It's been some time since I've posted book reviews on the blog. Time to remedy that and share with you what's been on my reading stack this year:
None Like Him by Jen Wilkin
I read this at the very beginning of the year and it was the perfect way to focus my mind on the attributes of God and what that means for me as I headed into a new year. Jen is a gifted communicator. Her books are always well-written, enjoyable to read but also spiritually challenging.
Theras and His Town by Caroline Snedeker
This was one of our homeschool read alouds. Theras is a young boy living in Athens but gets taken to live in Sparta part way through the book. This was a perfect way for us to explore life in both Athens and Sparta and experience a bit of the rivalry that existed between the two cities.
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
I love talking books with the circulation desk staff at my local library. This was recommended by one friend there and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's technically classified as "young adult," but being a well-written World War II story set in England I enjoyed it just as much as if it had been written for adults.
Bandersnatch by Diana Pavlac Glyer
I loved sneaking into the everyday life of Lewis, Tolkien, and others through the research of Diana Glyer as she painted a picture of how these men interacted over their own written words and inspired each other to create books that have become classics.
Niko: Sculptors Apprentice by Isabelle Lawrence
Another read-aloud set in Athens with a 12-year old boy as the hero. We enjoyed this and it gave another look at everyday life in ancient Greece.
Mere Motherhoodby Cindy Rollins
I got strangely drawn into this book by a homeschooling mother describing how she became interested in homeschooling, began educating her ever-growing brood of children, and then mellowed into a woman with perspective as the bumps of life took their toll. I think I was so drawn to this book because Rollins was describing a way of life and community that I grew up in but she also didn't neglect to point out some of the problems/down sides to homeschooling. It gave me plenty of food for thought.
Devoted to God by Sinclair Ferguson
This is an excellent and well-written book on the doctrine of sanctification.
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood
The kids and I recently discovered this series and have been listening to it in the car. I can't help but laugh out loud, especially when the narrator imitates the wolf howls that the children make. Set in Victorian times, the tale describes the crazy life of three children rescued from their wild upbringing in the woods and now being trained by a governess to be proper Victorian children.
Different by Sally and Nathan Clarkson
The Clarksons tell the story of what it was like to be the parent of, and the child with, several issues like anxiety, OCD, and ADHD. I'm thankful for their candid and honest sharing of how difficult it can be to struggle with these issues yourself, and to be a loving, patient parent to those who struggle in this way. I think this book would benefit any parent in helping to think through how best to love and shepherd your child(ren) since each child is unique in some way.
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
This was my first time to read anything written by Wendell Berry. I really enjoyed this novel set in the hill country of Kentucky. The book is Hannah's narration of her life beginning in the 1920's, carrying on through World War II, and into the remaining 20th century. I loved the gentle yet real descriptions of country living and the observations of human life.
The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
We just finished this book as part of our Roman studies. It is set in Galilee in the time of Christ and helps to give perspective on the great desire of the Jews to escape the rule of the Romans. It follows the life of a young boy who vows to fight the Romans and we watch the results of that vow play out in his life and that of his sister.
Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson
This was an excellent book on humility. I loved how Anderson chose a garden plant for each chapter and used that plant as an illustration for the message she was communicating. This will be one of my favorite books from the year.
And, if you're interested in the Scottish books I've been reading, you can hop over to my Reading Scotland blog and scroll through those reviews.
Werezak defines "attend" as literally meaning "to stretch toward." Throughout the book she is cutting a trail toward more awareness of God's presence in our life, more attention to his love and grace at work around us, and a deeper relationship with the Savior of our souls.
This gift book-sized volume is organized into four parts: Returning, Rest, Quietness, and Trust. In Part One Werezak begins with activities such as opening a window, making your bed, cleaning up a mess, or sending a handwritten note. Each activity is short, written as a sort of devotional to help your mind begin to think in God's direction. Opening a window helps us to think about the wind that we will allow into our home space, the connection it will bring with the outdoors, the ventilation it will provide, and ultimately the spiritual metaphor of opening our hearts to the presence of God's Holy Spirit.
Part Two of the book moves on to Rest. Here we are exhorted to take a walk, play with a child, pray a prayer already written down, or read a spiritual classic before bed. Taking a walk can provide a few moments in the day for our thoughts to turn to God. Or, perhaps for us to ponder the frailty of our human condition as our muscles ache and bones complain. Werezak encourages us to take time to express gratefulness to God for nature, for the place we have to walk, for this momentary break in our day.
Part Three deals with Quietness. Werezak's ideas include: making something with your hands, giving a gift, watching a sunset, sitting with someone in pain. Think of the quietness required to sit with someone in pain -- the willingness to surrender control, to give up on fixing the situation, to bow in humility to difficult reality. God reveals himself as Immanuel -- God with us. God with us in our pain. Imitate God by taking time to be there for someone who is in a painful situation.
Part Four concludes the book with Trust. Activities in this section include rocking a child to sleep, giving up something you can't imagine living without, listening to someone you love, and asking someone for help. Werezak explores the ideas of learning to open up and trust others and draws the book to a close sharing her own experience of drawing close to God again after a time of feeling very far and distant from him.
I would recommend this book as a thoughtful addition to your daily Bible study, or perhaps as reading during a regular coffee or tea break, or even right before you drift off to sleep at night.
It's been a month for celebrations! We began with a baby shower for my youngest sister, Emily, who is expecting a little girl next month! With seven people to create the party we had the house filled to overflowing with flowers, paintings, and delectable food!
The shower was arranged to be a proper sit-down tea party with the food set out in three groupings to go along with the three flavors of herbal tea that were served. It makes for a fun evening and it gives me a chance to justify keeping a cupboard full of china and a closet full of linens!
Prom was next! This was Rachel's first. We have an exchange student from Spain staying with us this month and it was a new experience for her as well. I think I had just as much fun as the girls being involved in all the preparations, taking them to get the photos done, and then sitting in the corner of the restaurant enjoying dinner with my mom while the kids had their own fun.
And Easter followed a few hours after prom! It was a beautiful spring day with lots of lovely people around the dinner table(s). I just love all the pastel colors that surround us at this time of year! It's fun to have them spread across the table too.
The last of the Easter candy is still (miraculously) sitting in the bottom of the teacups on the table and we are all breathing a sigh of relief to have a quiet week. Laura, on the other hand, is counting down the days until her very own birthday celebration next week!