Thursday, May 17, 2018

My Top Pick Bible- the She Reads Truth CSB Bible

This review has been a long time in coming-I wanted to really live in this bible for awhile. I wanted to be in it's pages on a regular basis to get a feel for this version (CSB) and the unique format that the She Reads Truth staff brought to the table in the gorgeous rendition of the scriptures. I had my eye out on this bible even before the pre-release was announced. I happened to stumble across these beautiful linen bound bibles on and couldn't wait to hear more about it! Then a month or so later, She Reads Truth made their grand announcement about their big project and I was able to see a video preview about it. I already have a *few* personal bibles, but I was pretty sure this was a necessary addition. I also knew it would make an amazing gift option for my girl friends. I had it on my birthday list just before I was given the opportunity to review it for my blog. 

I Love this bible. The linen binding, though maybe hard to keep clean in a house of grimy little hands, is an attractive introduction to this bible. I have the grey edition and love the contrast of the gold foil details and the two ribbon bookmarks. 

"Women in the Word of God every day"- this is She Reads Truth motto and lifeblood and I have witnessed them prove it true by making available solid biblical teaching in an deeply beautiful format through the multiple bible studies they have offered through the years. This carries seamlessly over to this bible. No, creatively calligraphed key verses at the start of each book of the bible isn't necessary, but I would heartily offer that it is God glorifying. I feel that the maps, timelines and supplemental reading plans for each book is the perfect balance to enhance rather than distract. I have been blessed by the devotionals I've run across while reading through the scriptures. 

I have been listening to John Piper's "Reading the Bible Supernaturally" on audiobook while doing my household chores and have been really challenged and encouraged by the fact driven home of what an amazing privilege we have to be given Divine revelation and even Christ's joy itself thru the simple and everyday act of reading. Piper talks of how opening the Word of God is our chance to have our eyes open to God's Glory, but not to stop there- to See and Savor. I appreciate this bible as an invitation to clearly see- I have been really impressed with the clarity of the Christian Standard text. Also, the added beauty scattered through pages seem to act as a chance to pause and savor the revealed Glory through the surrounding scriptures. Bravo, She Reads Truth on a stand out bible!

Thanks so much to B&H publishing for providing me with this bible to review. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Alive in Him: Ephesians commentary by one of my favorite authors

I have loved everything put in front of me written by Gloria Furman. She has been one of my most appreciated mentors from afar. I have gleaned so much from her titles geared towards reminding mothers of the treasures found in Christ and the power of the gospel in everyday "stay at home, work never ends" life. I loved going through Missional Motherhood with my church's Mom's group. (see my reviews of both the book and the study companion hereGloria has a powerful gift for both em-pathetically relating with christian women and also exhorting us out of and above our fleshly natures. She brings everything back to the gospel- and I just love her for it! 

I was excited to see in this title, Alive in Him: How Being Embraced by the Love of Christ Changes Everything, that Gloria branches out of addressing the topic of motherhood in Christian living to a commentary centered on a particular book of the bible- Ephesians. Studying the bible with a complementary commentary is a favorite method of mine and Ephesians has always been an intriguing book as well! 

Gloria does a great job of breaking the book into it's main themes and really delving into each and how to truly apply the truths found therein to our everyday lives. I am really excited to re-read thru the last chapter entitled, "Cruciform Armor: The Church's subversive Spiritual Warfare" as our Pastor just went through this passage and we are going to be leading our youth group through it as well.

Thanks to Crossway Publishing for providing me with this great book to review. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

What we see in the stars-the perfect introduction to astronomy

My little homeschool clan is fairly obsessed with the moon and all of it's observable phases. We love keeping track of the latest full moon and it's subsequent waning and waxing. Last year could have been titled the "year of the moon" for our schoolroom at home. Now, I am thinking its time to broaden our observation of the night time sky and get to know some of the surrounding constellations as well. I bought my Oldest a telescope for Christmas, to give us a fun jumping off place, and knew there had to be a good "book for that" to go along with it!

And find one, I did. What we see in the stars: An illustrated tour of the night sky is a gorgeous introduction to star gazing that I can't wait to jump into with my boys! It is a visual treat that is Mama swoon worthy, but the information is approachable for kids. 

There is a great bit of introduction info on the science and study of space and the stars before diving into an extensive collection of constellations.
I appreciated that there is a page for each major constellation- containing a beautiful illustration and a paragraph of pertinent facts.There are quite a few lesser known constellations introduced as well.

A segment on all the planets.

I would highly recommend this book as an addition to homeschool libraries and to anyone captivated by the beauty of the stars.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for providing me with this gorgeous book to review. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Good Night Tales- The stuff that the best traditions are made of

“A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.”

― C.S. Lewis

As is always the case, C.S. Lewis speaks the truth with this quote- it seems truer and truer the more children's books I dive into with my kids. "The best kids books" has become my area of expertise in a pretty big way in these years of young kids and homeschooling. I honestly love my kid's favorites books as much as they do, maybe more so in some cases! I have always loved well done children's picture books-bringing home a big stack of them from the library was one of my very favorite things. I was so pleased to be able to renew that tradition with my own children when they came along. Since I have started homeschooling my children, I have found that the consistently best quality books are the classics from years gone by. I have memorized book lists of titles to be on the look out from generations past. It's always a very pleasant surprise indeed when I run across a modern new release that I feel is worthy of a place on my bookshelves. 

 C.S. Fritz's Good Night Tales: A family treasury of read aloud stories has proven to be such a rare treasure. I love everything about this rich volume. From the gorgeous illustrations to the meaty and mysterious tales. This is one of my very favorite children's books to date.  

 The hand sketched "maps" in the end pages and all the deep and moody images throughout the book are just so engaging, even entrancing. It's truly like entering another realm and painting new images in your imagination that will surely stick there. 

The stories within these pages, most are parables of the parables and I find them so heart stirring and fascinating. Honestly, they are not the most straight forward stories you will ever read to your children, but I kind of love that. Like Jesus's parables, these tales make you really stop and think. a few of the stories are even wordless to up the thought provoking quality. I am trying to train myself to let my children alone with stories and their morals and themes but I do appreciate the discussion guide in the back of the book with coordinating scripture and questions for each story. I think it will prove useful for many parents!

I honestly think I would have missed this book if i hadn't have been given the opportunity to review it, so I want to make sure I make it known to other parents looking to immerse their children in best of the fantasy worlds to discover the deepest truths of our world. This book will be on my "must gift" list, right up there with The Jesus Storybook Bible

Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.-
Matthew 18:3

Thanks to Tyndale Publishers for the opportunity to review this remarkable book.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Christian Biographies for Young Readers- Irenaeus

The world is a darker place today than it seemed to be growing up- of course there are multiple things that affect this perspective including the oblivious innocence of youth- I don't remember headlines flashing with the massacre of practically an entire church congregation, practically an identical size and demographic of our own church body, no less, and the targeted annihilation of believers by Muslim extremists in the Middle East. In the midst of all this chaos and fear, I am attempting to raise these Little People-Little Believers even- to follow Christ and always hope, no matter what. To procure such deeply important roots into my children would be practically too much if relying on my own wisdom and experience, thankfully I have most crucially the Scriptures and also the advantage of some wonderful resources on the Faith.

One such enriching resource I recently added to our family's library is Simonetta Carr's, Irenaeus: Christian Biographies for Young Readers. What an encouragement to any Christian's faith to hear the noble stories of the those who have walked those path before us and stayed faithful, even to the point of death. I especially admire that first generation of believers from the infancy of the Church who fervently lived out the gospel even in the face of intense persecution. The idea of especially my children enduring such trials shakes my Mother Heart to the core, but it truly seems that children can sense the cruelty and challenges of life and want those heroes to look to imitate in their own trials. My boys have loved the Torch Lighters series, specifically the story of Perpetua and it seems that this book on Irenaeus will be a great follow up in learning about the Early Church Martyrs and Heroes. 

I was impressed and challenged myself while reading through this comprehensive and engaging biography on one of the Early Church Fathers and Defender of Scriptural Integrity. The book begins by introducing us to the world Irenaeus was born into and those who influenced him and his beliefs during his formative years. We then learn of Irenaeus' becoming a leader in the church during a period of intense persecution and how he faced the task of comforting and strengthening the faith of his flock. 

I particularly liked the chapter- For the Love of Truth. I found Irenaeus' refuting the false claims of the Gnostics to be so relevant to even our Christian cultural today. From wondering how people could possibly not give credit to the Maker for the beauty of the starry night sky to calling out the Gnostics for manipulating verses to fit their teachings by taking them out of the context of the correct scripture passage- Irenaeus fought valiantly to protect his flock from deception and also uphold the validity of Scripture for even us today. I am so glad to have this beautiful book to introduce my children to a hero of the faith. The text is both informative and encouraging and gorgeous illustrations plus some fascinating examples of historic relics from Irenaeus' time period. I would highly recommend this book to Christian families!

Thanks to Reformation Heritage Books and the Cross Focused Review program for providing me with this book to share with my readers. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Curious Christian- A Title I would Happily Wear

A sense of wonder is the feeling that envelops my childhood memories. Discovery, awe and time "lost"- in thought, enjoying nature, listening to music. A full life was taking things in- learning, exploring, experiencing. And then I grew up and a successful life was putting out- checking off to do lists and being productive. It didn't take me long to realize that to "grow up" didn't leave much time and space for those things my childhood were characterized by and I assumed that was okay because I had to mature. Then I had kids and I realized I pretty much was just "doing", there wasn't a lot of "being". My sense of who I was pretty well depleted- I had been so focused on the putting out that adult life and motherhood required that I hadn't been investing anything back in. As my boys grew and became more aware of the world around them, I saw that childlike sense of wonder in them and I wanted to make sure it was cultivated. The best way to teach is by example- I wanted my children to be life long learners so I needed to be learning my whole life long.

 A rich and intriguing book that helped me to flesh out the why and how of staying curious in life and even how that applies to and affects my christian life was The Curious Christian by Barnabas Piper. Barnabas is the son of well known pastor and author, John Piper, but he gives the credit for his sense of curiosity and thus the content of his book to his mother. This made my Mama heart smile and was an encouragement to dive into this book with abandon.  I loved that Piper began with the side effects of the Uncurious- binary thinking, missed connections, depleted friendships and love lost; Things we'd all rather stay away from. The books premise is that a sense of wonder and curiosity enrich every part of life. "In the end I want you to see that curiosity is more than a mere habit. It is a discipline, a skill, a habit- one that will expand your life in magnificent, if subtle, ways." 

Piper starts out by tackling the very predicament I struggled with in "growing up"- leaving behind childhood pleasures for adult responsibilities. He poses the question, "What if we leave behind childishness but not childlike?".  he then reminds us that discovery is part of our calling by God- to explore both His word and His world. We can and should always be searching for Truth in the world and in the people around us. By being curious, we will constantly be learning, always be in awe and ever be deepening our relationships. Piper touches on how the best education makes us ever-curious people and solidified some of my reasons for teaching my own children at home so I can share in their pursuit of Truth, Goodness and Beauty. 

I appreciated Piper's ideas on how a spirit of curiosity, coupled with the fruits of the spirit, could really make the Church a more vibrant and engaging entity. "Curiosity in action will lead us to ask questions of those who we perceive as different that allow them to speak for themselves and express the beauty and strength of their culture." Being truly curious means we truly ask and want to see before we judge. I thought it was balanced and wise that Piper included that while "curiosity did not kill the Christian" there are also boundaries to where we allow our curiosity to lead us. We can be a person of curiosity and conviction by "being willing to to listen arguments carefully and process them honestly, but do not move from a conviction without ample reason to do so." He also makes a good point about how grace and wonder allow us to maintain optimism about people while being realistic. We can be curious to know who someone is and assume the best and worst about them simultaneously by being wise yet gracious.

Piper also goes beyond the theoretical and philosophical and offers some practical advice on being curious that I thought was very helpful. He challenges up to consider what media and the like we are "inputting". He offers some questions to ask ourselves such as "How does this shape my life?" and "Is this trustworthy?". In the section, "On being cultured", Piper shares suggestions on cultivating an appetite and appreciation for quality literature, music, nature and science. He hits on so many interesting thoughts on such a variety of topics that it's hard to even scratch the surface of the substance of this book, but I thought the last chapter offered up some solid points for living a curious life: Be Interested, Be Humble, Look, Listen, Record, Ask, Go and Explore, Try Things, Read and Always Come Back to Scripture. "Curiosity is about God and for God. It is an expression of worship and it honors Him by exploring the depths and breadth of His creation." 

This is a book I will be periodically be rereading to remind myself of the worthiness of the pursuit of Truth and the beauty in Wonder. I hope I never stop learning and being in awe. I hope I maybe rub off on my kids a little, like they have immensely rubbed off on me. I hope one day my children each have a lively spirit of curiosity and that I am a part of some of the memories that cultivated it.

Thanks to B&H Publishing for providing this book to review. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Creating a Passionate Marriage for Life- the Mediterranean Way

This season of summer and pregnancy has been heavy on a parenting focus. My husband and I were able to take a little get away in early May to recharge as a couple before the busyness of summer and a new Little One joined our family. That was such a treat! We indulged in a classy hotel stay and had so much fun exploring a new to us town. We saw some amazing sights and enjoyed some delicious food. Even a short escape from reality is always such a refreshment for our relationship.  This time I enjoyed reading aloud to my husband as we drove from a great new marriage book The Mediterranean Love Plan: 7 secrets to lifelong passion in marriage.  

 Stephen Arterburn is an author I respect for the various titles he has released and was excited to see he was coming out with a book about marriage coauthored with his wife, Misty. The Arterburns have built a passionate and playful marriage over the years and share their "secrets" in this engaging book. They share in it's pages the secrets of attunement, playfulness, savoring food, enjoying beauty, creativity, health and longevity and how to blend the sacred and the sexual. Each chapter gives a picture of how the people of Mediterranean countries live out these areas and the satisfaction it brings to their relationships and lives. The authors then share very practical and applicable tips and strategies to enhance your marriage in the Every Day. 

 I was encouraged by this book to not only survive in marriage but continue to build a marriage that is both thriving and enjoyable. I feel there is a real need for resources to help Christian marriages in this department and the Arterburns have made a worthy contribution to this cause! 

 Thanks to Book Look Bloggers for providing me with this title to review.