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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Encountering Angels

I'm a big fan of books on faith and angels but there have been times that I get an uneasy feeling when I beginning reading and Encountering Angels by Judith MacNutt is included in that category. 

While the majority of angel stories in this book were submitted, so therefore not Macnutt's own stories, they didn't seem to be filtered for quality material.

I know that spiritual encounters can seem nutty and strange to someone who wasn't there to encounter it themselves. But take for example a mother who was horrified to see her child leaning out an upstairs window but then relieved to realize an angel is there blocking the window and keeping the child safe. How was the child leaning out of the window and yet the angel was blocking the open window? Either it was written in a way that was unbelievable or the story itself is. 

The writing is so choppy - one story, followed by Macnutt's musings, immediately followed by musings on a different story. You can't tell where one story begins and another ends. Within three chapters I was getting a headache and was more annoyed with the writing and editing that I had to call it quits. I didn't find this book encouraging but rather eye-roll inducing. And this coming from someone who does believe in angel encounters.

This book was given to me by Chosen Publishing in exchange for my honest review.  

The Drawing Lesson

I was in the middle of buying curriculum for the kid's coming school year when I ran across The Drawing Lesson by Mark Crilley. Having a tween who is a fan of graphic novels I figured one that teaches you how to draw would be a learning style right up her alley.

   It's an impressive book, showing drawing styles and working on things like shading, proportions, and basic drawing techniques in an interesting way. I'm going to be using this in our art lessons this fall for all the kids. The only draw back to this book is that the "teacher" in this book seems to be somewhat possessed...going from nice to mean to crazy looking throughout the book. It seems strange the way she is portrayed. I'm curious to see if the kids take notice of that. 

This book was given to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.
 

The 30-Day Faith Detox

The premise sounds good, "Renew your mind, cleanse your body, heal your spirit". With a devotional, physical detox, and recipe each day it does work as a daily encouragement during a 30 day detox. Unfortunately, I was unable to get into the recipes. 

I know that detoxes do take time and effort each day, and Smith reassures us that the foods are real foods found in most kitchens. But the majority of the recipes are smoothies and I just can't get into recipes with raw eggs or such time consuming liquid meals that would only be for myself, making me a short order cook for the rest of the family. 

It seems to me one of those things that looks good on paper but is hard to execute in daily life, at least for me.

 This book was given to me by Chosen books in exchange for my honest review.
 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Fireproof

I've been elated that in the past several years Christianity has seen a large uprising in the national theaters. There have been numerous movies with good morals and very pointed messages played in our own local theater and it's a good thing for the community.

Fireproof was at the beginning of this trend. I was given the opportunity by FishFlix to review this movie. While I watched Fireproof soon after it was first produced it holds a message that can be watched again and again. 

I thought the acting was a bit cheesy when I first watched it (and again while reviewing it!), it does make sense when you realize that the actors were mainly volunteers from Kirk Cameron's own church. This is a small budget film where the message is more important than the acting. If you can get past the sub par acting you will get to the point of the movie.

Which is that marriage is not the fairy tale often seen in the movies but rather a partnership between two very flawed people that only works when both are committed to each other. Fireproof brings up the (unfortunately) very common issue of work place adultery and porn addiction. It also shows that marriage is worth fighting for.

When Fireproof first came out the message was so popular that a companion book, The Love Dare, was used by many couple Bible Studies to strengthen marriages. The message is a very powerful one, which I think singles as well as married couples, need to hear today. With a country where the divorce rate is 50% and rising it is beneficial to have movies that show someone fighting for their marriage instead of glorifying divorce, adultery, and an "anything goes" mentality.     
 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Colors of Goodbye

I sometimes wonder if I am a glutton for punishment. There was no mistaking when I picked up Colors of Goodbye by September Vaudrey that it would be an emotional book, after all, it's a memoir of holding on, letting go, and reclaiming joy in the wake of loss. 

I figured it wouldn't be as emotional for me since Katie was older (19) and died in a different way than my own (car accident after an aneurysm). I was wrong. Reading the pain, the memories, the thoughts of a mother who lost a child is just as gut wrenching no matter the age, no matter the way the child passed. As heartbreaking as this book was, it also was deeply healing.

While I recommend this book to anyone who has lost a child or knows someone who has lost a child or someone else close to them, I'd also recommend it to anyone human, as it shows that one can face the ultimate pain in life and still see the good. As Vaudrey points out on page 226: "Life is hard, and tragedy strikes. Also, life is stunningly beautiful. Both/and. But our circumstances do not have the power to steal our joy without our permission. If our purpose, our identity, our sense of God's direction hinged upon a pain-free life, how precarious the world would be. How weak God would be. How few would ever find joy."

"I now knew from personal experience that the same God who allows pain to enter our lives also sends us comfort, His presences, and more strength than we thought we possessed. And with the sorrow, He extends an invitation for the transformation of our character and a richer, wiser appreciation of life."

Vaudrey writes with such passion about Katie and the rest of her family that you fall in love with them all and feel their pain. She digs deep into what a loss such as this can do to a person, to a family, to a marriage. But she also brings hope, as well as perspective. "As much as I hate the answer I got when I prayed for Katie, I can't call foul. God never guaranteed me a lifetime with her. He never promised me any of the blessings I get to treasure every day. He promises us comfort in sorrow, strength when our own fails, inexplicable peace, His presence in storms, and life in all its fullness for those who follow Him - but not a pain-free life. And the things He promises, He delivers."

This is such a beautiful book, both the writing as well as the family pictures and Katie's artwork.

This book was sent to be by Tyndale Publishing in exchange for my honest review.
 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Vegangelical

I'm not sure what I expected Vegangelical by Sarah Withrow King to be about but I didn't expect it to turn into a PETA commercial. 

The first half of the book didn't seem to flow with the topic of animals but rather like a textbook from a theology class. It got so deep that soon it was boring and I admit that I skimmed over it. As a Christian, I know WHO God is, WHAT God is, and what my connection with Him is...unless you are writing for an atheist I saw no need to go into an in depth discussion of what most Christians already know.

Getting to the last half of the book is when it comes down to animals and our relationships with animals, especially as Christians who are to look after God's creation. I agree with King there, and with her views on factory farms and the current state of the big farming practices. Animals are treated horrendously and we should not stand for that.

Yet, the only thing I got out of this book is that King feels we should all be vegans. She mentions eating eggs from her friend's backyard flock because chickens lay eggs and nothing had to die or suffer for that egg but that is the only instance where she seems to think eating an animal product is okay. 

I know King logically does not expect meat-eating or all animal by-products to suddenly stop being consumed, but if she had her way does she think this would be a good thing? Does she realize that cows and chickens most likely would not be kept as pets except for a select few? Does she not realize that one can be a good steward of God's creation while still utilizing animal products?

I have nothing against vegans...I would have nothing against living my own life never consuming animal products. But I'm also not against animal products. Take a hunter who bags one or two deer a year to stock his families freezer, or a small family farm that has a flock of chickens, a milk cow, and a pig for the freezer. Is the question really...is it bad to eat meat? Or rather, does our current method of raising farm animals need to go back to what it once was? 

King lost me when on page 111 she ragged on zoos (even though I agree with her sentiments!) when she added "It's similar to the message we send our children when we teach them to love and be kind to animals while serving them animal parts for dinner." Is it not possible to love and care for an animal and then to humanely put that animal on your dinner table? Does it have to be an either/or?

The same goes for wearing wool or leather. King states that sheep do not need to be sheered and that it is painful and inhumane to do so. I do know that large factory sheep farms are not often humane places, yet know people who raise their own sheep, sheer their own wool, and spin that wool themselves. The sheep are like pets to them and well taken care of. Does King protest that type of wool or just factory farm wool? Is she protesting our current animal husbandry habits or any and all forms of animal products? This book didn't leave much in the way for interpretation - clearly the only right way is to be a vegan. As someone who feels that God didn't just give us animals as pets I do not agree with King, except on the fact that all animals should be treated humanely and lead a happy life while living.

This book was given to me by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.  
 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Fading Starlight

Fading Starlight by Kathryn Cushman was a fun read. Part mystery, part chick lit, with a tiny bit of faith thrown in.


"Lauren Summers is hiding. Her fashion house internship should have launched her career, but a red carpet accident has left her blackballed. The only job she finds is unpaid, but comes with free lodging--a run-down cottage in the shadow of a cliff-side mansion. Unsure of what comes next, she's surprised to be contacted by a reporter researching a reclusive former Hollywood ingenue who lives in the nearby mansion."

Like Cushman's previous book I read (Finding Me) this one incorporates faith without being preachy and overbearing. It was a quick read and perfect for the beach, pool, or on the porch!

This book was given to me by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. 
 

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