Thursday, September 12, 2019

Waterbrook-Multnomah Partner Book Review: Jesus in Me by Anne Graham Lotz

Rarely am I speechless.  Rarely do words fail me.  But I'm having a really hard time contemplating what to tell you about this new book by Anne Graham Lotz.  As one who wants our children to grow and be biblically literate young people, I have written lessons about the Holy Spirit and His role in our lives as believers.  But I agree with what Anne Graham Lotz says at some points in her new book, the more she sought to know about the Holy Spirit, the more there is to know, and knowing isn't enough, but living in these truths and the fact that God gives us Himself to live in us, guide us, lead us, work in us, equip us to change, even for intercession when words fail us. 

Her new book releasing September 30th for all, showcases so many levels and layers of the Holy Spirit.  Truly she has been gifted these words by the Holy Spirit to share with the world, who also needs to know, call on, walk with, and live in His presence. 

This book is excellent whispering truths from the Word of God through life experience, growth, an ongoing process, awareness, soul seeking, and utter dependence on the work of the Holy Spirit in her heart, soul and mind. 

Here are some meme's to help sample other's responses or quotes: 

This book is well written and easy to read, harder to process, and choose to follow the questions and suggestions that the author provides.  There are 27 chapters, divided into 7 themes, with a conclusion and some very helpful appendixes to encourage life change and application.  The chapters are short, pointed, and end with questions for your own personal application.  These questions really get to the heart and soul of living with the Holy Spirit in me.  And while easily understandable, the application and processing in me, will go on long after I've finished the book.  The perspective is much needed and for me often convicting.  

Some of my favorite illustrations to make the Holy Spirit graspable for children are shared in this book- engagement rings, seals, promise, guarantee, and I love that I have a new image.  That of the magnifying glass- the Holy Spirit is showing others that Jesus is in ME!!! 

This book would be an excellent book club or Bible study book.  It can be read cover to cover in a day or two, or it can be read a little at a time to help process and apply the truth shared.  But it should be read.  

Thankful to partner with Netgalley and Waterbrook-Multnomah to read an advanced copy of this book. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Waterbrook Partner: God Gave Us the Bible 45 stories for Little Ones

I really like this Bible story book.  It is well done, attractive, educational, and beautiful.  The author and illustrator have done a wonderful job focusing on who God is, choosing 45 events from the Bible, and weaving in knowledge that is practical and vital for children to learn about who God is, rather than just being able to retell events.  Before the book ends, Mama bear reminds all the little forest friends that these stories are true.  Making sure they grasp that they actually occurred.  

Here is a more detailed review: 

What I liked about the book:

  • Hardback book, with nice thick glossy pages, child sized for read with me- just over 7 by 8 inches. Designed for 3 to 7 year olds I believe it's well tailored for this age and stage. 
  • 45 stories, tables of content, as well as story title page share the scripture passages the story is from. 
  • Artist's renderings, are child friendly, warm, lifelike, detailed, and diverse.  
  • The way who God is, and His promises to His people are woven into the retellings of bible events and into the questions and answers of the little animals.  It portrays who God is on many levels and across time.  
  • For a book that an adult can read in less than an hour, maybe even a half an hour, there are key details woven into the retellings and thoughts of the forest animals.  
  • A few women of the Bible are highlighted: Miriam, Queen Esther, Mary, Elizabeth, 
  • Transitions are made and questions asked, as Mama Bear shares the Bible stories with little cub and his forest friends, if a question is asked on a Bible event page, they are framed in a paint box, and this works well to bring in the concept of who God is, across the lives of these historical people and today in the lives of forest friends.  
  • Nice transition between the Old Testament stories and the New Testament Stories.  
  • Use of the word sin for Adam and Eve doing what God said not to do.  
  • Words that are defined throughout the text.  Genesis, sin, miracles, cistern,disciple,parable ....
  • This book shares the gospel when talking about Jesus death and resurrection, as well as the gift of the Holy Spirit explained.  
What I wondered about the book: 
  • Why when referring to God as He- it was with a little h, not a capital H.  I know it's just my personal preference.  
  • Why there wasn't a stronger conclusion and suggestion to the readers that there is so much more of the Bible available, that this book only covers 45 of the Bible's events.  It ended focusing on God's love continuing in our stories with us. 
  • How kids will interpret how God speaks to us today, "Through the Bible, through dreams, through thoughts that stick with us, and in other ways too."   I'd want to discuss this statement with any children I read the book to, as I'm not sure that they will interpret it accurately. 
Thankful to partner with Waterbrook Multnomah and read this advanced copy of the book releasing September 17, 2019.  

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Moody Partner: Sharing Love Abundantly in Special Needs Families

I've found knowing about the five love languages to be so helpful as a wife, mom, and teacher.  So when I found out that Jolene Philo who blogs about special needs kids at Different Dreams mentioned that she was looking for parents to interview as part of a project. I jumped at the opportunity!

Here is an example of what the love languages are and how to live them out at home.  But with special needs children, many who are unable to express themselves accurately or at all, it can be much more challenging to implement the love languages in your home.  That's where this new version of the book comes in.

love languages motherhood baby, kids love language approaching motherhood
Overall Review:  This book helps you live out the most important fruit of the Spirit- Love.  It gives practical, fun, and personable ways to live in abundant love even when the one you love functions in a unique manner.  But more importantly, it is a great reminder for the reader that love is love and whether you are loving your spouse, neurotypical child, or special needs child, or friend, the focus needs to be on your heart and the receiver's heart and the goal needs to be attacked not as a fix, but as a way to have a connected, solid relationship with another human being.  Joy should be in this connection, in any love language and life.  This is the reason we chose to parent a child from a hard place who sought out love in the most unlovable ways.  We had the Holy Spirit equipping us to share unconditional love as our only real job.  

Things I liked about the book:
  • Fast, easy read. (less than 2 hours even with interruptions)
  • Design of the book- for special needs families- but also for teachers, caregivers, therapists, doctors/nurses, anyone who works with special needs kids. 
  • Book formatting
    • information extras: defines ABLE account, IEP, 504 in a grayscale box
    • summaries: key questions or tips in grayscale boxes
    • easy to read and refer back to: headings, subheadings, grayscale boxes, etc.   
    • chapter summaries- some are: putting it all together, others are tips, or bulleted concepts to apply
    • appendix of resources (those not included directly in the book text)
    • diverse perspective- 40 families are represented in the stories of this book and their real life examples are the ideas.   
  • Content of the book is beyond the love languages, it includes ways to enjoy and support your child and encouragement that it's not your job to fix anything about your child, but to love them well and remind their team of support people that this is the key to quality life and growth.  
  • The truth: practical tips from experience shared about meeting your child's most important need- unconditional love.  
  • New experts opinions shared and I have new resources to consult for support.  
What I wondered about or could be tweaked:
  • I wanted even more time on ideas, strategies, tips from those in the trenches. 
  • I was surprised at the time spent on loving your spouse, caring for your marriage, and caretaker care, but I do know that all of this truly needs investment even when there isn't time in the stress of parenting a special needs child, but you can love abundantly without your tank being full. 
  • Lack of scripture and biblical input throughout the book
Some quotes/memes:

this book is a simple and effective tool...

Thankful to partner with Moody Publishing and have an advance copy to review. 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Waterbrook Partner: The Jesus Who Surprises Us by Dee Brestin

This book's premise is built on the passage in Luke where Jesus joined the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and they didn't recognize Him.  I decided to review this book and bible study because this passage is dear to my heart, and I wanted to see how a book and Bible study was created from it.  I only remember reading one other book from Dee Brestin, this was her first well known book The Friendship of Women and I read it in high school.  So I don't remember much about it.  But I know that she has become a well known author and has several books and bible studies. 

Things I like about this book:

  • Free videos to go with it, done by Dee Brestin with teaching she shares, as well as hearing from some of the 21 women who she piloted the study with before the book was published.  
  • How the videos are done.  Dee Brestin's teaching style includes passion, joy, and she is pleasant to learn from.  They are between 10-14 minutes long.  
  • It's a study that you can do alone, with a small group, or a large group.  
  • It's all in one book.  You don't have to buy a separate study book. It even includes facilitator tips and notes.  
  • The book could be read as a stand alone, and the book embraces the perspective of how to see God in your days.  She calls it a weekly God Hunt, and layers in different ways to be alert to God.  
  • Bible Study goes through Jesus (often unknown) appearances in Genesis, Psalms, Isaiah, representing that Jesus is across the whole Bible.  
  • You could easily do the study whether you had time to read the pages in between or not.  It's a five day plan, and it's achievable in a few minutes, but it's rich with questions that will help you think at a higher level about the scripture you are reading.  
  • Quotes, references, and examples from many, many well known authors and theologians intertwined. 
  • The book and study if taken to heart, require introspection and thinking more deeply about your mindset, actions, and beliefs to know the Lord intimately.  But the author leads you to this, and it builds from lesson to lesson well.  
Things that gave me pause or to consider: 
  • this book seems written for those who have biblical literacy and know the Lord as Savior.  
  • Dee Brestin uses sophisticated language and vocabulary, so not every woman may grasp what she's sharing.  (I'm a regular reader with an extensive vocabulary and paused at a few words new to me.)   
  • the notes about the study completion might make some ladies uncomfortable (if they read them).  Notes about "the richest groups are when people have done their homework."  I know in our studies, we know this is best, but we know it doesn't always happen, and encourage women to come even unprepared, as they can still learn from the discussion.  

Thankful to partner with Waterbrook Multnomah and be able to read an advance copy of this book. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Victory in Jesus: Bible Object Lessons About Jesus for Kids by Anne Marie Gosnell

I had the privilege of reviewing the first three lessons in this book.

Here's what I like about it:
  • Good Bible Teaching- great ways to tell the events of Jesus life and key people, events, and elements included in the plan.  
  • Materials Preparation extras provided. The author thinks like a teacher, and has prepared the 'extras' for you. On her website, you will find a poster for each lesson, maps to show locations, etc.  This is in her How the Book Works section at the start. 
  • Author Notes/Tips: The author's note/opening before the lessons- when you are teaching a Bible story- she suggests you not just call it a story- this confuses kids- and is a literature term that they often associate with fiction- or untrue stories.  Use your Bible, have children use their Bibles! (Amen!)
  • Geography included: Show the location.  Each lesson gives you the location of the Bible text you will be reading, and she will have maps shared on her website to use with the object lessons. 
  • Background Notes provided - I took a little breathe when I read and I give you some notes to help put the story in place- thinking all these added details are going to make this confusing to read, but NO, I was wrong- She is a teacher, and she has pointed, simple statements that are really helpful!! But so simple and direct!  
  • Background Notes- connect the Old Testament to this New Testament event, or to the event before this one.  Building the connections from the previous book of the Bible or event.  
  • Simple objects- not things that will be hard to provide.
  • Teacher Comment box- encouraging YOU to reflect on your delivery of this lesson- and plan to improve- plus a simple tip- like "Try to bring Jesus and Salvation into every lesson you teach."   
We must be kindred teacher friends- Anne Marie Gosnell plans a lesson that I love and would use on my own.  I love that she is succinct, to the point, and it's so simple to follow and the goal is present.

Things to tweak:
  • Learning Target in Overview: I wish the goal/objective of the lesson was listed in the initial overview of the lesson.  It's in the opening paragraph, but is easily just read over, and I'm not sure some of our teachers (who are not trained teachers) would think- this is what I repeat over and over throughout the lesson.  And she ends the lesson part with a bold statement for the life application, and part of the goal is also to make clear a characteristic of God, but if it's not present til the end, will we all catch and value that aspect?  
  • Object List: a list at the start of the book or on the website- that shares all the objects used in the lessons, so you realize that this book is for you, as those are common household things and easy to own or borrow.  
  • Scripture References: In lesson two, the gospel was presented with verses, but those references weren't identified or shared, and if it's important for children to look at the passage where the event comes from, it would also be helpful to see scripture that isn't in 'stories' but is in letters or teaching from important people, come from the Bible.  
  • Word Choice/Concept Choice in Life Applications.   As in any material finding the best phrase, descriptive word, etc to convey your point, varies from person to person. In the 2nd lesson, in life application, the author suggests that God wants us to make smart christians in how we read and think about His Word.  For my program and ministry, we have been emphasizing that we need to have a relationship with God that is personal, knowledgeable, and connected to both our head/heart.  So I would alter that sentence when I delivered the concept.  In the same lesson, she talks about Jesus wearing a "costume" since He was God and man.  I like this word choice and description on some levels, but also think that it could confuse children- thinking that it was pretend or something, as that is when kids wear costumes.  This one, I'm still pondering what I think about.  That's why this is my tweak.  
Thankful to partner with Future Flying Saucers and have an opportunity to review the first three lessons of the book before release.  I've already ordered the Old Testament book for this fall's sunday school lessons!  

Monday, July 22, 2019

Bethany House Partner Review: Exhale by Amy Carroll & Cheri Gregory

This book's subtitle is: lose who you're not, love who you are, live your one life well.  
The book is divided into these three categories and it works.  I read lots of spiritual growth/self help christian books, and this one stands out.  The biggest difference is that this book addresses our mindset, and directly encourages us to change our mindset.  But instead of describing a fixed versus growth mindset, as the world does.  The authors choose to suggest we have a new mindset.  And I see that new mindset as one who is a new creature in Christ, looking to God to lead not her own sin nature.  It's the age old struggle of old vs. new, but sin vs. living in Christ.  

Here are some memes to help share the thinking.  

The book shares biblical examples and scripture that fit the mindset we are to adopt.  It is well formatted as each chapter ends with one of the three subtitles and a breathe moment which is a suggestion of how to take the concepts and move ahead.  There are subtitles throughout the pages and it's so easy to read, not so easy to take the suggestions to heart, but I found them to be exactly what my heart and mind needs to grow.  

This book I really enjoyed, but at the same time I had a hard time picking it up.  As I got further and further into it, I figured out why.  This is a book that you can't just read.  It requires introspection.  Self analysis.  And it makes you accountable to think, process, and recognize your actions.  The authors even link you to their website with extra tools ready to print and use.  And my old nature didn't want me to stop and recognize things that could change, especially with self awareness and the power of the Holy Spirit.  It's a book that will be reviewed and reread over time.  It would also make a good Bible study for a group and the authors have created one as well.  Thankful to partner with Bethany House and review this very important new book for Christ following women. 

Monday, June 24, 2019

No Ocean Too Wide (McAlister Family #1 review Waterbrook & Multnomah Partner

Releasing to the world- June 25, 2019.  A great summer read!

This is my favorite book by this author (Carrie Turnasky) so far! What I really loved was the integration of faith, praying to God in the moment, with the history, the character development, and the relationships of this captivating historical fiction book. The way that Laura, Katie, and Andrew learned and strengthened their ability to depend on God is inspiring and helpful for the reader to have their thinking aloud as a model.

Based on a true story, the characters captivate you, and you hear from a few different characters perspectives throughout the novel, adding to your understanding of what's happening in their lives, and how it deepens their trust in God Now I'm waiting for book #2 to learn of other family members experiences and continue to enjoy the story and also the blessings of good character.

Learning about emigration from England to Canada of the children of poverty, the streets, or bad fortune. Carrie Turansky's newest series gives vivid description, images, and heartfelt emotion to this historical era similar to the US orphan trains. But something I knew nothing about.

This is a great read- and even my children grasp why I couldn't just stop reading at a few different points in the book when I shared why I needed to finish a few more pages- believable events but those that kept you reading. I received an advanced copy of the book from Waterbrook Multnomah thankful to partner and read books in advance.

I don't share a lot of fiction books on my blog because they don't often connect with the whispering the Word theme in our lives. But this book did a great job thinking aloud about faith in life and experiences, and made it a great model for my own heart.  

Mama friends- I read this book in part at the pool.  It's been a long time coming in my life to be able to read fiction, know my kids are safe, and enjoy it.  But when your youngest is nine years old and brings a friend, I don't have to watch her every move at the waterpark, and I was able to read the book.  Your turn is coming too in the years of raising littles and we spread ours out with four years between kids, you too will get to read by the pool again one day.