll be honest, I was very wary of reading this book based on the premise alone. But, I'm really glad I gave it a try! Mr. Roberts delves into the topic of truly loving our neighbor and how to practically live it out. He establishes very early on that loving his neighbor did not mean abandoning his beliefs and saying we all ultimately believe the same thing. Roberts says, "I made it clear that I was an evangelical, a conservative Christian, and that I didn't like interfaith gatherings: I saw interfaith as loosey-goosey, let's all just hug one another and ignore core truth. I wanted nothing to do with that. I liked the concept of multifaith better, which says we have fundamental differences, but the best of our faiths teach us we should get along. I wanted to do all I could to build relationships, so instead of living in fear; we could live in peace with one another." (p. 19)

The author weaves personal stories of interacting with imams, rabbis, and people of other faiths in this country and others. I liked hearing his accounts of practically applying these ideas, but at times it was a little repetitive.

The book is broken down into different chapters that talk about Roberts' personal experiences and then the rest of the book offers very practical ways to start reaching out to people of other faiths. I really liked that he emphasized the need to step out in faith. On page 73, he says, "Are you ready to stop living in isolation as a follower of Jesus? He needs you out there, connecting with and loving people. People are hungry for relationships, especially from the other side of the world. Ask God to open your eyes and heart to people. Are you ready to extend your hand?"

The book goes on to include important points like truly serving others and knowing theology. He also dedicates a chapter to explaining the term multifaith and how it brings people together without compromising Christian beliefs.

I enjoyed the book for the call to action and practical steps to loving my neighbors all around me. Bold As Love is a biblically sound book calling all Christians to embrace our melting pot of cultures and religions to develop true, honest, and service-based relationships.