The Push

Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of another great book to review for you. The Push by Patrick Gray is a must have for all elementary school libraries. Students in mid to upper elementary would benefit from hearing the message of the story – that we can learn things from people who aren’t just like us. The Push is the story of a friendship between Marcus and John. Marcus is happy helping John, who is wheelchair bound, and John helps Marcus with his math and by making him a stronger person. 

The message of the story is beautiful and the inspiration behind the story and illustrations is endearing as well. The author, Patrick Gray, and one of the illustrators, Justin Skeesuck, are best friends. Justin developed a neuromuscular disease later in life that has left him unable to use his arms and legs. Patrick pushed Justin on a 500 mile journey through Spain, which provided some of ideas for this story. The story behind the illustrations is neat as well. The other illustrator, Matthew Waresak, did the line drawings for The Push, and Gray used a computer program to add the color.

Gray and Skeesuck also wrote another book titled I’ll Push You and have a documentary out about their pilgrimage to Camino de Santiago. It looks interesting to me!

 

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Daring To Hope

Daring to Hope: Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful by Katie Davis Majors is a touching, heartfelt recollection of Katie’s struggle to trust God in the dark times of life. She writes,

“Reality would shatter my optimism, but I would realize that it was only a cheap substitute for true hope anyway. The Lord would take the darkness and make it my secret place, the place where I knew Him more intimately and deeply than I had ever fathomed possible.” (page 5)

Reading this book feels a lot like reading a well edited personal journal. You read the true stories with both happy and sad endings of Ugandans she served. At the same time, Katie does a beautiful job of including Scripture and connecting what God was teaching her to those Scriptures. It has so much truth in it that anyone who reads it would find something to inspire them. I would be very interested in reading Katie’s bestselling book from 2012, Kisses From Katie, after reading Daring to Hope.

Here are a few thoughts that I earmarked:

“As I’m tempted to wallow in guilt over all that I am not for my children, gently He reminds me that I was never meant to meet all their needs anyway. It isn’t me who can make up for all their losses and hurts. He reminds me that I cannot be what they need Him to be — Savior.” (page 43)

“To dwell in the place I have been given. To do the things I have been given. To love the people I have been given. This is not mysterious or far reaching, and yet this is the truth of a God-ordained life.” (page 98)

“The pain and the hurt are everywhere. But the joy and the hope that we find in our Savior? They are everywhere, too…. Our pain does not minimize His goodness to us, but in fact allows us to experience it in a whole new way.”  (page 138)

“I desire to enter fully into the joy He places before us and I desire to enter fully into the suffering He places before us because both can be His gifts to us. Both can be made beautiful.” (page 195)

I was encouraged to embrace interruptions in life, to not run away from hard things but to look for God in the middle of them, and to be faithful with what God gives me to do each day.

Thank you to Blogging for Books for providing me with this book for free to read and review.

P.S. If you’re a podcast listener, you can hear Katie on the Family Life Today podcast on December 19-21, 2017. Here’s a link to the December 20 broadcast here.

Amazing Stories

Tyndale Blog Network has been very patient in waiting for me to post a review of The Book of Amazing Stories – 90 Devotions on Seeing God’s Hand in Unlikely Places by Robert Petterson. They sent me a complimentary copy of the book well before Christmas. Like the title says, it is a devotional book. Each day has about a two page story most often about a person (e.g., Mother Theresa, Ted Bundy, Muhammad Ali) but also a few major events, followed by a quote, and a Bible verse.

I struggled to get captivated or inspired by the stories. It’s not the the stories themselves aren’t amazing. It was hard for me to get behind a story in just two pages and the telling of the stories felt disjointed and sometimes hard to follow for this tired mother of four young children. I also didn’t always the understand the connection between the story and the Bible verse. If you’re looking for something interesting to add into a speech or for some inspiring stories to look into deeper, this book would give you 90 of those. I would not see it as a way to deepen your spiritual walk or your understanding of the Bible.

If you’re looking for a good novel to read, I would recommend The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore. It has a wide variety of interesting characters and a great plot. You can definitely see Beth Moore personality coming out in the story, and it very well might cause you to laugh out loud and to not want to do anything else but read. I would say it’s nothing like one of her Bible studies, except that it is very good.

Home On The Range

When I reviewed Back In the Saddle, the first book in the Double S Ranch series, I guessed that the following books in the series would be about that main character’s brothers. I was right! I got to read the second book in the series, so I could review it for you thanks to Blogging for Books.

Home on the Range parallels the first book in the series in many ways, although it is very much its own story. Simply put, brothers that grew up on a ranch in Washington work through their past and current issues while falling in love with a woman who is working through her own set of issues. Ruth Logan Herne does a nice job of developing characters, and I enjoyed the way she connected the main characters from Back in the Saddle into this story line.

This is another pleasure read book that I’m sure you would enjoy. It does have some depth in a theme that looks at some hard questions. Elsa, the main female character, is working through “If God was truly present, then how could such [bad] things happen? And if man had so much free will, then why bother with prayer?”

I’m pretty sure if you read this book, you’ll be keeping an eye out for the last book in the series and you’ll consider reading other books by Ruth Logan Herne.

Good News

Wow! The Good News in Four Words by Dandi Daley Mackall is a book I am excited to have on our bookshelf. It tells the Gospel story in a way that toddlers can start to grasp. My three year old is fascinated with the pictures, and I enjoy reading the words. I know she’ll start to remember some of the lines in the book after reading it a few more times because it has one of my favorite things in children’s books…you guessed it…great rhyme and rhythm. The book is not limited to only four words. The four words are just the main themes.

  • Wow! – Creation and a relationship with God
  • Uh-Oh! – Sin
  • Yes! – Jesus
  • Ahh! – Holy Spirit and Heaven
  • Wow! – Growing in faith and sharing the Good News

“Be thankful for Jesus. Let love overflow.
Tell others God loves them. The world needs to know!
And sharing this news helps your own faith to grow.”

I really appreciate how the author circles back around to the Wow! at the end of the book. At the end of the book, she also includes includes scripture passages for you to look up that address each of the ideas. Thank you Tyndale House for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Summer Reading

If you’re looking for an easy summer read, Back in the Saddle by Ruth Logan Herne would be a good option for you to consider. The cover might leave you wondering if it’s a Christian novel, but I can vouch that it is and that it didn’t contain any content that I would call questionable. It did have a much better written description of a calf being pulled than I could ever write and some good thoughts on kindness, family, and forgiveness. To make it even better, the author thanks our very own Nebraska author Mary Connealy for helping her learn about raising cattle.

The story takes place on a large cattle ranch in the state of Washington. One son returns home unwillingly after working in big city, corporate America. He has two brothers who I’m guessing might be the main characters for the following books in the Double S Ranch series.

It’s not an overly deep book, but it is enjoyable. That’s why I call it good summer reading. Thank you to Blogging for Books for sending this book to me so I could review it for you.

Do Baby Bears Have Mommies? by Crystal Bowman and Teri McKinley is a great children’s book with lots of facts about animals stated in a way that little people will remember them. The title had me thinking it might be focusing on birds and bees types of information – if you know what I mean – but it’s not like that at all. It asks questions that little kids might ask about animals (How do earthworms dig in dirt? Do monkeys like bananas?) and answers them well.

The only thing I don’t like about Do Baby Bears Have Mommies? is that I think having real pictures of the animals it teaches about would be better. It does remind me of the other book I’ve read by Chrystal Bowman and Teri McKinley in that it has great rhyme and rhythm. They have another “I’ve Got Questions” book titled Does God Take Naps? that I would like to check out. Do Baby Bears Have Mommies? is a book I will enjoy reading many times over. Thank you to the Tyndale Blog Network for sharing this book with me to review it for you.

The Frightening Philippi Jail

The Frightening Philippi Jail by Gary Bower is a children’s book about Acts 16 where Paul and Silas are in prison. It’s written in a rhyming, repetitive, building pattern much like The House That Jack Built nursery rhyme. This makes it easy to read and fun to listen to. By the end of the book, you have the first part memorized because you’ve repeated it so many times. The first part focuses on the awful conditions of the prison, but in the end you read “This is the book that helps us to see how God shakes things up when He sets people free.” I wish that was the phrase you repeated the most when reading the book instead of “…the bugs and the rats and the slugs…”

Gary Bower has written other children’s books in his Faith That God Built collection using this same format. The Frightening Philippi Jail is the only one that is from the New Testament. It is very nice to have an interesting children’s book about a story in Acts since that’s not something you find easily. Young children will enjoy hearing this story again and again and will soon be telling it to you.

Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers for providing me with a copy of this book to review.