Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Taming the To-Do List - Glynnis Whitwer

I'm not sure this book is titled correctly!  I really enjoyed this book and found it helpful...but it speaks to so much more than just our "to-do lists"!  This book starts out discussing procrastination, what it is, and why we choose to procrastinate.  I found his book extremely helpful in assessing myself: what are the reasons I am putting things off?  What is the price I'm paying by continuing in the bad habits I might have?  Why should I change?

A few tidbits from the book to give an idea of her perspective:

On procrastination: "Procrastination is an intentional delay of something that is in our best interests to do."..."When we procrastinate on the things we know we should do, we are assuming a confidence in the future that is unwise.  In fact, the Bible even goes so far as to call it sin. (James 4:13-17)

On encouraging self-regulation: "Self-regulation is a critical development skill we acquire, starting in childhood, that underlies our behavior.  It's the capacity to control our impulses...without a strong sense of self-regulation, we will act in ways that can cause guilt, shame, and anxiety...self-regulation is critical for long-term well-being."

On bad decisions: "There is always a price to pay.  Sometimes we pay it. Sometimes others pay it. But there is a cost."

On valuing time: "Valuing minutes, not just hours, helps us become wise time managers."

On setting goals: "We must start by being very clear with ourselves.  Giving my children unclear directions is unfair to them.  And it's unfair to do that to myself. The more we can define our expectations, the more likely we are to achieve them."


I would highly recommend this book for those of us who struggle with procrastination, setting goals, accomplishing what we wish we could, or even just making to-do lists.

I received this book free from Revell Reads (Baker Publishing) in exchange for an honest review.

Powerful Moments in the Presence of God - Lorraine Marie Varela

This book is a refreshing mix of photography, Bible verses, and short devotionals.  I find it relaxing to just page through and enjoy the scenery.  I would recommend this as an uplifting small gift for someone, or even just for yourself.

I thought the introduction to the book was interesting...but am not sure it really made sense to use, other than (I guess) a background into who the photographer/author is.

One very small negative note: some of the pictures don't exactly seem to fit the page (Overcome Anxiety: a picture of a couple snuggling, My Love is a Shield: pictures of ships docked at a wharf, etc.)

I received this book free from Chosen Books (Baker Publishing) in exchange for an honest review.

Girl Meets Change - Kristen Strong

We all go through change of some sort in our life.  This is why I chose to read this book.  Kristen is no stranger to change - though she has gone through periods of resisting it and strongly disliking it...much like me, and many others, I would guess.  Kristen helps this book feel more personal by including many stories from not only her own life, but those of her friends and children as well.

If you are going through change right now, this book is a breath of fresh air to help remind us of what is important in the midst of change, and who we are to look to.

I'll wrap this up with a thought I appreciated from the book: "No matter the tilt and whirl of change in this world, I am held together because of Christ.

I received this book free from Revell Reads (Baker Publishing) in exchange for an honest review.

The Reckless Love of God - Alex Early

This book started out with an introduction to the author, and his view of God throughout childhood, then how he came to believe in God and be assured of the truth of God being a God of love.  Then it describes his year following, after seminary and beyond.

The next chapter goes into a theological/educational view of who God is/who Jesus is, and from there explain how these truths can either become part of our life, or stay as rudimentary knowledge.

 One section that I appreciated was "The Bible Has Only One Hero", which talks about the different "heroes" we normally think of in the Bible (Abraham, Moses, David, Peter...) and how they are really just flawed humans.  The only true hero of the Bible is Jesus: "At the end of the day, you will either be looking for heroes in the Bible and feel overwhelming pressure to become one yourself, or you will see Jesus as the true Hero of Scripture, who at the expense of His own life, saved yours."

The closing section of the book speaks to unbelievers, and gives them an honest look at where they are headed, should they choose not to believe and trust in Jesus for who He is.

I did appreciate this book, but I am not sure I agree with him completely. I would encourage this to be read with wisdom, and always to compare it to the Scriptures and make sure what the book says is true, before just accepting it.

I received this book free from Bethany House (Baker Publishing) in exchange for an honest review. 

The Memory Weaver - Jane Kirkpatrick

This book is a historical fiction revolving around the life of Eliza Spalding Warren, who was just 10 when she was involved in the Cayuse massacre in which Marcus and Narcissa Whitman were both killed.  Because of Eliza's fluency in Sahaptin, she was able to translate for the captives, and may have been instrumental in keeping a group of them alive.  This book jumps in when she is 14, and her mother has recently died.

In this book, Eliza meets the man who is to be her future husband, Mr. Andrew Warren.  A few years later, they elope together, and succeed in completely alienating her father from her.  Although Andrew is known to be a gambler and drunkard, their marriage and life together seems to go surprisingly well.  I found this a little hard to believe.  However, Andrew does end up drunk and with a broken leg at one point in the story.

The most fascinating part of this story, I found, is the way it describes both Eliza, and her friend Nancy (also a survivor of the massacre) and their way of "dealing with" the trauma that happened when they were both children.  This part was the most believable to me.

I received this book free from Revell Reads (Baker Publishing Group) in exchange for an honest review.

Born To Be Awkward - Mike Bender/Doug Chernack

This book will make you laugh.

That said, I do have a couple problems with it.  It is not a very long book.  It took me (and a few other people "reading" together) about 20 minutes total to look through the entire book.  It is also a small book, which means the pictures themselves can be quite small within the book.  Also, the "last chapter" is just 9 blank (well, with "frames" printed in) pages where you can include your own awkward baby photos.  It's not that I don't like the idea of that, it's just that the book is small enough and short enough that it feels out of place.  Possibly, if this were a longer, more coffee table like book, it wouldn't feel like such a cop-out.

Despite my negative comments above, I did thoroughly enjoy the few minutes it took to look through the book.  They are funny photos, and it will brighten your day.  I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.  I'm not sure I would be happy with it if I had paid for it.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Stand Strong - Nick Vujicic

This is a book about being bullied.  Specifically, what you can do about it.  In it, Nick Vujicic (born without arms or legs - a bully's dream!) gives you a blueprint for a "Bully Defense System" that you create yourself, by realizing who you are, how important you are, why bullies do what they do, etc.

Nick was bullied quite a bit in his growing up years, and still encounters it to some extent, today.  He is well equipped to share on the subject of bullying, and on how to overcome it.  He is a very interesting and captivating author.  This book seems geared towards kids, which is great.  One complaint I do have is that, since it is geared toward a younger audience, it seemed to be a really long book, with a fair amount of repetition.  Don't get me wrong, I think repetition is a good thing, and I would recommend reading the entire book, but I wonder if it would keep older children's attention the entire way through.  I definitely recommend this book as a resource for parents and teachers, as they help children deal with bullying.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

God's Smuggler (Expanded Edition) - Brother Andrew

God's Smuggler is a fascinating account of Brother Andrew's life story, starting with his childhood in Holland, through his abandoning of childhood values while in the Dutch army, and eventually, how God found him, and his complete acceptance of God and His Word.  He is an amazing example of someone who trusted in God completely for so many things throughout his life: from money to get through grad school (or even for toothbrushes or razors), to trusting that God would keep him safe as he transported Bibles behind the Iron Curtain and elsewhere.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and was challenged by Brother Andrew's faith.

One note about the epilogue: I found it really interesting, but I wonder if there could be another entire book written about his later years!  I was glad to read about his encounters in the Middle East, but I would love to hear and read more stories from his life.

I received this book free from Chosen Books (Baker Publishing Group) in exchange for an honest review.