An Unexpected Bookish Meeting

Y’all, here it is! The last book I read for review while I was on vacation. (Whew, getting all these reviews written is fun, but kinda hard because I let them build up since I didn’t have my computer with me.)

Fun story before I get into the review: I was reading this book in Mexico where our family goes on vacation each year. We stay in a small fishing village that isn’t in a touristy area.

As I was reading I posted about the book on my Instagram Story (y’all can follow me here if you want, I often post reading updates). A friend commented and said that it looked like a book she’d enjoy reading.

Now, plot twist: It turns out this lady was on vacation with her husband and their four young children only about a half an hour away from where we were staying! Crazy, right? As it turns out, we invited them over for supper one night and I hurried to finish reading the book before they arrived so I could give it to her. It was fun to have that random bookish/friendish connection in a different country. And hey, I’m glad she commented on my story. 😉

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 208
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Release Date: April 2, 2019
Title: Homeschool Bravely
Nonfiction

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Quiet the voices of “not good enough” and step courageously into guilt-free homeschooling

Many homeschool parents have a long-term relationship with self-doubt. “Did I make the right decision?” “Could someone else do this better?” “Am I robbing my kids of something by not sending them to ‘regular school’?”

What if there’s a better way?

Not a 3-step technique or a shiny, new curriculum, but a change in perspective that transforms the way you plan, teach, and homeschool?

Homeschool Bravely teaches you to see homeschooling as a calling, helps you overthrow the tyranny of impossible expectations, and guides you through the common bumps in the road, including how to:

  • juggle school and parenting with toddlers at home
  • teach a struggling learner
  • plan with the end in mind
  • accept your own limitations without feeling guilty
  • stay the course even in the face of criticism

Reclaim your hope, renew your purpose, and transform your homeschool. Because the truth is: God will use every part of your homeschool, even your fears, faults, and failures, to weave good plans for your kids.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

Despite the fact that I’ve read a lot of parenting books, I’ve never read any homeschooling books. That seemed like a fact I should remedy, and this book caught my eye, partly because of the title, partly because the cover is black.

Disclaimer: I’m not a parent, I don’t think I have the answers to parenting, homeschooling, or raising kids. I simply enjoy studying the subject and seeing how I can (very, very loosely) apply the principles I learn to myself, kids in my life, and maybe in the far distant future my own kids. Plus, it’s pretty fun to learn when there’s no pressure. But, as always this review will, therefore, be quite subjective, but will hopefully provide a unique point-of-view compared to the reviews written by parents who actually know what they’re doing.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

I found it surprisingly interesting. The author is a blogger and a lot of times a blogger-turned-book-author is a hit or miss for me when it comes to style – there’s no middle ground. This one was, thankfully, a total hit. Her writing style was engaging, her tone honest, encouraging, and at times funny, and her stories were ones I could relate to from the perspective of an adult who grew up being homeschooled.

The author used to be an elementary school teacher, which felt like it gave her added credentials while talking about homeschooling vs. public schooling.

There were some things in the book I didn’t fully agree with (more related to her views on various things, rather than what she actually did), but those things were minor enough that they didn’t take away from the book for me.

For me, the most interesting part of the book was when she gave different suggestions of things to do with kids. It’s so intriguing to hear about things little kids can do for fun that are actually educational as well.

CONCLUSION

If y’all are interested in this book, you should check out her website (The Unlikely Homeschool) or look her up on Instagram. I watched some of her Instagram stories as I was reading the book and that really helped her to feel more relatable and alive to me.

I generally don’t recommend parenting books as a non-parent on my blog (because that’s weird), and the same goes for homeschooling books. But, I did enjoy reading this book.

RATING

I’m giving Homeschool Bravely four out of five stars – Moody Publishers was very kind to send me a copy of this book so I could review it.

Holy Noticing (Aka, Most Confusing Book Review I’ve Written)

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 240
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Title: Holy Noticing
Nonfiction

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Does your life ever feel like one series of rushed moments after another?

Do you want to feel more present and connected to those you love? Do you want to be able to listen without thinking the whole time of what you’re going to say next? Do you want to feel less distracted, less busy, and more whole? Most of us spend our distracted lives longing to get to the next, better moment and fail to notice the present one. We lack space between one task and the next, one thought and the next, one email and the next. Social media, TV, work deadlines, and family stress steal our enjoyment and engagement in the moment.

Holy Noticing will teach you how to:

  • become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and environment
  • recognize Christ’s presence in the moment
  • reduce your stress by developing the ability to focus on God and people rather than tasks

Many today think mindfulness is dangerous, unchristian, or associated with Eastern religions—and often it is! But Dr. Charles Stone reveals that the art of holy noticing—purposefully paying attention to God as he works in us, our relationships, and our world—is a spiritual discipline Christians have practiced for millennia. Holy Noticing explores the historically Christian and biblical roots of this lifestyle, as well as Dr. Stone’s BREATHe model, which teaches you to be more engaged with Christ in the everyday moments that too often slip right by us.

Discover the lost spiritual discipline of holy noticing today and learn to engage the world like Christ.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

The first half of this book had me quite confused. I wasn’t entirely sure what it was talking about, or if I agreed with the author or not. I read each chapter with my skepticism rising, but also trying to keep an open mind so I could write a fair review for the book.

It wasn’t until the second half of the book that what the author was saying began to make sense to me, and I could nod in agreement and see where he was going. Because of that, I feel like my whole perspective of the book is a bit skewed. I wish the book had been set up a little bit differently without so much “introduction” type writing at the beginning. I do see why the author did that though – I think he was trying to avoid Christian’s jumping to conclusions about why he wrote what he did, and write him off as not having Biblical principles.

Essentially the book is teaching how to take time to slow down, be more in touch with the world around us, and therefore better able to focus on what God is doing.

That is something I can get totally on board with, and why I read the book in the first place. The way the author suggests to do that – his BREATHe method (and yes, the last e is lowercase) still has me slightly confused, but goes something like this:

B: Ponder and Yield Your Body
R: Review and Renew your Relationships
E: Notice and Engage your Environment
A: Label and Release Your Afflictive Emotions (Affect)
T: Be Conscious of Current Thoughts
H: Pay Attention to your Spiritual Life (Heart) and the Spirit’s whispers
e: engage the world like Christ

See why I was confused? But when I read through the second half of the book where we spend a chapter focusing on each of the letters, it’s really not that weird. Instead, the author talks about how to spend time praying about each specific thing.

For instance, when you’re on B – your body – what you do is spend three to five minutes each day thanking God for how your body works, His great design, and the various blessings He’s given you in your physical body. As you pray, you also stop to notice if you’re feeling stress, pain, etc… and if you do, then you pray about that as well.

The author mentioned how he often feels stress in his shoulders, so he breathes deeply and prays about whatever is causing the stress. This made sense to me in both physically and spiritually, because I know that I often clench my jaw without even realizing it, which can actually knock my body out of shape. The chiropractor pointed it out to me a while ago and ever since then I’ve made sure to relax my jaw whenever I realize I’m clenching it, and it actually has helped me be less stressed.

This book talks a lot about the science behind certain things – like breathing deeply, paying attention to what we focus on, and what various thought patterns (like anxiety) can do to your body, etc…. Then the author brings it all back to the Bible and shows how these principles are healthy not only from the physical and science standpoint but also spiritually.

As far as putting his steps into practice? Well, I’m still not sure what I think about that. I’ll probably try it someday and that may change my rating of the book, but who knows. 😉 As it is, I will be working at paying more attention to what I dwell on, staying focused in the moment, breathing deeply, and resting in God’s goodness.

CONCLUSION

This is one of the hardest-for-me to write book reviews, mostly because I feel like I really didn’t fully grasp what the author was saying. If any of y’all have read the book (or do read it) you should totally share your opinions with me.

RATING

I’m giving Holy Noticing three and four out of five stars – reserving my final star count until I’ve put the principles into practice and re-evaluate what I think of the book. Moody Publishers was very kind to send me a copy of this book so I could review it.

Loving My LGBT Neighbor {Book Review}

Loving My LGBT Neighbor

By: Glenn T. Stanton

Find it on:

Amazon
Goodreads

First Person • NonFiction  • 208 Pages

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About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

Ever feel like we’re just fumbling through the LGBT conversation, always asking but never really finding answers to questions like:

  • What does it look like to be friends with my lesbian neighbors?  
  • How should I love my gay child and his partner?
  • What if I’m invited to a same-sex wedding?
  • What did Jesus sayand not sayabout homosexuality?
  • What is the role of the church in the same-sex debate?

We don’t have to fumble. While the questions are hard, answers can be had. Just ask Glenn Stanton.

Stanton, of Focus on the Family, travels widely meeting with and debating LGBT advocates across the country. In doing so he has had the privilege of becoming friends with a number of them.

He says, “We disagree on certain convictions, but we still admire and esteem one another . . . Since when was it decided that people who see the world in polar opposite ways can’t be friends?” He shares his personal journey building bridges with the LGBT community and offers candid insights on hard questions.

In Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor, Glenn Stanton shows us how to speak the truth in love on this difficult but important issue.

Why I Choose This Book: 

Because I’ve asked all those ^ questions before (well, if you substitute “child” in the second question for “relative”). I really wanted to read a book where the author had really researched with the Bible had to say about the topic and then used that as the foundation for his book.

What I Thought about this Book:

 

I wasn’t sure what to think going into the book, but before long I was nodding along with what the author was saying and picking the book up every chance I got to read more.

There were a lot of things that when I first read it I was like “No, no, that can’t be right.” But then after thinking through it and really reading what the author had actually written, plus the scripture passages he’d quoted, and in nearly all the cases I ended up realizing that I did agree with him after all.

This book is special and unique because it’s written by a guy who is standing strong on the Word of God, debates gay people, and yet is also good friends with many, many people from the LGBT community. He writes the book in such a way that is brimming with love, truth, and grace, which is what we’re called to be. Throughout the book, he explains what it looks like to be friends with someone who believes so differently from him. He talks about how sometimes you have to work through misunderstandings and hurt feelings, but that when you build a strong friendship based on the places where you do agree, then this is very possible.

The author also talks about how it’s important not to make friends with someone from the LGBT community (or anywhere, really) just so you can witness to them. He said, of course, he witnesses to his friends from the LGBT community because that’s who he is and what he’s called to do. But if that was the reason for his friendship then that wouldn’t be a real friendship. (Really, you should read the book because he does a LOT better of a job explaining it.)

Throughout the book, he also defines and explains different terms like what “LGBT” really means – what each letter stands for, etc…. It was interesting to me and I was happy to have that knowledge.


Conclusion:

I plan on re-reading this book. It’s written from a Biblical stand point and brimming with grace and truth. I recommend this to Christians (Ages: twenties and up) who want to study out what the Bible really says about this topic.

There are still a few things that I’m not sure if I agree with them, but it’s given me a lot to think about.

Rating: 

I’m giving Loving My LGBT Neighbor 4 out of 5 stars, and 8 out of 10.

*I received this book from Moody Press in exchange for a review

Seeking Refuge {Book Review}

Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis

By: Stephan BaumanMatthew Sorens, & Issam Smeir

Find it on:

Amazon
Goodreads

Third Person • NonFiction  • 224 Pages

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About the Book (Backcover Blurb):

What will rule our hearts: fear or compassion?

We can’t ignore the refugee crisis—arguably the greatest geo-political issue of our time—but how do we even begin to respond to something so massive and complex?

In Seeking Refuge, three experts from World Relief, a global organization serving refugees, offer a practical, well-rounded, well-researched guide to the issue.

Who are refugees and other displaced peoples?
What are the real risks and benefits of receiving them?
How do we balance compassion and security?

Drawing from history, public policy, psychology, many personal stories, and their own unique Christian worldview, the authors offer a nuanced and compelling portrayal of the plight of refugees and the extraordinary opportunity we have to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Why I Read This Book: 

My family has been involved with the refugee crisis for the last couple of years – ever since one of my sisters went over to Greece to help the refugees. (You can find out more about their work there at i58.)

What I Thought about this Book:

This book was good. It had a lot of information, a lot of facts, a lot of statistics. And yet, at the same time, it was interesting and put faces to what is going on. It’s so easy to get caught up in numbers and forget that each number represents a person like you and me – a person with hopes, dreams, fears, and problems. A person who has had to give up more than most of us can ever imagine. A person who has been traumatized by destruction and hatred.

Seeking Refuge talks about everything that is going on today with the refugees. The book discusses the politics, fears people have, what we can do to help, what we shouldn’t do, how to relate to refugees, what constitutes being an actual refugee, and the list goes on. The best part about this book is that it talks about everything from a very Biblical point of view.

Near the beginning of the book, they discuss dangers that come along with refugees, and also dangers that people think go along with refugees, and actually don’t. Studies and statistics have found that welcoming refugees is a good thing for the economy, etc… and that with all the screening that’s done, it really is safe, also. But, one thing I really liked about the book is how the authors pointed out that even if that wasn’t the case, we’re still commanded in the Bible to take care of refugees. But really, the book does such a better job of explaining it than I do, so you should read the book.


Conclusion:

This is a book I think a lot of Christians should read. It has important, spot-on information.

Rating: 

I’m giving Seeking Refuge 4 out of 5 stars, and 8 out of 10.

*I received this book from Moody Press in exchange for a review

Books, Books, Everywhere!

Last night as I was going to sleep, I suddenly remembered that I had a book that was supposed to be reviewed around now. This morning I checked my emails to make sure I hadn’t missed the review date, and thankfully it’s still a few days away. That prompted a flurry of activity though, where I ran here and there and gathered all the books I have for reviewing, that I haven’t yet read.

My wonderfully proficient method of keeping track of the books I’ve received for review is to slap a sticky note on the cover with the name of who gave me the book (Litfuse, Tyndale Publishing, Moody Press, an author, etc…). Then either the date that the review is supposed to go live, or if there’s not a specific deadline, then the date I received the book in the mail (so I know my priorities).

FullSizeRender-6

As I was gathering the books this morning, I realized that they’d once again piled up. I currently have thirteen books that should be reviewed between Monday and the end of August. I’m not even sure how many more books are on the way, because so many interesting titles keep popping up in my inbox begging me to review them. (I might or might not have signed up for another book this morning while sorting through emails to figure out which publishing companies sent which books.)

In addition to the books to review, books keep pouring in from other locations:

  • I have a stack of ten library books next to my chair
  • I’ve read five books this month from Overdrive (e-books from the library)
  • I signed up for several different author and publisher newsletters which supplied a whole slew of free kindle books; like, eight from just this past week. I’ve even begun deleting some of the emails without reading them. But, come to think of it, ebooks don’t take up any space, and if they’re free and look interesting? Well, I might as well go and download four more….
  • And to top it all off, I splurged and bought several books. (Because I highly recommend supporting authors by buying books – no matter how many you can get for free.)

Having this many books at my fingertips makes me feel incredibly rich. It amazes me how we live in an age where books are freely accessible to so many people. Instead of laboriously hand copying each book, we can mass-produce them. We don’t even have to print them any more – people can read books electronically. (And we have electricity! Just take a moment to ponder that.)

And speaking of wonders, I’m off to clean the house while listening to an audio book. How cool is that?

Where do you get most of the books you read?