Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Review: "The Lifegiving Table" by Sally Clarkson

The Lifegiving Table: Nurturing Faith Through Feasting, One Meal at a TimeYou really never can go wrong with a book by Sally Clarkson. Full of wisdom and with a heart full of joy, her books are not just books; they are experiences. Her latest, "The Lifegiving Table," is no exception. Drawing on her own experience and ideals, coupled with her heart for families and discipleship, she weaves together a book full of ideas on how to bring meaning and depth to the family dinner table.

With my two young boys at home, our dinnertime is often chaotic and loud and messy. This book helps me feel like it is possible to have meaningful conversation and traditions. Even while recognizing that not every idea she presents in this book is practical in every home, there is plenty to stir my own thoughts toward what I can practically do in my own home.

Each chapter includes thoughts to ponder and ideas to try, plus several recipes that coincide with the topic of each chapter. There is also an appendix that is chock full of conversation starters. I loved the points in this book and will continue to draw on material I found here to nurture my own family's dinner time conversations. Highly recommend!

(I’ve received this complimentary book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Review: "Daring to Hope" by Katie Davis Majors

Daring to Hope: Finding God's Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful"Daring to Hope" by Katie Davis Majors continues telling the story of Katie and her family in Uganda. After moving to Uganda immediately following high school, she went on to adopt 14 children and started a unique family. This book shares more of their story, including a heart-wrenching tale of losing one of her girls back to the birth mother and all the concerns that accompanied that transition. She shares poignantly about her experiences in ministry and her journey toward marriage and motherhood of a little boy.

Weaving together personal stories and reflections on Scripture, the reader is drawn in by the tales of God's faithfulness in both sorrow and joy. Her story is accessible and inspiring, leaving the reader wanting to hear more of her ministry and family.

(I’ve received this complimentary book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Quick Lit: What I've Been Reading Lately

I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for this month's quick lit, where I share short and sweet reviews of a few books I've read in the past month. You can also find me over at Goodreads if you are interested in other books I've read or reviewed.

Different: The Story of an Outside-The-Box Kid and the Mom Who Loved Him"Different:  The Story of an Outside-the-Box Kid and the Mom Who Loved Him" by Sally and Nathan Clarkson. Sally Clarkson has been a wonderful parenting mentor for me through her books and podcast. Her latest treasure, written with her youngest son, Nathan, shares the story of Nathan's growing up from the perspective of child and parent. From the beginning, Nathan was a "different" child; he didn't quite fit into everything that society said he should.With each one telling the story from their own points of view, it helps illuminate the struggles felt both as a child and as a parent. It's a wonderful book that shouldn't be missed out on, regardless of whether you have an out-of-the-box child or not.

Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World"Notes From a Blue Bike:  The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World" by Tsh Oxenreider. Part memoir, part manifesto of living a simpler life, Tsh skillfully shares personal stories that highlight her family's journey to living a counter-cultural lifestyle. I loved the stories that she shared. Motivating and thought-provoking, I found myself drawn in by her passion for the subject. Having lived overseas, she brings a unique perspective to the table that many people have never experienced or may never get to experience. Drawing heavily on their life in Turkey, she illustrates how their life there was a springboard to living life with more intention upon their return to the United States. This book is a great jumping off point for people to put some thought into what your goals are, how you want to live, what your priorities are, and how you want to raise your kids. She is quick to reiterate that each family needs to evaluate and make decisions based on what is best for your particular family, your particular season. It is never easy to live counter-culturally, particularly in a culture like the U.S. But with a bit of thought and some creativity, it is possible to make even small changes. While Tsh writes out of her life as a mom of young kids, this book is not geared specifically for moms of young kids. There is a lot of great information in there for people of all ages, men or women, regardless of life stage. I would highly recommend this book!

Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living"Organized Simplicity:  The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living" by Tsh Oxenreider. Divided into two sections, Tsh spends the first part of the book discussing what simple living looks like and how to practically live it out in our daily lives. The second half is a practical, hands-on section that has the reader go room by room in your home, cleaning and decluttering--essentially quieting your space and bringing it more in line with your vision of home for your family and particular needs. There is a lot of great advice in this book and it helped cement decluttering concepts that I've been working to implement in our home.


Dark Matter"Dark Matter" by Blake Crouch. This book was a bit out of my normal genres, but I found it absolutely fascinating. This novel tells the story of Jason Dessen, a physics professor in Chicago. He is kidnapped, knocked unconscious, and awakens in a world he doesn't recognize. What follows is his fight to get back to his life with his wife and son. I can't say too much else without spoilers, so just read this book!

 

Monday, July 10, 2017

A Review: "The Bible Explorer's Guide"

"The Bible Explorer's Guide", published by ZonderKidz, is a fabulous fountain of information for every child and adult interested in expanding their knowledge of life in Bible times. Filled with maps, drawings, photos, and facts, this is a book that will be a great addition to any Bible reference section for kids. With sections like "Problems and Plagues in Egypt", "Voices in the Desert", and "The Dark Day", this book looks in detail at how people lived in Bible times, plants, celebrations, and architecture in ancient times. My oldest son loves these kinds of books and is eager to dive in on his own.

(I’ve received this complimentary book through the BookLook program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)


Friday, April 14, 2017

Quick Lit: What I've Been Reading Lately

I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for this month's quick lit, where I share short and sweet reviews of a few books I've read in the past month. You can also find me over at Goodreads if you are interested in other books I've read or reviewed.

Wild in the Hollow: On Chasing Desire and Finding the Broken Way Home"Wild in the Hollow" by Amber C. Haines. Haines shares poetically and candidly about her brokenness and her longing for home. Her writing is gut-wrenching and honest. I really appreciated reading her journey through her trials, failings, and eventually finding a place to call home. There was something in her writing that really seemed to connect on a soul level. This book was a true gift to read!





The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun"The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin. While pondering the idea of happiness, Rubin decided to take a year to improve her happiness level. Tackling one area per month, she covered things like meditation, clutter, exercise, and marriage. The idea behind the project was an interesting one, but I found myself getting bored and eager for the end. I didn't find a whole lot of eye-opening insights, but there were some good refreshers about ways to infuse more happiness into my own life.




The Forgotten Garden"The Forgotten Garden" by Kate Morton. I've really been on a Kate Morton kick ever since I read "The Secret Keeper" last summer. This was another brilliant offering by her. In this novel, a young girl is abandoned on a ship to Australia in 1913. She is adopted by the dockmaster and told the truth about her adoption on her 21st birthday. She is then set on a journey to discover the truth about her early years, which is carried on by her granddaughter. I loved this story and am eager to pick up another one by Morton.




Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe"Desperate" by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson. This was a re-read for me and I loved it just as much the second time through. Mae and Clarkson tag team the writing. Mae, a mom of three young children, writes out of her current experience; Clarkson, a mom of four grown children, writes from the years of experience she has garnered. There are 14 chapters, each one addressing a different aspect of motherhood. Topics include sin, selfishness, housework, purpose, and needing a mentor. It is a wonderful book to go through on your own, or for a group to go through, or even for a couple of women to read through. There is much to discuss and process and all of it is good, solid material. "Desperate" is a must-read for every mom!


Teaching from Rest"Teaching From Rest" by Sarah Mackenzie. I have become a fan of Mackenzie's through her work on the Read Aloud Revival. My kids attend our local public school, but I am exploring the possibility of homeschooling my kids at some point down the road. This book has been a great resource for mulling over what it would mean to me and my family to adopt homeschooling. I've appreciated her insights and advice. This is a great resource for homeschooling families and those who are exploring the future possibilities.



The Sweetness of Forgetting "The Sweetness of Forgetting" by Kristin Harmel. In this stirring novel, Hope McKenna-Smith moves back home to Cape Cod following her divorce in order to take over the running of her family bakery. Her French-born grandmother suffers from Alzheimer's disease, but manages to share a mysterious secret in a moment of clarity. With very little to go on, Hope embarks on a journey to find out the truth about her grandmother's past and her family origins. This is a beautiful story with plenty of twists and turns.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Review: "Nothing to Prove" by Jennie Allen

Nothing to Prove: Why We Can Stop Trying So HardJennie Allen's newest book, "Nothing to Prove", offers encouragement to the reader who struggles with trying so hard, with wondering if they are truly enough for their families, their churches, and their communities. The book is divided into two sections. The first one identifies the problem of our striving. The second section discusses the solution--trusting in what Jesus has already done for us. She covers topics such as fear, loneliness, risk, and shame. At the end of each chapter in the second section, there is an "Experience Guide" with questions for reflection and practical application.

While there wasn't a whole lot of new information for me in this book, I did appreciate the reminders of God's enoughness throughout the book. I really enjoyed her thoughts and reflections contained in the chapter about fear. This would be a great book to go through in a small group.

(I’ve received this complimentary book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

Friday, January 27, 2017

A Review: "Chasing Slow" by Erin Loechner

I first became acquainted with Erin Loechner through her occasional co-hosting on "The Simple Show" podcast. After hearing her several times, I was intrigued to read her first book "Chasing Slow:  Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path". Erin shares her story of the early years of her marriage, some heavy trials they went through, motherhood, and her explosion on the blog scene. Woven throughout, she shares how her priorities and perspective shifted as she began to pursue a call to slower, more focused living.

Her story meanders through various stages of her life. Told in poetry-like prose, she shares personally and freely about tough situations and tough questions. While there are no easy answers to things she asks, these questions are a springboard to causing the reader to reflect on their own lives and what changes we can make. This is a beautiful book and I truly enjoyed reading it. However, at times it felt like it meandered a little too much and it became a little hard to follow at times. Despite that, it was still a wonderful book that I would definitely recommend.

(I’ve received this complimentary book through the BookLook program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Review: "Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life" by Henri J.M. Nouwen

Love, Henri: Letters on Love, Hope, Faith, and VocationUpon his death in 1996, Henri Nouwen left behind a vast collection of personal letters. Archivist Gabrielle Earnshaw spent many years identifying, sorting, and cataloguing these letters and eventually collected thousands of letters from the original recipients. She compiled these letters into this first volume released in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of his death. Spanning 23 years and covering a wide range of topics, these letters are introduced with a brief description to put them into context. The book is divided into three sections, each covering a certain period of time. It is an intensely personal look into the life of Henri Nouwen and an absolute treasure to have a collection such as this.

I do not typically write in my books, but I made an exception for this one. There were so many beautiful thoughts and passages that I want to remember and be able to come back to over and over again. While I don't agree with everything that he shares, his wisdom is profound and his love and concern for each person he writes to is obvious. This is not a book meant to be read through quickly; rather, it's one that is meant to be savored and pondered over slowly. It's an absolutely beautiful book that I will certainly re-read.

(I’ve received this complimentary book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

A Review: "The Lifegiving Parent" by Clay and Sally Clarkson

"The Lifegiving Parent" by Clay and Sally Clarkson completes the "Lifegiving" trilogy that also includes "The Lifeg...