Sunday, July 29, 2012

Silly sewing survey question :)

I am teaching my daughter to sew and this topic has come up which I'd never thought about before. . .

How do you hold your foot on the foot pedal of your sewing machine?

It seems like a one-answer question, but for me, I always sew with my right shoe off and my heel on the floor, toe part on the non-hinge end of the pedal (long answer, right?!)

When I was teaching my daughter, she asked why not just use it the other way, with your foot resting all the time on the pedal, heel at the ridged part over the hinges. Now that she asked that it looks like maybe that's the way it's intended to be used!! :)

I don't know why I do it the way I do, but it's the most comfy with most control for me.

How about you?


Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer

The title of the book "Short-Straw Bride" will make the reader expect a love story, a romance, and truthfully--that is not the type of book I enjoy.


I LOVED this book! It is not really a romance, more a historical fiction. Okay, there's romance too. The book centers on two interesting and likeable characters and their interesting relationship. There is a full cast of supporting characters and they are each developed nicely.

The story focuses on Meredith (an orphaned young woman caught in the deceitfulness of her aunt and uncle) and Travis (a reclusive young man who is the head of his reclusive family of brothers). I do not want to give away details, so I'll leave it at that. It's a great story, full of humor and misunderstandings. Yes, there's love but not gushy sappy stuff. It's a fun story with a few twists.

I recommend this book! It is a quick, easy, fun read. I didn't want to put it down! The book was over before I knew it. Sometimes it's fun to read a book just for the entertainment value, and this was one such. It's a very clean, inoffensive book and I enjoyed it! Give it a try!

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

Call of a Coward by Marcia Moston

Call of a Coward by Marcia Moston is subtitled "The God of Moses and the Middle-Class Housewife). That title alone is intriguing to me, introducing thoughts of cowardice and what it is/is not and how that is reflected in my life. And that was before I even read the book!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Call of a Coward. The author seems so transparent, and so. . .NORMAL!! She struggles with the same things I do and wish I did not! Marcia and her husband and young daughter followed God's leading to go to a village in Guatemala for a season of their lives. This book shows glimpses into their lives during this time, from the initial "call" to the "how they got there" to "how did they make it?" to "what happened then?" (haha, you thought I was going to tell you what it was all about, didn't you? Nope! You have to read the book!!)

This family seemed so much like what regular people are. My kids and I read many many biographies of missionaries and they seem kind of different or better or more godly than we are. I know they were just people too, but they seem to have that "shine" or "magic" which moves them a little away from our lives. The Mostons make missions appear to be more within the average family's reach. I appreciate this aspect of the book!

Beyond all that praise (!) I will also say that Call of a Coward is a very interesting book, enjoyable to read. It's not a thorough story and leaves you wishing for a little more detail or explanation at times, which is a good thing I think. As to the theme of the book (the coward thing) I know I'd lump myself in with the coward title. It is hard to wait on the Lord and follow unquestioningly what He wants for us. I really resonate with the feelings of wanting to follow Him but wishing it was easier!! :)

I would recommend this book for sure! It is not just a book about missions or short-term missions but really about a life of wanting to follow God and then going through with it. Good job Marcia Moston on making this book so versatile!

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

Secret Keeper Devotional by Dannah Gresh

Secret Keeper Devotional by Dannah Gresh is a companion to the Secret Keeper book by the same author. It is a daily devotional which focuses on the themes of modesty expounded upon in the book. So many things which abound in today's culture are opposite to a Biblical way of living -- this book does a great job of pointing many of them out. It calls teens to really check out what they are doing and how they are living and decide if it fits within a godly pattern of living as set forth in God's plan-book (the Bible). The format of the devotionals is a verse from the Bible and a topic for the day which is addressed in a narrative/teaching section and followed with questions for thought and application and some leading questions and a lot of blank lines for journaling on the topic.

This book is a great devotional tool for older teenage girls (I say "older" because I have a younger teen and I think some of the topics are just abover her at this point) truthfull, I think that it would be a great tool for a group of college aged young women. The topics are definitely timely and relatable. It's a good companion to the Secret Keeper book.

Another helpful feature of this book is the leader's guide in the end. This book is a good Bible Study tool for teens and the leader's guide makes it very easy for someone to run a Bible study using this book -- full of great ideas and ways to keep it to the theme. As a group study this book would give girls some very important ideas to think about and discuss as well as make decisions to utilize in their lives.

I certainly recommend this book when used with the accompanying book Secret Keeper (a few of the sections are much better understood having read the book).

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

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Big Truths for Little Kids by Susan and Richie Hunt

The book Big Truths for Little Kids is a nice devotional book for parents to read with their children. It is centered on catechism (learning the answers to repeat back to specific questions). Each segment has a set of the catechism questions/answers for children to learn and then a story (a series throughout the book) in which the child/children are faced with a situation where they need the answers to the catechisms as a part of their normal lives.

The stories are sweet, and the follow-up questions for discussion and Bible verse and prayer suggestion are a great accompaniment to making this an easy daily devotional for you to do with your young children. My youngest child is almost 8 and I'd say this book is just on the border of being too "babyish" for her (her words). It's a good book for younger children though (toddler through 6 or 7).

I have mixed feelings on the focus on catechism. On the surface I'd say flat out that Scripture memory is much more important than memorizing the proper answers to these questions. On the other side of that, I had to learn the catechism (although the form in this book is much more child-friendly wording) and I can still remember a lot of it to this day. Kids are good at memorizing, they just are. And having ready answers on the tops of their heads is not a bad thing. So -- I don't see a harm in having them learn the catechism, as long as it is not taking the place of Scripture or given more weight than Scripture.

I'd recommend this book--it's a great devotional tool to use with younger kids!

I received a free copy of this book as a part of the Homeschool Book Review Program of Crossway Books. I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tough Guys and Drama Queens by Mark Gregston

Teenagers! I do not yet have one, although it’s coming soon! You hear all kinds of horror stories about parenting during the teenage years, so why not try to head it off and have at least a game plan for the teenage years? Sounds good, right? This book Tough Guys and Drama Queens gives stories and ideas for parenting throughout the teenage years.

The author gives negative examples of poor parenting and gives positive examples of his policies in working with teens at his residential program. He visits such topics as picking your battles, forgiveness, grace, and mercy, respect, independence, and so many others. The layout of the book is basically first of all, what the teenage culture looks like today, then how you should not parent, and finally how you should. There are plenty of examples and real-life applications.

I did like this book, and throughout reading it I began thinking that I need to do more to mentally and spiritually prepare our family for the teenage years, whether it be reading more books or other things. My philosophy for so much of what we do with/for our children is to prepare them to be responsible adults, and this book is one tool to help with that goal. I'm not sure that I agree with all the ideas in this book, but like much of life, there are good ideas in it, something to be learned from it!

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

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Stargazer's Guide to the Night Sky by Dr. Jason Lisle

Are you interested in astronomy? The Stargazer's Guide to the Night Sky might be an interesting addition to your library! This book covers a variety of topics related to stargazing, and is quite thorough in its explanations. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting--it was more academic in its approach and in its assumption of previous astronomical knowledge.

I was excited to read this book as I have always imagined I'd be enthralled with astronomy :) Through reading this book I have realized that I am not. Hmmmm. Don't know why, but I think throughout reading it I repeatedly felt disconnected, like it was something for someone else. Now, I will admit I am more of a biologist and my interests lie more in that realm, so this may have something to do with it! I did appreciate the discussion of how the eye works in terms of viewing celestial bodies.

The book is very academic, not a light read. I had to read it when the kids were in bed and there were no other distractions(no reading this one in the car!) This book is definitely valuable to me as a great resource, especially for our homeschooling family. As a "read" for me it was too much work~~at this stage of my life I don't want to have to work so hard to understand a book :) BUT as a reference book I believe it will get lots of use throughout the future years in our family!

You can tell the author is passionate about astronomy and viewing the "night sky". His enjoyment and knowledge shine through his writing, which adds to the appeal of the writing. He writes as a teacher trying to inspire his students. There is a very broad range of topics from planets to the moon to basic stargazing to telescope selection and use to the biology of the eye to photographing the astronomical views and etc. There are pages after pages of high-quality photos and drawings

The book is in-depth and academic; the "basic" chapter was deeper than I understood--it took a couple of read-throughs for me to get it. As a reference it'll be very useful, but for me it wasn't a book to just read and enjoy--BUT--I would still recommend it if you're interested in astronomy or a homeschooler!

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