Wednesday, August 24, 2011

2011 Books (so far...)

I have read many books this year, mostly due to the Kindle I received from a dear friend as a gift. I am so grateful! For some reason I read exponentially faster on a Kindle than a physical book. Call me crazy, but Allen says the same thing!  I hope the ratings and blurbs help you as you decide what to add to your reading list. Here are some other reviews you might also want to check. If you also have a Kindle and want me to "loan" you a book, just let me know! I will do so gladly!

10 Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, Don Whitney ****1/2
A wonderful book that I highly recommend to all...greatly challenged by it!

Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, Joanna Weaver ***
Good book during a specific season in my life...many women would gain encouragement reading this book!

The Scarlet Thread, Francine Rivers ***Trying to get into a bit of fiction this year and started here...recommended for those who are looking to add some fiction into their lives. Francine Rivers is a gifted writer.

Boundaries, Henry Cloud & John Townsend *
Read this book after hearing about it from several "fall-outs" (marriage, mother/daughter, etc.) based on the information received in this book. I was highly discouraged to see that it comes from a psychological/science worldview rather than a biblical worldview, therefore, much of what is recommended is faulty and is leading to relationship "fall-out." I would not recommend this to anyone (except maybe one chapter to a really mature believer who struggles with being walked on, even then, there are probably better books for that).

When Helping Hurts, ***I enjoyed this book and it opened up my eyes to some things I hadn't thought of before in regards to missions and giving.

Calm My Anxious Heart, Linda Dillow **** 1/2
Ironically, I read this book while Allen was gone for a week and I was feeling anxious about being home alone. I loved the book and how it spoke to my heart. Very well written and includes study questions at the end. I can see this being a good small group women's study.

Gospel-Centered Life Bible Study, Bob Thune *****
I went through this study with some ladies this spring and it was phenomenal. We went to a deeper level with the Gospel and being able to articulate it well among each other, hopefully translating to lives that express it openly. The Gospel is applied to many aspects of life that it isn't often applied to. It was very helpful and stretching if you truly make yourself answer the study questions!

A Book You'll Actually Read (NT and Church Leadership), Mark Driscoll *****
I would HIGHLY recommend this to a new believer. Very good read for someone who is new to the faith. And very short and readable.

To Train Up a Child, Michael and Debi Pearl **1/2
I have been hearing about this book ever since having kids and I finally sat down to read it after it was given to me. I don't think I ever encountered the Gospel while reading this book. Some training techniques may be useful and practical, but I would be remiss to use these techniques unless the Gospel is incorporated and expressed as well, which they give no indications of in the book.  They also made the training so cut and dry. Do "x" 3 times then "y" will happen. I can imagine many parents getting discouraged when it doesn't actually work this way in their homes.

Created To Be His Helpmeet, Debi Pearl **1/2
It took me awhile to make it through this large handbook about marriage. I truly appreciate a lot of truth that she offered as well as challenges that I needed to hear about being a helpmate to my husband. There were a few examples that she took too far, blaming the wife when her children are sinned against and a particular one that made me want to throw the book across the room. I think the rest of my experience and the rating was colored by that. ;) In many ways it seemed like a rant against the particular people that she ministers to.

Surprised By Grace, Tullian Tchividijian ***
I actually read this book while Allen was going through a sermon series on Jonah in the Spring. It was helpful to read through the passage that Allen was going to preach before I heard the sermon. I do believe it gave me greater understanding into the book of Jonah.

My Husband Wants to be a Church Planter, So What Does That Make Me?, NAMB **1/2
 A book that the SBC gives out to new church planter's wives when they preparing to plant the church. Although the format of the book wasn't preferable and many topics weren't brought up, I was pleasantly surprised that even some of the topics that usually are avoided were actually addressed in this book. If they could format this book in a way that makes sense and add some more useful content, this could be a great read for church planting wives.

Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church, Michael Lawrence ****1/2
Allen took a group of us at New Life through this book as a class in the Spring. I really learned how to read, study and interpret the Bible in a way that is true to the text. It didn't get 5 stars because it is a bit academic, but if you truly want to learn about biblical theology, this is your book!

Leaders Who Last, Dave Kraft *****
Amazing book! Even if you aren't a leader in name, everyone leads someone, whether it be your children, other women who come to you for counsel, or as a leader in your community or example in church. This is intensely practical and requires you to sit down and examine your life. Allen used many quotes from this book in his new book, Good Soldiers.

Six Ways to Keep the "Little" in Your Girl, Dannah Gresh ***
As I think about Taylor coming up on the tween years, my stomach basically curls up into knots and I have to pray and ask God for mercy. This book was helpful but would have been more helpful if Taylor Joy were older (think 7-12). I may re-read it in a couple of years... 

Give Them Grace, Elyse Fitzpatrick ***
I was beyond excited about this book and the acclaim it was receiving around blogland. All in all, it is a Gospel-saturated book that truly made me think through the reasons why I parent the way that I do and I came away as a deeper thinker in regards to parenting. But it wasn't exactly the book's purpose. It was mainly because I would read certain things, question them and have to think through it biblically. I was glad to have a group of ladies to discuss it with and I enjoyed the discussion much more than the book itself.

A Meal with Jesus, Tim Chester *****
Everyone should read this! Amazing book about the impact of the sit down meal on relationships, including discipleship, outreach, friendships, and the poor. I loved this book and found myself nodding and highlighting much of it! I'm sure I will read it again at some point.

Prodigal God, Tim Keller *****
I basically devoured this book while we were on vacation this Summer. I really hope I have saturated all of the great truth that Keller so skillfully conveys. Excellent book!

Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God, Noel Piper ***
I was challenged and convicted hearing the life stories of these women. If I feel I have sacrificed or pity for myself about something I am dealing with, this is certainly the cure for that. I am beyond grateful for the way these women advanced the Gospel.

Leota's Garden, Francine Rivers **
I got this free on my Kindle and I love Francine Rivers. Yet, I didn't particularly love this book. The ending was abrupt and it didn't end the way I wanted it to. So, two stars.

Note to Self, Joe Thorn ***
I had heard that this was comparable to A Gospel Primer (GP), which I love. It was very good and filled with Gospel truth, but it didn't hold the same power as GP for me personally. It's longer and more wordy, whereas GP is almost straight scripture and cuts to the heart. Still, I consider it a great daily devotional if you are looking for one.
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

2011-2012 Curriculum Choices

We are in the second year of homeschooling and really enjoying it. From the get-go, we knew we would have to take this one year at a time, discerning how our children were learning and seeing if it was a strain on us as a family. We absolutely enjoyed it last year and have seen much fruit from our choice. Taylor Joy and I have bonded through homeschooling and I am so grateful. She is a "quality time" girl and she knows that when we sit down for school it's her time to soak it in.

A part of knowing which curriculum to pick and how to continue on is determined by the goals that we have for our children. Of utmost importance for our family is teaching our children a biblical worldview and having a firm foundation in the Word of God so that they will be able to discern between the truth of the Word and the lies of this world. We also desire to foster a love of learning within our children that will continue in them for the rest of their lives.

Having been to the Texas Homeschool Conference the past two years, we thoroughly enjoyed it and have come back encouraged and exhorted to home educate our children, whether that means homeschool or not (because certainly you can have the same or similar goals as us without homeschooling). We have also been very excited about our curriculum choices and ready to get a jump start on planning for the year. So...all that to say... Without further ado, here are our curriculum choices for the upcoming year:

Taylor Joy (5 years old):

* Phonics, Math, History, Bible History, Handwriting - My Father's World 1st Grade
* Reading - Explode the Code
* Bible - He Has Spoken By His Son (Desiring God), Get Wisdom! (Ruth Younts)
* Science - Science with Water, Air and Plants (Usborne Books)
* Read Alouds - Little House on the Prairie
* Spanish - Flip Flop Spanish
* Fine Arts - Look With Me Art, Drawing with Children
* Spelling - Wordly Wise
* Math Drills - Fact Monster
* Geography - US States/Capitals
* P.E. - Ballet, Tap and Jazz @ Suzanne's; PE Cards for learning breaks

Beckett (3 years old):

* Handwriting - Handwriting Without Tears
* Math - Cuisenaire Rods/Book
* Read Alouds, Science, History, Bible History, Fine Arts, Bible, Spanish, Geography - Learning with Taylor Joy (see above)
* P.E. - PE Cards for learning breaks

Some other great reading that I came across and read in the past year are these free downloads:

Getting Started in Homeschooling
Masterly Inactivity
Smooth and Easy Dasy

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Monday, August 08, 2011

Good Soldiers

Allen's new book, Good Soldiers, is available!

This is an excellent book for churches to implement with current or future leaders to get them ready to step up and serve with leader capacity or to stretch them as a current leader. If you know of a pastor or leader in a church who could benefit from this, please forward the link along. We would also be willing to send a sample PDF for those leaders who are considering implementing this study for their church leaders. The book examines the leader's relationships, the leader as shepherd and reproducing leaders.

If you would like some more information on the book or 
how it is used in a small group setting at New Life, please let me know!

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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Loving the Little Years

Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches

Coming from someone who is "in the trenches of motherhood" with me, I think I swallowed this book whole. A simple, short and easy read, I can't recommend it enough for mothers of little ones. I laughed at the many examples that hit so close to home, I cried at the many attitudes of my heart and truths that were revealed about my precious children and I was greatly encouraged in my calling as a mother.

The book is short and each chapter is very short. Just the right length for a busy mom to glance at once per day. If you had a decent amount of time, you could take two or three long nap times to blow through it.

Some of the encouragements she gives are: seeing the progress our children are making (which hit home because it's definitely what the Lord has already been teaching me), allowing for change on days that it "just isn't working," what bearing fruit looks like in a mother's life, thankfulness and contentment, explaining hard lessons to your children, the many sacrifices and blessings, asking for grace and being willing to get grace in otherwise overwhelming situations, sanctification, absorbing the cost of their sin, restoring fellowship with them and they with each other, as well as the harvest of joy we receive as a result of all the work of planting in their lives.

Between this book and a homeschool conference that Allen and I just got back from, I am a pretty motivated mom! I am excited for the investment we are making in doing school with Taylor Joy and Beckett and motivated to continue on shepherding all three of them. I hope that this book comes as an encouragement to you as well. If I have time I may post some good info we got at the conference as well as our curriculum choices for next year.

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