Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Stacks of books on my dresser topple and fall. "Silver Refined" catches my eye, and upon cracking it open, I cringe as my eyes drink in the opening lines. I whisper, "Lord, why does REFINING have to be so painful. I don't know if I want to be refined . . ."

Kay Arthur knows from a painful past the agony of being refined. Melted and poured out, Kay's horrific personal experiences (which came as an utter surprise to me) have molded her into one of the most godly women teachers of the Bible. Stories of God's work in her life, as well in the lives of her friends serve to demonstrate that God is a God to be trusted. And the pain the accompanies trials lifts our faces to a God who HEALS.

I definitely ate this book up -- 4 stars for this excellent resource for people going through difficult times in their lives.

I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books for reviewing-- which in no way influenced my review.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The foolish man built his house upon the sand. When the rains of death, financial trouble, relational battles and personal loss come, the foundations crumbled. I ask myself: on what have I built my house? Randy Alcorn's 90 Days made my mouth dry and my heart thud -- is my faith strong enough to get me through the tough times? No, but my God is.

This amazing book by Randy Alcorn has a title that I think sounds fluffy and light. Trust me, this is anything but light. Alcorn tackles issues of terminal illness, losing your children, divorce and other painful things that come, and he shows how God's hand always orchestrates things for the good. God is good. All the time.

Alcorn's main point that really drove home for me, was that BEFORE trials come, you must know in your heart that God is good. Troubles WILL happen in this life. After reading the book, of course I still dread them. But I've learned a little more of my Creator that gives me hope that He will be present to pull me through my grief.

With long passages of Scripture, this book works perfectly for a daily devotional. (Though it might make you cry at points.) I'm going to read it again with my husband.

(This book was given to me by the publishers.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See 

This novel reads like an Amy Tan story with its vivid Asian imagery and strong female-dominated plot.  Expertly written, this story within a story captures the deep friendship between two young girls as they struggle their way through customs and traditions in becoming proper grown women.

This book's description of footbinding was like nothing I'd ever heard.  Did you know that mothers wrapped their baby's girls' feet and made them walk on it for days until the bones would break and settle?  I learned that 1 in 10 girls died from infection incurred from improper binding techniques.

One of my favorite parts of the story is when the main character realizes that her heart is like a black shriveled mushroom.  That she's really evil and dark on the inside.  Unfortunately, after this revelation, she tries to work away her penitence instead of accepting the forgiveness that was freely offered to her.  The ending makes it sound like she made peace with herself through her acts of remorse, but you and I both know that "shriveled mushroom" hearts won't change by any means other than Jesus's grace imparted to us.
My dear friend, Julia, sent me this book when she found out I was pregnant.  Plus, my mother-in-law also said she'd read it a few times when she had a household of little boys. So I knew it was going to be good!

Jean Fleming encourages young mothers to teach their children godliness through love, prayer, example, discipline and cREaTIviTy!

One of the best things I got out of this book was how to prayer for Julianna.  I pray that she will be a member of God's Kingdom, a credit to the Kingdom and am ambassador of the Kingdom.  Jean Fleming really encourages me to teach Julianna at every opportunity, using my creativity and skills.  I'm so excited about teaching Julianna about Jesus!

A GREAT companion book in this same genre is Edith Schaeffer's The Hidden Art of Homemaking.  Mrs. Schaeffer's ideas are so creative and practical, you'll love it!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gaudy Illustrations

Unfortunately, the illustrations in this book were a little mediocre with overstimulating designs and clashing colors. The borders are too busy, and the art quality isn't consistent throughout the book. I personally prefer simple pictures for little kids.

The theme communicates the sanctity and value of life in a Christian way, (which I love) but the plot and story are a little all-over-the place. As an adult, I smiled at the "surprise" ending, but I could just see my child being SO disappointed if I just have ONE baby next time.

This would be a good book for a family having twins, but I would skip it otherwise.

Thank you to WaterBrook Press for giving me a copy of this book for review.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Well-written southern literature at its best!  You can smell the citrus, hear the bees and in my case, even feel the sticky sweet honey.  Literally.

Yes, as I turned the very last page of the novel, I noticed something gooey on the back of my leg.  Then I noticed it on the couch, too.  "What is that?"  I smelled it.  HONEY.  "How in the world did that get there?!?" 

The plot really "stuck with me" (haha), and after thinking about it for a few days, I really decided that overall, I didn't love the story.  The characters and themes center around a Virgin Mary-figure, and have even formed a cult-like following of Mary as they understand her.  I do understand the young girl's craving for a mother figure, but the worship of any other god does not and cannot give fulfillment and joy.

This book was excellently written, but I can't really fully enjoy a plot so heavily ensconced in occultic symbolism.  What if it would have been centered around Christ who loves and heals the broken-hearted?

Asking the Hard Questions

The Take Action Bible asks the difficult questions that cause Christians to evaluate living their faith through works. The one question that really stood out: "How do you want to be a blessing to the world?" A few years ago, I would have had a three-point answer written down on paper, but when I read this question, I realized how self-centered and small-minded I have become. The questions really inspired some heart-searching.

The people featured in this Bible are little short of amazing. From a tiny girl selling lemonade to a man battling HIV, these heroes of faith inspire the reader to really engage with the Word and look for opportunities to live it out amongst the unsaved. The list of 52 action ideas at the end are superb for getting your mind thinking about how to live a faith of action!

Because the colored illustrated pages are so thick and the Bible pages are so thin, the book is difficult to flip through, which makes it more of a specialty Bible than one to take to Bible study or church. I would be thrilled if the Take Action Bible was a devotional: including more stories and only relevant sections of Scripture (since most Christians already own other Bibles). However, the New King James version definitely flows beautifully and is easy to understand. I also loved the spaces to journal and record answers to the questions.

Thank you Booksneeze for giving me a copy of this book for review!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Funny, Humbling and Encouraging

 I sat down to read this book thinking it was an autobiography about a guy with no arms and legs. Imagine my surprise as I realized the truly handicapped person living with crippling fears and limitations was me. Recently, a few extra postpartum pounds sent me into a tailspin of self-loathing and shame. Yes, I was feeling fat. SO trite, but my self-absorption and sadness were debilitating me--I couldn't even look at people in the face at times!

Nick's humility and joy smacked me lovingly in the face and shook me back to reality: If he can live the joy of the Lord in spite of his human limitations, I surely can rise to face the dawn of a day with laughter bubbling in my soul that God has given me a life to live for His purposes.

With a doubt, my favorite bits of this book are Nick's stories. He has an unending supply of hilarious stunts and pranks like posing in the storefront window as an armless underwear mannequin--scaring unsuspecting window shoppers out of their, well, pants!

Despite his small stature, Nick is larger than life, and his words will teach and admonish fellow "broken" human beings to grasp hold of a life lived for God's glory.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for a copy of this book for review.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Big Hearted, God-Centered

Rick and Bubba are household names down south, so it's only natural that reading their stories is like strolling down memory with old family friends. Taking the show way back to its beginnings, each man details his personal journey in making the Rick and Bubba radio show into what it is today -- a total joy and success to all its thousands of listeners!

Both men emphasize how being genuine, honest and transparent has truly affected their radio show, and the reader watches as "bein' real" carries the show from a fun pastime, to a money making job-job, to a cult classic and ultimately, into a tool in God's hands bringing hundreds to Christ through triumph and tragedy. Rick and Bubba share their written story in humility as they give God the glory for their success and ministry.

Warning -- if you are a parent, this book will bring you to tears and to your knees. It made me evaluate my faith -- will I truly give God glory when He gives AND takes away from me? These men are big-bodied, big-hearted and big heroes of faith in God.

Thanks to Booksneeze for giving me a copy of this book for review. I snatched it up and didn't put it down!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Recently my grandma bought my dad a "Christian" self-help book from a grocery store. He started to read it and was stunned to find doctrine so twisted, that it crossed the line of blasphemy. With all the self-help Christian books dotting the shelves, it's difficult to discern what's going to be trustworthy and spiritually edifying. When I saw this book available from Booksneeze.com, I knew immediately I could trust it to be spiritually sound because of one name: Billy Graham. A man who has proven himself to be solidly grounded in the gospel, Billy Graham expertly delivers teachings based on the Bible in layman's terms.

Though this classic has been updated, its truths survive the test of time because they are rooted in the timeless Word. Billy Graham applies scripture in a very clear, concise way that will speak to both the spiritually mature and newer believers. This would be a great gift to a college student, a new mom or anybody that is limited on time, but needs quick and solid daily guidance. I'm going to stash a copy in my guest room for visitors to enjoy.

*Thanks to Booksneeze.com for sending me a copy to review!*

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fantasy Meets the Deep South

Tucked into the tangled woods of the deep south, a little girl and a story have their beginnings. In a flash of lightening, Mercy's mama births her on the banks of a muddy creek, and Mercy's life takes on a fantastic quality from the get-go.

But in her late twenties, unmarried, working long hours at her newspaper job, her life seems anything but extraordinary -- until she discovers herself face to face with a book not of this world. Within its pages, others' lives take form and shape. Outside its pages, her own life seems to unravel as it takes mysterious twists and turns. Who is this tall, dark and handsome stranger? Why does he seem so familiar? What dark secrets will the magical book reveal, and will she have the strength to stand in the face of its awful truth?

If the reader hopes for an otherworldy adventure, this story is Hometown USA with a mysterious, creepy spiritual dimension. Though I had hoped for a good read in the genre of southern literature, the South in this book serves more as a flat, muted backdrop like the painted scenery on stage in a play. One cannot taste syrupy sweet tea, sweat in the humidity or smell the pungent Bradford pear trees. Expectations aside, the book's originality, creative twists and strong female character will keep the pages flying.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review