Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Christmas Books

With our second six hour trip behind us today, Christmas feels nearly officially over.  I’ve still got to get the tree down and put all of the ornaments up–  and I really want to reoganize a few closets, but in the name of “rest” and “holiday”  I plan on curling up for at least a few hours this week and getting some reading in!

Our family loves books!   (I actually had to buy a special rider on our home insurance for Spencer’s study and  estimated that he owns about $10,000 worth of books!  Of course, that’s 18 years of a pastor collecting!)  Thankfully, we usually get a few books for Christmas.  Here are a few titles that someone in our family received this Christmas that I plan on getting my grubby little hands on:

Heaven by Randy Alcorn–  A gift from my folks to my husband.  I’ve read the first two chapters, and I am EXCITED!  We heard Randy Alcorn speak on money/possessions a few years ago and loved it!   I think he may be an even better writer than he is a speaker.

Worship Matters by Bob Kauffman–  A gift from our choir director and good friend Linda.  We discovered Bob Kauffman a few years ago at the Bethlehem Pastor’s Conference where there was a whole table of his CDs available.  Since then, I have downloaded many a song from Sovereign Grace Music.)  I’ve already read the first chapter and I am realizing I need to get a highlighter pen and read it more slowly.  Great stuff!)

Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon–  A gift from my husband to myself during our Christmas Eve book exchange.)  I’ve actually already read this book TWICE, but it is my favorite of all the Mitford series and I LOVE to read it at Christmas time.  I read half of it outloud to the Spencer and the kids on the way to Arkansas last week.  Such a sweet book.

Do the Right Thing by Mike Huckabee.  My gift to Truett for our Christmas Eve book exchange, this book is an autobiography.  Truett and I share a love for biographies and I can’t wait to get my hands on it after Truett is done.

So what about you?  Any of you get any great books for Christmas?  Want to share/swap with me?  🙂


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We Have a Winner!

In the middle of decorating the tree, finishing up my Christmas shopping on-line and getting my oldest daughter ready to travel to state band auditions…

We have a winner!

Thank-you to everyone who commented on the book review!  Carolyn Sharkas was our winner and Grace will be sending her an autographed copy of Secrets About Boys (That Shouldn’t be Secret!)

I have good intentions of posting a few pictures of Thanksgiving travels, our ornament tradition and our first snow fall!!!  Hopefully tomorrow…  But for now, I need to round up the kids who are already hanging up their stockings on the mantel and wishing that I was done with the tree garlands already.  🙂

Thanks again everyone!

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THIS IS A GIVEAWAY FOR A FREE (autographed!!) COPY OF THE BOOK:  Secrets about Guys that Shouldn’t be Secret by Grace Dove.   If you’re a member of my church, you might remember that last February I spoke at our ladies’ soup and salad supper and the topic of my talk was READING.  The last point of my message was to encourage you to give away good literature to people!   Giving away good books to people whom I love REALLY WORKS FOR ME and I am so excited to tell you about this one.

Let me just say upfront, if you’re the mother of a teenage daughter or a Sunday School teacher of teenage girls, or you just know a teenage girl–  RUN (don’t walk) to your nearest Christian bookstore and buy Secrets about Guys That Shouldn’t Be Secret by Grace Dove today.

I can’t tell you often I see girls in the mall or even girls at church and I just want to run up to them and say, “Oh, I”m so sorry Darlin’, your shirt doesn’t seem to fit! Here’s a bigger one– you can have it!  Cover up!  Quick!  Before someone sees you!” Of course, I would be laughed out of town if I did such things, but still!  It’s my inner, urge!

Immodest clothing for girls and even more– immodest behavior has become such a social norm, that no one even thinks of it as abnomal. In fact, the problem is so endemic, that I have a hard time as a pastor’s wife and a high school girl’s Sunday School teacher trying to even communicate what I’m getting at when I talk about behavior that is “appropriate” and “inappropriate” for Christian girls.

But help is here.

Grace Dove, in her book Secrets about Guys that Shouldn’t be Secret, has figured out how to communicate with girls in a clear, fun, and easy to read way. Written in the much loved “Top 10” magazine format, the book contains twelve issues that are so important for our Christian girls to learn about but she calls the issues “secrets about guys” which makes them all very intriguing for a teenager to read.

First, she covers modesty and includes a fun poll in which 86% of guys surveyed said that “girls wear tops that are too revealing.”  In the process, Grace shows that her theology is rock solid as she subtly weaves in her Biblical reasoning for all of the “secrets.” Under the point of modesty, she talks about modest dressing being “a sign that we are under God’s authority.”

Don’t beat yourself up if you are discovering that your views on modesty don’t match God’s. Even Adam and Eve didn’t get it right the first time. After they sinned, they sewed leaves together to cover themselves. (Genesis 3:7) God didn’t see that as adequate because He provided different coverings for them. (Genesis 3:21) God knew something about the signficance of being properly clothed that Adam and Eve didn’t understand. Now that we have the Bible though, we don’t have to make the same mistake.

My favorite chapter in the book is about guys “liking a little mystery.” “Guys love a challenge,” she says. “Guys are by nature conquereors.”  These are universal truths that most girls just don’t understand.  If girls realized how beautiful mystery is, I really believe many would work a little harder to cultivate it.   She says “Like unwrapped gifts under a Christmas tree, many girls have no secrets, no surprises, no suspense.” If you (as a mother) have ever thought “I don’t want my girls telephoning boys” but then you couldn’t figure out how to explain your thoughts to your daughter, Grace Dove does that for you here. She talks about mystery in behavior, mystery in conversation and mystery in modest dress. And again– her writing style is so teenage girl friendly– your daughter won’t feel “preached to” as she reads it.  She will feel that she is getting sage and savvy advice from someone who has “been there.”

In a day when many girls think that low rider blue jeans, tatoos and nose rings are pretty, Grace talks about what true beauty is.   She mentions  that  one’s walk with the Lord, a humble heart and a pleasant expression are three things that often get overlooked when a girl is working on her appearance.  And–  I LOVED THIS–  she talks about how appealing feminine dress is to guys and challenged the girls to wear a skirt once in a while.  She clearly wants girls to embrace their God-given femininity AND ENJOY IT!  What a fresh and much needed message that our girls need to hear today.

The last chapter was about  guys noticing homemaking skill.  My husband read this chapter  and he completely agreed with everything written.  (And he reminded me that he can still remember that I mended a shirt of his during our college days and that he didn’t wash the shirt for days afterward because he loved the smell of the Downy that I used when I also washed and pressed it for him.)
He concurred with Grace and said it would surprise young women to know how much guys notice a girl who seems to love children and the home.  Apparently, when it comes to marriage material– guys take notice of these things!   And of course, Grace makes the topic so fun by even including a killer Chocolate Chip cookie recipe.

I’m so tempted to go through the book for you line by line and share all twelve of the secrets– but I’m just not going to do it!  I really want you to buy the book and give copies to all of the teenage girls in your life.  (I’m planning on buying a copy for every girl in my Sunday School class!  And NO, I don’t get any sort of kickback from this review–  I just REALLY believe in the message of this book!)   There are many books on Christian dating out on the market, but very few books on the subject of becoming the kind of girl you need to be to attract the right kind of guy.  Whether you are a girl of 13 or 23, this book offers practical wisdom that you need for life.

To learn more about Grace Dove, check out her blog and her personal website!  And to buy the book, just go here!

To be included in the book give away, just leave a comment saying something like “I believe in this message and would love to win the book!”   or you could even write, “I’m not sure what I think about this way of thinking and would love to learn more.  Put my name in for the drawing!”  Whatever.  Just leave a comment!  🙂  And don’t forget to leave a working email address!  I’ll close comments for the giveaway on December 3rd

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!   And for lots of other “Works for me Wednesday” tips from other mothers and wives, go to Shannon’s site at Rocks in My Dryer!

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When Challies.com linked to this article— I decided to take the bait and be one of the reviewers for Lynne Spear’s (mother of Britney & Jamie Spears) book entitled Through the Storm. While I could never have initially stomached the thought of buying the book and funneling more money into the Spears’ coffers, I was all for reading the book if I could get it for FREE! And why not? Their story is the fascinating tale of how a small town talent became a world-renowned fame and world-renowned tragedy. I was interested in seeing if Lynne Spears would own any of the responsibility for how her children turned out. And mostly, I wanted to see why in the world Thomas Nelson thought this book was worth publishing.

Lynne Spears grew up in a small southern Louisiana town and attended the Methodist church every Sunday with her mother and siblings. Her dad had some issues with “churchy” people and wasn’t a regular part of this ritual. And so… Lynne Spears grew up in a home where the spiritual leader of her home was… her mother. She was a byproduct of the ever so common matriarchal home.

As a young woman, (against her father’s wishes,) Lynne married an alcoholic, and says that she never even noticed Jamie’s drinking problem until it hit her “square between the eyes.” This “unaware” trait follows her throughout the rest of her life and especially characterizes her parenting.

However, that “unaware” quality of hers was not her fatal flaw. No, I would have to say that her fatal flaw can best be captured in chapter three of the book, entitled “Why Did I Say Yes?”

“Why did I say yes to Britney’s career? That’s easy. I said yes…because I wanted to help my daughter make her dream come true.”

I can honestly say that I’ve met Lynne Spears a hundred different times in a hundred different churches. She’s that mom who is running to ball practice, running to dance lessons, running to scouts. Running, running, running. Running around “making her kid’s dreams come true.” And yes, church is one of those things that sometimes gets included in the running– tacked on– like Jesus is just one more activity that competes against the sports and all of the other extra curricular activities that the kids are in. (Sadly, Jesus usually loses out in this competition.)

Lynne recalls fond memories of her child raising days:

…we spent hours going to his [Bryan’s] basketball, baseball and football games. If we weren’t sitting on the bleachers somewhere, we were invariably at one of Britney’s dance lessons and recitals…I tried hard to cook healthy meals and keep a clean, orderly house. I sought out the best schools and church programs for my kids, and I happily shuttled them to sports events, dance, karate–you name it–not to mention to their friends’ homes for play dates.

When a parent makes a “child’s dream” the deciding and driving factor for what takes place in that child’s life– well, that’s a recipe for disaster. The Bible says, “There is none who understands. There is none who seeks God.” (Romans 3:10-11) If you’ve been a parent for a while, this truth becomes painfully apparent. If I were to follow Lynne Spears’ lead and let my ten year old follow her current dream, my Anna would right now be a cheerleader. But by the grace of God, I have the wisdom and maturity as her mother to know that the path of cheerleading might not be the best one for her. If you had heard the song (Pink’s So What?) that recently accompanied our town’s mini-cheer-camp halftime show routine (performed by elementary girls ages K-6), you might agree. (Not to mention that all of the little girls were coached to cheer “Shake your tail feathers!” and then they proceeded to shake their “tail feathers” at the audience!!) This is all, of course, a precursor to the overtly sexual moves that many high school cheerleader’s routines consist of. I know the godly dads agree with me on this one. This is not a dream for my Anna to pursue. This is a dream that I intend on killing. “NIP IT IN THE BUD, Ang! Nip it! Nip it! Nip it!”

Britney’s childhood dream was to be the next Madonna or Whitney Houston. You can decide what you think about that dream.

Lynne Spears is typical of the neo-orthodox American churchgoer in that she has faith (mainly in faith itself), but she separates her faith from her practice. All through the book, she speaks of God and even credits God for opening the doors to her daughters’ successes. She does wince a bit when Britney at age nineteen confides in her that she “Just didn’t know if there was really a right or a wrong way anymore.” She asked her mother, “I mean, is anything really wrong?” Poor Britney was confused because although her mother had taken her to Sunday School week after week as a child, she had no problem standing around with Britney sipping on mixed drinks, letting her wear a prostitute’s wardrobe and allowing her debut album include songs like Sodapop. (Which are very mild compared to later hits.)

Lynne said that the first time she felt that her anchor was slipping– the first time she felt that her authority as a mother was really undermined, was Britney’s first Rolling Stone cover in 1999. But what is clear to the reader is that her anchor had never really held in the first place.

She also chronicles Jamie Lynn’s career and answers the question “Why did you say yes– again?”

“So why did I say yes– again– to my second daughter, allowing her to pursue her own dreams? Because back then, there was no bad side…”

Concerning Jamie Lynn’s pregnancy she says:

“Was I right in trusting the two of them– two basically good teenagers– taking their word that the relationship was as pure as I had hoped and as blameless as I had been led to believe it was? Perhaps I should have questioned them more deeply, but I am telling you, Jamie Lynn had never done a solitary thing to raise even an eyebrow.”

Lynne Spears in one word? Clueless.

At the end of the book, she does admit that she should not have trusted her children blindly and does seem to have some wisdom in hindsight. (Don’t we all?) I finished the book feeling very sorry for this woman. My husband always says: “Where there’s a fog in the pulpit, there’s a mist in the pew.” It seems that Lynne Spears has been walking around in the mist since her childhood.

And that’s a sad thing. ” But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:23)

So, am I glad that Thomas Nelson published what seemed like such a piece of tabloid nonsense upon first glance? Well, yes. I think that many average, American moms will read this book and see just a little bit of themselves in Lynne Spears. And hopefully, they’ll stop and be introspective for just a moment and ask themselves, “Why am I doing with my children the things that I am doing? And what will the ramifications of our activities and priorities be ten years from now?”

And that’s a good thing.

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