Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Give your Child the World- through the pages of some well picked books!

 I have three rough and tumble, non stop boys who take so much after their father, but thankfully there's a few things they share in common with their mama as well- including a deep love and large appetite for books. I have some of the fondest memories (and the cutest pictures!) of my boys, starting with my oldest as a baby, totally enthralled in a good book. I am proud and happy to see them be daring and physically active boys, playing every "fighting" game imaginable and never being very far away from mischief; but I also see the benefit in balancing their active play with spending the quiet, still time to fill their minds with good, imaginatively rich stories. I can see those stories bringing context and deeper meaning to their play by infusing it with characters they can "be" and "evil" they can face off and fight. I have smiled to myself as I hear multiple references to "Lord on the Rings" come out in their adventures (ok, and Star Wars too..). So, I have made it a point to introduce them to many "epic" adventure tales to stock their moral imagination, but I will admit, I have never been very aware or intentional about bringing globally minded books their way. I suppose it's because (to my detriment) I have not been a very global reader. I love to see new places and the idea of travel but the reality of traveling to foreign countries just doesn't seem like it will factor into my life on a very large scale. I guess due to the fact that I have not been nor have any concrete plans to be in these far off lands, they seem to stay "out of sight, out of mind."  That is a disservice on my part, since I know that the world wide we are more alike than different and all God is doing amazing things around the world, not just in North America and it's a loss to not get a glimpse into those lives and cultures. How fortunate we really are to have such a effective and enjoyable method to travel around the world (and through time and space) through the pages of a book!

This summer I am hoping to broaden my children's (and mine!) perspective and knowledge when it comes to this globe and all who call it home with the help of an amazing new resource of a book, Give Your Child the World: Raising globally minded kids one book at a time by Jamie Martin! I have heard stirrings about this book during the months it was in the making and new that I wanted to have it on my shelf when it was released. I love (and have marked up with abandon!) so many other well thought out book lists volumes- Honey for the Child's Heart and Read for the Heart- and loved the idea of this very modern and uniquely targeted edition being added to the ranks on my resources shelf. The book starts out with a engaging introduction to Jamie and her (in her own words) " Mini United Nations" of a family :) I loved reading of how Jamie fell in love with the world thru travel and ended up with a houseful of loved ones from all corners of the planet! The book list it's self is laid out by continent and then organized by age group. I thought it was very easy to follow and appreciated the short synopsis of each book recommended. I quickly jumped on to my local library's website and made short work of putting holds on a whole cart load of fun, new books! :) 

  Jamie's encouragement and ideas for implementing a "globally minded" mindset in our households is contagious and to make getting started even more enticed Jamie and Sarah Mackenzie of the The Read Aloud Revival have teamed up to offer a super fun summer reading program using Give Your Child the World as a guide! This is the first week of the program and it correlates with the first chapter of Jamie's book list- Multicultural. You can find more information and some fun printables and videos at the link above. We already have a towering stack of books waiting for us for Africa week next. I am so glad that they put together this "reading challenge" to go along with the book launch of this awesome new title; it was really the push I needed to just jump in, track down some titles and start reading to my kids. I have distinctive memories of my dad reading aloud in the evenings from the Christian Heros-then and now missionary series- traveling to China with Hudson Taylor and India with Amy Carmicheal. Some day, I am sure I will pull those titles out to read with "older" kids; for now I am excited to curl up on a couch with a big pile of picture books and take my kids on a journey around the world. 

I received this book from Book Look in exchange for an honest review. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Brazen- not my natural state,but something I am growing into

I would classify my existence and presence in the world as a pretty "safe" one- as in, I have spent most of my life content with flying under the radar and not bristling with others-even if that means suppressing something I rightly feel strongly about. For the majority of my life that worked just fine and my life flowed smoothly. And then adulthood came in full force (surprisingly, I feel like this shift didn't happen until I'd been married a few years and had 2 kids) and I realized I was never going to make everyone happy at all times unless I literally had no solid identity and beliefs of my own. So I had the choice to either become a chameleon and never upset others, but never really live my own life or I could live in my true skin and take the risk of offending people with that every once in awhile. I do not like conflict, have never been one to search out "drama" and hate letting people down, but I also have learned I do not thrive well at all in other peoples "boxes". For a long, long time I thought there was really something wrong with me because I didn't process things like other people did and what "worked" for them didn't seem to do much at all for me and I felt certain I was just a "responsible adult" failure because of that. Thankfully with passing years, a broadening social circle and some perfectly worded books, I have come to realize that God is infinitely creative and He could never be so predictable as to make us all operate the same. One encouraging book I have recently read is Brazen: The courage to find the you that's been hiding by Leana Tankersley.

Leana speaks with a voice both kind and urgently inspiring to stop trying to "just fit in" and not trip people up with our weird ideas and needs. She clearly speaks of the need to find our "Created Center." As she puts it, "I believe this untouchable place inside you is the part where God himself put His hands in the wet concrete of your existence and said, 'You are formed in My image and it is good.' " She reminds us that it is not selfish to spend the time to know who it is God created you to be and to truly relish and enjoy the life He has blessed you with. No, we can not and should not selfishly do whatever whenever it makes us happy; but if we never stop long enough to find joy around us, we'll be hard pressed to find joy inside us to share with others. 

The book is broken up into 3 parts- Receive (Your Identity), Reclaim (Your Voice), Recover (Your Soul). I appreciated the organized journey the book takes thru the process of finding the courage to be the truest you. In the Receive section, Leana encourages readers to take 20 minutes of "soul time" each day, where you quietly sit and just let whatever thoughts and feelings the busyness of life has been suppressing rise to the surface and then subsequently ask God to help you sort thru and deal with those things.  Leana says, " So the challenge for all of us will be to create enough space to practice what we know, amd then simply believing God at His word: that as we come to Him, we trade our try for His rest. We trade our tangle for His peace." She continues on to remind us to Abide in Christ and keep "casting out our nets", even when we don't see much of a harvest from it. 

The Reclaim section challenges us to get of our fear of not being good enough and just share the gifts God has created in us with the world. To learn to be Brazen- we find the balance of fully embracing the wounds and fully embracing the wonder of life. We have to take the chance on making our voice heard and realizing sometimes that will bring tension to a situation or relationship and while that shouldn't be our goal, it can't or shouldn't always be avoided either. This paragraph really resonated with me- "I understand in theory that I will have to cross people in this world..but for so long I've never called people out on these things because I was more concerned with being though well of then protecting my own wellness. Then all of a sudden I realized I was tired not because life was full but because life was full of things that were draining the life right out of me." I hate letting people down but I have found that (surprisingly enough) I am not superwoman and I cannot fill all the needs that surround me, no matter how much I want to. It is so much better for my own wellness and the good of my family when I try to humbly discern what my "limitations and boundaries" are. 

The portion on Recover encourages readers to find ways to bring beauty into your life that speaks to and inspires you to savor life. To give ourselves grace and release some of the high expectations we have of ourselves. That we are constantly Becoming. Leana says, " We are both onward and waiting. We are both being and coming. We are both pursuing and receiving. We are holding the tension of a state of being and an action at the same time. In this tension is where we learn to dance." I take great encouragement in the midst of this tension from Philippians 1:6 -"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." I appreciate Leana's gentle appeal to rest and regather when you are in a season of pain, change or grief- that all your responsibilities and even all the "good stuff" will still be there waiting- but for the time being stop, feel and process your "heaviness" and let God carry you through.  

 Brazen is an inspiring read that I will be recommending to my friends. My one caveat, I so appreciated the truth and encouragement Leana had to share but some of the terminology and wording she choice felt a little new age-y to me. I would say that the content is sound, but I'll admit that the language used to share it at times made me extra discerning. All in all, I feel this is a book any woman would benefit from!

I received this book from Revell Publishers in exchange for my honest review.