Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Discipleship by J. Heinrich Arnold

Discipleship  is a newly explanded book by the late J. Heinrich Arnold who died in 1982.  Mr. Arnold grew up in post WWI.  His upper-class family left everything in Berlin to live in Sannerz, Germany living as directed in Acts in communal living.  This book explains the Bible in ways not usually expressed by the preachers of today.  He tells of a loving savior who forgives all of our sins but he doesn't let the reader off the hook.  He does not preach of living however you want and then repeatedly asking for forgiveness--he straight out tells the reader that our God is not stupid nor easily fooled.  One cannot continually ask forgiveness if one plans to continually repeating the sin.
This is a difficult read.  It does not tell the story of Jesus' love in anyway that the reader has ever heard before.  If you are ready to change your life and want a life lived close to God then read this book.  This book tells you that you have not become so sinful that you cannot be forgiven.  This book tells of Jesus love for the reader and his sacrifice and grace.  Jesus stands ready to forgive and love all who come to him.  This book teaches humility.  He teaches that the least of these, the poor, the children, the unloved are those who we the Christian must love.  Mr Arnold backs up all of his writings with scripture readings and I don't mean he has a few footnotes, virtually every paragraph has scripture backing it and also has a reference guide in the back.  This book need not be read front to back.  It is divided into 3 parts: the disciple, the church, and the kingdom of God.  Each of these are further divided into little chapters so that it can be used as needs arise in the reader's life.  In the words of Mother Teresa who wrote after reading it said: "....He has not called us to be successful, but to be faithful."  This is a book for those who are seeking and for those who have found but need a guide to keep them on track.  I would advise reading this book for adult readers.
This book was provided by Handlebar for this review.

Hope Crossing by Cindy Woodsmall

Hope Crossing by Cindy Woodsmall is the complete trilogy of the Ada's House series.  Since it contains 3 full length novels it is a big though cost effective book.  The first of the series finds Cara once again on the run from Mike who had been stalking her since before her marriage to Johnny.  Every time she moved and changed jobs though Mike soon found her.  Johnny had married her to protect her from Mike but he loved her and Cara had grown to love him.  Johnny though died in an accident just shortly after Lori, their daughter was 2 years old.  Cara's childhood was a blur after the death of her mother at a young age.  Her dad had left her at the station with the mysterious words, "Stay here until Emma comes to get you".  Cara hadn't moved until the authorities came and took her into foster care where she first came in contact with Mike until age 15 when she ran away and never looked back.  Cara, back on the run from Mike, had gone to get Lori and run without even stopping by the apartment to get their clothes.  Cara, once again in the station finds herself with feelings of  Déjàvu  takes over her mind.  When had she been here before?  She just couldn't remember.  Lori started acting up and Cara gave her the journal that she had had since childhood to look at.  Her mother had always told her never to write in this one space but she had filled in every other space with her writings.  When Lori started writing in that space Cara noticed that an address started to come up in the indentions--Mast Road, Dry Lake, Pennsylvania.  Along with hope filling her heart and plan started in her head.  Cara took most all the money she had and bought tickets out of New York and to Pennsylvania as close as she could get to Dry Lake.  This adventure would take her back to her mother's family in Pennsylvania back to her Amish roots.
The second novel The Bridge of Peace continues Cara's story but concentrates more on Cara's friend Lena Kauffman.  Lena is a teacher in the Amish community in the one room 1-8 school.  Lena has mostly bright eager to learn young students but one, Peter, is a 15 year old child that his parents insist that he go to school until he graduates 8th grade.  Peter is always trying her patience and since she is already on probation since that incident last year Lena is concerned for her job and someone else is sneaking into the school and doing awful things--like the dead cat she found lying on her chair dripping blood from its slit throat.  Why does someone have it in for her?  What can she do to both keep her job and go back to enjoying life?
The 3rd novel continues the story already started with the previous two but concentrate on Sylvia Fisher who is eldest of a large family of girls.  Her father has promised her the farm when she and Elam marry but she has asked Elam to wait until she is older and more ready.  Elam quickly asks her 18 year old sister, Beckie, to marry him.  Sylvia is devastated of course not only by Elam but most of all because of Beckie.  This is the sister that she grew up with, loved and most of all helped her do her chores because she was lazy.  Her father refuses to let her leave the home and so she stays until while helping the young family during a time of sickness Elam kisses her.  Sylvia leaves home and gives up all her chances at her inheritance to live with the Blank family and help them run their dairy herd.  Sylvia grows to love the family even Aaron the only son who has recently returned from rehab for his drinking problem.  What she didn't figure on though was falling in love with Aaron.
I got this book and read it quickly though it is quite large,1026 pages large.  Ms Woodsmall as always though tells a story as no one else can and easily holds the reader's interest.  I would recommend this book for reading for anyone who loves Amish love stories.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, December 19, 2014

You Can't Sit with Us by Nancy Rue

You Can't Sit with Us by Nancy Rue is the 2nd in the Mean Girl Makeover series.  Ginger Hollingberry is the new kid in the 6th grade class at Gold Country Middle School.  Ginger moves a lot with her family but she has learned a little from all that moving around.  Like don't tell everything you know about your family.  Ginger's mother was killed in a car accident that no one in her family will talk about.  Ginger knows that it must be bad and she doesn't want her dad to go back into that deep hole that he was in when it first happened. Both she and her brother Jackson know that if he goes into that hole again that their grandmother will take them away from him and they will have to live with her. The popular kids at school don't like her much but at this school for the first time she does have a few friends and they seem to like her--even those few times when she slips and lets some of her true self show through.  This group had as its leader, Tori, the person who had helped come up with the antibullying code that most everyone had signed.Then came that awful day when the cruel leader of the bully gang, Kylie, had her come over to talk to them and she told them some of the story that she never let out--the one that she didn't know how her mom died.   Kylie, the only person in school who had not signed the code, had a small gang of friends but they would all do exactly what Kylie told them to do and Kylie could be so mean.  First she told Ginger that if she talked to her friends any more that she would tell them that her mom was killed after getting into a car with a drunk driver.  Ginger did as she was told but then Kylie ramped up the meanness.  She somehow started a Twitter following telling lies about how her Ginger's own dad was the drunk driver.  Ginger didn't have a cell phone so the only way that she found out was when others would tell her.  Ginger knew that her dad was not the driver because he was home with her and her brother when the accident happened but that did not stop the harassment.  This is the story of how Ginger found the strength to keep on trying during this ordeal.

This is a great book.  It tells the story of bullying in a true and honest way.  It brings out how the bully functions and how the bully actually bullies her so called friends into doing what she wants them to do so that she does not get into as much trouble.  It also shows how the bully uses flattery to bring in not only her victims but her gang members and even the teachers.  This book shows how just a few teachers looking past the flattery into the facts can be such a help for these students.  This takes time however and most teachers are not willing to take this time and trouble and it is much easier to just do their job and go home.  Just like in any profession there are a few who are willing to stand up and find out why the student is "acting out" and make a difference.  I would recommend this book not only for reading by middle school and high school students but also parents and teachers.
I received this book from Booklook for this review.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Furry Logic by Jane Seabrook

Furry Logic by Jane Seabrook is advertised as a guide to life's little challenges.  This little 6x6 book would make the greatest little coffee table book.  I know I know usually they are huge picture filled books to impress your guests but this one will have your guests in stitches.   Each animal gives light-hearted advice to the reader.  This book if left on the coffee table would be a great conversation starter, "here read this.  It is so funny and true."  The self satisfied cat on the cover is saying, " I hear the call to do nothing, and I am doing the best to answer it." 

Jane Seabrook is an artist and this book is filled with animal pictures with great detail shown to each feather, fin, or hair.   In the back of the book Jane tells about how she paints detail into each page--sometimes with a single hair, which is worn out by time the picture is finished.  If the reader has lived on the planet they have probably seen these little animals with all their wisdom by they are soooo cute all together in this little 10th anniversary collection by the artist.  This book could be read and enjoyed by any age person.
This book was provided by Blogging for books for this review.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Watch for the Light--Readings for Advent and Christmas

Watch for the Light--Readings for Advent and Christmas is a collection of readings from spiritual writers for each day of Advent and Christmastide.  It is advertised as being a guide to use for daily devotions and it could be used that way.  There is a daily reading starting at the first point that Advent could possibly begin, November 24th, and goes until the day after Epiphany or January 7th.  Of course most days could be used in any order but some such as Epiphany or Christmas are especially placed for those days.  Most days have no scripture associated with them so the reader must be able to find their own scripture for those days.  Christmas week happily does tell the Christmas story from the Bible as well as readings from famous spiritual writers.

I was expecting to use this book as an Advent devotional as was advertised but I really like my devotional to have the scripture lesson assigned to the reading.  Yes I can find my own scripture but if I get a devotional I kind of expect that to be done for me or at least have suggestions for scripture.  Also I think that those of marginal reading ability would find some of the readings above their head.  It feels like some of this book was written for pastors or other theology majors instead of the general public.  Though I like to learn during Advent I also expect to relax and let the Savior come to me.  I would only give this book an average rating-there are those I like better than this one for my own use.
I received this book from Plough Publishing House/Handlebar for this review.

Evening Prayers by Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

Evening Prayers by Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt is a collection of scripture and a prayer for each day of the week for a year.  Some of the prayers are for personal use and some are for gatherings of people.  Each prayer has before it a scripture for the day.  This is a prayer book written by Pastor Blumhardt for his theology students and truthfully not intended for the general public.  Some of the students using the book were Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Emil Brunner, Oscar Cullman and Karl Barth.  Because some of his students became people of notoriety over the years for one reason or another and because there came more and more persons asking for copies of this little book for their own use it became published.  Whether the reader uses this book as a personal nightly Bible study or as a book to be used as a reference source for prayer this book is well worth reading.

I got this book by mistake but like many mistakes it turned into my blessing.  I really enjoyed the scriptures and the prayers for my own daily use.  I plan to use it for future use also as a reference for groups at the church.  This book would enhance anyone's faith walk. I would advice this book for anyone of any age though the book is obviously written at an adult level of reading skill.
I received this book from Plough Publishing House for this review.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Very Fine House by Barbara Cofer Stoefen

A Very Fine House by Barbara Cofer Stoefen is the story of a mother's story of love, faith, and crystal meth.  This is the story of the Stoefen family's walk down the road of addiction with their daughter.  This is the story of how parents can do the very best job they know how to raise their children to be fine and upstanding citizens of society and still have a child who becomes addicted to drugs.  The author and mother in the story tells the not so pretty tale of addiction and the life on the street that their daughter lived but then she tells the story of how that affected the family-mom, dad, and the kids who follow the rules.  How do you show love to the child you have lost to street drugs and still teach the remaining child that he must follow the rules?  What do you pray for when it seems that your daughter is determined to live opposing God's will?  How much do you spend on a child who appears to just throw it all away when the child who is doing most things right has needs also?  Is it something that I did wrong as a mother or father or something that I didn't do?  Is she just a "bad seed"?  All of these questions and more are answered but the author does not say that she has all the answers--only reports what they did and what didn't work and finally what did.  Though this book is told through the mother's eyes  also through conversations tells about what the addict and the rest of the family feels like during this ordeal.  It is not a pretty picture but it is a revealing look into addiction.

I liked this book though I didn't have to deal with this issue with my children.  It is an issue that touched my family though my children's friends and of course others in my wider family as I am sure unless the reader has their head in the sand it does all families.  This book opened my mind to some of the truths regarding addiction that I had no idea.  How do you love a child who broke into your house and robbed you of your prized possessions.  How can a child figure our how to break into your house after you have changed all the locks but still not figure out how to use society's tools to break free of addiction?  This book does not pretend to answer all your questions but it does have a list in the back of further reading to assist that parent who is going through this with their family.  It is a good book to read if you are like me and have been blessed with drug free children but have friends going through this so that you can be a good support person for them.  It is a book we all need to read as drug use and misuse is becoming more widespread through the country.  It would be a good conversation starter as your child grows toward their teen years.
I received this book from Booklook for this review.