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The gifts in each of us

{This is my monthly book review.  Thanks for listening as I share my thoughts.}

I have just discovered Dorena Williamson‘s books. She is “a bridge builder, speaker, writer, and worship leader who knows the power and beauty of racial awareness.”

ThoughtFull: Discovering Unique Girls in Each of Us

Her recent book, ThoughtFull, Discovering the Unique Gifts in Each of Us, is tender and encouraging to both children and adults. The story takes a look at the uniqueness of people and demonstrates how each of us has the option to be kind and thoughtful or mean and hurtful.  It is illustrated by Robert Dunn.

Ahanu is a boy who received the HEART award at school for being helpful and looking out for others. Jason was excited for his friend and congratulated him. However, on the bus ride home from school, Jason overheard some other children making fun of Ahanu, because he has Down syndrome.

Jason’s dad said, “Billions of people live in the world, and each one of us has value . . . The truth is, we’re all gifted by God’s design.”

The book helps children see that different is OK and people are uniquely made by God.  Each one has been given talents and gifts that contribute to us all.

When people are not the same as us in appearance, beliefs, abilities, form or fashion, we form opinions, either good or bad. We accept or we reject. And yet, the uniqueness of humans is the beauty of creation, just as it is in nature.

Francis Chan said, “We are here to love. Not much else matters.” And I say “amen.”

This quote from ThoughtFull speaks to me: “If kids and adults worked at discovering the unique gifts in other people, we could all be thoughtFULL, just like Ahanu.”

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NOTE:   I received a copy of ThoughtFull, Discovering the Unique Gifts in Each of US, provided by B&H Publishing Group, for an honest review. The book was free. The words are my very own.

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All God’s colors

{This is my monthly book review.  Thanks for listening to me to share my thoughts.}

Few experiences are as pleasant as reading to a child. It was a favorite activity when the grandchildren were young. One of them climbed into my lap, I opened the book, and memories were made.

They each one had their favorites. Cinderella and Good Night Moon were among them.

I especially like board books for little people. They can touch and handle and no one need worry that pages will tear or a book will be ruined by small hands.

All the Colors That I See, by Pamela Kennedy, is a delightful board book in a just-right small size for little fingers. It offers a bright and attractive beginning reading experience. As the title implies it is multihued. The left side pages are a single color with the color word written in the middle of the page. On the opposite side are cute illustrations, by Holli Conger, and a verse about the color with an action suggested for the child to pick out, point to, circle or count the particular shade.

“Blue sky, blue sea,
so much fun!
Count all the bluest blues
under the sun.”

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The opportunities to learn words are on every page, making it interactive and fun.  A multi-striped chameleon appears throughout the book, and God’s creativity is honored as the book ends with:

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
–Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV

It’s just a pretty little book with lots of possibilities. I like it and would gladly read it to my four-year-old next door neighbor. In fact, I just might.

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NOTE:   I received a copy of All the Colors That I See  provided by B&H Publishing Group, for an honest review. The book was free. The words are my very own.

 

 

 

 

Rainbows tell a story

{This is my monthly book review.  Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts.}

The Rainbow was God’s idea first, a symbol of promise, a sign of beauty to remind us that He is a covenant-keeping God.

And so I was intrigued to receive and review the Rainbow Study Bible, Christian Standard Bible from B&H Publishing Group.

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Opening the pages, I see color throughout, twelve different hues, distinguishing portions of Scripture with the goal for the reader to better understand.

“The design is according to a layman’s perspective to make teaching, studying, and categorizing as simple as possible.

“Generally, verses are marked as they make up a major passage containing an overall collective thought.”

The colors divide thoughts into these categories: God, Salvation, Sin, Evil, Love, Family, Prophecy, History, Discipleship, Commandments, Faith, and Outreach.

There are three pages giving details and explanation to help familiarize the reader with the topics. In addition, at the bottom of each page of Scripture is a color code making it easy to reference quickly.

Additional study helps in the book are impressive: the books of the Bible in Biblical order as well as alphabetical order, multiple maps and illustrations, table of weights and measures, ancient versions of Biblical text, 365 popular Bible quotations for memorization and meditation, a one-year daily bible reading calendar, harmony of the gospels and more.

From the 365 popular Bible quotations, I looked at the verse for today, and wouldn’t you know it. It was just what I needed to hear. So like the Holy Spirit to speak through the pages of God’s Word.

The Rainbow Bible is hardcover with a ribbon page marker. Print is large enough that I don’t have to strain my baby blues. And of course, the book is beautiful with its colorful pages.

My only concern is that the color hues are very close in shade, and sometimes it was challenging for me to decide into what category the verses actually fit. Someone who struggles with color-blindness would find it difficult to distinguish the colored categories.

Overall, it is a very nice Bible, one that offers a lot of help to a Bible student. The color alone, makes it a pleasant reading experience.

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NOTE:   I received a copy of CSB Rainbow Study Bible, provided by B&H Publishing Group, for an honest review. The book was free. The words are my very own.

 

 

Opening the door

{This is my monthly book review.  Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts.}

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Hospitality. What sort of images does the word conjure in your mind? Lavish tablescapes, beautifully arranged place settings, a house full of people we hope to impress with our home, our recipes, and our entertaining skills?

Or could it be this: a warm smile, a listening ear, an open heart, and a place of comfort and peace.

Jen Schmidt writes about her experiences in practicing hospitality in Just Open the Door, How One Invitation Can Change a Generation.

I loved reading this book. It came to me on the heals of participating in a four-month series where we gathered at the table and learned how Jesus did life at the table in the Scriptures. Jen Schmidt’s book was like a festive dessert after a sumptuous meal.

Jen grew up where inviting people in was common, and she determined to do the same when she had her own home. She tells her varied experiences like the days when they lived small and had little. Money was a consideration when thinking about guests. In the chapter “Elephant in the Room,” she tackles this issue and urges us to open the door anyway, offering suggestions when the budget is tight.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

  • “When we least expect it, comparison sneaks up like a thief and attempts to rob us of all joy, especially when it pertains to things as personal as our home.” (Ch. 2, Trickle Down)
  • “You are the one who can meet the need of another today if you just open the door.” (Ch. 7, The Power of One)
  • “An open home, like an open table, is the overflow of an open heart.” (Ch. 9, The Potluck: Risks and Rewards)
  • We’ve allowed the imperfections of our friendship to strengthen us. A sisterhood of the imperfect.” (Ch. 10, Come as You Are)

Each chapter ends with an appropriate question from a reader and Jen’s answer, plus suggested ideas pertaining to the chapter’s topic.

Just Open the Door is about planned events and spontaneity; big gatherings and intimate tea parties; long-term guests and taking hospitality beyond the walls of home; celebrating everyday moments and deciding who really is my neighbor. It offers optimistic incentive to the novice and those more practiced in opening their doors.

The Bible abounds with examples of hospitality and instructs believers to practice it regularly. Just Open the Door, How One Invitation Can Change a Generation, will helps us grow and feel more comfortable doing it in our own personal way.

Jen Schmidt is a lifstyle blogger at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam. 

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NOTE:   I received a copy of Just Open the Door, How One Invitation Can Change a Generation, provided by B&H Publishing, for an honest review. The book was free. The words are my very own.

 

 

 

 

Our Father

{This is my monthly book review.  Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts.}

 

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.”

We say the words almost on autopilot. Sometimes we speak them without thought.

We learned them as a child, memorized by rote, and quoted them weekly at Sunday school. Perhaps they have become less to us because we have used them so much.

But I hope not.

We call it the Lord’s Prayer, taught by our Lord Jesus Christ to His disciples in  the gospels of Matthew and Luke.

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When We Say Father, Unlocking the Power of the Lord’s Prayer is a sermon of its own.

“Adrian Rogers’ last written manuscript before his passing in 2005 has been edited and brought together by his son Steve, as a final joint work. When We Say Father takes the Lord’s Prayer and breaks it down to its most basic components for readers to easily learn how to pray from the ultimate source, Jesus himself.”

When We Say Father

As I read the book, I could almost hear Adrian Rogers preaching from the pulpit. It is not a cleaned-up, edited, watered-down version but purely from the heart of a man who knew His God and wanted others to know Him.

The writing is more conversational than precise and particular. I felt like I was listening to Rogers as much as I was reading his words.

Rogers takes each portion of the Lord’s Prayer and talks it through with homespun illustrations, teaching the basics so we can understand.

Chapter titles include:

  • Our Father – “The Person of the Prayer”
  • First Things First – “The Priority of the Prayer”
  • Our Daily Bread – “The Provision of the Prayer”
  • The Freedom of Forgiveness – “The Pardon of the Prayer”
  • Deliver Us From Evil – “The Protection of the Prayer”
  • Thine is the Glory – “The Praise of the Prayer”
  • Ask, Seek, Knock – “The Promise of the Prayer”

If we want to understand the depth of the meaning of Jesus’ words, then we need to dig deep, like one exploring for treasure. The Heavenly Father invites us to know Him, and that is an astounding realization.  But we have to make an effort. Learning to pray like Jesus is a way to know God, Jesus’ example becoming our own.

“When we say Father, we express His nature. . . . When we say Father, we expect His nurture. . . . And when we say Father, we ought to exalt His name.”    — Adrian Rogers

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NOTE:   I received a copy of When We Say Father, Unlocking the Power of the Lord’s Prayer by Adrian Rogers and Steve Rogers, provided by B&H Publishing, for an honest review.  The book was free.  The words are my very own.

What if you knew?

{This is my monthly book review.  Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts.}

What if you knew me, really knew me? Would you approve? What if you knew my past as well as my present, would you be appalled at my imperfections or could you overlook my failures, those things I try to carefully conceal? Would you still love me or even like me?

These are questions author Jamie Ivey seemed to struggle with as she grew from teen to young adult and even into her married and family life.

We women are masters of cover up. We learn to dress and highlight the positive while camouflaging the other, what we see as less than. We add make up to our faces and highlights to our hair in hopes we look better. Sometimes we wear a smile that hides the internal struggle.

Jamie Ivey wrote a memoir revealing her whole truth. Jamie is creator and host of The Happy Hour podcast where she interviews people, asking questions that call for real conversations, encouraging truthfulness and authenticity.

Her book, If You Only Knew, My Unlikely, Unavoidable Story of Becoming Free, is a candid look at her past mistakes, failures, sins, and how she tried to hide in order to maintain the “good Christian” persona. As she admits, it was a hard act to keep playing.

 

Ivey’s writing style is conversational. She leaves no stone unturned in telling the truth of the life she lived while trying to get to freedom in Christ. She discovered – or at least finally believed –  that Christ loves us even when we fall down, again and again, that His mercies endure forever, that His forgiveness knows no end.

Today she is a pastor’s wife. She ministers to women in prison offering hope beyond their failures. She urges women to be open with one another, to share struggles and quit acting like we have it all together. She assures us when we are vulnerable with each other, we invite others to be vulnerable too. Hiding ourselves is exhausting. Freedom is beautiful.

 

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NOTE:   I received a copy of If You Only Knew, by Jamie Ivey provided by B&H Publishing, for an honest review.  The book was free.  The words are my very own.

I love to hear the stories

{This is my monthly book review.  Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts.}

Let me dig right into this book review because sometimes something comes to me and I wonder where it has been all my life.

CSB Christ Chronological provides a unique way for readers to experience the life of Christ in chronological order with each Gospel writer’s account of events side-by-side. Featuring a parallel format, commentary notes for each section to provide background and context, and color-coded text to differentiate between the accounts in each Gospel, readers are able to gain fresh perspective on the life and ministry of Christ. “

 

As a long-time student of the Scriptures, I love the way this book brings continuity to the gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each have their own perspectives on the life and events of Jesus Christ, and their stories are written in their unique voices.

I have often searched through my Bible to compare Mark’s version of a story with Matthew’s or John’s, thumbing through the pages to find and read each one. CSB Christ Chronological has brought the same stories together in one place. Here are Jesus’ stories side -by-side.

In CSB Christ Chronological the gospels are color coded in the text and at the bottom of  each page.  A topic is introduced, noting corresponding chapter and verses from the gospels where it is recorded. Brief commentary precedes each section.

During the seasons of Advent and Lent, I often read Jesus’ story in each of the gospels in order to see a more complete picture. I end up with four bookmarks in my Bible as I go from one writer to another. The CSB Christ Chronologicall has done this work for me.

This book would make a wonderful addition to a Bible teacher’s library or to anyone who wants to know their Lord and Savior more.

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NOTE:   I received a copy of CSB Christ Chronological provided by B&H Publishing, for an honest review.  The book was free.  The words are my very own. 

 

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