Thursday, June 29, 2017

My Bible Adventure Through God's Word; a review


This seems to be my week for reviewing children's books but when I find two excellent options available, I want to share them.  This charming book is subtitled 52 Bible Stories For Kids and can be read by early elementary readers or (what I would also suggest) be used for reading to preschool kids.

While the book contains the familiar stories you would expect, having fifty-two short stories enables it to include some of them that you may not find in other books of Bible stories.  Each story has delightful illustrations kids will love.

Each story is told in such a way that is both close to the actual section of  Scripture where it is found and is easy for kids to understand.  There is an optional "Take It With You" box at the end of each story with a short "Truth" of applying the story to a child's everyday world.

I like the size of this book (5.8" by 8.7") and it is sturdy enough to be carried around by young children, dropped, lost and then found, and read over and over through the years while staying intact.  A ribbon is included to mark where you stopped reading or favorite stories.  Highly recommended!

My Bible Adventure was provided by the publisher for the sake of review but the opinions are my own.

Further information is available... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The ICB Blessed Garden Bible, a review


If you can tell a Book by its' cover, then children will be absolutely drawn into God's Word with this one.  I wish the photo could show you how pretty this kid's Bible is in person, there is a glitter in the flowers and around the little birds.

The color is a beautiful blue/aqua, which causes colors of the flowers, birds, and animals to pop enough that you feel it truly is a garden.  Although promoted to little girls, I know a nature loving boy would like this, too.

The translation is the International Children's Bible and the font is somewhat small but larger than many kid's Bibles.  There is a Presentation Page and there are extra pages within that have the pretty colors shown on the front.  These include such things as a Bible Timeline, The Names of God, The Miracles of Jesus, a list of The Disciples, a Where Kids Are Found in the Bible section, and more.

This Bible would make an excellent gift for any little girl to inspire them to read (or be read) God's Word.  I smiled as soon as I opened the box from the publisher and saw the cover!

The ICB Blessed Garden Bible was provided by the publisher for the sake of review but the opinions are my own.

Further information can be found... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Relationships and Reality


I truly believe that there is something in our surroundings those first years of life that are embedded in our soul throughout the remainder of our years.  Perhaps unrealized, when we see an object or hear a song or smell the aroma of a certain food.  We remember...

In late summer and early fall, when the corn is high and becoming golden, I feel as if the year is wrapping up.  When I hear a train whistle in the distance, it brings a smile. When I grind wheat for bread, I'm once again five years old and living across the gravel road from the grain elevator where the train would stop when a load was ready.  It is such a similar aroma.

The orange day lilies growing along side the side of the country roads right now remind me always of my father and our walks in summer when the ditch lilies were blooming.  My wish for my last meal would be chicken fried in an iron skillet, mashed potatoes with homemade gravy, and cooked to death green beans.  My mother's signature meal. I even think of her when I pass a Kentucky Fried Chicken sign.

Although we were not farmers, we lived with the land as we raised chickens, a pig, other animals from time to time, and my parents always grew a huge garden.  My father loved to add to the family meals by hunting and fishing.  Weather was always a subject of importance for those of us in the country.

When I was in early elementary school, we moved to the very small town nearby where the backyard was long and narrow and ended up at a fence near the wetlands.  We called it a swamp.  My mother and other adults would tell children stories to keep them away from the swamp lands.  They worked to a certain extent.

There were no A Girl of the Limberlost style romantic tales of moths or butterflies in these stories. The one I remember the most was about an entire tractor being sucked under by the quicksand.  I can't recall what happened to the farmer and I'm not sure it was actually a true story... or one invented to keep us out of the swamp. 

However, I had a fascination with the land so whenever possible, I made my way to a favorite climbing tree just beyond the fence and enjoyed looking at all the mysterious land.  Once in awhile, another young relative would join me.  We had a healthy fear of quicksand and snakes so we didn't go any farther. I don't think my mother ever caught on.  She may be turning over in her grave.

Growing up the way I did in my childhood, I understood why people value land whether it is to grow food or to protect swamps.  Ummmm.... wetlands.  It wasn't until most of the wetlands in this area were gone that we truly understood their value to much of nature.

As a young wife, I came to value health foods and supplements to improve my husband's immune system.  At the time, he did not realize much of his illness was made worse by being exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam.  We became immersed in finding out about healthy eating as well as beginning to learn about the affects of chemicals in our food, our rivers, our bodies.

A little later, when we lived in Iowa, I was the president of our local health food co-op and we used to laugh about the different kinds of people attracted to health foods.  For we tended to be either conservative Christian homeschoolers (although I didn't homeschool until my son was school age) or very far left hippy style liberals.

You know what?  We got along.  Just fine thank you very much.

Through the years our mutual interests bonded us together stronger than any differences in politics or religion.  I have had in-person friends and many online friends with these mutual interests but different politics and religions and we relished our similarities.  Until this past election.

Then the hate began and even longtime friends were unfriending each other.  People said such vial things that I was shocked.  Hateful words such as I have never experienced were spouted and there was no room at the health food or environment party for conservative Christians.

What happened?  Well, I've thought a lot about it this past year.  Part of it I think, is just the times we live in for those of us who believe we are near the return of Christ (which I do).  The Bible tells us in various places what the world will look like at this time but I'm still shocked.

However, I truly believe the excessive hate is because of the hit and run and anonymous nature of the Internet.  After all, I voted for Reagan and Bush and not one of my liberal friends disowned me at the time.  When Bill Clinton was elected, I went into a minor depression for a few weeks.  But I didn't disown any liberal friends.

Why?  Because we pretty much knew each other face to face.  We lived in the same neighborhoods and shared recipes and our kids played basketball together and we knew each other outside of any labels society would attach.

Take away the face to face knowing, making it all just a label stamped on by the mass media... add a few dozen or hundred or thousand nasty comments from people who will never know us face to face... and we have a whole new world out there.

Throw in the fact that most people can now join the world wide web on their phones (I still have a flip top), we rarely talk to people in person these days.  Yes, some may have a thousand friends on Facebook but do we really know them?

We make up our minds about each other according to what we are made to believe, not by what is reality.  We are being taught to hate but by whom?  Who is manipulating us behind the curtain?  Why is it that there may be a coming civil war in this country and how did we get there?

The only difference I can see from now and my former friendships is this... a combination of 24/7 news cycles and the Internet.  A new world of virtual reality in which people can hit and run comment anonymously and getting rid of friends is as easy as a single click.

I love the friendships I have developed through the Internet, many people for whom I have the same affection as I do those who live in the same town.  However, we do know that the enemy can take what is good and make it used for evil.  I just pray that in my own frustrations at what is written, God guide my fingers and my mouse as well as my tongue to show only grace.

Photo:  The road that runs by my place in the world.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Procrastination Challenge and a bread recipe


You may remember a couple years ago, I gave myself a procrastination challenge to restart some projects that needed to be accomplished.  It worked fairly well so I've been on another such challenge lately.

This is what helped me get the deck and front porch decorated the way I like them... a little at a time.  The only thing I still need to accomplish is to wash the siding on the porch but that will be done at the last minute when I feel a burst of energy!

I've been challenging myself once again to make appointments and get some little projects done here and there.  One good thing about succeeding in the little areas is that it encourages me to attempt the bigger ones... like trying a brand new bread recipe (which involved some work before hand).

I've wanted to try a new bread recipe that I've had sitting in a drawer now for way too long.  I have plenty of wheat that can be freshly ground after two different friends gave me a bag a few years ago.  It lasts almost indefinitely when stored well but I wanted to get the nutrition back in my diet.

I started grinding wheat in the 1990s when I found out it is an excellent way to get hard to absorb B vitamins into the diet, as well as good fiber. For years I made a lot of our bread but this past year, not so much.

Illness this past winter made me more tired than usual so we have been buying our bread.  Since I hadn't been baking bread, I had ground whole wheat that was gong stale.  I still used it in quick breads but so rarely that I threw the rest away when I washed a few canisters from the garage.

I know I could have tried the new bread recipe with all unbleached bread flour but for some reason, it had to be at least partially whole wheat to my thinking.  So finally... a couple days ago... I cleaned the wheat grinder that had been neglected and last night I ground enough wheat for what I needed now and a couple other recipes.

Then this afternoon, after getting a few household chores accomplished, I got out the ingredients needed and the big yellow Pyrex bowl where everything was mixed together.  Did I mention this is a no knead recipe?  Hmm... skeptical here that it would be light as well as tasty.  I let it rise for thirty minutes in the bowl and then poured it into the loaf pan that was sprayed with olive oil and then popped it in the oven and... waited.

I'm glad I had set the timer for less than the recipe called for since my oven runs a little hot.  It looked done about ten minutes early but I used my digital thermometer just to be sure and... there was 200 degrees.  Done!  (It is 190 degrees for bread unless you add milk or an egg and I had added an egg.)  Oh, my... the aroma.  I couldn't wait to try it but it did need to rest awhile.

The photo above has a slice missing because I could not wait any longer.  It smelled so good and I used the excuse that my blood sugar was dropping and I needed to eat.  It was delicious and it will definitely be made one or two times a week, it is so easy.  It's not the prettiest loaf but the ease in preparation makes up for that and it is perfect for just one or two people (or to make to serve with soup).

My next foody type attempt will be to try some pasta salads using orzo, perhaps with black beans and corn and red pepper and... will have to ponder that more.

The recipe is from Heavenly Homemakers and she has some other recipes using the same technique... here.  I want to try them, too.  Soon.  I made it according to the recipe but without the optional cream and I used half whole wheat/half King Arthur bread flour.  Next time I'll use honey instead of raw sugar and probably add an extra tablespoon since we like the honey wheat taste.

I hope you try the recipe and... is there anything you have been putting off?  ;)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Real Artists Don't Starve, a review


In this latest book by Jeff Goins, subtitled "Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age", the author opens with new research that breaks apart a myth.  That being that Michelangelo was not a starving artist.  In fact, the new research shows he became quite wealthy in his work as an artist.

This is just the beginning as he challenges other myths creative people tend to believe.  In story after story, he shares how creatives from all over the world were able to make a living doing what they love.  Whether we use a pen or a paintbrush, whether we sculpt or we make jewelry, whatever talent we have been given can be an occupation.

This book is one you will probably want to read through quickly and then keep on hand for inspiration, perhaps marking favorite sections to come back and reread later.  The sections include:

Part 1: Mind-set
You Aren't Born an Artist
Stop Trying to Be Original
Apprentice Under a Master
Harness Your Stubbornness

Part 2: Market
Cultivate Patrons
Go Join a Scene
Collaborate with Others
Practice in Public

Part 3: Money
Don't Work for Free
Own Your Work
Diversify Your Portfolio
Make Money to Make Art

Conclusion: Join the New Renaissance

I highly recommend this book for anyone who needs inspiration, whether to read stories of people with your same passion or just the reminder that making art is a real career.

This book was provided by the publisher for the sake of review but the opinions are my own.

Further information can be found... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

As Kingfishers Catch Fire, a review


The subtitle of this book by Eugene Peterson is, "A Conversation on the Ways of God Formed By the Words of God", which drew me in immediately. I had appreciated past books by the author but this one caught my attention when I found out it was a compilation of sermons. 

If Peterson, who has mentored so many pastors throughout the years, has put together a book of his hand chosen sermons, I was curious just what these sermons were about.  I wasn't at all disappointed. In fact, it could easily be said that this book has a place on the shelves of any serious Christian who wants to know not just more about God... but to understand how knowing God helps him relate to the world around him.

This is not a book most people would pick up and read through at one time.  I had already decided to read one sermon from each section to be able to give a good review.  I started reading the first sermon from the 1960s and found it necessary to read again, and again, and didn't make it to another sermon in that reading.  For the content was so rich with answers to current questions that it needed some serious attention.  Yes, this book had me at the first sermon.

The contents are divided as follows, with each Part containing seven sermons:
  • Part 1: "He Spoke and it Came to Be", Preaching in the Company of Moses
  • Part 2: "All My Springs are in You", Preaching in the Company of David
  • Part 3: "Prepare the Way of the Lord", Preaching in the Company of Isaiah
  • Part 4: "On Earth as it is in Heaven", Preaching in the Company of Solomon
  • Part 5: "Yes and Amen and Jesus", Preaching in the Company of Peter
  • Part 6: "Christ in You the  Hope of Glory", Preaching in the Company of Paul
  • Part 7: "In the Beginning Was the Word", Preaching in the Company of John of Patmos

I have noticed this book seems to be marketed to pastors but it should be for everyone.  If anyone needs to hear and read good sermons, it is the person in the pew.  The writing is rich and deep and I'll be keeping this book out to read a sermon at a time for many weeks.

This book was provided by the publisher through Blogging For Books but the opinions are my own. 

Further information can be found... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.