Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Worthy Publishing: Unbroken Faith Spiritual Recovery for the Special-Needs Parent by Diane Dokko Kim

If you are struggling as a parent                           ....  read this book. 

If you are grieving what could have been,             ....read this book. 
If you are wondering where God is,                        ...read this book. 

If you think your suffering will never end,             ...read this book. 
If you want to see who God is, in the bitter aspects of life,                                                                                                 ...read this book.

If you want to be challenged to evaluate your faith, thinking, and comfortable Christianity, this book will lead you through the doubts, ugly thoughts, and wilderness you face and keep you pointed to who God is. To find His hope. To recognize before He rebuilds and restores, He often demolished and improved.

Especially if you have a child that has special needs,read this book. This author shares facing an autism diagnosis. A lifelong perspective changer and simplifier of a parents dreams. Instead of a vision of how much a child will accomplish in this life on earth, it becomes a wonder of, will my child ever....as the parent of a kiddo from a hard place, this book resonates with me. It seeks out my inner core. My heart when others say, what hope do we have? Is it worth it to endure? Will progress ever be achieved and maintained? 

This devotional reminds me that it’s not my job to answer those questions.

It’s my job to trust in the all knowing, loving,redeeming God who saved a wretch like me and know that He is able to use my child. 

Our family. For His glory and His good. 
Even if it’s only to show me that when I am weak, broken, at my last straw, He is directing me. He is strong. He is all I need. He will do a work in me...

I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t benefit from this well written book. The author shares her stories connects them to truths and people in the Bible. Gives unbreakable promises (scripture verses) at the end of every chapter, a model prayer that synthesizes our needs and reminds us of how God meets those in His nature and character. And then helps us reflect on how the truth and question of the chapter might be found in our hearts and souls.

I’ve read many devotionals for special needs parents. This one is different. Dianne Dokko Kim loves the Lord, recognizes and eloquently shares who He is, and is a blessing and cheerleader for the reader to find her own unbroken faith. We all need this type of recovery program most days.  I'm thankful to have gotten acquainted with her through the pages of her book and to have been encouraged by the book. Thank you Worthy Publishing for sending me an advanced reader copy.  I highly recommend it. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Waterbrook Fiction: No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert (an Iowa Author)

Releasing April 3rd, 2018

Three Families. Two School Districts. 
A Dozen Miles Between Them, 
But Worlds Apart.
When an impoverished Missouri school district loses its accreditation, the nearby affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open its doors to bussed students. Soon the lives of three very different women converge: Camille Gray, long-standing PTA chairwoman and champion fund-raiser, faced with a rattling discovery that threatens to tear apart her picture-perfect world; Jen Covington, a career nurse whose painful journey to motherhood finally results in a happily-ever-after, though not the one she anticipated; and Anaya Jones, the first woman in her family to graduate college and a brand-new teacher at Crystal Ridge’s top elementary school, who is unprepared for the minefield she is stepping into. As tensions rise, Camille, Jen, and Anaya will fiercely protect their loved ones – but at what cost?
Inspired by real-world events, No One Ever Asked is a riveting tale about the way we see one another, the lies we tell ourselves, the questions and stories that go unexplored, and the tragedies that result from our blindness.

I met Katie Ganshert as an author just over a year ago, and I believe I've read most of her books since then.  She's a refreshing author that writes stories set in the present time, about characters that face real life struggles and the reader is invited into their thoughts, emotions, and wonders.  Her characters often have a christian world view.  She's also an adopted mom who lives in the Davenport, IA area, so it's fun to read a novel from someone who has similar passions and lives within an hour and a half drive.

This book is dear to my heart.  The quote above from Anaya's Daddy, is one that we all might benefit from, as we face change, or an unwanted experience.   I love how Anaya grows as she remembers it.  It's a story that needs to be recognized, repeated more often, and a thought provoking book that will have every reader introspectively analyzing their own thoughts about racism, identity, beliefs, relationships, the struggle at accepting, hearing, and grasping the perspective of each person in the struggle.  And I believe each reader will explore a new mindset, a better one, as he or she contemplate which thoughts could have been his or her own.  I know I did.

This book will be a great discussion book.  There are so many ways to approach the themes and threaded concepts with a safe and intentional jumping point, I hope this book becomes a favorite book club book, and I have a feeling it's a timeless discussion on so many levels.   Anger is something all the main characters have to face head on.

Here are some things that could be explored: 

Racism, Inequality, Injustice, Elitism, Generational bigotry, buried emotions, education, coaching, sexism, gun control, culture, change, diabetes, adoption, parenting, self righteous attitudes, grief, understanding another's perspective,  creating friendships, maintaining friendships, community, be the change, forgiveness

This book is one in which I could so easily identify with the setting, the characters, the struggles, each character and I had something in Common. Anaya was a brand new teacher in an elite school district, feeling the awkwardness of being from 'across the tracks.'  I felt like that in my first year teaching as well, in a very well to do school district, at a school in one of the most affluent neighborhoods.  Camille is a mom to three children with very different needs and personalities, and she seeks to love and care for them individually, and she has to accept their independence and growth as they mature.  Her youngest is 8 and in second grade, same as mine.   Jen becomes a school nurse, but she's an adoptive mom to a beautiful girl, and she speaks of Karyn Purvis, the Empowered to Connect conference, and connected parenting, all things I'm so familiar with as we entered kinship care 4 years ago, and have worked through all the same materials and strive to implement it in our home.  The birthday party at the start of the book is so close to our normal I almost cried at hearing the other children and parent's thoughts about the melt down, as it's so often us.

The mindset of change, fits with the growth mindset I strive to develop in myself, my family, and others.  This book shows the lies that we so easily have in our heads, often unintentional, but there nevertheless and impacting how we behave or act with one another.  I'm thankful that the author showed us hope and growth as these struggles ensued, and each character handled their own weaknesses.

My real response was "amazing, wow, so grateful for all the depths and mindset that the characters portrayed!"  This book brings to life so much more than the obvious differences in the lives of these women, it also brings their families and instinctual responses to mind.  And gave me pause as I felt connected to all three women and it expanded my perspective.

I wish it had tied in more to the local church and the perspective of the Word of God and people, but I also am wishing for a sequel that continues the story, with the growth and perspectives gained, perhaps that could showcase more clearly how God views many of these issues.  Then I discover that today-- Katie Ganshert shares her perspective at the Farm (Ann Voskamp's site)...

Want to read the first chapter, it's here at the author's blog.

Want to read other books that will add to the concepts? Here's a list of 7 books the author suggests.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Online Bible Study Review: Wisdom Whispers with Sarah Koontz

This 31-day free online Bible study of King Solomon will help you hear Wisdom's call to salvation, obedience, and humility. Wisdom Whispers is packed with powerful biblical truths and beautiful digital gifts. All you need to complete this study is 15-minutes per day and a mobile device. | Bible Study for Women | Spiritual Growth for Christian Women | #wisdomwhispers #biblestudy

Living By Design's studies are new to me, but I'm always looking for new ways to be in the Word on my own to grow in knowledge and wisdom.

There are a lot of things I appreciate about this Bible Study.
  • it includes the scripture text with each day's reading, making it an easy to read in the carpool lane or at an appointment.  
  • Format:  Today's Reading: (a question) then the passages
    • Today's Devotional- teaching about the text, with bold statements that are often conclusions from the knowledge.  It is written from the author of the studies perspective- she writes in the first person- I .... 
    • Wisdom Whispers (something about who God is and how He helps me)
    • Verse
    • Action Point- often thought provoking, digging deep reflections- open ended
    • Discussion Question: thought provoking, digging deep reflections- that you need to answer.
  • the genuine personal testimony and encouragement of the author, as she has found that God directs, protects, provides, sustains, ... her life in many circumstances. 
I found the study to be a format that many will appreciate and find useful, for me the thinking was primarily done by the author, and she teaches so well, but if I am going to take time to apply, I need to be more engaged in the study and in the Word to learn independently.

Bonus Connection, from a website I found:
Want to include your children in thinking about King Solomon's wisdom?  Look at the Owl printables about wisdom from Ministry Ark-- so cute-- I might need them just for me!  Here's the lesson to use them with. 

Waterbrook Fiction: Beneath the Prairie Moon by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Here is the book 'teaser' from the publisher.

Readers rabid for the sweet historical romances of Tracie Peterson and Tamara Alexander will flock to best-selling author Kim Vogel Sawyer's prairie-set heartwarmer of high society cast-off and the western town that welcomes her.

Abigail Brantley grew up in affluence and knows exactly how to behave in high society. But when she is cast from the social registers due to her father's illegal dealings, she finds herself forced into a role she never imagined: tutoring rough Kansas ranchers in the subjects of manners and morals so they can "marry up" with their mail-order brides. Mack Cleveland, whose father was swindled by a mail-order bride, wants no part of the scheme to bring Eastern women to Spiveyville, Kansas, and he's put off by the snooty airs and fastidious behavior of the "little city gal" in their midst. But as time goes by, his heart goes out to the teacher who tries so diligently to smooth the rough edges from the down-to-earth men. How can he teach her that perfection won't bring happiness?

Here is my review: 

This book was written through the lens of four main characters thoughts. This style brought more depth to the book.  But the characters are strong people that you love and want to get to hear the voices out loud and in their head, as it reveals so much more of how people live bravely in community and the courage it takes to be real with others around you.  

I found the book had a slow start, I just wasn’t sure where it was going. But as I kept reading, those details came alive, bringing reality and vulnerability to the characters and their lives. I adored the etiquette perspective brought to light throughout the book. I loved that some of the characters clearly had a growth mindset while others started with a fixed mindset. I also appreciated the non traditional roles of men and women that likely were the norm even in prairie life. My favorite aspect of the book was the authentic faith and prayers that were manifested by all the main characters. Life is messy and people can be ugly and judge, but this book-shares that there is always a flip side to review. Thanks for the chance to review an arc. 

The book also ends with discussion questions if you are looking for a book club book or a book discussion in an educational setting.  I think it would be a great book discussion with a lot of higher level thinking among the readers!  

Monday, March 19, 2018

Tyndale Book Review: Restore break out of your past and into God's future

I was intrigued by this book.  Restore is my word for 2018, so it seemed like it might be a good fit for my book reviews, and expose me to a different style of book.  I wasn't disappointed.  

The book helps you figure out what is going on in your life that has you 'stuck' and keeps you from moving beyond your past, healing your hurts, and breaking bad habits.  As sinners, we all face one or more of these issues.  I really appreciated the free extras with email and a pdf of questions that come along with your reading.  

Here's what the publisher tells you about the book:
What should we do when we feel stuck in life?
You know how it feels. There’s a hurt in your past that is hard to get beyond. There’s a bad habit that’s difficult to break. There’s a setback that is just too tough to overcome.

We all have our own unique situations in which we feel “stuck.” Americans’ favorite suggestions for how to fix our lives—self-help programs, self-esteem techniques, or simple willpower—leave many of us ceaselessly spinning our wheels and feeling just as “stuck” as ever. Vince Antonucci knows what this feels like, and he knows many who have struggled to fix their lives with these dead-end methods. He struggled to get past the pain of a neglectful and angry father. It wasn’t until Vince decided to go through a recovery and rehab course, focused on God, that he learned ways to break free of that hurt and to live in God’s future.

Today, when someone walks through the doors of Vince’s innovative church, located just off the Las Vegas Strip, he offers a Restore class as one of three core classes that every member takes. He knows how important it is to learn to break free of these old hurts and bad habits. The essence of that popular class is contained in this book.

Move past your past, heal your hurts, and break your bad habits.

Want to read the first chapter?  Here's a link to a pdf.... so you can see for yourself!

Here is my review:

Things I appreciated:
  • Book Format:  Humor integrated  in Top Ten Lists, Short Daily Readings that have bold headings to keep you focused, Book is divided into the steps take, with the online community and email video/pdf support.
  • Balance of stories from the authors life, other lives, and models from the Bible of how people lived.
  • Application steps to take, so you are forced to start the process of real healing with simple questions and prompts, which make it feel easy to do.  
  • Way that you are forced to think, process, and integrate in the steps and leave your ways and step into God's ways. 
  • Scriptural connections.  The references are all in the back. 
I wanted the full experience so I signed up for the daily emails with videos and pdfs.  These daily pdfs had more questions, concept, and ways to think/process your thoughts, as well as a song  for the theme. Many are like the voice in your head, trying to fight doing what you know you need to do, compelling! (you do have to go search for the song, it's not directly linked.)  

Personally I have not had the time while reviewing the book to 'follow' all the directions at one time.  I really like the idea of choosing a month and going through the videos, pdfs, and days one at a time.  The ones that I had more time to process I did find very valuable and helpful.  Really we are looking at our identity in Christ, our grasp of Who God is, His attributes/identity, and how He directs us, but we have to keep our eyes focused on His plan, not ours.  When problems or stress arises, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to remind us who we are in Him, and to guide us and direct us.   This book is very practical and will lead you to search your soul and overcome whatever may have you 'stuck' in your life.  Just commit the time to it so that you can grow!  

 I joined the Facebook Group called:  The Restore Community  the daily videos are there, and some discussion, but not a specific group studying together now.  (there was an original group that went through the 30 days together.) 

I am not a traditional video/youtube person.  But Vince Antonucci's videos are threeish minutes, he's connecting, honest, and they are quick concepts brought to life and he helps me process the book's concepts, and this book is not just for those addicts who need a twelve step program, I'm sure it would help them. But this book teaches many spiritual lessons about forgiveness, daily living, focus, setting our eyes on the Lord, judgement, love poured out, .... 

Here's a link to the author's page. Thank you Tyndale House Publishers for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book.

Kregel Book Review: I could use a nap and a million dollars by Jesse Clemence

This book my husband keeps picking up and glancing at.  The title is catchy and it fits the author's style-- of humor and attention getting perspective to connect the reader to the advice she's giving.  But what I found so refreshing was the fact that her advice is grounded in the Word of God, as the subtitle says, "Biblical Alternatives to Stressed Out Living." 

Here are some things I appreciate about the book:

  • This book is easy to read, entertaining, grounded in the Word, with poignant tales of the author's life and experiences as well as connections to the Bible. 
  • Every chapter (and they are not very long) closes with three focuses; make it personal, scripture connection, and a prayer for today.  
    • Make it Personal are questions for you to connect to your life.
    • Scripture- is a passage
    • Prayer a way to process and apply the concepts as you talk with God.
    • This could make this a great book club book or Bible study group interaction.  
  • Chapter Quotes (each chapter has a different font inserted with a line at the front quote, that really is a meme to go with the theme and solidify a point).  For Example:
    • God was at work, moving exactly the right people into place for exactly the right time. (on change)
    • Jesus didn't back down from righteous conflict. We rarely get anywhere near righteous conflict because we are too busy fighting over stupid stuff.  (on arguing and conflict.)
  • Jessie Clemence's writing style reflects our current culture referencing a quote from Jen Hatmaker, or HGTV, or Target.  She relates to a typical woman of this day. 
  • The author 'gets the reader' and sees you, where you are, in the midst of daily life, and it shows in your reading the book, you feel like this is a mentor girlfriend chatting with you.  
  • The topics are bold, necessary, and sometimes a little confrontational or convicting, but the humor, the perspective, and the real connection to the Word, can use this book to convict your heart and help you trust the living God and His Holy Spirit to be your nap and a million dollars, and live an abundant, satisfied life as God directs.  
Thank you Kregel for an advanced copy to review, the thoughts here are my own.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

New Resources for Printable Activities

As we whisper the Word to our children, there is a time and a place for everything.  I love it when I can give them fun puzzles, coloring sheets, games, or create handouts for a family worship hour that go with the theme to help the kids engage fully.

Repetition helps all of us learn, and when we are encouraged to think at higher levels, we apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate, so that's the best level of learning to lead our children to, but they need knowledge and understanding to move there. 

I found some new resources recently, you may like them, did I mention these are FREE resources? 

Tip: Use the search feature with key words or bible references to find your story or verse. 

Ministry Ark: a youth/kidmin person in UK.  Her site has free lessons, free units, games, printables, ... very neat and diverse.  This seems to have a small following,but I think will become huge as it's discovered. 
Cute Bible Verse Printables Here
Movie clips and ideas for lessons and discussions.

Biblewise Kids Korner:  Story ideas, coloring, puzzles, and diverse activities by topic/character. 

Sunday School Zone: This site has so many options from teaching, to activities, things to print. Easy too navigate. 
Bible activities galore.... color by number, spot the difference, write the verse/concept, puzzles, and pictures, and stories, oh my! It's an amazing resource!

Crafting the Word of God this site is smaller, but has some really neat options. 
Cute crafts like a wheel of images with a cover for John 3:16, many with simple props and a printable.

Kids Bible Worksheets  You can find word searches, cryptograms, mazes, etc.

 Basically this website has used Discovery's puzzlemaker with key stories and verses for you.

Have fun creating or finding helpful handouts!