Tuesday, June 21, 2016
I initially picked Find Your Brave: Courage to Stand Strong When the Waves Crash In by Holly Wagner from a list of books to review because I saw that it used the story of Paul's shipwreck in Acts 27 to talk about the storms of life and how to handle the trials one faces.
Hey, that will be perfect! I thought. I'm reading through the She Reads Truth Acts study this summer and this book will give me deep insight into one passage.
And then life went sideways all around me. As it does. As it always will. And when this book came in the mail today I tried to set it aside, but I felt like I needed to read it so I picked it up after dinner and burned through it in two hours with a pencil tightly gripped in one hand.
It's one of my 'send a copy to all the people I love' books. It jumped on the list immediately when I thought of four people I wanted to pass it on to - well buy it for, I want to keep my marked up copy for myself - as I began texting quotes to friends.
Holly Wagner uses trials and experiences in her own life - breast cancer, financial hardship, marriage etc. - and the lessons she's learned from them to explore the idea of life storms and how to navigate them with spiritual strength and resources.
Wagner is kind, sympathetic and full of Biblical wisdom, but she is far from gentle in her encouragement to move through the storm and get to the shore - or other side. She expects readers to grow and change, and she provides practical, solid, Biblical advice to get readers through.
I like that Find Your Brave can be blazed through - as I did - and then referred to as storms arise, because as Wagner points out, getting through one storm does not mean the horizon is clear of storms for the remainder of one's days, or read and absorbed slowly. I know I did not gain all the knowledge this book has to offer. I will definitely read it again.
Wagner encourages readers to be anchored in faith, to find hope and courage, to be strong and refuse to quit. Every chapter applies to my life and what I am experiencing right now. And as I face a time when I don't know exactly how to proceed reading Find Your Brave gave me insight on how to move forward: basically the opposite of how my emotions were telling me to proceed. Of course.
Find Your Brave offers wisdom, insight, compassion, and strong Biblical references to support every recommendation and encouragement. I wish someone had put this book in my hands after Charlotte died, because it would have encouraged me and helped me to get through. I would have loved to read about how the purpose of getting through a storm is to get to the shore and help others who are hurting. I figured out that was some of the purpose - though not the reason - behind Charlotte's death eventually, but it took time.
About getting to the other side Wagner writes, "There are people on your shore as well, who need the life and presence of God that is in you. They need to find their brave. God is not looking down at you and me in our storms and feeling sorry for us. No! He is looking way down the road He has called us to travel. He sees a whole bunch of people He needs us to touch with His love. After all, we are His hands. So maybe you feel a bit weak and overwhelmed by all you've encountered (we've all been there), or maybe you think the storm has knocked you off course. Nope. You are in His hands. If you open your eyes, you will see lots of people around you - they are waiting for you to get up. You have made it through a tremendous storm, and other women out there need to know how you did it."
I think what I needed the most from this book tonight was the reminder that I am not in control of life - God is. He sees a bigger, better plan for my life than I can fathom. I'm a little bit stuck on the tiny bit of map I can see right now, but He holds the entirety of my life and the world's life expectancy in His hands and He knows exactly what He is doing. I can rest in the knowledge that I am His daughter and He will not fail me.
Find Your Brave is worth a read. It's worth ten reads. I loved this book.
I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review
When we walk in the library everyone at the front desk cringes. I have to bring the stroller just to get all of our selves and books in the door. I bring two huge bags my mom found on clearance at Target when B was in the NICU and we were desperate for clothes and something to store them in. Blue for me, white for the kids. Then we stuff them full of as many books as they can hold, and sometimes more. I've been known to leave the library with two bags full, the stroller top stacked high, and the kids arms full of precarious stacks.
I had to open up a library account for B because we kept maxing out my card. With a 100 book limit we haven't had any problems, but Ainsleigh doesn't have a card yet, so there's the option to stretch our limit to 150 titles if we really get crazy. I'm already trying to figure out how we'll manage when it no longer makes sense to bring a stroller. Everyone brings their own rolling suitcase? Or wagon? Or laundry basket?
On our last library trip I managed to navigate the two bags, two children, two library cards circus without completely embarrassing myself or exasperating the staff, which was a nice change from the usual disastrous check out routine. I've asked the staff to build a corral area with lockable gate around each checkout station, but they haven't complied yet. Perhaps they could just create a small children check out booth that locks. That would be VERY helpful. I'll take carry out service as well. That would greatly improve my library experience. Imagine the possibilities if I was allowed a staff member and rolling cart on every library trip!
Out of the heaps and piles of books we own and borrow here are the ones the kids love/can't get enough of/return to again and again (this week):
We have all five bear and mouse books. I love them, Jon loves them, the kids love them. They're funny, heartwarming, and have a gentle lesson about friendship included in each one. They're great for read aloud, especially with one person reading Bear's lines while another tackles Mouse's. I relate to Bear in many ways. Read the books and you'll see why.
We discovered this treasure at the library last week. We are all besotted. I love that the story focuses on a father and son going on an after dark adventure to find a beloved stuffed animal. There's some tension and a little bit of worry as Michael searches and searches for his Monkey Moon, but the book isn't scary. And the author presents the search as an adventurous journey which makes the finding of Monkey Moon all the more exciting. I think a big part of my love for this book is how sweet my daughter sounds when she says, "Monkey Moon?" as we read the book.
The content in this book is excellent. Most of it is beyond the kids, but reading through it and solving the math myself exposes them to numbers and math in a fun way. It covers everything from basic counting to division with some shapes thrown in at the end. I love the illustrations as well.
I need to buy a copy of this book. We check it out from the library regularly. I love the story, the illustrations, and the sweetness of this book.
I just discovered the Crinkleroot series. I love it! Easy for kids to understand, with solid facts and interesting information. The kids are really into identifying birds and trees right now so these are great to have on hand. The bird guide is currently overdue at the library. We need to give it back and buy a copy!
Monday, June 13, 2016
I didn't realize That's Not Hay in My Hair by Juliette Turner was a middle grade novel until I started it. When I worked at the bookstore a few years ago I read a lot of middle reader and young adult novels, but I haven't read as much in that category lately. Often the content is too mature for me to find middle reader books appropriate for the intended audience, but That's Not Hay in My Hair is perfect for girls ages 9-12.
That's Not Hay in My Hair is a funny fast-paced novel about Juliette, her mother, Emily and their big move from New York City to a 300 acre ranch in Texas. (Yes it's semi-autobiographical though it is billed as a novel). While the plot was shaky at times the characters were well thought out and fully developed. There were a lot of humorous passages about ranch life, as well as beautiful descriptive passages, and a well thought out thread about loss that runs throughout the book.
As Juliette and her mom struggle to run a really large ranch by themselves they learn to rely on the kindness of neighbors and strangers to get by. They also have a close relationship with Juliette's grandmother and grandfather. Along with helping run a ranch Juliette has to deal with typical middle school issues, which would be frustrating enough without the daily work and chaos of ranch life thrown in.
Girls who love horses, adventure, and laughter will love this book.
I think Juliette Turner will get better as she continues to grow in her life and writing, but this is a solid beginning.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
You Are What You Love left me standing in the kitchen reading random passages to Jonathan with exclamations of, "Isn't that so good!?" following every quoted bit.
Without the context of the whole book Jon was unwilling to jump for joy, but he agreed to read the book so I'm counting that as a win.
With You Are What You Love James K. A. Smith explores the idea of liturgies, or practices, or habits and how they are affecting us. We are creatures of habit, and we are designed in a way that makes us desire an ultimate end - or telos as Smith puts it. Everything we do contributes to those liturgies; from our work to our church life to our home life. And in many ways our liturgies are below the surface, we don't even realize we are acting a certain way because the culture has shaped us to do so!
I was feeling rather discouraged by the end of chapter two, but Smith does a nice job of exploring how one can change their habits. For example, Smith's encouragement to reform one's liturgies through church completely changed my understanding of the church and what it exists for.
Smith explores worship, parenting, education and vocations and explains how each area of one's life can point one to Christ. After reading You Are What You Love I want to evaluate, or "audit" my life and our family life so I can begin to change our habits and turn all of us into people oriented toward Christ.
Two concrete things I know I want to do now are as follows:
1. Begin pursuing ethical fashion choices for the kids and me. I've been looking into ethical fashion for a while, but I haven't made any purchases. Smith's writing on mindless consumerism made me want to take the next step and buy ethically next time we need clothes, and that's something perusing ethical fashion accounts on Instagram didn't prompt in me.
Smith writes, "...the liturgies of consumption induce in us a learned ignorance. In particular, they don't want us to ask, 'Where does all this stuff come from?' ... The liturgy of consumption births in us a desire for a way of life that is destruction of creation itself; moreover, it births in us a desire for a way of life that we can't feasibly extend to others, creating a system of privilege and exploitation. In short, the only way for the vision of this kingdom to be a reality is if we keep it to ourselves. The mall's liturgy fosters habits and practices that are unjust, so it does everything it can to prevent us from asking such questions. Don't ask, don't tell; just consume."
2. I want to make church and studying the Bible a priority - both for me and my kids. In his chapter on the home Smith explains that "children are ritual animals who absorb the gospel in practices that speak to their imaginations." He goes on to explain how immersing children in worship and liturgical practice (next area of study for me, the church's liturgical calendar!) can help form and shape them. My focus should be less 'learn this verse' and more 'let's memorize this Story together so that it becomes part of us,' or as Smith puts it, so that they "know the gospel in their bones."
Reading You Are What You Love has left me feeling encouraged and inspired. I'm all fired up! I was worried I would feel overwhelmed or discouraged about what I need to change in my life, but instead I feel excited about changing some of my rhythms and routines so my life and our family life better reflects Christ.
As Smith writes, "We are not creating a 'pure' household into which we withdraw and retreat in order to protect ourselves from the big, bad world. That would be to shirk our mission to 'go.' Instead, we want to be intentional about the formative rhythms of the household so that it is another recalibrating space that forms us and prepares us to be launched into the world to carry out both the cultural mandate and the Great Commission, to bear God's image to and for our neighbors.
If you read it please share your thoughts with me! There are so many things I want to discuss in this book!!
If you enjoy this book you might also like
Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel by Russell Moore
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis