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, mashed potatoes, 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.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Standing on the ancient paths

Thus says the Lord: stand by the roads, and look and ask for the ancient paths, 
where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.  
Jeremiah 6:16

My sister recently picked up the antique container, admiring the greenery and "berries" it now holds.  She looked at me and asked if I realized this container is probably the oldest object in my house?  I knew it was old but not that old!  The container looks like wood but it is made of multiple layers of paper using a pressing process which is at least from the 1800s.

She had given it to me many years earlier and to be honest, it had been stored in a dark corner as I admired it but wasn't sure what to do with it.  I love primitive items and she had come by this one when she was still an antique dealer.  It wasn't until I saw some photos in primitive decorating magazines that I knew exactly what the container needed and wallah... something old and honestly not that attractive was turned into Beauty and now sits in a place of honor in my living room.

I do love old things... old furniture, old accessories, old books, old houses.  I love places to visit such as Old Sturbridge Village and Colonial Williamsburg.  I love learning about history and books by people who lived long ago.

If you read this blog on the Home Page, you will have often seen the Bible verse which is shown above under the photo.  For each and every day it has a place on the sidebar, one of my life's verses I live by.

Ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is and what will happen?  We find rest for our souls.

When I was a young Christian, I kept most of my non-Bible study reading in the Old Testament.  Having not been raised in a Christian home and vaguely knowing the Bible at all, I was fascinated with the old old stories.  With the people who lived and worked and loved and hated and went to war and made peace and sinned like everyone else... and they were in the Bible!  Amazing.

It was during this time in my life that I had to make a decision.  Did I believe the Bible was True or was it just a bunch of stories told through the millenia, not unlike the fairy tales I had read in my childhood.   I decided it was Truth from Genesis verse one to the Maps.  Truth.  That, my friends,  has made all the difference.  I chose to follow the Ancient paths.

For many years, I read mostly books and heard lectures by modern Bible believing authors.  They were just what I needed as I learned about the basics of the Christian life.  For we do begin with the milk of the Word and slowly grow deeper as we build that foundation of Truth.  We need the basics before tackling the meat of the Word.

It wasn't long before I realized that I wanted to read what those people I respected were reading.  God had blessed me with very good teachers who read deeply and well.  I read Francis Schaeffer and understood a little.  I read Edith Schaeffer and understood a lot.  As I grew older and matured in my thinking, I have almost caught up with Francis and can now understand most of what he writes.  Not all.  He is gifted in areas which I am not.

Many of the author's names I am sorry to say I have forgotten but I do recall reading Paul Tournier, whom my pastor admired very much.  I think I even met him when he was in the U.S. and spoke at our church.  You must understand, I was in my late teens at the time and now I am... older. I know there were some questions about his theology later but he certainly blessed me at the time (and I can't recall what the questions are at the moment).

I read less theological and more practical authors who taught me how to live every day as a woman, a daughter, a wife, a mother.  Women I've mentioned before such as dear Edith, Emilie Barnes, Elisabeth Elliot, and Catherine Marshall.  Later I read Elizabeth George's inspiring books about living for Christ, beginning with A Woman After God's Own Heart.  Once again, as I read I paid attention to who these women admired and had learned from... and sought out those books.

There came a time when I was introduced to C. S. Lewis and perhaps he, more than any other writer, caused me to realize that our Christian life did not appear out of nowhere at the time of our salvation.  For it is built on the shoulders of those who have walked with Christ for centuries upon centuries.

When Lewis talks about the Ancient ways... he means the a.n.c.i.e.n.t. ways.  He taught me that those who lived long ago built the foundations that the Church stands on today and it is a good idea to read their works.  It was also through Lewis that I came to understand one can learn just as much through reading fiction than in books about theology.  Perhaps more.

As I find new authors, I tend to also come face to face (so to speak) with even more who have lived and worked and written long ago.  For instance, it was through reading books by John Piper that I learned about Jonathan Edwards, one of my very favorite people to read about.  I had heard of Edwards before, briefly in one or two paragraphs of history books.  However, in those pages he was nothing like the person I discovered.

As I wanted to learn more about this amazing man and his family, Noel Piper's book Faithful Women and their Extraordinary God recommended Marriage to a Difficult Man (an all time favorite biography) and I learned so much about him and his family.  Through learning about him, I came to know more about George Whitefield and the affects of the First Great Awakening upon the events that led up to the American Revolution.  Something, of course, I never read about in high school history books.

Through books by Eric Metaxas, I learned more about how faith inspired Bonhoeffer, as well as Wilberforce.  Through learning more about Wilberforce, I learned about Hannah More and the biography of her life called Fierce Convictions (also an excellent biography).  Mostly everyday heroes of the faith doing great things for Christ.

There are so many people who have walked before us that we can learn from.  Just last night, I was reading sermons by Eugene Peterson and found in a sermon he wrote in the 1960s, a truth that was needed at the moment.  Peterson, who has been influenced by those who walked before him, who has been a mentor to many in the ministry through the years, and now is in old age... inspiring me.

We need to grow quiet, away from distractions, and look to the Ancient Paths. In the stories of the Patriarchs in Genesis, the poetry of the Psalms, the writings of the men who walked with Jesus and turned the world upside down before becoming martyrs, to the first and second and third and thereafter century pillars of the Faith, to the men and women today who write Truth.

Mentioned in this Post
A Woman After God's Own Heart... info here.
Faithful Women and their Extraordinary God... here.
Marriage to a Difficult Man... info here.
Fierce Convictions... info here.