Posted in Bible Study, Blogging for Books, Book Review

God Loves

I don’t have much, if any, experience in the romantic love department, so I’ve often just skimmed over Song of Songs as I’ve read the Bible. Dee Brestin’s He Calls You  Beautiful helped bring out the metaphor of the book. It’s not just a physical romance between a man and a woman; it’s the image of us as the dark-skinned scorned woman being wooed and falling in love with our King, God. Here are some truths I derived from reading this book.

  • God desires to have a relationship with each of us in spite of our sin.
  • Our eyes are to be like dove’s eyes: focused forward, avoiding distraction.
  • Just like in a marriage, God asks us to love him in sickness and in health. God never gets sick, but it may feel at times as if he’s not present or a little crazy. We still love him.
  • Just like the groom leaves the bride after she refuses to leave her mother and marry him, sometimes God leaves us to the consequences of our sins. Just like the groom though, God comes back to call us to him again.
  • In the bigger context, the bride in Solomon’s story represents the day when Jesus’ followers will be reunited. In her name you can literally find peace and in many instances she represents the new Jerusalem. You’ll have to read the book to get a better understanding of this metaphor.
  • At times my faith may become lukewarm, but just like the lover in the poem, God will stand at the door of my heart and knock until I open back up to him. Similarly he also leaves us with his word just as the groom left myrrh in the door to remind us of his love and push us to run back to him.

Though my earthly heart longs for marriage so much that it hurts at times, I am thankful that this book reminded me of my position as a bride of Christ. He has wooed me, chosen me, and continues to express his love for me. Someday we’ll be joined together for eternity in heaven, and it will be more sweet than any earthly marriage. For now I’ll keep preparing myself to meet my King, and maybe an earthly husband will be in God’s will as well.

Many waters cannot quench love, nor floods drown it. (Song 8:7)

I received this book from Blogging for Books.

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Posted in Blogging for Books, Book Review

Gearing up for School

School is right around the corner. While at some points, I feel as if summer just began, in other ways I am ready to have a purpose for each day. There are so many ideas floating through my head (and hopefully all going into my notebook so they will be remembered) about how to make this school year better than last year. In order to keep myself fresh and restore my motivation, I’ve been reading some teacher books (I know…nerdy). One of these books was Positive Discipline: Tools for Teachers by Jane Nelson and Kelly Gfroerer.

When I first came across this book, I was interested because discipline and classroom management is one of my self-identified growth areas. Sure I can write detentions and write-ups, but that was only effective with some students. As I read this book, I also identified instances where I know I could have responded to a situation with more grace. Mainly this book was a refresher of many concepts I remember being told in teacher training, but those concepts got lost in the stress of being a new teacher. Some of those concepts include giving students the power to make good decisions by asking rather than demanding, having a plan for when students make bad decisions, and allowing myself to cool off before taking action.

One very helpful tool was the Mistaken Goal chart. It identifies four reasons why a student might be misbehaving: undue attention, misguided power, revenge, and assumed inadequacy. The chart identifies how teachers might feel and normally react and then some empowering behaviors to try instead. I think this tool might be on that I post next to my desk as a tool of reflection and growth.

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The book itself is broken into very short chapters with a short tool, some real-life stories, and research to back it up. This makes the book easy to read in short segments which is probably better for reflection and action. Personally, as a high school teacher, I wish more of the examples had been from a high school classroom because I couldn’t picture using many of the tools in a 50 minute period with teenagers. I also wish the writers had provided more clarification about the tools because I often didn’t understand the tool until I read the stories.

Coming in a paperback format and having coloring-book style pages, I think the book does contain useful information and is well-organized. I would definitely recommend it to elementary teachers. I hope that the authors will make an updated version for secondary teachers because teenagers are treated and taught differently than elementary students.

 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

 

Posted in Blogging for Books, Book Review

English Lessons

Hold on…don’t go anywhere. I’m not going to (intentionally) give you any lessons about English. Instead, I want to talk about an interesting little story that I recently read.

Through bloggingforbooks, I stumbled across a book by the daughter of Max Lucado, Andrea Lucado, that tells the story of her journey closer to God that happened to coincide with her journey to Oxford (England that is).

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From the first page of this book, I was connected. This girl gets me. She and I both practically grew up in church, so our faith in God just seem connected to who we are. That doesn’t mean we were immediately saved upon birth or anything; we definitely still each had to make our own decisions about who God is to us. In fact, that’s the purpose of her book, English Lessons.  In this personal memoir, Andrea tells of how she traveled to Oxford thinking she could use it as her personal mission field (that’s how I felt in London). Once she arrives, she realizes that being the sole Christian in her graduate classes may be harder than she thinks (I can relate). She begins to question the validity of her own faith. Through a series of friendships and experiences, she comes to realize that her life is so much richer with God, and she can’t imagine her life without God.

I was immensely jealous of Andrea’s story firstly because Oxford was a place in England I did not get to visit. Secondly, she was able to experience the city and meet so many interesting characters. Thirdly, she is very articulate about her story of questioning her faith and then coming back to God. She tells the story in a way that makes me want to ponder my own story again and be more reflective. There are possibly still lessons I could learn from the events that have happened and will happen within my own life.

Even though this book is clearly marked as an uncorrected copy and won’t actually be published until later this year, I am glad to have read it now. Andrea’s story is both personal to her and relatable to the many church kids out there who wonder what their life would have been like if they hadn’t grown up going to church.

For more information about this book, visit the publisher’s website.

 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Posted in Blogging for Books, Book Review

Hello, Bicycle

I’ve been riding my bicycle to work several days a week for the past few months. Before that though I had to delve into the world of bike repair. I got a Schwinn World bike from an acquaintance for free, and for the most part it was in good condition. It did need new tires though because it’s current ones looked like frosted flakes were sitting on the edges. Boy did I feel like a cyclist when I successfully ordered and changed the tires on my own (or rather with the help of the internet and my best friend). Since that time, I’ve been riding uphill to work about a mile and a half, partially on road and partially on sidewalk. I’ve learned about safety while riding in the road and built a few new muscles. It feels good each day  that I don’t use my car.

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All that long story is to explain why I selected the book Hello, Bicycle as my next review book. Before I received this book, I expected fun pictures and witty text. I wanted it to be a quick read and easily organized so that I could easily flip to a particular section. From the book, I hoped to learn about bicycle repair/adjustments, how to make my ride easier, and some rules of the road.

Hello Bicycle

The book does have a fun cartoons, but more importantly the text is informative and fun to read. The text is light, but punches in the information. It includes everything from how to ride in a skirt to how to change a tire to the history of the bicycle. It also includes fun information about how to re-use old parts of your bike and recipes for on-the-road snacks.

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This book encourages me to ride my bicycle more often, and it taught me some skills in an easy-to-understand format. It’ll definitely be one that I keep on my shelf and re-visit often.

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Posted in Blogging for Books, Book Review

College Rules!

College Rules. Such a good pun.

College Rules systematically lays out various strategies for surviving college. I requested this book from Blogging for Books because I have recently graduated and feel that I have some expertise in this area. My opinion afterward: it’s an okay book.

I would recommend reading particular chapters as they apply to your life because reading this book straight through is kind of boring. Of course, you also have to remember that not everything will apply to every college or person.

My one complaint about this book is that they don’t give enough credit to the power of friends. My college experience was enhanced by good friends and useful acquaintances. The authors do direct students to professionals and faculty, but they don’t recommend getting information from friends. Sometimes friends and dorms are the best places to find answers.

Soon to be college students could benefit from reading this book, but current college students and even some adults could benefit from reading the chapters on time management and other chapters.

College Rules

“I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”

Specifics:

Title: College Rules!, 4th Edition: HOW TO STUDY, SURVIVE, AND SUCCEED IN COLLEGE

Posted in Blogging for Books, Book Review

Room for Hope

Imagine being a woman with two children in 1936 when a wagon pulls up in front of your store and tells you that not only has your husband and his wife died but that he has left you with three children he sired in another town. That’s the opening conflict of Room for Hope by Kim Vogel Sawyer. This book explores faith, forgiveness, and mercy with a straightforward plot line and memorable characters.

Room For Hope

The back of the book and my description above may seem to tell much of the story, but, in fact, they only tell the contents of the first fifteen pages or so. Sawyer does a brilliant job of carefully revealing the emotions of the characters and small new plot additions. In fact though, the plot doesn’t go much farther than watching the family and the town come to terms with the fact that Warren Shilling led an entirely other life complete with another family in another town. The author’s strengths in this book lie in character development. Sawyer allows the reader to watch Neva Shilling pass through grief into denial and finally into acceptance that she has chosen to keep these three children which her husband produced with another woman.

The book is divided into multiple points of view which allows the reader to really understand how this unusual circumstance affects not only Neva and the the children but also the sheriff and the widower with two boys next door. Unlike some books, the author carefully selects moments to make the transition between character’s voices. One particularly crafted moment is when the young boy, Bud, has just learned of his father’s indiscretion. He runs out of the house straight into Arthur, the widower next door with his eyes on Neva’s store. Arthur consoles him, and as the boy runs across the street, the author makes a transition into Arthur’s voice.

As far as this being a Christian fiction, it has a very soft Christian thread that runs through the story without cutting into the reader’s flesh or being a hindrance to the story. Two characters do come back to their faith in God, and Neva Shilling demonstrates the mercy of God in multiple ways. The preacher plays a significant role in the development of several characters while his character remains static. It’s not in your face about quoting scripture, but scripture is a source of comfort and guidance to Neva and other characters

This book is a fairly fast read. I finished it in five days, and there were one or two days where I read none or very little. It’s not fast in the sense that it’s a light book, though; there are some heavy topics to consider as the story progresses. I’d recommend this book to anyone who loves character-driven books. While it’s technically set in a historical time and references are made to the Depression era strife, it’s not exactly what I would call historical fiction. I think the story and the characters could move to a modern time and still hold.

I look forward to reading more by this author in the future. I’m especially interested in Guide Me Home because it is set in Mammoth Cave.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review, but they do not require a positive review. The opinions expressed are entirely mine.
Posted in Blogging for Books, Book Review

No Sugar? No Problem?

Here is my upfront warning: I do not normally review cookbooks. In fact, this is the only the second cookbook I have owned unless you count the notebook where I write down and paste recipes from various sources. Generally I either get my recipes off of the internet or use The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. Even as a kid I remember my mom owning quite a few cookbooks, but I always came back to the red plaid cookbook. When I moved off on my own, I started by relying on the internet for most of my recipes; then I found a smaller version of my mom’s cookbook at Goodwill. It was an easy purchase to make.

Recently though I decided to get a new cookbook from Blogging for Books just to test it out. The I Quit Sugar Cookbook from Sarah Wilson is definitely different than the cookbooks I am used to using, but I’m willing to give it a try. So here are my thoughts on the layout, recipes, and extra features.

sugar cookbook

Layout: This cookbook is full of beautiful pictures, and my eyes keep flitting across the pages following arrows and pictures. It’s a huge book and definitely one to sit on a coffee table or kitchen table to spark conversation when guests come over. It’s easy to flip through and be attracted to certain recipes.

Recipes: I have yet to try any of the recipes. I don’t plan to switch over to a no-sugar diet because I don’t feel  that’s something I want to do in my life. Power to the author though. It’s admirable. I just love my chocolate too much. There are some of the recipes though that seems exciting to try. I’m interested in carrot “bacon” since I’m not a huge bacon fan, but I do love carrots.

Extras: While I probably won’t use many of these recipes because I still love my classic no-fuss recipes that I know (generally throwing  a piece of meat in the pan and steaming some veggies…wow that sounds unappealing when I put it that way). One thing I do love is how she doesn’t waste anything. It’s made me think more closely about my leftovers and the parts of food that I’m throwing away. While I probably won’t go so far as to take leftovers from other’s plates, I will try to re-purpose food in my fridge rather than throwing it away. I’m not doing so well yet, but it’s in my head.

It’s an interesting concept and maybe someday I’ll try cutting sugar for a while. For now, though, I’ll hold on to the book to try out some of the simpler recipes.

“I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”