Friday, January 01, 2016

From Tablet to Table: Where Community Is Found and Identity Is FormedFrom Tablet to Table: Where Community Is Found and Identity Is Formed by Leonard Sweet
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Those who know me know I'm a foodie. I work in the food business. I love to cook both alone and with others and especially like to cook FOR others so when this book came up for review in my blogger network I jumped at the chance to read and review it. Unfortunately I have to say I had a very hard time getting into it. While the concept was solid, the execution of it was lacking and it really failed to keep my interest requiring me to come back to it time and time again to try and finish reading it. As a person who enjoys reading and who doesn't have much time these days it really really frustrates me to have to force myself to read something when there are so many other books out there I want to read. That said, there are some good nuggets in this small book that were worth reading but overall I was not impressed. I think that if you're looking for something to give you more reinforcement of the idea that "the table" provides a perfect location for community and fellowship then you might enjoy this read but if, like me, you wanted something more "indepth" you may be disappointed.

I received this book free from Tyndale Publishing in exchange for an HONEST opinion in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission.

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Friday, August 07, 2015

Hope in the Darkness

There are times in life where I really wish I could draw or paint. I woke up the other morning with this dream in my head. It was of a large black bird with wings the color of pitch and sharp black talons. Almost like a cross between a crow and an eagle.  This huge bird had in it's claws on my heart. It was perched on my chest and it's weight was tremendous. In the beginning of this dream this bird was clutching my heart and squeezing it hard. I could feel the weight of that black thing crushing my chest and making it hard to breathe, feeling like at any time this creature would succeed in squeezing the very life from me. As I lay there unable to move or breathe, a ray of light, like the kind reflected through a magnifying glass in the hot sun, shot into my chest, striking the talon of this huge creature and causing him to release, just a little, his hold on my heart. This ray of light slowly spread in it's width, covering more and more of my heart as it did so and causing the black bird to lose more and more of it's hold. When I woke up (little girls calling good morning from the hallway) the bird's grasp on my heart had been reduced to just the tip of two talons and the light had overtaken the majority of the places where once there had been pain and darkness. I have been pondering this dream ever since that morning, unsure how to share this and unsure if anyone else would relate. The image of that bright, warm, light overtaking this giant black bird still lingers in my memory though so  I decided I had to share it. Maybe someday I will be able to sketch and/or paint it but for now you will have to picture it in your own mind :)

I had been thinking a lot about darkness and depression and how so many thing in my life are intertwined and I believe that the Lord placed this picture in my head to remind me of His presence. I have been struggling lately with talking to others about the darkness in my life, in particular about the depression I have suffered from since I was a young adult. Yes, depression is something that has been a part of my life for more than half my life at this point. It's darkness invades my heart more often than I would like to admit and most people do not even know that I carry this struggle with me. I do a pretty good job of putting on a happy face when facing the world. But the other day, while hearing about another wonderful friend of mine who also deals with this horrible darkness I couldn't help but relate and wonder if how much she knows that she is not alone. As I have thought about this dream, this image I was left with when I woke the other morning, it occurs to me that that light, that bright stream of hot, white light that caused the dark demon bird to begin to lose it's grip, can be summed up in one word... HOPE You see HOPE is what you don't have when the darkness overcomes you. HOPE is what you've lost when depression rules. HOPE is what you desperately need when the demon of sadness and pain takes hold. HOPE is the one thing that is SO very hard to grasp when all those dark thoughts begin to swirl in your mind. HOPE is that light in the darkness.

So, how do we find hope? How do we focus that beam of light into those dark places? I think it's different for every person. For me, it's prayer. For me, it's Jesus! For me, it's knowing that I am loved and cherished. When I am HOPE-LESS I turn to those things that I know deep in my heart to be true, deeper than the darkness can reach. When my world turns dark and the demon of depression starts to regain his control, I sing, I cook, I create because that demon HATES those things. He HATES new life, new creations. When that darkness starts to invade, I reach out and help someone else. I serve others. I find ways to allow a little light into my world. But the most important thing I do when depression starts to rear it's ugly head is the one thing that is completely counter to what it wants me to do... I do NOT back down! Depression can be a seemingly endless pit of darkness and despair. It can feel like the heaviest, darkest wool blanket you have ever felt. It reminds me of the times when you go to the dentist office and they put that lead apron on you? You know that heavy, weighted feeling? THAT, times 10, times 100 would be depression.

I'm writing this today because I cannot get that image out of my head. I'm writing this today for all those out there who may read this and relate. I'm writing this today for my very sweet friend who is struggling with this demon of depression. Sister, you are NOT alone. Reach out, reach up, reach in and allow even just a small crack of hope to leak into your darkness. You'll be amazed how quickly it can spread and break that overwhelming blackness from your heart. And above all, do not be ashamed to share your pain with others. By sharing your pain you lighten your burden. By sharing your struggles you encourage others. You have encouraged me more than you will ever know. I love you and will continue to pray for you and for all those who walk this road with us!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Book Review: My Princesses Learn to Be Brave and My Princesses Learn to Share

So, if you follow this blog you know I'm not the best at keeping it going. But today I have another book review especially for those of you with little princesses at home. About a year ago I reviewed another Tyndale House book titled The One Year My Princess Devotions book. My girls LOVED that book and we completed it not long ago. When these two new books with the same illustrator came up for review, I knew they would like them as well. They are sweetly illustrated with adorable princesses but the illustrations just enhance the wonderful lessons that each book brings.

In My Princesses Learn to Be Brave, two friends Grace and Hope have to face a bully on the playground. Using the story of Queen Esther from the bible, the story shows the two girls finding a way to work WITH the bully and get him on their side rather than either confronting him or allowing him to "win". By including the bully in their play they solve the problem and have a wonderful new friend as well. Each of the books starts with a sweet poem about being a princess and each includes a bible lesson to help with an everyday situation.

In My Princesses Learn to Share, Grace and Hope are playing dress up when they both decide they want one particular dress. When they tear the dress while fighting over it, Mom is able to share with them the story of Jesus and the boy with the loaves and fish while she is mending the dress and helps them to learn a lesson in sharing. 

My girls both enjoyed these books. While not very long, they are a cute way to introduce biblical solutions to children and are very popular with little girls who want to be God's princesses.

*DISCLAIMER: While I have not been monetarily compensated for this review, Tyndale House Publishers HAS provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Book Review: The Redcoats Are Coming! (Imagination Station #13)


Summary: Book 13 in the Imagination Station series, "The Redcoats Are Coming follows Patrick and Beth as they assist the revolutionaries by waking up the sleeping citizens of 1775 Concord before the Redcoats come. The cousins meet Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock and help smuggle musket balls, sound the alarm that the Redcoats are coming, and deliver a secret message to Paul Revere. Along the way they learn that most of the revolutionaries leaned on God's direction and even pastors helped in the cause."

This is the first of this series that we have read but both of my girls, ages 3 and 5, found this book interesting and I found it a very interesting read as well. It is what I call a Christian version of the popular Magic Tree House series that we have also read and I am looking forward to reading the other books in the series. While it may not be completely historically accurate, it is a great way to make historical events come alive and to even tie in some family history as I told our girls about family members who were alive and in this area during this time in history. This book has helped to spark a genuine interest in not only historical events but also in our own family history so I would say it has been a great stepping stone for discussion and learning as well. 

We will be sure to share reviews of other books in this series as we read them. I have a feeling the girls will be hooked :)

 *DISCLAIMER: While I have not been monetarily compensated for this review, Tyndale House Publishers HAS provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review.

Friday, November 22, 2013

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The One Year My Princess Devotions (Preschool Edition) Book Review

A new school year is starting and it seems like the perfect time to start with some new devotional materials so I was thrilled when this book came up for review a little while back! My girls (almost 5 and 3) love having our "chapter time" at night and each night we read from a "chapter book" (right now we're working on the Charlotte series of Little House books) and usually either a picture book or, right now, a devotional. This cute volume is PERFECT for reaching little hearts and we are LOVING it! 

The One Year My Princess Devotions (Preschool Edition) by Karen Whiting is a dated devotional with short bursts of biblical knowledge perfect for sharing with little girl hearts. Each day has "Royal Words" (the bible verse for the day), "Princess Thoughts", which are a short 2-3 sentence devotional relating to the verse, a short prayer and then a "Princess in Action" activity for them to do.  My little girls love talking about the verse and what they might be able to do in relation to it in the coming days and they look forward to hearing the new devotional each night before we go to bed. I like that they are short enough to keep their attention (recommended ages for this book are 3-5) and that they are easy for them to understand without a lot of explanation which can be difficult to get into right before bed :) All in all this is one of our favorite devotional, right up there with my other recent review of the Princess stories. If you have 3-5 year old girls like I do, I think you'll really enjoy this time with your girls!

*DISCLAIMER: While I have not been monetarily compensated for this review, Tyndale House Publishers HAS provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review. 
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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Book Review: Princess Stories: Real Bible Stories of God's Princesses

So I am WAY WAY WAY behind in getting this review posted but life gets in the way of the best of intentions so better late than never! 

Princess Stories: Real Bible Stories of God's Princesses written by Carolyn Larsen and illustrated by Sergey Eliseev was sent to me several months ago for review from Tyndale House publishers. I set it aside for a while as we were in the middle of reading the Magic Tree House books, but I have to say that once we picked it up, I was sorry we hadn't started it sooner! Written with the 4-8 year old girl in mind, this wonderful book has become a favorite in our home. This beautifully written volume brings to life 29 "real life" princesses from the bible and includes not only a paraphrased version of the woman's life but a key verse, a look into her life (in first person narrative) and follow up questions to help prime the heart of your little princesses. The illustrations of each princess are a delight and while I'm sure not accurate, they do help give a face to these beautiful women and their place in our Christian heritage. 

As a mother of two young girls (almost 3 and almost 5) who are both into the "princess thing", this couldn't have come into our lives at a better time. While I do not have a big problem with Disney princesses, it is a really wonderful opportunity to help our girls see the beauty in REAL princesses who have helped to shape the faith we are raising them in.  My girls LOVE reading these short stories about the "real" princesses and ask for this book quite often during our bedtime reading time. They come away from story time taking about the virtues of these women and how God helped them or lead them or used them for His purpose and really enjoy knowing that these women really lived and aren't just make believe. I have recommended this book many times over now to friends with little girls and really suggest anyone who has a princess-loving little one in their lives take a look at it. What better way to encourage "real" princess behavior that to share examples of Godly women that they can look to as they grow!

*DISCLAIMER: While I have not been monitarily compensated for this review, Tyndale House Publishers HAS provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review.

From Tablet to Table: Where Community Is Found and Identity Is Formed by Leonard Sweet My rating: 3 of 5 stars Those who know me know I&#...