Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Book Review: Coming Clean by Seth Haines

You may have noticed that I haven't posted on the blog in about two months. I have been quite busy in my second internship at a treatment center for co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders. It's occupied 20+ hours of my week each week, the rest being occupied by my family.

As you may know, I have been receiving books for free from Book Look Bloggersin exchange for my honest review for several years now.

When I had an opportunity to review a book written by a Christian author about his journey to sobriety, I thought this was an excellent opportunity for me. I could not only learn more about what it means for someone to struggle with addiction, but I could learn more about it through the eyes of a Christian, another believer. My hopes had been that I could teach from this book in one of my groups, but alas the group that it would have been appropriate for has been in the hands of one person for so long that he pretty much "owns" that group. But anyway, on to my review.

In this book, Seth Haines journals about his first 90 days of sobriety. Not only that, but he "comes clean" about so many things; his dwindling faith in God, his difficulty forgiving others, his disagreements and wrestling with God, and so much more. I personally have not struggled with addiction. I have, however, had trials and tribulations in my life. Who hasn't? I have asked God to heal myself, to heal other people, to take away poverty, pain, hopelessness, depression, the list goes on. I often feel like my prayers are unanswered. Seth Haines' words give me hope. God answers all our prayers, maybe just not in the way we would like. We are often looking for some supernatural healing of sickness, pain, suffering, etc. But God doesn't always bring it that way. God has His plan and we, as finite beings, can never really understand what that is. Another insight gained from Haines' book is that of forgiveness. There are a few people in my life that I have forgiven. It doesn't change much for me except that there is no longer hatred in my heart that affects my beliefs or how I live my life. I have let those hurts go and they no longer affect me. Forgiveness is a hard concept for a lot of us, but for Haines' it reached even deeper as he was forgiving people that he didn't even really know, people that had affected his childlike faith. Without spoiling the book, let me just say that Haines' words are poignant, heartfelt, and insightful, bringing to light so many thoughts that many of us have had as Christians. If you have struggled or are struggling with addiction or even if you are simply struggling to get by in life, I recommend this book. Read it, take it to heart, think of Christ's love for you and be changed.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Loving Your Neighbor and Living with Faith in a Hostile World (the Colson Way) - A review of a book by Owen Strachan

I must admit, the tagline of this book got me. As a Christian, I know that this is an especially hostile world today. The only place so far I have had courage to speak out in faith against some of the travesties occurring in the world today has been on Facebook, and I've already gotten a lot of flack for that. At least on Facebook, I never have to see, talk to, or deal with any of these people again. They are faceless to me. But as a true Christian, I should engage in the public square. I should speak out and share my faith with others. But how?

The book The Colson Way: Loving Your Neighbor and Living with Faith in a Hostile World by Owen Strachan shows us an example of a man, Chuck Colson, who lived his life in politics and the public square and share his faith without fear. Mr. Colson worked under President Nixon and was implicated in the Watergate scandal. He was a born-again Christian after a life of wrong turns and bad decisions. Owen Strachan communicates Colson's story and shares points about how Colson's example can be valid to us today.

There were a couple of things I disliked about this book. First, it was very much an autobiography. Of course, I was expecting this, but it was difficult to get through the first several chapters that were all about Mr. Colson and didn't seem to have any applications to me as a Christian. Also, although I think that other Christians can serve as a model for how we can present ourselves in this world, our ultimate model should be Christ. I don't think that any person should be glorified, but God himself should be glorified. Maybe I missed the point. I don't know. But I couldn't get past the fact that this book about this normal, everyday human being was telling me how to be a Christian today. Shouldn't I get that from Christ?

One thing that I did like is that Strachan presented quite a few "gems" about how to present ourselves as Christians in the public square and what we may go through. This is my favorite, "The church is the true culture the brings light into all the world. To do so, we must often be a counterculture. We will often be oppossed, hated, and mocked. We will be persectured in small and great ways." Strachan reminds us of this, and he also reminds us that, as Christians, "we oppose evil wherever it is found in order that we might love our neighbors and lead them unto God. In this work, we are witnesses" (p. 180-181).

As a Christian, it is truly my goal to be a witness, to be in this world, but not of it, to be an Ambassador of Christ and share his love with the world. If that means standing against what is "popular" to profess what is right according to Christ, then so be it.

So, though there were some things I didn't like about the style of the book, overall the concept was great and it did bring to light what I already know. It is difficult to live in the world as a Christian, but I always remember that first and foremost I am a citizen of God's Kingdom, not of this world.

I received this book to review for free as part of the Book Look Bloggers program. I received this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. For more information, click here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A Great Daily Devotional Geared at Children

I was given a free copy of the book Bedtime Devotions with Jesus: My Daily Devotional for Kids by Johnny Hunt through the Book Look Bloggers program in exchange for my honest review.

This book is great for young children. My 8-year-old daughter likes to read it with us each night. We haven't really discussed the versus a lot each time, but sometimes she and I will have discussions about what they mean in her life. Her little brothers saw that we were reading this book with her and wanted to join in as well. There are colorful illustrations on the pages that capture the interest of your children and each day's devotional is short so it's easy to fit it in before bedtime. As my daughter gets older, I think we will incorporate more into it. For example, we may actually go to her Bible and read the versus surrounding that devotional verse to put it more into context. We may encourage her to share her thoughts on the verse and how it applies to her life. We may also share our thoughts about how it applies to our lives. She also could memorize some of the verses that are discussed in the devotional as they are generally only a sentence or two long. There are so many different things you can do with this devotional for kids. It is a great conversation starter and a great way to introduce application of the Bible to the lives of children. If you are looking to expand your children's knowledge and application of the Bible, this is a great start.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Review: Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller

When I got the chance to review this book, I was going through a bit of a struggle with my daughter. We had given her chores to do, but she wasn't doing them consistently without being reminded. I thought that a book like this could help me get her to do that. As I read the book, I discovered that this book is more about helping your child find her conscience and listen to it so that she is motivated to do what needs to be done. As I read this book, I understood that my eight-year-old daughter may not quite be there yet, but there are things I can do to help her get there. Though I don't think I will take all the advice in this book, there are some good points. For example, parenting requires strategy. This is so true. You must think about what you are going to do before you do it, think about what you are going to say before you say it. You must think about how your children are watching everything you do and you are setting an example for them with everything you do and say. The chapters that I really like in this book have to do with spiritual development in your child. I read to my daughter from the Bible when I can, I take her to church, we talk about things that happen in the perspective of our being Christians. But I still feel that I need to do more. The chapters in Part 2 of this book explore how to expose your child to faith by practicing faith in your home. They explore how to help lead a child to Christ, how to talk about the Holy Spirit with your child, and how to help your child connect with the Bible. If you struggle in any of these areas, this book might help to give you some ideas of what to do.

As a little addendum to this post, though, I have to think about something the pastor of my church said regarding parenting books and magazines. Essentially, she said why do we need all these parenting books? Are we not good enough? All these books tell us is that we are not good enough? Will we ever be good enough? My answer is, no. But who are these experts to tell me what to do for my own child? They write these words down without ever having met my child or my family. So I am convicted. I have decided that I am not going to rely on the "experts" anymore for advice about parenting my child. The only experts I need are myself, my husband, and the Holy Spirit. I will be guided about what is right when it comes to parenting my child, and only I know that for sure.

So...no more reviews of parenting books from this blogger...I'll be going a different route.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

An Adorable Bible for Little Ones!

I received the book Tiny Bear's Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Igor Oleynikov by Zondervan Publishers for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for my honest review.

I had already reviewed a similar Bible book by different authors, Little Bunny's Bible and my kids sure loved it! So I decided to take this opportunity to check out Tiny Bear's Bible. My boys loved this book.

The smiling, soft bear captures a toddler's attention right away! My 15 month-old, who is learning more and more words, saw the book and immediately said, "BEAR!" I told my 2 1/2 year old that since the bunny book was his, the bear book was for his brother. We sat down and read this book probably four times in one evening. The illustrations are so cute and each Bible story ends with a reminder for Tiny Bear about what this means for him and how this story shows God's love for him. For example, the story of "God Keeps Moses Safe" reminds Tiny Bear that "just like Baby Moses, we are always in God's care - He will love us and keep us - now and always, Tiny Bear!" The rhymes are cute and they sum up the stories well. Some of them are even a little humorous. My husband had a good chuckle when "The giant laughed - and then fell dead" after David said he would fight him.

This book contains several Bible stories from both the Old and New Testaments. The stories included are God Makes the Whole Wide World, God Promises to Rescue Noah, God Keeps Moses Safe, David Fights a Horrible Giant, God Protects Daniel in the Lions' Den, Jesus is Born, Jesus Stops a Scary Storm, The Lord's Prayer, The Friend of Sinners, and God Makes Jesus Alive Again. These story choices are a good summary for a very young child to learn more about God. I liked this book even better than Little Bunny's Bible and I definitely recommend it for your toddler!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Review: The Leadership Handbook: 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs by John C. Maxwell

When I had the opportunity to review the book The Leadership Handbook: 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs by John C. Maxwell, I thought this was a great book for my husband who is working to move up in the managerial world. So, I let him read it and in a little twist he is providing his honest review in exchange for this free book from Book Look Bloggers. So here is a review from Mr. B. :)

I found many helpful things in this book. Some of the helpful insights that Maxwell provided were:
- Don't manage your time, manage your life. Maxwell writes about how you can't make more time. There's only 24 hours in the day and the best thing is to try to make the most of your time as a leader. Many people try to say things like, "I need to make time" or "I need to find the time", but these things are not possible because you still have the same tasks you need to do. It's more about taking the time to do the things you need to do.
- Maxwell writes that people who manage themselves poorly undervalue themselves by doing what others want them to do. They put too much time into what other people think are important and not enough time and effort into what they think is valuable and important. This jives with me because of my own job where I am told that what I think is important isn't and I need to do something else. My time is wasted in many cases because I'm not as effective as I could be.
- Maxwell adds that people also ruin their effectiveness by doing unimportant things. He gives a rating for things you need to do based on terms of importance and urgency that is very helpful to follow.
- Maxwell says that people reduce their potential by doing things without coaching or training and basically just flounder through whatever it is they are doing. They aren't able to do things as well as they could if they would simply ask for help. They say you don't have to reinvent the wheel. If someone else knows a fast and effective way of doing something, why not just take their lead and make it work for you? They also say Rome wasn't built in a day so take your time to do what you need to do, don't rush into it.
- Another key insight that I really liked was Maxwell's saying, "Don't send your ducks to eagle school." This basically means that each person was made a different way. Some people work better in groups, some as individuals. Don't try to give people things that they aren't good at. Challenge them, but not to do something that they just can't do. If you try to do something that you just can't do and you fail, give it up and do something that you can do and do it well.

In closing, there were 26 lessons in this book and above I only showcased a few. I'm sure that for leaders of all types they would read this book and find something that works for them and would help them to build themselves as better leaders. I endorse this book and challenge other leaders to learn and take from it what they can back to their organizations and I can almost guarantee that it would make the effectiveness higher and help those in the organization to be more likely to reach their potential.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Spring Craft - Fingerpaint Flowers

When I looked up at the art wall and saw snowmen, turkeys, and Christmas trees, I knew it was time to do a spring time craft.
For this simple craft, I just drew some stems with green markers and then let the boys go at it with the finger paints. This was Little K's first time really finger painting on his own. He ate the paints at first (don't worry, they are non-toxic of course!) but realized they did not taste too great and continued painting. T-Rex must cover the paper with paint. You almost can't tell that his are flowers any more, but that's ok! I love how they turned out and it was so quick and easy!

T-Rex's painting:

Little K's painting:

I would love to see crafts that you've done with your little ones! Feel free to share them in the comments!