Monday, October 22, 2018

Thomas Nelson Partner: Love Does for Kids by Bob Goff

Bob Goff is known for sharing about love and motivating others to love one another well.  So it's great that he and his daughter wrote a children's book for kids.  My first surprise was, a wonder, do I like this book even better than the version for grown ups? And I think my answer is yes.  The tone of the stories, the integration of how Jesus and God fit into every type of experience and stories from the Bible seem more connected, more frequent, and deeper in this book. It totally could be me, but this book is amazing. 

 The illustrations are warm and beautiful.  The book is 224 pages.  It releases October 23. It's been a while since I read Love Does- but it seems to me that this kids version seems to be more directly connected to the Word of God and who God is, how He shows himself through His Son Jesus, and how it affects our lives. 

His daughter, Lindsey, is an elementary teacher and the book shares many stories and experiences from Love Does with a whimsical flavor. 

What I liked about the book

  • warm, child friendly colorful illustrations.  
  • references to different bible stories and events.  
  • Love makes the difference message connected to a message of God's work and love.  
  • Chapters are short, quick, focused reads. 
  • People of different races are depicted in the images. 
  • Bob Goff's attitude and mindset is one that the world needs to emulate, and somehow he gave it to his children with such a spirit of love and joy, it seems natural, and I wonder why all of us can't always be this open minded, and open to seeing the world as a group of our friends.   

What I wondered about the book

  • why not share or link the references to the biblical concepts. I really like the for further study or connections that some authors do.  
  • transitions between stories were abrupt feeling at times, but the book is about love, not a sequential life story, and as the book moves on the pattern appears. 
  • Some stories seem unbelievable- but then again the way the Goff's approach things is counter cultural- and that makes these unbelievable stories- all that much more believable. 

How I might use the book:

  • To discuss how mindset affects everything. 
  • To teach a lesson on how we see someone, an event, our neighbors- is all an opportunity for fun, ministry, and inclusion, instead of a mindset of that's impossible, that won't work, etc. The can do attitude developed by the Goff's is biblically driven and that's why it works.  
  • One chapter teaches the definition of restore and justice- so a lesson intro or background info for a topic that uses one or both of those works- this could be a great hook. 
  • Pick a chapter and use is as a writing prompt- share a similar experience you have had. 
  • Pick a definition or connection to God and seek out verses from the Bible that show that this concept is true- or contain the same phrases.  If you can't find a verse- is there a hymn, a teaching, or someplace you've understood the same concept about who God is, and how He loves us, gives us grace, and helps us? 
  • As a read aloud in a Sunday School class, lecture, family, it would work in many scenarios. 
  • Discussing character development, inferences, visualizing, connections, things all great readers use to comprehend a story, as well as some solid analytical skills.  
  • Inspiration and encouragement for what a God centered, love driven mindset can do for a person.  Growth-God mindset.  

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Tommy Nelson Partner: Gift I Can Give by Kathie Lee Gifford

What I loved:

  • "Exactly the person God made me to be!" part of the opening line.  
  • Pictures- warm, delightful,draw a reader in with the colors, and experiences. 
  • Rhyming Words
  • Concept of the book- I can always give God's love 
  • length- not too short, not too long

What bothered me:

  • Missed potential... 
    • this could be so Gospel Centered, sharing how God's love is so great, so high, so vast, sharing how God gives His love through His Son Jesus on the cross, but it is very general and generic... 
    • No scripture referenced, no scripture notes or suggested verses
    • "As He lives in my heart, every moment, every day" (literary license? so it's okay but a note to parents at the end of the book about this confusing expression when referred to ask Jesus in your heart)
How I might use it:

As a home read aloud: 
  • with references to God's love from the Word of God
    • I'd ask my kids what do know about God's love? 
      • Ephesians 3:18- vast, wide, high.... So big we can't measure it
      • 1 John 4:7,8 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God....
      • John 13:33-34
      • I Peter 4:8 
      • 1 John 3:16 
      • Hymn- The Love of God
In a Sunday School or Kidmin setting
  • when talking about gifts
  • When presenting the gospel- I'd share we can share God's gift of love because Jesus was the picture of God's love, in His death, resurrection, and return to Heaven- and Jesus makes the way for us to draw close to God, and live like He would.  
  • with Colossians 3 passage- what does the well dressed believer need to put on.... how do we put it on... 
  • by asking kids what illustration would you change in this book, to make God's love be better defined. (adding Jesus image, adding scripture...) 
With parents 
  • as an example of being culturally acceptable- God could be any God- and as a book that is christian, but misses the mark- it's okay, maybe even good, but it's missing the mark at being the best book for a gospel centered life. 
  • asking parents, what do you think of this book? would it be in your home? how would you use it? is it missing an aspect that you as the spiritual fathers of your kids needs to add in?  

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Thomas Nelson Partner: Defiant Joy by Stasi Eldredge

This book- this message repeating over and over,  in my year of living focused on RESTORE.  In order to whisper the Word to the children and even my family/friends- I must be full and focused on the Lord. This book is another read that reminds us how to set our gaze on the God of the Universe, His Son, and His Holy Spirit.  

The author has experience with loosing hope, not seeing the beauty and being overwhelmed with life in a hurting world- but she prescribes clearly specific ways to have a GOD mindset, with much scripture, some hymns, and even some poems/prayers to repeat or think about.  

Her quotes are from Ann Voskamp, St. Patrick, CS Lewis (and Narnia of course) as well as George MacDonald.  

I will let my notes and reminders to self tell of the book's principles to absorb into your life! 

I'll end with some favorite memes'

 a great quote below...

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins Partner: Ministry of the Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin

Whispering the Word perspective shared with a group of reader friends:

I finished the book-- this is a theme throughout it- waking up to God's goodness all around you. It is designed for Christ followers to grow in their walk.

Throughout the book Shannan Martin shows us how the Lord directs her steps to see His goodness all around her and to serve others right were she is.

But also just as she is-- in a world of books where Christians are publishing self help books that hardly mention God's role in their lives. This book is a breathe of fresh air- as Shannan Martin knows that all her growth, learning, failures, gifts, strengths are all through and in the Lord God and His Holy Spirit living in her.

She shares her stories some of which are unique, since she lives in a low income poverty neighborhood . Her stories start with how she learns to pay attention to the world God created all around her. She intentionally walks her kids to school.

Her desire and suggestion that we all connect with the misfits all around us. It's one that we can do in any neighborhood, at any age, and in many different ways.

She clearly shares deep understanding of Who God is, and how He has worked like He is in her life- in others in scripture, her new favorite passages or verses, and what they've come to mean to her- all in a humorous, well written, book of life stories and life lessons- drawn as she she seeks to glorify God and learn new lessons and ways of worshiping Him. Many of her tips weren't new or extreme- but her own growth in how she chooses hospitality, to leave her introvert comfort zone, how God chooses to push a bit, and the abundant life found in all of this- made it a very encouraging and refreshing book to read, and convicted my heart to grow and re frame some of my comfortable habits. She showed gospel living.
 Goodreads review:

This book- I loved it-- it was a book of the author's personal stories, personal challenges, and her ability to press forward and overcome them. 

But she didn't will herself to do this- she didn't decide being brave or courageous- or something other than exactly who she is would fix her desire to minister to others in the ordinary places-- her subtitle says it all- a constant thread in the book was- waking up to God's goodness around you!! And that infusion of God's Character, the Holy Spirit's work in our lives, and how as God calls us to do things, He equips us and brings us joy. 

But that doesn't mean there won't be failures, we won't let ourselves get in the way and mess up, suffering, loneliness, etc won't ever head our way.  It means that as we build endurance, seek God's way over our own, learn new ways of worshiping Him, and keep growing as humans who learn and press on- and do it well when we use our kingdom gifts as the bread that brings life to others. 

Her heart for people is clear- her desire that we join her in loving others well in our own neighborhood and small space of the community right outside our home-- is our ministry of ordinary places. 

She and her husband moved to an inner city/urban location and into a neighborhood of former convicts, poverty, addictions, etc. But Shannan Martin is a cheerleader and encourager of each of us- learning the lessons she learns in daily life as she continues to serve those right outside her front door. She makes it clear that we are to be ourselves and find ways to love well, share mightily, listen attentively, pay attention, and make those around us our people.  She never suggests we need to move to a neighborhood like hers- just gives examples of how loving the misfits and regularly breaking bread at least weekly with as regular and ordinary people as you can find.

Her stories could happen to most of us, and her self actualization is convicting, but not written in a tone to be judgmental- just so easy to relate to.  She recognizes that her people and her neighbors aren't the people that look just like her- but the ones who come near in mercy.  And that's it's healthy to love others and come near to them, "getting better at loving people for every good and puzzling thing they are." Just as I am!   She learns and suggests that we all should not look at those in need as projects, or lower than us, or that we are higher than they are, but to:
Get to know those in need, reflect love as they want it, share a smile on your face, express I'm rooting for you, be humble, invite correction, face forgiveness.  In other words- have real relationships, even with unexpected people.

She speaks of faith.  "A faith that could ride out a howling stretch of pain- keeping it's spark through the winds of drought."  She reminds us: "Christ camped among suffering and didn't flee discomfort."  Abundant life is found in the 'sweet and the salty.' 

Throughout the book, she shares her thinking and her growing mindset of how hospitality, mission, service, and being present outside your front door really reflects- Emmanuel, God with us.  She regularly shares verses, stories of different bible people, and other truths from the Word of God that she discovers more closely as she listens and pays closer attention to the world around her.  She is woman who grasps the gospel in and out of her experiences, and has this wordsmith ability to share her life, stories, learning, and heart in a humorous way that will leave you wanting more, and asking God to show you in your neighborhood how to learn these same lessons. 

I love to add the author's own words... here are some memes.

I relieved an Advance Reader Copy from Harper Collins Christian Publishers.  

Monday, October 1, 2018

David C Cook Partner Review: Calming Angry Kids by Tricia Goyer

Do you want to learn how to help your child deal with anger? This book will show you how YOU are the first and best solution, and the author, Tricia Goyer, shares how humbling and challenging it is to change YOUR responses to outbursts from angry children. Not only does she share her learning, but she is well researched, articulate, and of all the parenting books I've read, her book is the best I've read as far as easy to implement, research based practices from well known authors like Dan Siegel are integrated, as well as a biblical basis for changing your heart and skill set, while you approach your child and help him or her gain the skills that he or she needs to recognize a trigger, handle intense emotions, realize that that it's easier to be mad than sad, or recognize their own intensity in an everyday situation. I will be sharing this book and the helpful approach over and over. And as you can see from my pictures of highlighted segments- it is practical and I've already been taking pictures and sharing with mom friends who are in the same struggle I face, as we encourage one another to grow and parent in a meaningful and helpful way!

Each chapter ends with a reflection question set to help you process and internalize the content.... it's well done and so helpful.

One of my favorite parts of this book- parenting an angry child- starts with my heart-- asking God to show me what changes I need to make.  Wisdom shared from Psalm 27:14

#whisperingtheword connection- whisper to myself before my kids... let them see it in me!

Example of research based strategies integrated in knowing how to figure out where the feelings are coming from, so you can create a plan and share strategies to help address them better.

This is not a five minute read and it's all inside, and you'll do this.  Dealing with intense emotions requires your commitment- remembering your focus is- I'm on your team- meaning you remind them- we will figure this out together- and you are with them. 

I have read a lot of parenting books. I’ve read a lot of books on helping children handle their overwhelming emotions. I have learned so much from so many in the past five years. I’ve read through the lists on helping trauma, foster, adoptive kids. I’m an avid reader and have had much to learn. I’ve sought out the balance of brain based responses. Biblical responses. Trauma responses.

This is the easiest to read. Most practical. Well researched. Easy to grasp. And most likely to be internalized book of all the books. The author has lived, learned, prayed and suffered through gains and losses. Her story and knowledge are spot on and this resource is at the top of the list to share with those who need help parenting kids with strong emotions.

It's encouraging as she shares her failures and learning in parenting challenging/angry children of all ages.  It's encouraging as she recognizes it's knowing the research. learning to know YOU are the key factor in calming kids and preventing the whirlwind, but that God is with you, His Word brings hope and help in the best practice concepts of calming angry kids, learning their triggers, and planning ways to help them grow the needed skills to overcome intense emotions.

Thankful to partner with David C. Cook and read an early copy.  Comment below by Friday, October 5th, 2018 and I'll draw a winner sometime after noon, and one of you can win a copy!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Waterbrook Partner Review: Brave Motherhood by Rachel Martin

I wanted to love this book. I know many others do. But it wasn’t for me. I’m a Waterbrook partner and get to read all kinds of books before they are released. This one was disappointing because it’s basically a self help book from a christian blogger but is all about empowering women to take control of their own lives without God mentioned.  The closest aspect or mention is finding her faith.  She shares the story of Joseph in the Bible and compares it to her life as well, but it's minimal, and to me this was such a missed opportunity to speak truth from the Word of God and to share how the Holy Spirit leads, directs, and empowers us to fight fear, gain confidence and find yourself in Him.  Instead it uses catchy phrases that could easily be biblical- but no direction connections- heart issues- are all about your cognitive, emotional state.  

This book did not help whisper the Word to a healthy mindset to then be better equipped to whisper it with your family.  

No connection or need for God to help lead you. Strength comes from your mindset but no connection to a biblical worldview. It was very much I chose to be brave. I stopped the cycle. I managed my fear. But basically her guidelines are secular. She does not integrate the gospel. The Word of God or anything other than the occasional we prayed about it. It’s purely her experiences and choices that she encourages other moms to not loose themselves, to grow and stay focused on their hopes, dreams, and finding themselves.   Lots and lots of I statements....

It sounds good. It’s an easy and enjoyable read. It’s motivational. But the heart message shared us that I can do it if I purpose to. If I set the right mental targets. If I don’t go it alone. But no where is the power of the Holy Spirit mentioned. Or a mind that is fixed on Christ. It’s in what I see as a danger zone because it’s published by a christian publisher. God is mentioned. But the vision is the idol of self in control. And that is packaged in a gift box to unwrap and believe the lies that I run my own life.  

Thankful to partner and read this book that I know will enter into the best seller list. Just sad that an opportunity to recognize Gods role in our lives was lost.