Saturday, July 23, 2011

Fresh chicken

We get a lot of grief about our raising chickens for meat. It does annoy me, but I try not to show it. Some of our friends do not raise chickens, or other animals, really. They seem to think it's just weird or "ick", especially the butchering part (well, that part IS quite "ick")

We often find ourselves around friends/acquaintences/new people we meet who raise chickens and have met a few, what shall I call them. . .chicken "snobs" ? I don't know. What I mean by this is people who love raising chickens (as we do) and favor either the heritage breeds or basically the slower-growing meat birds. Well, more than favor, more like think it's wrong to grow the Cornish rock crosses which we raise. I have even heard them call them those genetically modified birds.

Come on now. They are certainly their own thing. Not the pretty, hardy dual-purpose birds, just fast-growing, heavy eating birds, which are ugly when old enough to butcher. They are NOT genetically modified, just selectively bred. Think of all the other odd crosses you see in other species, such as dogs. . .peek-a-poo or whatever they all are. . .Selective breeding is not looked down upon in cases like that!

Anyhow, back to our meat birds. We butcher them at about 8 weeks. In the best of all worlds, if we had a barn, and lots of pasture land, more money, etc etc. . .I'd LOVE to raise the heritage or dual-purposes for meat. But that's not where we are right now. Right now, what is practical for us to raise for meat is the Cornish crosses. We raise them so we know where our food is coming from, and they taste good!

Honestly, what is my option? I could buy chicken from the supermarket or feed my kids with these that we are able to raise. And I'll tell you I am more satisfied with feeding us these than the alternative. Ah well, So I'll just paste a smile on and let those comments roll right off, and continue to feed my family food that I know where it came from.

My First Hands-On Bible

This book is called a Bible for pre-schoolers, I’d more call it a book of Bible passages for preschoolers. Truthfully, it’s selected Bible stories/passages, not a complete Bible in any way, which is why I make this distinction. That being said, how many preschoolers do you know who can read, or who would want to be able to read through an actual Bible at that age in their life?

This Bible fits a great niche, for engaging preschoolers in select Bible passages. It is not only the Bible “story” but also great hands-on suggestions for parent/child to do together to reinforce what they are learning. There is a prayer, some conversation starting questions, several ideas of activities to do while actually reading the passage and some for after the passage is through. My favorite inclusion is “The Jesus Connection” in which each story is related to Jesus and He is shown to be central throughout the entire Scripture.

One thing that I thought it was a little “soft” on was the idea of sin/separation from God. I understand that this is geared for the very young, but it’s never too early to learn about the cost of sin.

Besides this being a great book for parents to read to young children (oh, I didn’t mention the super illustrations too—they’re just right!), I think this book would be great for Sunday School teachers of young kids—each chapter would be a great lesson plan, with just adding a thing or two—voila! Lesson plan!

I would certainly recommend this book for parents (or grandparents!) of young children and also for Sunday School teachers. It is a nicely made book to help children become excited about the Bible at a young age, as well as a great starting point for parents to teach them from the Bible.

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Restless in Carolina by Tamara Leigh

This book was the first that I’ve read by this author, Tamara Leigh. It was a nice enjoyable easy read—nice Christian fiction with a little romance thrown in. The main character of the book, Bridget, is a young widow who owns a nursery, an opossum, and an old truck. Her family is, well. . .eccentric? Throughout the story she is seeking to assist her uncle in the sale of their family property for reasons which I won’t tell you here (don’t want to spoil anything for a future reader!) There are many other supporting characters who are developed to different degrees, but all add to the story.

This was a pleasant book to read, a bit predictable, but I like predictability for happy endings at least! There were so many characters entering and exiting the story that I thought maybe I would have understood it more easily had I read some of the other books in the series, nevertheless it’s a good read, even without that background.

I’d recommend this book as a nice easy quick read. Not deep, but good. A nice clean book, enjoyable and entertaining.

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Already Compromised by Ken Ham and Greg Hall

The subtitle of this book is, “Christian colleges took a test on the state of their faith and the final exam is in.” The basis of the book is a survey given to college presidents, vice presidents, and heads of science departments and religion departments at colleges which are called “Christian.” The results of this survey may be surprising to some, not so much to others.

The findings of the survey indicate that a large portion of the colleges labeled Christian colleges do not hold to some of the basic points of fundamental, evangelical Christianity, such as creation and other such Scriptural (Old Testament primarily) themes. Colleges which were founded originally to help spread the gospel are now causing many to abandon it. The chapters go through segments of the survey and summarize the results, giving Biblical comments/teaching on the topics. There is also a website they refer readers to for further information, including a list of colleges which were included in the survey (I did wish that was in the book, in an appendix or something!)

I thought the book was well-written, on a sort-of interesting topic. The results were, however, not surprising to me. I mean, look at the range of “protestant” churches—would each of them teach/support the same things? Obviously not—so why so surprised when “Christian colleges” are so varied as well? When making my choice of college 20 years ago (!) I had to sort through many of these in favor of one which fully supported and propagated Biblical truth. Those who make college choices on the basis of something so superficial as a label—well, you ought to look a little deeper! As a book which will at least bring these ideas to the forefront, I think it is a valuable tool. No “eye-opener” from my point of view, but good to remember, for a student as well as a parent.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pieces of Light by Julie Cave

Another mystery book to review! This book is a wonderfully clean, ethical mystery with spiritual teaching overtones throughout the book. It focuses on the main character, a new Christian named Dinah who is working with her former partner in the FBI to solve a series of church bombings. As the story unfolds, the reader learns more and more about Dinah as well as about the person responsible for the bombings. Sprinkled throughout the book were several harsh reality themes such as self abuse (cutting) and child/spousal abuse. There is also quite a bit of overt Biblical teaching on Christians dating non-Christians and also a clear salvation message at the end of the book.

The pattern of the book is a flip-flop back and forth between “present day” and a time one year ago. This is admittedly not my favorite format, but it is a type of writing that many people enjoy.

The book Pieces of Light is Cave’s third book in the Dinah Harris mystery series. Often I read books out of sequence, sometimes it’s a drawback, sometimes it’s just fine. For the most part, I thought the author did a good job of filling in background information that was missed by not reading the first two books. The one part that I thought I missed out on was the history with Senator Winters—I never really did understand how that whole story line fit in with the book, but I imagine had I read the earlier books it may have fit in better.

All in all, it was a nice read, I’d recommend it, but I think I’d suggest looking up the first two books in the series first.

I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Water's Edge by Robert Whitlow

I haven’t read a book like Water’s Edge for a long time; not since I used to read stuff by Grisham. I don’t know how I stopped reading these “legal thriller” type books, but I was so pleased with this one! I do not have any background in the legal field, and that did not stop me from enjoying this book immensely.

The main character in this book, Tom Crane, is a lawyer who as the book begins, has just lost his father, his job, and his girlfriend (and even his cat!) He goes back to his hometown to close out his father’s law practice and stay with his uncle for awhile. While in this process he becomes entangled in something his father left behind and also develops a relationship with the Lord.

The book has many characters which the author develops nicely. They add to the main story line of the book, and are interesting to read about. When reading through the book, it seems to go slowly, as it is a nice “meaty” kind of book, but in my opinion, it’s the kind of book one wants to last awhile, not a “fluffy” book (though I do like those too!) It is a nice little mystery and has a real Christian content too, not just a little bit of religious mention, but a picture of Christ’s working in someone’s life. Now, don’t get the idea, however, that it’s a preachy type of book—it’s not at all. It’s a nice, clean, interesting mystery book—and I would certainly recommend it! I’ll definitely look for other books by this author, Robert Whitlow!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Complete Zoo Adventure, a field trip in a book

The Complete Zoo Adventure is an amazing book with so many different uses/applications I hardly know where to begin! First off, let me begin by saying “Thank You!” to the authors, Mary and Gary Parker and to the publishers, Master Books, for giving us a book about animals and their lives which does not revolve around evolution! The subtitle of this book calls it “A Field Trip in a Book”. It is that and so much more!

This book is a nicely spiral bound hard-cover book, which contains activities for leading up to, during, and after a trip to a zoo. It is a great book for families, homeschoolers, Christian school teachers, etc. There are facts and illustrations about so many different animals one may encounter at a zoo—eyecatching and just begging to be read and learned! There are devotions dealing with animals and what will be seen/learned at a zoo. There are great activities and resources for students and teachers! Shall I go on? At the back of the book, attached to the inner cover, is a folder containing field fact cards, biome cards, field journals, name tags. . .The creators of this book were very thorough, and this book will be a definite addition to our homeschool curriculum! We look forward to using it next year to supplement our animal segment.

I’m sure you’ve guessed already, but I would definitely recommend this book. I think I may even use it as a gift for some of my nieces and nephews! They’ll love it! (and so will their parents!)

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review; I was not required to write a positive review.

Life of John Newton

The book Life of John Newton is a historical book in two ways. It is a biography of John Newton, who lived in the 18th century; it is also a book which was originally published in 1831 by the American Sunday School Union. It has been reprinted today in 2011 and I am happy to report that it is a pleasurable book to read even today.

The life of John Newton seemed to be filled with one crisis after another. Without giving too much away about the book, I will mention that some of these crises included the death of his mother, excessive illnesses, shipwrecks, and slavery and slave trade (of himself and others). It is a book filled with adventure and excitement, with a true message of conversion. Newton’s life was a true illustration of the grace of God—going from one who had no (or very little) interest in or place for God in his life–to a life of full-time ministry as a pastor of first a country church and then a city church. The Lord’s guiding hand turned Newton to Himself and redeemed him from a life which we today would think horrid.

I would definitely recommend this book, especially if you enjoy reading the stories of people’s lives. This biography is very interesting, even exciting. It’s written in an easy-to-read way. Don’t let the fact that it was originally written more than 150 years ago stop you from reading it! It was a great mixture of the author’s telling about Newton’s life interspersed with letters/writings of Newton himself. I was surprised to see that there was not emphasis or note of what we would probably consider Newton’s most long-lasting contribution, Amazing Grace, but maybe that is because of the time in which this book was originally written. It did explain about the Olney Hymns, which contained Amazing Grace.

It is a nice book, gives a good picture of Newton’s life, and would be worth your time to read it!

I received a free copy of this book from New Leaf publishers for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

Desiring God by John Piper

I had heard of the book Desiring God and had heard of its author, John Piper, whose name is often included in lists of influential Christian men, but had never read one of his works until now. I have just finished reading Desiring God, and would like to tell you a bit of my take on it.

One of the main points the author would like to share is that we are intended to enjoy God, or find joy in God/the service of God/a life lived for the Lord (his term in Christian Hedonism). Throughout every chapter of the book, this point is brought out: in relation to different facets of life such as marriage, missions, sacrifice/suffering, prayer, etc. There is also a study guide at the back which would lend itself easily to being used in a Bible study setting.

So—my thoughts—it was long. Not just long, but loooooooong. I don’t want to diminish the message of the book, but honestly, it’s only around 300 pages long, but because of the way it’s written it seemed oh so much longer--and I had a hard time reading through it. It takes a lot of thought and focused attention to understand. I’d call it a kind of academic/scholarly book even. You cannot just read it lightly or with distractions.

The author is very thorough and I love the fact that he uses Scripture throughout to teach, not just his opinions. The prevalence of joy and rejoice and such themes throughout the Bible certainly seem to back up his teachings about God wanting us to find joy in our service of Him.

All this being said, I would give this book a high ranking for content, though maybe not so high for readability. Give it a try! God can certainly speak to you through it, bringing certain points to the forefront which He wants to teach you.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.