Friday, February 9, 2018

Telling the story of Easter through nature

The Legends of Easter Treasury: Inspirational Stories of Faith and Hope

Since the beginning of time, nature has announced the presence of God.  One need only look at a sunrise, the new birth of spring, or the intricate ways in which nature works together to have at least somewhat of an understanding that something greater than themselves is at work.

When my children were much younger, I remember seeking out the books that helped me explain God's existence and work in our lives.  A couple of the stories in this treasury were among those books.  While none of the stories are particularly Biblically or even scientifically based, they are sweet stories that can be used as a jumping off point to talk about the true meaning of Easter.  As presented in the title, the stories may be based more on folklore and legends yet bring us into the Easter story.  For example, were Easter eggs initially used as a symbol of Easter to represent the stone at the tomb and Jesus' breaking out of the tomb as chicks to as represented in The Legend of the Easter Egg?  Where did the legend originate that the robin's breast is red to represent Jesus' blood which is the basis of The Legend of the Easter Robin?  And last but not least, who hasn't heard the multiple ways in which the sand dollar represents Christ from the "star" on the top to the small dove-like pieces hidden inside as the children are told in The Legend of the Sand Dollar?

While each of these stories are written by different authors, it is the beautiful illustrations in each created by Richard Cowdrey that ties them all together.  Personally, I find the artwork the best part of the book.

Hard bound in one volume, The Legends of Easter Treasury is a beautiful collection.  I would recommend for home rather than church use for children ages 4 or 5 through perhaps 8 or 10.  Again, I think the best use of the book is as a springboard for further parental discussion about Easter.

I did receive this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and am in no way obligated to write a positive one. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Learn to count board book

Ten Little Night Stars  -     By: Deb Gruelle
    Illustrated By: Gabi Murphy

Elephants, bears, lions, monkeys and more go through their nighttime routine and count the stars that appear in their window as they brush their teeth, get in their pajamas, say their prayers, and receive their goodnight kiss in the new book by Deb Gruelle. 

On the positive side, it is a softly padded, durable board book so what is not to love?  So very durable in the hands of little ones.  A second big advantage to this book is that it provides opportunity to teach your child to count to ten using the bedtime routine they can all relate to or to begin establishing the bedtime routine.  The cute whimsical animals will capture a child's attention and the fact that Gruelle used such a variety lends itself to teaching the names of animals as well.

The variety brings me to my only "complaint" and I use that term very loosely because it isn't really a complaint.  Having a different room and animal on each page just caught me off guard as I was expecting to find only the elephants on the front to follow through the story.

I would recommend this book for ages 1 to 4 because of the brevity of the book which is perfect for short attention spans as well as the fact that many children are counting well beyond ten at the age of 4.  In my opinion board books such as this one are a welcome addition to a newborn library and make a perfect baby gift, one that will last far belong the cute little outfits.

I did receive this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and am in no way obligated to write a positive one.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Beautiful Biblically based love story

Judah's Wife #2   -     By: Angela Hunt

Leah has lived her life with an abusive father and a mother who will not stand up to him.  When Leah's father decides it is time for her to marry, Leah prays that God will answer her prayer to allow her husband to be the Levite, Judah, the young man and the only man who had ever defended her.  God answered her prayer as Judah was quite suitable in her father's eyes, not for Leah's benefit but his own.

One might think this marriage Leah prayed for would lead to a "happily ever after" ending but the nation of Judah is under attack by their very king and the sons of Abraham are threatened if they do not turn from their God.  Resisting, Judah's father and others are prepared to lose their lives for their faith.

Written in first person, the chapters toggle between the perspective of both Leah and her husband Judah.  Judah's Wife is a beautiful story of love, redemption, and courage. Angela Hunt never disappoints and this book is no exception.  The novel was easy to read, flowed smoothly, and was one I hesitated to put down.   While this book is published as part of a series entitled The Silent Years: A Novel of the Maccabees, I had no difficulty picking up and reading this novel without having read any others in the series.  There were no holes in the storyline so I am uncertain if it is particular characters or simply the time period that binds them together.  Whichever the case, I can highly recommend Judah's Wife if you enjoy historical fiction based on Biblical characters as much as I do.  As with any Biblical fiction, just remember that this is an author's interpretation and not The Word itself.

I did receive this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and am in no way obligated to leave a positive one.

Loire Valley love story

The Lost Castle   -     By: Kristy Cambron

The Lost Castle opens with Ellie Carver in the Loire Valley of France searching for answers.  Throughout the novel, the chapters change time periods ranging from the French Revolution in the late 18th century to World War II to current day, primarily with the Loire Valley as the setting.  All three time periods are separate stories tied together through a now crumbling castle.

The 18th c. character, Aveline Saint-Moreau is slated to become the wife of Philippe and mistress of several estates. However, she secretly wishes she could escape the life she is expected to live.  With a soft heart, she can't ignore the revolution in her beloved France and feels for its people, torn between them and her very life.

Ellie's grandmother, Viola, finds herself in the very same area during WWII as a fugitive.  Her time there changes her life.  As Alzheimer's strips her of who she is, she is able to share with Ellie of her experiences, driving Ellie to a quest of her own.

This is my first Kristy Cambron novel and I enjoyed it, particularly the 18th c portion because of my love of 18th c. history, but I found I needed to devote a bit more attention to the reading than many other authors.  The language stumbled me a bit.  It isn't that I am an ignorant person, but I have students who tend to use flowery language to impress and I felt that way at times when reading The Lost Castle.  I also had some difficulty with background knowledge.  Cambron does a nice job with filling the reader in on important history but I would have liked to have more in by toolkit.  While the story does switch regularly between time periods, Cambron does a nice job of helping the reader understand which storyline she is in.

Initially, I chose this book simply for its setting, the Loire Valley.  It will forever be one of the favorite places my family has ever visited.  Thank you, Kristy Cambron, for selecting this setting for your first installment in your split-time romance series.  This book also comes with discussion questions for personal reflection or book club use.

I did receive this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and am in no way obligated to write a positive one. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Perfect book for third child

God Bless My Family  -     By: Hannah Hall
    Illustrated By: Steve Whitlow

Families are one of God's most precious gifts and Hannah Hall has provided a new board book to introduce that concept at a very early age.  From brothers and sisters to grandparents to  aunts and uncles and cousins, each are mentioned in this short easy to read book for young children.

Anyone who follows my blog knows I love board books because of their durability and the fact that little hands can turn the pages without threat of being damaged.  This softly padded book is no exception.

Steve Whitlow, as illustrator, used precious little puppies as the characters.  While the looks of each set of puppies changes with the turning of each page, I still think this book perfect for a third child, particularly one that has an older brother and sister since both are mentioned in the story and this will allow the child to related a bit better. 

I did receive this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and was in no way obligated to write a positive one.  Great value and a fun way to talk about how each family member is related and how precious they are to one "big heart".

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Praying for your adult children

Product Details

As Christian parents, we strive to do everything in our power to ensure our children are "trained up in the way they should go" and that, when they leave our care, are making Godly choices but they are each beings of free will and from Adam's seed so they are going to mess us....just like we did.  When my children were young, I thought parenting was hard and it was.  What I never dreamed of was how difficult parenting an adult child would be.  As I have gotten older, God has given me the wisdom and strength to relinquish the control to Him as He has pointed out how very little control I do have over my children.  So, how am I to accomplish that surrender and peace that God's got this?  Only through prayer.

Jodie Berndt in Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children: Trusting God with the Ones You Love, has written an excellent resource in helping those of us with adult children know how to pray for them.  She has broken down the book into sixteen different eras of adulthood including relationships, health, career, temptation, and home just to name a few. 

Since much of mine and my husband's prayer life is focusing on careers right now, both ours and our children's, that particular chapter caught my attention and will be the basis for my examples.  Berndt fills the chapters with real life examples, several of which are just how I have reacted and really doesn't bring out the best in me so the book was easy for me to relate to.  Each chapter contains several prayer principles such as "We can make all the plans we want--and so can our kids--but God is the one who directs our paths", all wonderful and pertinent reminders of who God is and to wait on His timing and will for our lives.  She also includes specific scripture that will guide our prayers as well as prayers that we can pray for ourselves and our children, straight out of scripture.  Wow! 

The book is much easier to read than to put into practice.  It won't solve all your worrying issues over your children but if you follow Berndt's suggestions, it will put your focus on the One who loves your children more than you do and has a brilliant plan for him/her.  I strongly recommend it for any parent of adult children as a resource to keep with your Bible and use daily in your prayer time.

I did receive this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and am in no way obligated to write a positive one.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Created to worship

We were made/created to worship.  Period.  "That's why you and I are going to spend our lives declaring the worth of something." There is a hole in us that we seek to fill in a number of ways but there is only One way.  Through Christ.  Take a moment to look around you or think of those in your daily contact group.  Each and every one of us, as humans, spend our days worshiping what we love.  Whatever you love, you WILL worship.

In The Air I Breathe: Worship As A Way of Life, Giglio reminds us that God reveals himself to us each and every minute of the day if we will only observe.  The maker of the universe is right beside you and me, every moment of every day.  He made creation to be enjoyed but not worshipped.  He gave you the ability to do your job and do it well, but not to worship.  Your family, financial resources, health, etc. are all gifts from above but are not meant to  be elevated to the highest place in our hearts.  Many worldly things are going to battle for your heart.  Determine today to allow God to win that battle.

I originally chose this book for my son who has attended several Passion conferences and has loved listening to Louie Giglio.  What I found in this book were pointed reminders for myself that weren't all new but a wake-up call about how I am spending my time and resources.  The book was easy to read and digest (can be done in a few hours but wouldn't recommend doing so in order to give you time to ponder Giglio's words) and gave me a goal for the new year to allow worship to be my day, not simply a part of my week.  As I read, I could almost picture myself standing before God as he asked me questions about all the times I was distracted in my life and my worship proved what was most important to me and I simply lowered my head in shame.

Is what you are worshipping and declaring to be of greatest value going to be worthy in the long run?  "Don't waste your worship on a little god."

I did receive this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and am in no way obligated to write a positive one. While not typically a non-fiction reader, this is a book I can recommend without reservation.

The Air I Breathe: Worship as a Way of Life