Monday, December 19, 2011

Review of December 1941

I read this book from cover to cover. I have read many books about World War II and was looking forward to reading this book. I was greatly disappointed. The author states at the beginning that he used the newspapers of the day to write the book, along with some previously undisclosed top secret documents. 

Each chapter is titled according to the day. There are 31 chapters. The first six chapters happen before Pearl Harbor, and though the author does reveal some information that the government had prior to Pearl Harbor day, he spends an inordinate amount of time and energy covering sporting events (70 year old football games, anyone?), entertainment news and other extraneous things that I am not interested in now, much less when they are so old. Many of the stars of the day that he reports on to the point of exhaustion are not even people I recognize and they certainly are not important to the story line he was trying to achieve.

When the author finally gets to Pearl Harbor day, I expected the pace to pick up, but this was not to be the case. I assume that he did it this way because he was following newspaper articles, but the one chapter that should be mesmerizing and gripping was boring and confusing. I know that Pearl Harbor day happened on December 7, but from the author's account it could have just as easily have happened on December 11th. It wasn't until December 11th that the author got around to revealing the seriousness of the attack. 

By Christmas day things were going badly for America in the new war, but the populace was strongly supportive. The author is still reporting on football scores and movies at the theaters. There is more war news, but often there are long lists of people involved in different aspects of government work, to the detriment of plot progression. Often, he jumps from one subject to another, without any cohesion. 
I didn't like this book. I wanted to like it, but I did not.

I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Summaries of Several Spurgeon Sermons about Isaiah 28:24 to 29

I love Spurgeon. I will just say that to begin with. There have been so many times in my life that a Spurgeon sermon was just the recipe for some need I was experiencing or scripture I was pondering.

I have recently read three of his sermons relating to the scripture Isaiah 28:24 to 29, which say 

         "When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually? Does he keep on breaking up and harrowing the soil? When he has leveled the surface, does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin? Does he not plant wheat in its place, barley in its plot, and spelt in its field? His God instructs him and teaches him the right way. Caraway is not threshed with a sledge, nor is a cartwheel rolled over cumin; caraway is beaten out with a rod, and cumin with a stick. Grain must be ground to make bread;so one does not go on threshing it forever. Though he drives the wheels of his threshing cart over it, his horses do not grind it. All this comes from the LORD Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom." 

This scripture has really been on my mind lately. I have been pondering it. And Spurgeon is just the ticket for carrying the pondering farther.

That's the background.

Now for only the highest highlights from my readings. I may come back and give more info on each sermon in another few posts.

From  The Ploughman (Remember, Spurgeon was British, so the spelling is British.)

  • The ploughman perseveres. He keeps at his work until it is done. 
  • When the Holy Spirit brings a man to the place he is downright earnest in his praying, it won't be long before he finds peace. 
  • Keep your hand to the gospel plough. Continue in well-doing.
  • Then, answer the question in negative. Ploughman doesn't only plough. He has other jobs.
From A Feast for Faith 
  • Prayer: Lord, work salvation in me. I will have nothing to do with my own merit or strength. I will be dead that Thou mayst live in me. I will be nothing. Be Thou my all in all.
  • Sitting at Jesus' feet with Mary is the very best preparation for doing the work of Martha without being cumbered by it.
  • Don't run ahead of the cloud that leads by day. Keep in pace with the Spirit.
  • When we are content to wait on God's plan, it opens to us very wonderfully.
  • When we do know God's plan, we must carry it out, for the same God who is "wonderful in counsel" is "excellent in working." (KJV).
  • When you resolve to carry out God's plan, expect His singular assistance.
  • Whenever there is the working of the sword of Joshua and the prayers of Moses, there will also be the almighty arm of God.
From The Principal Wheat
  • "The wisdom of earth is a reflection of the light of heaven."
  • God is the great teacher of agriculture and handicrafts.
  • If God instructs in gardening, will He not much more instruct us in the "tillage of our lives", if we ask? 
  • The farmer knows what is the most important crop to cultivate and makes it his own.
  • The farmer gives the principal thing the principal place.
  • The farmer selects the best seed for sowing, not accepting mealy, moldy seeds.
  • The farmer tends the principal crop with principal care. 
  • Do these things, because from your principal care you may expect your principal crop.

I would encourage you to read the entire sermons at the connecting link, if you get a chance. But even if you don't, I hope these notes will encourage and instruct you today. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Review of Bound for Glory by Timothy Botts

This book has 52 African American spirituals, with the words to the songs, a reflective passage about the song, and a beautiful calligraphic letterforms painting. I personally liked the reflective passages that were written by the artist, because he would usually explain the process behind his art.

Some of the old spirituals were unknown to me, but many were familiar to me and would probably be familiar to you: Rock-a-My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham, We are Climbing Jacob's Ladder, Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho, Them Bones, Them Bones, Them Dry Bones, Go Tell it on the Mountain, He's Got the Whole World In His Hands, and This Little Light of Mine are among the more familiar songs. I found myself singing to my children while reading this book.

After reading it the first time, I went back and re-read the calligraphic letterform paintings. I love them. They are beautiful. They are art. The pictures are so stunning, in fact, that I wanted you to see an example of them.

After reading this book, I have decided to purchase 2 copies for friends of mine. One person was a singer in a college choir. They sang many of these songs in performances. The other has suffered a devastating loss and I think this book will comfort her.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Review of Going Deep by Gordon MacDonald

I really enjoyed this book. My only hesitation in recommending it wholeheartedly is that it is fiction. This did not really happen. Too bad.

In this fictional account of a New England church, Pastor Gordon MacDonald and his wife go to a Red Sox game with their neighbors and good friends, the unchurched and unsaved Sorianos. Mr. Soriano asks Pastor MacDonald what the church's elevator story is. The pastor doesn't know the term. It is a story that a person tells to the other person in an elevator that succinctly sums up the mission. If the story is compelling enough, it causes the other person in the elevator to invest to a tune of $20 million.

This question starts the pastor on a search that leads him to pray for a "great idea" that will make the church more like the one he described in his elevator story. A church member hands him a quote from Richard Foster. "The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people or gifted people, but for deep people." (page 23).

This quote begins to focus the pastor's quest, so he and his wife and some others work to define "deep people." They come up with things like: worshipful reverence for Jesus. Caring about others. Caring about the church. Calm and certain in the face of difficult circumstances. Unashamed to speak about God's grace and favor in life. Vigorous daily devotions. Faith and optimism in God's power. Influence others because people look to them for "inspiration, guidance, and assurance." (all of this from page 123).

After agreeing on the definition of deep people, the church determines to cultivate them in their church. A small group of people, both men and women are chosen for a year long discipleship in order to cultivate a "deepening" experience with Christ in their lives.

The remainder of the book is dedicated to this process. Enough information and supplementary books are given that it would be entirely possible, if you desired, to re-create this for yourself, using the books provided and praying your way through it.

Highly recommended.

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I Was Nominated for a Blogging Award!

Kris from Georgia Home Garden, an absolutely great blog about his garden, kindly nominated me for the Liebster Blog.

The idea with this Blog Award is that it is presented to people who have less than 200 followers. They in turn "pay it forward" by nominating 3 to 5 people for the award, as well.

Here is the description from Kris's site:

The Liebster Blog Award is designed to introduce others to enjoyable blogs that have less than 200 followers. When you accept the award, you choose 3-5 other blogs that you feel are deserving of more subscribers and pass the award on to them.

Here are the rules:
1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And most of all - have fun! 

The first person I want to present the award to is my dear friend, with a great and funny homeschool blog, Layla, at Flat (Tire)d Homeschool. I love her blog. She makes me laugh. Her blog is so great and worth reading. I look forward to all her new posts. 

The next person I would like to present an award to is Doris of The Art Annex. She is an art teacher in Huntington, New York. I get more great ideas from her site than from any other. I love to read about her arts and crafts with children ranging in ages from preschool (about 4) to high school.

The third person I would like t present an award to is "Ribbit" from The Corner Yard. She writes a garden blog in the summer, and then at other seasons of the year she talks about what is going on at the school at which she works. I enjoy reading about her garden and her children. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Review of Grumble Hallelujah

When I read the title, I expected this to be a book that would make me laugh at myself while overcoming complaining. That is not what this book is about. It is about the author's own complaints about her own life, most of which are very petty. Some of the complaints she has include 1) that her electricity went off because of a storm, 2) that her nice expensive home is not as nice as the person's across the street, 3) that she doesn't have a lake house, 4) that her friends get to take "dream vacations" while she takes stay-cations, and that her book "...ended up in publishing purgatory for years." (quote from page 53.)

I expected to be challenged to find the truth in God's word that gratitude is better than complaining. I expected to laugh at how silly I am to complain when my life is so good. But what I got instead was a theology based on other people's Facebook posts. She constantly quotes Facebook status updates and then takes that one line quote, internalizes it, and forms her chapters around that. 

This was not a good, enjoyable read for me, and I cannot recommend the book unless you want to hear a lot of complaining, no real answers for your problems, and many, many Facebook status posts. Ugh.

If you would like to be challenged and helped to overcome real problems, I would recommend The Blessing of Adversity: Finding Your God-given Purpose in Life's Troubles instead. 

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Tyndale for the opportunity to read this book.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Encouragement for the Weary Gardener or Farmer

Back in July of this year, I really contemplated giving up the garden. I thought I would admit defeat, and throw in the towel.

I had been working in the garden every day, most of the time at least twice a day. I sowed. I watered. I weeded. I picked bugs off by hand. I refrained from using pesticides. I refrained from using chemical fertilizers. I prayed. I composted.(And, really, sometimes I found that to be really gross   Vertigo Smiley I read every book I could get from the library (about 40 of them).

But with all this effort, and time, sweat and toil, I only harvested 5 cherry tomatoes and ZERO slicing tomatoes out of 23 tomato plants of different varieties (because they all contracted a disease carried by whiteflies and died). I harvested 5 eggplants total. I harvested at most 10 green beans at a time, about 10 times. I harvested 5 green peppers, and 5 hot peppers.

To be honest, I did harvest 58 jars of pears, but I had nothing to do with that harvest. The tree was well-established before I was even born, and much before we ever bought the property. I also harvested a jar of dried basil, half a jar of dried oregano, and a jar of dried lemon balm (for winter teas).

So, all in all, I began to feel that this whole gardening thing was not worth the effort. Maybe I should go back to flowers. I never seemed to have any trouble growing flowers. Or maybe I should just give up altogether.

That's where I was when I got the following encouragements from scriptures.

I found it amazing that scripture speaks directly to the exact problem I was having. Sometimes you succeed, and sometimes you fail, but keep sowing. You don't know whether this will succeed or that will, or both will do equally well. (That would be a harvest I would like to see.)

Sow your seed in the morning and at evening do not let your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that,  or whether both will do equally well.  Ecclesiastes 11: 6

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. James 5: 7-8

Also, it was amazing to me to notice that the James scripture specifically connects waiting for harvest to waiting for the Lord's return. I had never noticed that before. I will not give up looking for my Lord. And I will be patient and stand firm with the garden, too.

So my encouragement to you is the same one that I received. Don't give up. Keep trying. Try something new if this isn't working. You will eventually learn this. You will eventually harvest something. Just keep trying and  keep learning. Add your failures to your education and you will eventually succeed. The only real failure is quitting.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Review of Love You More by Jennifer Grant

This is a delightful book detailing the personal story of one family as they adopt their daughter after having three children. I loved this book and found it highly readable. I really liked that the point of the book was not to shame the reader into adopting. I also really liked the way Mrs. Grant relates to her children. Her visible love for each of them and the way she loves each one individually and equally was a great bonus in this book.

She candidly speaks of the impatience to have her daughter home and the blows that adoption made to her peace of mind. Though her story doesn't seem all that unusual to me, (knowing many people who adopted) she seemed genuinely and totally surprised that the adoption took so long, that it was so emotionally draining, that it cost her so much in emotional reserves, that she went through the motions day after day.

I enjoyed it. I don't plan to adopt. But I love to read well-written true stories about family life, and this book fits that description.

I received this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review. I received no other compensation for the book.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Eggplant Ravioli

Here's the recipe I am planning to have tomorrow when my company comes. When I was in Italy, I had a wonderful dish of Eggplant Ravioli at some small restaurant. That was one of my all-time best meals EVER. I looked for years for a recipe for Eggplant Ravioli. I did find one, but it was really difficult. You had to make the raviolis by hand.

I had finally given up, and happened on this recipe in a magazine. (I am sorry, but I have had the recipe for years, and I didn't cut out the reference information for it. It does have calorie information and amounts for protein, fat, fiber, etc. so it might be Southern Living magazine, but that is just a guess.)

This recipe is almost as good as the meal I had in Italy, and the directions are really easy.

The eggplants I am using are from my garden. 

This is the meal before I cooked it. (I'll cook it tomorrow, once
my guests get here.)

Eggplant Ravioli

Vegetable Cooking Spray
2 t olive oil
1/2 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2- 15 ounce cans of tomato sauce
2 T sliced ripe olives
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 t dried thyme (I'll use fresh tomorrow, since I have so much thyme growing in the yard.)
1 t to 1 T of fresh oregano
2   packages of refrigerated cheese-filled ravioli, uncooked.
3 T grated Parmesan cheese

Coat a large nonstick pan with cooking spray. Add olive oil, and place over medium high heat. Add eggplant, onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in tomato sauce, ripe olives, vinegar and thyme. Remove skillet from heat.

Cook ravioli according to package directions. Drain. Rinse with cold water, and drain. Toss with vegetable mixture and place in 1 1/2 quart shallow baking dish.  Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Revew of George Washington Carver by John Perry

George Washington Carver is someone I really like and admire. His work has been really beneficial to people in my area. I actually know people who testify that they have personally benefited from his work with peanuts and sending out Jesup Wagons.

I was looking forward to reading this book, because I expected to learn more about his admirable qualities. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this book by John Perry. His view of Dr. Carver as a petty, self-promoting person who happened to be kind, but rather uninformed was really disturbing to me.

There were some things that were good about the book, but in order to find them, I had to look past the author's bias against Dr. Carver. For instance, I really liked finding out that Dr. Carver believed in direct observation of nature and hands-on experiences as essential to learning. I liked learning that he felt the student must encounter nature, that nature is both entertaining and instructive, and that nature both encourages investigation and stimulates originality. Dr. Carver's teaching style was to lead walks through the woods, and bring specimens to class. He felt that hands-on is better than lecture or text book learning.  These are points I can actually use in my homeschooling.

He also felt that nature was a window through which to view God's glory, and that nature is a way through which God speaks to us every day, every moment and every hour of our lives. I can see that.

I received this book from Book Sneeze in exchange for an honest review. I am thankful to Book Sneeze for sending me a copy for review.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Review of Safely Home by Randy Alcorn

Safely Home by Randy Alcorn is the story of 2 old friends. One was from China, the other from the US. They met at Harvard during college. They shared a dorm.  20 years passed. The American was now in line for the CEO of a large American corporation. His boss thought it would be a good idea for the American to go to China to live with his old friend from Harvard, in order to increase business in China. The boss thought they could sell more in China if they better understood the culture of the consumer.

The Chinese man had become a Christian during his stay in America. The American man was able to locate the Chinese man, and the Chinese family invited him to stay at their home for six weeks. From the moment the American arrives in the home of the Chinese, the book is a fast paced, roller coaster ride. The book is exciting, adventurous, and challenging in ways I never expected. I don't want to say too much about the story line, because I don't want to spoil any of the twists and turns.

I loved this book. I loved the rollicking, action-adventure, don't-want-to-put-it-down quality of the writing. I loved the view of the differences between the persecuted church and the American church. I loved the honor accorded to the Christians in the persecuted church by Mr. Alcorn. 5 stars.

Disclaimer: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers, in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Review of A Well Planned Day Planner

I LOVE my copy of The Well Planned Day Planner. You have a choice of either a pdf file or a beautifully spiral bound notebook. I chose the pdf file, so that I can print only the pages I need.

The colors are beautifully calming. If your homeschool is anything like mine, anything that would add an element of calm is welcome. Upon browsing the planner, several wonderful things showed up. First, there are quotes by some "Old Dead Guys" I love: Spurgeon and Billy Sunday, among others. Second, there is a weekly catechism. This looks like a nice addition to our Bible time. Additionally, up to four children can be planned on a single page.

There is a "Monthly List of Books to Enjoy," which I plan to use in the past tense--for books that have been read by my children or to my children. There is also a wonderful monthly field trip list page. The monthly bills and expenses can be posted right there with the other information to keep me on track. There is even a weekly menu planner, along with a weekly priorities list and a weekly school chart. And at the front of the planner, there is a Keepsake Page. It allows you to jot the ages of each child this school year, attach a photo and answer some questions about things that were family favorites this year (favorite read aloud book, favorite game to play, favorite movie watched.) Wonderful!  All of this is personalizable for my tastes.

In addition to all of this, there are short articles scattered throughout. Each is like a magazine article to encourage moms in their homeschooling adventure.

I am thrilled with my copy of The Well Planned Day Planner.

FTC disclaimer: I received a copy of The Well Planned Day in exchange for an honest review. I received no other compensation for this review.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Review of We Shall See God by Randy Alcorn

When I first heard about We Shall See God by Randy Alcorn I was very excited. I have treasured the things that the Lord has taught me through Spurgeon and this book was written by Mr. Alcorn using sermons by Spurgeon.

Well, the book is simply fantastic! I loved it. It is set up like a devotional with 50 days of devotional thoughts on heaven. First, Mr. Alcorn quotes a passage from one of Spurgeon's sermons, including the scripture and then Mr. Alcorn himself comments on the quote.

The Spurgeon quotes were not stilted as they sometimes are and Mr. Alcorn's thoughts flowed very well with what Spurgeon had said. I have read many devotional books. Always in the past I would read them quickly from start to finish in order more like one would read a regular book. With this book, I read it as a devotional. I would read one or two of the devotional days (not necessarily in order, but according to which title sounded interesting) then I would ponder those thoughts all day long.

Anything by Spurgeon has always been fodder for deep pondering for me and fodder for moving further in my Christian life. And this book is no different. The only difference (if it can be counted as one) is that this time I have also got the words of Mr. Alcorn to ponder.

I have never read any other books by Mr. Alcorn, but this book is enough to interest me in some of his other works. I would be interested in reading Heaven by Randy Alcorn now that I have read this book.

Tyndale Publishing sent this book to me in exchange for an honest review. I am so grateful. I have enjoyed every moment with this book. Thank you, Tyndale Publishing.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review of Secrets of the Vine For Women by Darlene Marie Wilkinson

I read this book with anticipation, since John chapter 15 is one of my favorite parts of scripture. The book was short--only 110 pages of actual text. And the way she presented the scripture did not have very much depth. 

Each chapter begins with a fictional account of a vineyard at harvest time. From there, Mrs. Wilkinson goes on to say a little about John chapter 15. Her first point is that there will be discipline if a believer’s life consistently bears no fruit. The second point is that there will be pruning if there is some fruit. Then she speaks of much fruit. In this section, she mentions that Jesus “asks us to become more and more dependent on Him, and the amazing result is an abundance of fruit.” P. 83.

The book was all right, but it was by no means outstanding. It did not challenge me in any way. I much prefer books like Radical by David Platt, personally. 
It would be a good book for a new Christian, and would perhaps be a good book for a women's Bible study, but it is not a good book for someone who desires any type of depth or challenge. 

I would like to thank WaterBrook Multnomah for sending me a free copy of this book. They required nothing from me other than an honest review.

Monday, May 16, 2011

What a great soup!

I am not one to post recipes on my blog very often. There are lots of other sites out there for that. But I have been eating soups pretty regularly for awhile now. I had some Lima beans in the fridge that I needed to eat up. The rest of my family are not really fans of Lima beans. So, I decided to see if there were any good Lima bean soup recipes online.

I tend to make my soups in the morning when I have more time and energy and the kids are happy to play with each other. Then I refrigerate them and eat them for lunch or supper. That's why I made this soup at nine in the morning. =D>

I found this recipe,1948,152184-242205,00.html

I modified it this way.

I put 2 tablespoons of butter in a hot pan. Then added finely chopped onion (about 1/2 of a large onion.) When the onions were translucent, I threw in 1/3 cup of the cream of ... soup mix I use instead of cans of cream soup and then added 1 and 1/3 cups of water. I stirred it while it thickened, about 5 minutes.

Then I threw in all the Lima beans I had (about the amount that 2  14-ounce cans would produce.). I added curry powder to taste. I added pepper, but no salt since everything had already been salted. When I tasted it, I thought a little turmeric would add a nice color and flavor. I threw in a pinch of that. I heated it through, about 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Then I used my immersion blender to mix everything well.

Then I tasted and almost swooned. That is probably one of the best soups I have ever eaten!! (If I do say so myself.)

Because my "friend" at Life in a Shoe just posted her desire for our best bean/lentil recipes with extra points to those whose recipes are vegetarian, I want to add a link to her site. Here you go.