Monday, July 8, 2013

Book Review: The Point - The Redemption of Oban Ironbout ~ by William E. Jefferson

The Point: The Redemption of Oban Ironbout is from new author, William E. Jefferson, a self-proclaimed "message maker".  Interwoven in his book are words of truth pulled from the Scriptures. 

There are four primary stories happening in this book.  Hollie and Goodwin Macbreeze are on a journey of sorts.  Hollie is battling a health condition, Goodwin is seeking a unique house in an area his grandfather once frequented, both are involved in a spiritual journey that is centered within a quiet, monastery-set community, and there is the extended mystery surrounding Oban Ironbout.

Monks take a month to delve into 12 deep Biblical truths that wrap a story within a story, creating a dramatic, thought-provoking, and poetic way of thinking.  These twelve portions of The Point showcase Mr. Jefferson's message-making writing style.

While thought-provoking, I wasn't drawn into the story as I hoped I would be.  At times it felt as though there was too much wordiness going on between Hollie and Goodwin; conversations that described more internalized thoughts or place-descriptors than what people would typically communicate in spoken word.  The 12 stories that followed through Bible passages were most interesting to me.

I received this book from Handlebar Marketing in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Book Review: Chronicles of Dinosauria ~ Dave Woetzel


Love dinosaurs?  Love history?  This is the book for you!  Chronicles of Dinosauria gives the reader insight into the how's, why's, and when's of dinosaurs that lived (possibly still live) at the same time as man.  God created everything in 6 days; contrary to evolution, people did not evolve millions of years after dinosaurs became extinct.  

In Dave Woetzel's book, beautifully illustrated by Richard Dobbs and published by Master Books, evidences and proofs are presented that should have even the most ardent evolutionist questioning his or her belief system.  

Chapters include: The Creation and Dinosaurs, The Flood and Dinosaurs, Fossil Evidence of Dinosaurs and Man, Historical Evidence of Dinosaurs and Man, Artistic Evidence of Dinosaurs and Man, Biblical Evidence of Dinosaurs and Man, and Apologetics/Conclusion.

Read fascinating facts about fossilized ferns the size of modern trees, dragonflies with 3ft-wingspans, 60 ft-long sharks, massive fossil graveyards (many in current day deserts) that were laid down by water, and why it is significant that many fossilized dinosaurs are found in a "death pose". Find out the relevance of human artifacts found in the lower fossil record and fossilized human and dinosaur footprints.  Wrap your mind around the UNfossilized dinosaur bones, red blood cells, hemoglobin protein and even a dinosaur with tail bone tendons still attached that have been found!  Study cultural stories, histories, sculptures, drawings, and unearthed items that reflect the history of the coexistence of people and dinosaurs.  Consider cryptozoology, the science of hidden animals.  Read God's Word to know that He alone is Creator and author of life.

This is the type of book that I could see Veritas Press and/or Sonlight picking up at some point to include in their science/history curriculum.  It's that quality of a book; informative for both younger and older "students".

"Dino Dave" Woetzel  has expanded research available at  His book and website are a wealth of information sharing evidences that people and dinosaurs coexisted; evidences of a powerful, mighty Creator.
"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead."  Romans 1:20

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Book Review: Advice for Seekers (Charles Spurgeon)

God loves you.  God hates sin.  Therein lies the dilemma.  Charles Spurgeon's age-old book, Advice for Seekers, addresses you.  You, the sinner.  Me, the sinner.  When Jesus reached out to this sinner, I had nothing to offer in return.  All I could do was reach up to grab hold of the hand that would never let me go (and even that very act was God giving me the strength).  Forgiven.  Redeemed!  I was bought with a price that was impossible to ever repay.  With Jesus' last breath on the cross, he uttered, "Tetelestai."  A commercial word that meant "It is paid; the debt is paid in full."  It is finished!

Spurgeon draws on Scripture to reveal Jesus' promises to give us life everlasting and for us to rest in the abundant life that He offers us.  So, why do we settle for the sublime, complaining, discontentment,...the things of this world?  Are you living the life of faith that God has called you to?  Spurgeon had his own frustrations as a young man and with a gentle spirit, shares with us how he came to surrender his life completely to God.

Christ has called us and desires us to come up out of the pitiful bogs we live in.  Are you a seeker?  Seeking to find meaning and purpose in life, seeking to shed the weight of sin on your heart, seeking forgiveness, seeking love/understanding/compassion, seeking grace, seeking....ever seeking.  Perhaps you are already a Believer and you are seeking to share the gospel message with others, seeking a deeper relationship with the One who called you out of the pit.  I encourage you to read this book and be inspired, encouraged, and assured.

To quote Mr. Spurgeon: "The way of salvation has in all ages been one and the same.  No man has ever been saved by good works.  The way by which the just have lived has always been the way of faith.  There has not been the slightest advance upon this truth; it is established and settled, evermore the same, like the God who uttered it.  At all times, and everywhere, the gospel is and must forever be the same.  'Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today and forever.'.....Heaven and earth shall pass away, but God's Word shall never pass away."

A 19th century reproduction, Advice for Seekers is a beautifully bound collection of Charles Spurgeon's writings, words, and faith-filled insights. There is something to be said for pages that are "made to look old".  Something timeless, classic, and comforting to hold.  I think for this very reason, I would be hard-pressed to ever convert to digital books!

Thank you to New Leaf Publishing for the gift of this book.  It was a joy to review and share!

Book Review: Tower of Babel ~ The Cultural History of Our Ancestors (Bodie Hodge)

Master Books has never failed to disappoint in the books they publish.  Author, Bodie Hodge, takes the reader through impeccable research and Biblical truths that reveal the hand of God that moved people across the globe after mass disobedience on the plains of Shinar (which means "between two rivers").

Bodie Hodge details how the true history of the Tower of Babel is being attacked: evolution-based racism, mythological ideologies, and the reinterpretation of historical events into philosophical ideas.  Each attack is on the authenticity and authority of God's inspired Word and attempts to hold man's ideas higher than the almighty Creator God.

It's both fascinating and horrifying to read that the Tower of Babel began construction about 106 years after Noah's worldwide flood.  To think that God's grace saved Noah's family, yet their descendents went right back to the sinfulness of their forefathers; the very sin that destroyed them.  It reminds me that none of us are immune to sin and it's destruction on our lives and those around us.

Mr. Hodge expands on different areas that are quite interesting.  He discusses (in detail) the difference between the continental shift that occurred during Noah's flood and the splitting up of people into various new lands, the possible location of the Tower of Babel (Iraq), how much of the tower was built, Babel's purpose in being built, who tore it down in years to come, where languages came from, genealogies back to Noah's time, the ice age (which peaked about 400 years after Babel) and migration, where various families/groups moved/settled, extra-Biblical supports for the Tower of Babel/dispersion of our ancestors, why people now don't live as long as they did pre-flood, the origin of written languages, dispersion at Babel to gathering of saints at Pentecost (to spread the gospel message), the ancient book of Job, and much more highly informative research. 

If you have ever thought that the Tower of Babel is inconsequential to the world today or if you are the person who has always wanted to know more about Babel; I encourage you to read this book.  It is full of illustrations, maps, and easy-to-follow genealogies that will keep you interested from beginning to end.  I'll have to make time to read it again just to soak up all the information available.  It's a wealth of research and Biblical truths, confirmed by both the Bible and sources outside God's Word.

I received this book from New Leaf Publishing in exchange for my honest review.  I hope you will take the time to find/read Tower of Babel for yourself.  A review could never come close to revealing the depth of knowledge contained in these pages.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Book Review: Freefall to Fly (Rebekah Lyons)

Rebekah Lyons opens raw emotions to readers, exposing hopes, dreams, disappointments, and fears playing on her heart.  A smooth, quieting writing style makes her book more of a personal diary that relates to the unseen emotions, questions, and guilt that many women carry with them.  Rebekah's journey brought her through those moments when you can't even muster the strength to look ahead.  In slowly gaining ground to allow herself to freefall from her comfort zone and the safety of close friendships in Georgia, she discovered that God Himself was drawing her into a closer relationship with Him; one in which she was freed from expectations that bound her. 

While all of us leave different stories behind, my guess is that more women than we realize will relate to Rebekah's story.  For myself, it brought back the memories of anxiety attacks that hit after moving to a big city.  On a previous visit to Milwaukee I was thrilled to drive the twists and turns of the freeways to find the way to the Childrens' Museum while my husband was taking a weekend class.  Moving there was a different story; I felt confined to our house and fear overtook any desire I would have to drive anywhere.  Grocery trips had to wait until my husband came home from work so he could take us to the store.  The seemingly  millions of roads, highways, and massive amount of people in one location was stifling.  I was anxious about our unsold house that was left behind, resentful of the very act of relocating to somewhere I didn't want to be,.... The list was endless.  The first anxiety attack in front of my children was frightening and something that caught me offguard.  I thought I was so good at hiding my emotions...until that moment.  It was a long climb out but God graciously stood by my side and drew me closer.  (...that story for another day...)

I hope women will find Rebekah's book to be encouraging, motivating, and freeing as they read through the pages.  I hope women will open their Bibles and seek God's Word daily, claiming His promises as their own.  Reach out to those around you who haven't heard the Gospel message because if you don't tell them, who will?  Pray, Read, and Fly.  God WILL bless!

This book was given to me in exchange for my honest review...and I really enjoyed it!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Book Review: North of Hope A Daughter's Arctic Journey ~ Shannon Huffman Polson

Shannon Huffman Polson has bravely woven together the dialogue she struggled/struggles with in her mind and heart after her father and stepmother were killed by an Alaskan grizzly bear.  Her book, a memoir, winds effortlessly between her current search for understanding and release, the ties she feels through her choir participation in Mozart's Requiem in memory of her loved ones, and memories of her past.

A grieving heart may find comfort in this book; relate to the soul-searching, the questioning, and the desire to make a pilgrimage in honor of a lost loved one, seeking answers that may never come (and finding peace with that).  My sadness at the end of this book is found in the deep desired longing to find the peace that God offers; I'm left wondering what kind of peace Shannon found.  Was it just a peace to move on with life or was it an everlasting peace? 

I was given an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  I've lost many loved ones in my life; through age, disease, and tragic situations.  I can't imagine that death of our loved ones could be easy for anyone.  Knowing there is true hope in life eternal found through Jesus Christ, our Creator and Saviour, gives my heart a peace beyond understanding.  It isn't found in what we do in the here and now.  (Ephesians 2:8-9 "For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God:  Not of works lest any man should boast.")  My disappointment in this book isn't found in Shannon's honest reflection of what she has gone through..  It is found in the most significant missing story: a lost soul won't read anywhere in this book about how to find the peace that only comes through salvation and a true faith found in Jesus' redemptive work on the cross. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Book Review: Invisible (Ginny L. Tyyrup)

Ginny Yttrup is a relatively new author; one whose book, Invisible, caught my attention from the start. Three women from different walks of life come together in friendship, only to realize that each has their own reasons for wanting to become (or seemingly remain) invisible.

Ellyn, a kind, warm and hard-working woman, makes everyone feel at home in her cafe-turned-family-kitchen.  However, when it comes to herself, she struggles daily with echoes from the past.  She can't help but tell herself that the handsome man interested in her must have the wrong motives or be a misguided widower.

Sabina, a beauty to behold, has taken out a year's lease on an ocean-view home.  Leaving a husband and 2 college-age daughters behind, she is running from something and hiding behind the curtains that remain closed to the majestic view.

Twila, the 26-year-old who resembles a teenager in both looks and language, hides behind layers of clothing even as she continues on her healing journey.  When something triggers the dire affects of her eating disorder, she struggles to remind herself of God's hand on her life; she fights against the desire to disappear again.

Yttrup has woven a realistic story together that is a gentle reminder to each of us that we are indeed created in the image of God.  All of nature reveals His glory and speaks of His grace extended to us; how can we look at His creation and deny the one Creator behind it all? 

"Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering." ~ Saint Augustine

Do we look at ourselves and see the beauty of His handiwork?  That may be a more difficult question to answer for some.  Ellyn, Sabina, and Twila will each in their own way be confronted with this will you.

I was presented a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Curriculum Review: World Literature ~ Cultural Influences of Early to Contemporary Voices

Master Books, a division of New Leaf Publishing, is a publisher's name that I look for on books; I know their name means quality.  That being said, I wasn't sure I wanted to review a high school literature curriculum when the request was put before me.  Our children aren't at the high school level yet but it won't be long (gulp!).  When we do reach that point, we will have our first high school level book waiting; I can already hear the cries of anticipation in the other room...well, cries for something!

James P. Stobaugh has pulled together a good selection of world literature, created critical thinking assignments based on each selection, and written in a clear way so as to reflect the Biblical worldview we should hold in this fallen world.  When I was a high school student (early-90's), many books/authors were questionable in our public school.   In this decade, I've been shocked at some of the literature students are required to read/write about.  What happened to the quality classical works?  Look no further ~ this may be the solution you are looking for in your homeschool journey.

I appreciate that this course begins with distinguishing between world views.  Everyone has a starting point for how they think and what they believe; that affects everything ~ including literature.  World Literature is a classical approach to whole books and follows a Biblical worldview.

Broken into 34 chapters, each has 5 lessons; this is set up perfectly to use through one entire school year.  Literature is taken from Sumerian, Egyptian, and Hebrew; Ancient Greece and Rome; Early church history; Japanese, Indian, Persian and Arabic, Chinese; Middle ages; Romanticism; Realism; and Modern age. Vast assortment ~ well chosen. There are easy to follow reading schedules and a daily calendar to keep students and teachers on track.  Per the description, this book/course "equips students to think critically about philosophy and trends in culture, and articulate their views through writing."

The World Literature course includes a bound student text and a teacher's guide (hole-punched).  The student text is 496 pages in length.  It is actually quite interesting to me even though I'm not teaching it yet.  Our children have already heard many of the stories, places, and characters mentioned in this curriculum.  We are following the childhood audio series Story of the World and related resources.  It's encouraging for me to see that they will continue to glean more from literature as they mature and work on deeper levels.

In addition to World Literature, there are also American Literature and British Literature texts and associated teacher's guides available.  Offering 3 credits each, these are well-suited to 10th, 11th, and 12th grade.

I appreciate the opportunity given to review this excellent work and look forward to using it personally in the future.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Book Review: This Scarlet Cord, by: Joan Wolf

There are two types of Christian fiction books.  The type that basically follows the Biblical account of lives, places, and situations; and the type that takes those same knowns and wraps a creative story around them.  This book is the latter.

Yes, this is a fictional book, very loosely based on the Biblical person of Rahab.  Joan Wolf has created an intriguing storyline about a woman who obviously led a very different (likely difficult) life.  While the Bible doesn't give away many details of the "real" Rahab's life, don't let the fact that the author took many literary liberties in creating a life story for her character dissuade you from reading the story.  I enjoyed this book but also realize Ms. Wolf wasn't saying that this is what the Bible says.

This Scarlet Cord helped me to understand better the culture of Jericho's day; a city drawn into self-desires and idol worship. I hesitate to write much about the storyline as it is unique in it's own right and I don't want to give away the plot.  Suffice it to say, it was a story I had never pictured the real Rahab living out but interesting to see the author's spin on her life in this fictional account. 

To meet the real Rahab one day will be grand; to hear how God spared her life, how she turned to the One true God in the midst of such wickedness, and became one of only 5 women listed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ!

This book was provided to me for review; all opinions are my own. 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book Review: The Discovery Saga ~ Goodbye to Yesterday ~ Wanda Brunstetter

We used to live near a large Amish area and I soaked it all in.  Even as a young girl, I remember thinking it would have been wonderful to live an "Amish life".  As a wife & mother, I now selectively choose what to take out of that lifestyle, applying it to our family.  There's something about Amish story books that I have always enjoyed though; Wanda Brunstetter being one of my favourite Amish authors.  I was happy to be asked to review Goodbye to Yesterday that will be released in February.

Luke and Meredith Stoltzfus have been married for about a year, Luke having been out of work for several months of that.  Having read Amish books before, the story is fairly typical of lifestyle.  Possibly less common is Luke leaving for a few months to learn a new trade, hoping this will get his family back on their feet financially.  Meredith has agreed it is best for her to stay at home; yet, she has a few unspokens on her heart.

This book was shorter than I anticipated, as I read it through in just over an hour.  The first of 6 mini-novels, one will be released each month beginning in February.  I enjoyed what I read in this first of "The Discovery Saga" mini-series, but I'm not the type of person who would read a few chapters each month for half a year to get through a book.   I think I'll wait until the whole series is out to read in its entirety.  If you're a Wanda Brunstetter must-have fan, you'll want to pre-order the entire series now though!

Like The Discovery Saga on Facebook and join in their Scavenger Hunt for a chance to win some great prizes, including a Kindle pre-loaded with Wanda Brunstetter books and the 2nd book in this series, The Silence of Winter.  February 5, 2013 is the release date for this first book, available now as  pre-order!

All opinions are my own in this review.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Book Review: The Lie: Evolution/Millions of Years ~ by Ken Ham

25 years later, this book still rings true and is even more important to read today as evolution and millions of years is taught as "fact".  Over the last several decades, schools and society in general have been steering people to look within themselves for some type of enlightenment.  Accepting that there truly is a God who is Creator of all means accepting individual responsibility for our sinful lives.  It would mean acknowledging that God really did set beneficial rules in the beginning.  Our choice to not obey and follow His guidelines means eternal separation from the most High Lord of all life.  Ken Ham brings lies we are told to light and stresses the additional concerns we should have over Christians buying into these lies.

While I didn't read the original The Lie book, it seems that one of the most important additions to this book is found in addressing Christians who are compromising the Truth; those trying to make evolution fit into the Scriptures.  There is no possible way for evolution and Biblical Creation to mesh.  The most pointed fact is found on the 6th day of creation, when God created man in His own image (not in the image of an ape or pond scum).  There was no death before sin, thus no death before Adam disobeyed God.  Trying to fit millions of years into 6 days just doesn't work because there was no sin/death before Adam and Eve's devastating choice.  In addition, God ended each day commenting that His creation was "good", culminating in it was "very good."  God would never call sin or any of it's horrific after-affects good; thus there was no sin/no death/no millions of years.

Differentiating between OBSERVABLE science and HISTORICAL science is something that is left severely understated (or missing completely) in many circles (Christian and secular).  How many times have I heard or read the argument that someone is "all about science" so to them that is the end-all to the Creation vs evolution debate!  Just being able to give someone the definition of what observable and historical science mean is a huge first step to understanding how "science" itself is defined and how it relates to the past.  I love that this is explained and expanded on in this book.  It's something we need to not only know for ourselves but is of utmost importance to teach this differentiation to our children so they understand and will know how to defend the Bible/Biblical Creation against attacks to God's truths.

One quote that stood out is, "The public has genuinely been misled into thinking that evolution is only scientific and belief in God is only religious." (pg 72/73)  Ken Ham explains this in much more detail than I could.  Even secular museums displaying fossils, plants, and animal specimens are merely displaying evidences that they are interpreting based on "evolutionary beliefs"; a hypothesis of what could have happened.  The same fossils, plants, and animal specimens could be on display in a Creation museum with interpretations based on the Biblical details of Creation, the sinful fall of mankind and and resulting corruption of everything in this world, the worldwide flood of Noah's day (with resulting upheavals/carving-out of the global surface and laying down of massive amounts of rocks layers/fossil-creation), etc.  Interpretation is all relative to the glasses you are looking through.  No one is here now to tell us all about the beginning of creation/time itself, but God was there and as Creator He has left us with THE record of the history of the world.

This is an excellent book to begin with or to read in addition to other Biblical-creation based books.  Expand your knowledge on the subject and don't be the one to shrug your shoulders or walk away the next time someone throws the "well, I just believe in science" card on the table.  Evolution and millions of years isn't observable, testable science.  It's a theory that has no proof; just many voices that try to fit pieces together in an effort to push the one true God they don't want to acknowledge out of the picture.  If you look at the same 'evidences' through the light of what God tells us happened in the last 6,000 years, there is ample proof (using the same 'evidences') that what God said happened did happen. 

Psalm 11:3 "If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?"  Our battle today isn't just evolution/millions of years versus Creation.  The Christians who are trying to fit evolution into the Bible are ultimately destroying the foundations of God's Word.  His Word is infallible.  What He says is truth and when you mess with God's Word you are causing people to question that anything in the Bible is true.  Don't be the one to corrupt His Word with lies or you could be the one to lead others on a wide path away from the God who created and loves them.

The Lie is published by Master Books, a division of New Leaf Publishing Group.  I received a copy to review and all opinions are my own.