Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Reading Journal

As far back as I can remember, my mother has kept a reading journal. I suppose it goes back about 40 years. In the 1980's I started one as well. Originally in a small spiral notebook, I eventually transferred my log to a pretty pink kitten journal given to me by a friend. It is nearly time to start a new page for the new year 2012.

This was not a record breaking year for reading. I managed about 30 medium to long books this year. I enjoyed nearly all of them. What a difference they added to my days! I definitely agree with the saying, "So many books, so little time." We fit time in wherever we can...the doctor's office, ballet practice, after the kids are in bed. And we are enriched and transported to another time and place.

If you've never kept track of your reading it is the perfect time to start. You can do it so many different ways...whatever works best for you. List your book and author, rate your book, mark if you would give it as a gift, if you had any objections to it, or if you absolutely loved it! It's nearly impossible to remember your reaction to all your books if you let too much time pass.

I can always look back and see if I read something and what my response was to it. It is helpful not only to yourself but to other people. I particularly like to stock up on my favorites and give them to friends or guests to my home. I couldn't tell you how many copies of Stepping Heavenward I have gifted to a friend. Used bookstores are filled with your favorites just sitting there waiting for you to find them.

Have a wonderful new reading year. Hope you'll discover some great new authors and renew your acquaintance with old favorites.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Christmas "Story"

In all your reading this season, please remember to include the account of the birth of Jesus given to us in the Scripture. Remember that the first schools in our country were fashioned to teach the children how to read God's Word.  Thereby, they were bringing up good and righteous people to be the next leaders of the New World.

There is an abundant of wonderful Christmas literature to read this time of year. Let us not neglect the greatest Words of them all.

An Angel Promises the Birth of Jesus to Mary  -  Luke 1:26-38
Mary Visits Expectant Elizabeth & the birth of John the Baptist  -  Luke 1:39-80
An Angel Appears to Joseph -  Matthew 1:1-24
Jesus is Born in Bethlehem  -  Luke 2:1-7
The Shepherd's Angelic Encounter and Their Visit to Jesus  -  Luke 2: 8-20
Mary and Joseph Bring Jesus at the Temple (Simeon and Anna)  -  Luke 2:21-39
The Wise Men Arrive to Worship  -  Matthew 2:1-12
The Escape to Egypt  -  Matthew 2:13-18
The Return to Nazareth  -  Matthew 19-23
Prophecy of the birth of a Messiah  -  Isaiah 7:14
Prophecy of the character of the Messiah  -  Isaiah 9:6-7
Prophecy that Messiah will be out of Bethlehem  -  Micah 5:2
The Timing of Christ's Birth  -  Galatians 4:4-5


Some of these passages are moderate in length and are something that can be read each day with your children. By the end of December they may even have a portion memorized.  What great and important things to commit to memory!

May you have a very Merry Christmas.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Luv Bargain Books

When I was in the city yesterday, I was bombarded by signs of Border's Going Out of Business sale. I thought they had already closed, and since I don't really live nearby I figured I'd missed it. Well, let's just say I had to check it out. Did a little gift shopping. Also picked up a few treats for myself. Couldn't resist. Thankfully all the books were from the 80% off section. Yeah! Sure have been running into the best book deals lately.

I like to keep a shelf of books in my spare bedroom closet. Love those built-ins. This way when I have a guest (we frequently host missionaries) I might have a book that they've been wanting to read or one that I've read that seems to really "fit" them. Some of our ministry wife friends are very avid readers. Just love 'em to pieces. It's just a joy to me to be able to present them with this little luxury that they might not splurge on for themselves.  I tend to give away some of my favorites like Stepping Heavenward, Sisterchicks, or At Home in Mitford.

Some of the my favorite places to find gently used books are hard for me to resist. However, I only have so much space on my bookshelves. Of course, the obvious place to start looking for great bargain books is the used bookstore. There are little "hole in the wall" stores and big huge semi-chains. In Arizona we have the Bookmans Bookstore chain. While quite hippy-era style, it has a large selection, and most of the books are in really good condition. I've bought classics, christian novels, children's books, homeschool resources, movies, and music inside those walls. This year I was looking for a good copy of Randy Alcorn's Safely Home, and I found it there for $6 in mint condition. In fact there were two copies, but that would have defeated the purpose, right?

Libraries are great for their storehouse of books and infomation, but also for their bookstores within. Inside I have found donations and discarded items from the library itself sold for 10% or less of the face value. Recently I found a book less than a year old which sold for $30 for $2.50. Often, I don't think they realize what they have. Most items in the library bookstores are $1.00 or less. Children's books are usually 25 or 50 cents. I can take my daughter with me and let her pick nearly as many as strike her fancy. Our county has a central used book center where periodically they hold HUGE sales. You pay $5.00 per bagful on certain days and the individual book prices are not even considered.  These have been my biggest bargain days ever. I have paid $5 (sometimes $10 for 2 bags) and come away with hundred of dollars in books. These are not all discarded items full of library stickers and stamps. Often they are in mint condition. Perfect for my gift shelf.

Charity groups, Goodwill, Clothing and Thrift stores are gold mines for used books. They are not necessarily what draws in the crowd for that store so they are not priced very high. You never really know what little gem you may find sitting on a shelf for .50 or $1. My daughter also finds great little and big toys for a fraction of the cost. She sees this as a great find. The plus side is that you know the money is going toward a needy cause.

Of course, most regular priced bookstores have discount sections. Especially around or after Christmas and New year these are full of great, great bargains. Barnes and Noble often has a display of books for a dollar or two around this time.

If you're a garage sale hunter, I don't even need to tell you the treasures contained there.

Of course, I'm not advocating these bargains simply to hoard books to yourselves, but to pass them on to be a blessing to someone else. A school teacher, a friend, a pastor's wife, a parent, a daughter, or missionary wife would be encouraged by a little gift once in a while. What better way to do that than with a book!


Monday, August 15, 2011

The Gentle Art of Learning

I've been doing a lot of reading this month in preparation for another homeschool year. We're beginning our third year this week.  My little one even said she is really looking forward to it. That in itself is an answer to prayer. But I digress.

There is really a lot of information available right now on curriculum, learning styles, scope and sequence, etc. Its a lot to take in.  So I thought I'd slow down and read a general homeschool overview of Charlotte Mason. Karen Andreola has a lovely book called A Charlotte Mason Companion. I'm by no means an expert on Charlotte Mason. I know she was an educator in the 1800's in Great Britain who had some innovative ideas for the school setting, and she ended up in the famous Lake District. (Of course, this reminded me of Beatrix Potter of Peter Rabbit fame.) Charlotte was dissatified with the state of education in London, and "created" an attitude of gentle learning in her classrooms. She also taught nannies and parents techniques that could be used in the home. All details aside it is an interest bit of reading and incorporates her views on the importance of biblical knowledge and heart issues.

All that said, I remember when I first considered the idea of homeschooling. My husband had been interested long before me, but he patiently waited until I took to the thought. Well, the first thing I did was read practically everything I could get my hands on about home education. Just general books really.

I have read so many excellent books about home education. I know it's not everyones cup of tea, but if it is yours I encourage you, even along your journey, to go back and read some of those wonderful books. They are such an encouragement to me. Here are a few of my favorites.

Seasons of a Mother's Heart by Sally Clarkson
The Field Guide to Home Schooling by Christine Field
Real Homeschooling by Rhonda Barfield
Homeschooling: the Early Years by Linda Dobson
So You're Thinking about Home Schooling by Lisa Whelchel  
A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola
Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt
Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit by Teri Maxwell
For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
A Love That Multiplies by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar


Saturday, August 6, 2011

How to Have a Heart for Your Kids

Just finished a lovely book by Rachel Carman (affiliated with Apologia Press). I heard Rachel speak recently at our home educators' convention, and she was so funny and delightful I wanted to know more. She is the mother of seven, and shares her journey from self-centered to others-centered. Not that she claims to have arrived.  Good thing...none of us could relate, could we?  She has a down home sense of humor, and is very insightful as well. She grew up in a preacher's home, and thanks the Lord for her godly heritage. What a blessing!

The thrust of her message is contained in this acrostic from her book How to Have a Heart for Your Kids.

H - Have a heart for the things of God
E - Enrich your marriage
A - Accept your kids
R - Release them to God
T - Teach them the truth

We love our kids, but it does us good to remember who they truly are in light of eternity. They are living souls that have been entrusted to our care...imperfect, growing, learning, beautiful, delightful, and full of wonder. Let love cover a multitude of sins (or irritations), and help us to walk joyfully with them as they journey heavenward.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Book "Heaven"

Okay, so, I went to book "heaven" this weekend. At least it was for me. Our state Christian home educator convention was Friday and Saturday, and I've just got to say that I could LIVE in that Exhibitor Hall for quite a while! I think any avid book lover, whether mother or homeschooler or neither could have some serious bouts of hyperventilation in that room! My husband hasn't got the hang of it yet. He looks around for about 10 minutes and says, "Oh, well. I'm done."  WHAT??!! I can't wrap my mind around that. It's like having 30 bookstores in the same room...complete with discounts, no shipping costs, and Christian books of all kinds.

I always have to reign myself in a little bit, or I could walk out with a serious financial crisis on my hands. I give myself a general, reasonable limit with room for negotiation. (Lucky for me, my birthday usually falls right around that time so I might have a little extra "green" in my pocketbook.) This year I did mostly curriculum shopping. I'm going to try some new things...nature study, living books history, more variety with Bible time and more fine arts appreciation. I'm pretty jazzed about it all. These meetings always get me completely psyched to start school. Not so for my student body...this is still summer break time. But I'm hoping some of my newly acquired finds will help make this year even more enjoyable.

I wish you could visit a home school exhibitor hall no matter what stage you find yourself in life or what educational choice you have made. I have found some of the best classic books in the world there. If it's a classic, out of print, and now reprinted, you WILL find it there. A beautiful book I purchased about two years ago is called The Basket of Flowers by Christopher von Schmid.  WOW! I asked the vendor what she had that was similar in tone to Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss. She recommended The Basket. Boy, did I hit the jackpot! A beautiful novel albeit tinged with sorrow that is deep and rich with spiritual insight and power. Written well over 100 years ago, it is uplifting and challenging. Can you say that about all the fluff out there today?  Don't get me wrong. I enjoy a good piece of light reading as well as the next person.

I did purchase a book solely for myself though...How to Have a Heart for Your Kids by Rachael Carman. And yes, it is written by a home school mom...(Apologia Press). So far it's great! Just a little book to help me review my direction and focus for the new year. (BTW, I got to hear the speaker for four sessions. She was a lots of fun, and loves what she does.) Amen!

Let's find those "treasures" wherever they are and get busy reading them. I don't know about you but I need to be challenged to "kick it up a notch" spiritually speaking frequently throughout the year.


*Coming soon...a review of A Love That Multiples by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Encouraging Blogs

There are so many venues for good reading in our day. And there is no shortage of good material to read. As always this is our first consideration. We can read the old fashioned way (my personal favorite), in magazines, on kindle and nook, on a smart phone, or online.

The world of blogs or websites is fascinating and new to me. I'm sure others are far more techno-savy than I am, but I have enjoyed the good reading I've found online. I thought I might share some that I have found or that have been recommended to me by others. I am always on the lookout for good solid Christian blogs. I frequently purge from my list of blogs ones that have ceased to help me on my path heavenward. A few that I read are not Christian in nature, but they are helpful and not offensive.

I don't read blogs every day (or write for that matter), but I think it's easy to get hooked. Have you ever been online doing email or facebook and realized that an hour has passed?  It is so easy to do, and what have we accomplished really. Even though the computer has a clock on it, I sit where I can see another clock so that time doesn't get away from me. And make sure what you're reading is good for your spirit. There is a lot of negative literature online. Not just the outright sinful stuff, but things that encourage griping and a contentious spirit. Be above all that. If it does help, get rid of it.

Even in our reading we must prioritize. Our Bible reading must be at the top of the list. Although other reading may encourage and uplift, the Bible can change your life like no other book.

I read blogs on the topics of Christian womanhood, parenting, ministry, cooking, couponing, and other topics. As I mentioned I'm always on the lookout for a good blog. I don't have to agree with the author's views on everything to enjoy their writing. If you have a good solid Biblical foundation in life, you can "eat the meat and spit out the bones".

Here are a few I enjoy-

I would love to hear what blogs you enjoy. The last two I listed are not particularly Christian, just fun. Be safe online. Get the good stuff, and chuck the rest.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Reading That Lifts the Spirits

All of us need good uplifting and inspirational books in our lives. These books remind of us of the important truths that we are so prone to forget in the everyday rush of living. Maybe we are struggling with difficult decisions or a difficiency in our character. Maybe it's just a plain old sin problem. I like to ask others what books have helped them in their lives. Some works are truly life changing as God uses them to give direction in our lives.

If you are like me, you don't need reading material that will depress or discourage. Maybe you know you need a change. Endeavor to "set no wicked thing before your eyes." It may not necessarily be a book with foul language or explicit content, but it might not be the best thing for you at this time. Put it to the test. For one or two months read that which will encourage you in your walk with God. Ask a godly Christian friend for a few suggestions. Ask a parent for books that have helped them through the years. Ask your pastor's wife for some books on a specific topic. I believe you're notice a world of difference.

Some wonderful books:

Classics -

*The Holy Bible...perhaps starting with John, Philippians, or Genesis. This is the best choice you can make.
The Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan
Hinds Feet in High Places by Hannah Hurnard
In His Steps by Charles Sheldon
*Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss
The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
*The Musicians Quest by George MacDonald (also other novels)
Mimosa by Amy Carmichael (and other works)
*A Chance to Die: Amy Carmichael by Elizabeth Elliot
Through Gates of Splendor by Elizabeth Elliot (and other works)
Renewed Day by Day by AW Tozer
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Modern Works -

*Safely Home by Randy Alcorn
Daughter of China by C. Hope Flinchbaugh
Get Out of That Pit by Beth Moore (Note: I do not recommend everything about her)
So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore
Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
*Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver
*A Mom After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George
Sisterchicks Do the Hula by Robin Jones Gunn
Sophie's Heart by Lori Wick
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
*At Home in Mitford (Series) by Jan Karon

* These are some of my absolute favorite books. I've read them over and over again. If you're looking for something on a topic I haven't mentioned, please ask. If you have some other suggestions by all means let us know. God bless you and may you continue to "read heavenward."


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Amish Fiction

I enjoy Amish fiction as much as the next woman. The rural settings remind me of my life in the country as a child. One I did not appreciate at the time the way I should have. have a little place out in bean and corn country of the midwest with a few chickens, cats and dogs galore, and whatever else happened along our sprawling acreage. At least I can visit. I still have relatives living close to the old homeplace. I have precious pictures and heartfelt memories.I believe this relaxing and slow paced lifestyle is of great appeal to those of us city-dwellers across the country. Those who miss it and those who never truly experienced it.

The Amish way of life is "attractive" to many. Although living it every day would be a completely different story. Can you truly image living with no electricity, not owning a car, having church in your home IN GERMAN, dressing plain, not listening to recordings, not owning a computer or any phone, never having a picture of your family members (especially of those who have passed on), being shunned, and the many other bans and rules of the community?

Of course, there are many different types of Amish and Mennonite communities. Just as there are multiple types of Baptist churches or Presbyterian churches. Each Amish/Mennonite community has its own guidelines and lifestyles.

Rosanna of the Amish by Joseph W. Yoder is a very readable biography about a young lady who is adopted by an Amish couple. Written before 1950 there are a few different releases of this book. I like the 1973 release by Herald Press. It has a fairly authentic Amish cover.  Although Mr. Yoder eventually joined the Menonnite church, he does speak with the authority of one who lived in the community for many years. (He also wrote a sequel called Rosanna's Boys, which is a bit more about doctrine and practices.)

This particular book skillfully weaves the reasons behind Amish practices and doctrines into the story of Rosanna. Rather than reading A History of the Amish by Steven M. Nolt, this would probably be more enjoyable and helpful to you if you like to read the current Amish Fiction that is SO plentiful right now. There are some very subtle doctrinal problems with the Amish view of salvation that one should be aware of before thinking that it is a pure Christian religion. Although I believe there probably are some sincere Christian people within the community, I'm afraid there are many or even most who are not. Don't get me wrong. I truly have an affinity for the Amish. I want to see them possess genuine faith in Christ as their personal Savior. In 2005 we visited a community near Louisiana, Missouri. We drove passed many breathtaking farms, rolling hills, and saw families and children finishing chores and playing. 

Because there is a glut of fiction about the community, I think it behooves us to know a little more about it so that we judge its authenticity and the message that is presenting.

The words of my blog title, Reading Heavenward, is a true passion for me. I don't want to waste my time reading less than the best literature out there. I want to know that what I've taken in will help me, educate me, uplift me, challenge me, encourage me, or entertain me, and still draw me close to the One who gave Himself for me.

Psalm 27:11
"Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain [straight] path because of mine enemies."


Thursday, June 9, 2011

I Gave It a Try

A friend suggest I read a book by a certain author new to me. I usually look forward to these things, but even after reserving it from the library and bringing it home I hesitated to get started. I figured, "It's just because I have so many other things I want to read." Finally I finished the one I had been working on, and sat down to give this new one a go. Interesting...good style...different...oooh...WHOA...too different! I paused. Was I being too critical? I was reading about war and imprisonment, and, though these things happen, did I really want to read this? I've read Foxes' Book of Martyrs and other martyr stories, but this just didn't seem the same. There was no Christian message, and I'm sure that gave the story a hopeless quality.

What was the problem? Maybe I felt like I was disappointing a friend. She isn't a close friend and will probably never ask me if I read the book. So I closed it, and thought I don't need to read this. It's not that I don't want to read something weighty. I just finished Like Always by Robert Elmer about a woman dying of Leukemia. That other book just wasn't for me. It didn't seem good for me.

Of course, I had to do some other reading after that. Can't end the evening that way! So I retrieved my devotional book, and the Lord renewed my spirit as I read the uplifting and challenging words of a young believer who writes in simple everyday language with a heart for God. What a difference! Thank you, my young friend.

Did you ever pick up a book that just weighs your spirit down? I don't mean one that challenges your spirit to greater heights. I mean one that gives you a sinking feeling, and the Holy Ghost is saying, "Why are you reading this?".  Put it down! Get rid of it! Reach for something better. There is so much good literature out there. Pick up a tried and true classic or a new book that inspires. Or better yet. Pick up the Good Book!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sarah's Folly

I picked up a book on an abandoned shelf while I was out of town for a few days, and found an intreging novel. Set in a pre-911 setting Sarah's Folly by Kathy Farinella chronicles a fictional tale of a young journalist's search for her man in uniform who has mysteriously disappeared amidst rumors of an Islamic hostage situation in Iraq. The author cleverly explains many Muslim traditions and views as her main character Sarah witnesses to a co-worker during their travels. She ultimately lands herself in the middle of Iraq where she learns more about the people, the lifestyle and the whereabout of her husband.

This slim volume didn't grab my attention at first, but I'm glad I persevered through it. While not a masterpiece, it is well written and told from a thoroughly conservative, even Baptist, perspective. Refreshing! Only 143 pages it is easy to read and will definitely make an impression. I imagine this book is not easy to find. Probably most common in church bookstores, it is also available online.

Sadly the young author Kathy Farinella went to be with the Lord about 8 years ago after a battle with cancer. She wrote other books that addressed various cults in a fictional venue. Hope I come across others. If you find this little volume be sure to pick it up. You'll be glad you did.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Soul Surfer

In light of the abundance of comments about the new movie Soul Surfer, I decided to read the autobiography on which it is based. Obviously there are going to be some objections averted because we are talking about a non-visual medium here. The frequent swim attire mentioned by some, and the loud music that would be far too frequent do not come into play in written form. Thank goodness for that.

However, I found Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton quite a delightful read. Written as an early teen (with a co-author), she demonstrates a spiritual insight that I found quite refreshing. I have met adults with much less spiritual sense than Bethany. During the height of her surfing "career", her world is rattle to the core by suffering a shark attack which takes nearly all her left arm. Rather than blame God, whom she clearly acknowledges as her Lord and Savior, she searches to see how He would use this event in her life to minister to others. Not that she doesn't struggle with the "why me?" question. She does, but refuses to allow this to limit her in her dreams or dampen her love for God.

I understand the hesitation that Bethany's story (and film) inspires. Yes, modesty is a big issue. Although I don't believe the apparel is flaunted as much as it could have been, I would not recommend this film for boys or men, or even girls struggling with a modesty issue themselves. The music issue is far more of a problem for me, being a musician with conservative standards. Perhaps at home DVD viewing is a better medium because of this problem.

To avoid these things all together, I recommend reading the autobiography by Bethany. She does refer to her CCM tastes in music, but please consider that she has never been taught about such things.

Please keep in mind that in all reading material, even Christian, that we must go in Biblically grounded so that we can filter those things that are not up to par. That said, I did enjoy her book. I think you will be surprised at it's candor and uplifting character.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Starting a Christian Home Library

If you are starting a Christian library in your own home, there are some good foundational books you will want to have. I have found every one of these books in good condition at a used bookstore. (I once found a King James Open Bible Study Bible for six dollars. Yippee!)

Books to help you study the Bible:

A Good Study Bible

This is a Bible that includes more than just the Scripture text. For study you will want a KJV, NKJV, or NASB. There may be notes, cross references, topical articles, maps, timelines, book introductions, a concordance, etc. (Examples: Scofield, Thompson-Chain, King James Study Bible, and many others. Not every study Bible is good, of course. You want one that interprets the Word literally.)

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance
Holman Pictorial Bible Dictionary
Halley's Bible Handbook  (not the new edition which deletes some church history)
Matthew Henry Commentary Set or The Bible Knowledge Commentary (though NIV based)

Some Classic Books to help you live the Bible:

The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
Foxe's Book of Martyrs
Morning and Evening (Devotional) by Charles Spurgeon
Renewed Day by Day (Devotional) by AW Tozer
In His Steps by Charles Sheldon
My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith

You may not use these everyday or even frequently, but you when you need them you'll be glad they're in your library. If you have been helped by these or other books, please let us know. I'm sure I have forgotten something. I appreciate your comments. Don't forget a good children's Bible storybook or Study Bible for them. Get them started early in the habit or digging deep into God's Word. They will be grateful for the rest of their lives.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Safely Home

Sometimes a book just speaks to my heart in a powerful way. These quickly become my favorites, and I passionately pass them on to others so that they can "experience" the awe and wonder.

Rancy Alcorn has written a powerful book in Safely Home that brings to light the persecution of Christians in China. It is a common practice for communist countries to present themselves to the world in a calculated and positive way to get what it wants and not bring suspicion upon themselves. This book will shatter that image.

It is easy to forget those who are willingly risking their lives for the Lord every day. Lord willing, this book will stay in your memories for a life time. I don't even have my own copy yet, but plan to pick up as many as I can find .

Briefly, Ben Fielding finds himself on a business trip to China where he will stay with an old college friend, a native from Pushan, Li Quan. Ben, a nominal church-goer and ladder-climbing businessman, is completely unaware of the persecution that his friend Quan has endured since their friendship years ago. Ben finds himself in shock at Quan's life and secret activities that are considered "illegal" in China.

There is an interesting inclusion of the departed in heaven watching the story unfold. A special emphasis is given to the martyrs and Jesus Christ's future vengeance toward the oppressors of His children.

I love a good book, and have in the past found it difficult to set my reading aside for those daily task that beckon me. Nowadays, I usually set aside my evenings for reading so that I feel I have some time that is not otherwise spoken for.

HOWEVER, I simply could not put this book down!! Don't get me wrong. This reading was not always enjoyable, but boy, was I challenged. What "light and fluffy" Christianity do we have in America today? We couldn't hold a candle to our Chinese brothers and sisters.

I don't know about you, but I am not satisfied with a "normal" life. I recently visited with a young family who is planning to "work" in a hostile country. We need to take full advange of the freedoms we have her in the US. May the Lord continue to bless us with freedom in this country. Only He knows what tomorrow will bring.

If you enjoy reading Safely Home by Randy Alcorn, you will like Daughter of China by C. Hope Flinchbaugh.


PS. Please know that I do not completely agree with all the doctrine in Randy Alcorn's book. The Rapture is not mentioned in the book, and there are a few other obvious errors. As my new friend says, "Eat the meat and spit out the bones." Still a very worthy read!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Favorite Quotations about Books

                                                   A few sayings that always make me smile...

"A room without books is like a body without a soul."  

"It is a great thing to start life with a small number of really good books which are your very own." 
Sherlock Holmes

"The pleasure of all reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares the same books." 
Katherine Mansfield

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." 
Mark Twain

"No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond."
CS Lewis

I really love this one...

"When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes."
Desiderius Erasmus


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Stepping Heavenward on Mother's Day

My favorite book is an excellent selection for Mother's Day.  My blog title even pays homage to it. It is Stepping Heavenward by Mrs. Elizabeth Prentiss. I will not go into great detail (I hope) about this particular selection except to say that at first glance you may think this book is simply for those in their teen years. That couldn't further from the truth.

This volume, although fictional, hints of being autobiographical. Maybe not! It traces Katy's life from 16 years old until she is an old woman with every stage of life addressed. Much of it speaks of her struggles with her ability to mother her own children with patience and consistency. Her own mother plays a big part in the story.

I want to do a thorough review at a later time. Suffice it to say. If you've never read this, you absolutely must. It is a treasure. Written over a hundred years ago, it still speaks to us today.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Golden Books

Remember the Golden Books that your parents read to you as a kid? You can't beat them for your own children. Try searching a used books store (like I did yesterday), and you will surely find a treasure. We have quite an extensive children's library here at home. New beautiful books are coming out all the time, but can you top The Poky Little Puppy or The Saggy Baggy Elephant. My daughter likes The Tawny Scrawny Lion.

Golden Books also has quite a collection of Bible stories and religious themed books. There are Children's Hymns, The 23rd Psalm, Noah's Ark and many more. Be sure to check these for accuracy. One of their most well-known God has some hints of evolution in the first few pages, so this isn't a blatant endorsement of all Golden Books.

Some of their newer releases are movie tie-ins for things like Bolt. I like to look for the older ones first (pre-1970's or so) because they usually contain moral lessons. In Arizona we have a used bookstore chain called Bookman's. While this chain can be quite quirky, they do have very organized sections (some of which you'll want to avoid), and a fabulous children's section. Whatever store is in your own community will probably have a plethora of children's literature. People discard those books from their homes as soon as children seem "older".  How about saving their favorites for their grandchildren someday? However, this leaves a treasure trove for those who are trying to build a quality library. I picked up 4 Golden Books yesterday each for about 75 cents a piece. You can't beat that at Walmart!

Keep reading those good books to your kids, and stock on some for nieces, nephew and grandkids.

Happy hunting!

Monday, May 2, 2011

So Many Choices

Tonight I am trying to start a new book. I say "trying" because there are too many, and I have to make a decision. What will it be...lighthearted inspirational fiction, home education motivator, heartfelt child-rearing, or tearjerker biography?  Does anyone else have this problem?

I thought I had the solution to this problem some years ago. I would read them all at the same time. It gets complicated. Although I often do have two books going at once, one always wins out and really catches my attention. Each book has positive benefits. One will be relaxing, another motivational, one educational, and yet another practical. Luckily, we can read them all...eventually.

I believe I will start with the Book of Acts, and see what happens after that. We must have our priorities, after all. How fortunate we are to be in a position to even have this dilemna. How many would love to have a plethora of books at their fingertips in their own home...including a Bible of their very own, in their own language.  We are truly blessed. God bless and keep those pages turning. 

Pass on a good book. It can make an impact in someone else's life.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sisterchicks Do the Hula

Few books are as light-hearted and fun to read as Robin Jones Gunn's Sisterchicks Series. They are generally void of dating/romance storyline.  Robin emphasizes the wonderful encouragement of godly friendships. Our friends can help up "take it up a notch" in our spiritual walk with God, or they can drag us down to worldly levels of living.  If you read her series, you will be wishing for friends like those in the book.  Don't despair if you don't have that right now. God knows what he is doing. Perhaps this is a time to draw close to Him as your dearest friend or rekindle friendship with your husband. Those are good things, right? In time, He will most likely send that encouraging friend along your path. Prepare by being a good friend to those you know, and pray that the Lord will meet your want.

Most often I feel the need to travel somewhere after I've read a Sisterchicks book. This particular novel is set in the beautiful Hawaiian Islands. I've never been, but I would love to hop across the pond in that direction. Two friends, who have lost touch through the years, reconnect in this sweet story. It is a coming of "middle" age story really. We go through many stages in our lives. These ladies are both turning the big 4-0. I have a sis who is turning 3-0 soon, and I'm thinking she may not be looking forward to it. Each stage can bring new joys and contentment.

Sisterchicks books are very easy to find at used bookstores and library sales for $1 or .50. I stock up on them whenever possible. In fact right now has Sisterchicks Down Under for only about $1 or $2, and Sisterchicks in Sombreros on audio CD for about the same price. I have several copies of each on my gift shelf right now. I give them to missionary wives all the time.

In an earlier post I have mentioned several of Robin's books. Sisterchicks Do the Hula is probably one of my favorites.

Happy Reading!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Princesses in God's Kingdom

Today Prince William and Kate Middleton wed in an elaborate ceremony with the whole world watching. I personally enjoyed the day with all its charm and glamour, reverence and tradition. I've been building a collection of books on Princess Diana, the Royal Family and English landscapes for over 27 years. I've read countless biographies and gazed at an abundance of glamorous pictures books. These things are part of a world that I will never experience in this life. That's okay by me. We could debate the validity of the British monarchy, the moral decay of the family, or the extreme wealth at the expense of the British taxpayer. Still, I would enjoying watching. Every little girl wants to be a princess. Christ, we are princesses!  As children of God, the Great King, we are in His Royal Family. Let us represent our Heavenly King with all the dignity, grace, confidence, and poise of a Princess.

Here are a few books and DVD's that encourage royal behavior and character. Enjoy!

For children...
The Princess and the Kiss by Jennie Bishop
The True Princess by Angela Elwell Hunt
My Child, My Princess by Beth Moore
God's Wisdom for Little Girls by Elizabeth George
His Little Princess by Sheri Rose Shepherd
The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Little Suzy Stories by Elizabeth Prentiss
The Princess and the Three Knights by Karen Kingsbury

For older girls...and adults
Princess Adelina by Julie Sutter
The Princess and the Kiss by Jennie Bishop
CS Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia Series
Becoming a Modern Day Princess by Pam Farrel
A Basket of Flowers by Christopher von Schmid
Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

A few DVD's that would represent princess-like behavior...

Adult - more complex subject matter
One Night with the King (Story of Esther)
Amazing Grace (Life of Mr and Mrs. William Wilberforce)
Young Victoria or Victoria and Albert (BBC)
Miss Potter (Story of Beatrix Potter)
The Chronicles of Narnia Series
Sense and Sensibility
Jane Eyre (A&E)

Sweet Pea Beauty (Veggie Tales)
The Little Princess (Shirley Temple)
Disney's Cinderella
Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella
The Swan Princess

"That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace."  Psalm 144:12

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Joyfully at Home

Jasmine Baucham's book Joyfully at Home is a very thought provoking book. While you may not agree every premise of this book, it is good to challenge our thinking about the way we are rearing our daughters. In today's world, we can't be too careful in the way we live as families for God.

Jasmine has a great section in her book about False Views. Just reading this would be great for moms or women who influence young girls. You will wish you had read it when you were a teen or young married woman.

She writes about false views of marriage, husbands, ourselves, singleness, and God's sovereignty. It is true that many girls enter marriage as if they are stepping into a Disney movie with little thought or preparation for the years ahead. We mothers definitely need to step up and prepare the younger generation. I don't mean that we need to downplay the joys and wonders of marriage. But what is passed down from mother to daughter or father to daughter these days?

Do we teach submission to God and his godly order in the home? Do we take the time to teach our daughters the examples of families in the Bible? Are they efficient in homemaking skills such as budgeting, cooking, smart shopping and being helpers at home?  Most of all are we teaching them contentment and service to God. These are just a few items mentioned in this book. Sure gives you something to think about, doesn't it?

Ms Baucham is a young writer, the daughter of Pastor and Mrs. Voddie Baucham. She is still coming into her own style of writing. This is her first book. She is out to encourage daughters and their families to consider a path that is against our cultural grain. Even in our churches.

Give it a try! Good job, Jasmine. Keep it up!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Keep Record of Your Reading

A fun way to keep track of your reading is to keep a Reading Journal. You can make it as simple or complex as you like. Devote a decorative notebook or blank journal that you will keep for your Reading Journal.

Each year start a new page. I simply list my book and author once I've finished it. I like to leave little codes for how I would rate the book...smiley face or asterisk for a really great book or a frown for "don't bother to read again or recommend it". Sometimes I want to beat my own record from last year, or maybe I want to finish all the books I got at the library sale that year. Either way, I feel a bit of accomplishment at the end of a good reading year. You can also see what kind of reading you are doing. Maybe you want to challenge yourself to read some more classics, biographies, or topical books (ex. parenting, marriage, theology, sermons). Along with new works, throw some older ones in, too.

I think it's important to be careful what you read. Definitely keep your reading free of books with foul language or word pictures that describe sin in too detailed a fashion. Some folks may think this is too limiting, but I can assure you that you will have no shortage of reading even if you set yourself a high standard. The Psalmist says "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes." We should all adopt this attitude. If we are trying to please the Lord with our lives...that means every area of our lives. Sometimes this means a little "house cleaning" in some area. Believe me, you will not miss those things you get rid of because the Lord will replace them with something far better.

So, set up a shelf of great books to read and start turning some pages.  Find a beautiful journal or notebook and see how much you can learn from book by December 31.

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."             Philippians 4:8

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Under a Maui Moon

Robin Gunn is absolutely one of my favorite fiction authors! My favorite is her Sisterchicks series. I even have 3 in audiobook form. While they are easy to read, they deal with real heart issues. I like them primarily because they are not really romance stories. Not really! They are usually about 2 friends or sisters and their "need" to take a trip somewhere to reconnect. Anyway, Robin know how to weave an entertaining, encouraging, and inspiring tale.

She has written some stand alone novels, including my latest read Under a Maui Moon. It deals with a middle-age couple, empty-nesters, who have grown apart. What will become of their marriage?

One of my favorite parts of the book is while the wife Carissa is on a "vacation" in Maui (p. 191). In a beautiful National Park, nestled in the lush tall grass, stands a humble chapel where she feels closer to God than she has in a long time.

I was surprised by the description of Carissa's church experience, and why the Lord was able to touch her heart by merely being in this simple church.

She says,

"Their church stopped being a place of worship for Carissa. It was different here in this humble chapel, covered by the silence. No pictures flashed on large screens. No jokes were being told into lapel mikes. Here, the simplicity gave plenty of room for a worshipper to focus on God alone."

I thought this was beautifully written and made its point loud and clear. I also loved the way she started each chapter with the words of some of my favorite old hymns.

I hope you'll give Robin's books a try if you never have before. Here are some of her novels:

The Glenbrooke Series
Gardenia's for Breakfast
Under a Maui Moon
Sisterchicks on the Loose!
Sisterchicks in Sombreros!
Sisterchicks Do the Hula!
Sisterchicks Down Under!
Sisterchicks Say Ooh La La!
Sisterchicks in Gondolas!
Sisterchicks Go Brit!
Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Little Women

After watching two film adaptations of Little Women over the weekend, I feel the need to read this classic yet again. The 1949 and 1994 adaptations are both wonderful in their own ways, but I kept asking myself, "Was that how the book describes it?".  Both films have topics not addressed in the other. The 1994 version has many modern views and "feminist" speeches by Marmee. Christopher Columbus!! I wish they'd let it stand in its own strength.

And so last night at bedtime, my family broke out my old copy and started to read this wonderful classic. While not truly a Christian novel, it is amazing to see the religious references just chapter 1. I look forward to refreshing my memory. Although the Alcott family may have had some unusual religious influences, this work reflects much of the morality and sensibility of the time period.

I wonder how many young girls in our day and age have read this lasting work. I wonder how many in my own family and extended family have read it. Guess I'll just have to ask.

This all started while doing some decorating the other day with my daughter for a ladies tea party. I have the Ashton Drake Collection of Little Women dolls, and she was fascinated with them. They are DOLLS, after all. Next we had to get all the names down, each ones interests, their birth order, and finally pulled out the 1949 film (my favorite) so she could see them interact, at least on stage. It might have gone a little over her head, but she was definitely interested, and now we're reading the book. I even got a few chuckles from her at the girls descriptions in chapter 1, and so we continue tonight...

It's Christmas morning at the March home. What will the girls find under their pillows? What is the present that Marmee promised them?  Dust it off and see.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Christian Fiction Authors

There sure is a lot of Christian fiction available today. Back when I was building my library 25 years ago, it was slim pickin's indeed. There is a lot more to be careful about, too. I like to try new authors occasionally, but I tend to stick the old standbyes. I especially love older works from 1800-1900's. These are not always easy to find, but some are becoming available again after being out of print for quite some time. Get yourself a 3x5 card and jot a few of these down, stick it in your purse, and the next time you hit your favorite used bookstore (my personal favorite) you will be ready. I would love to hear of your suggestions, too. We need more books with a clear gospel message and a challenge to live godly in this present world. Here are a few -

Elizabeth Prentiss*
George MacDonald*
Janette Oke
Robin Jones Gunn
Grace Livingston Hill*
Christmas Carol Kauffman*
Francena Arnold*
Karen Kingsbury
(Authors from the past)

Enjoy! Let me your favorite Christian fiction authors.

Psalm 101: 2-3  "I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me. I will walk within my home with a perfect heart. I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes"

Great Books for Moms

There are so many great books out there, and some better left on the shelf. Pick the ones that are going to really help you in your walk with the Lord. Skip the fluff, and challenge yourself. Here are a few every mom should try:

Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss
Aunt Jane's Hero by Elizabeth Prentiss
A Mom After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George
Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp
Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt
Creative Correction by Lisa Whelchel
The Power of a Positive Mom by Karol Ladd

Great the word out about books that have really had an impact on you. It might be just what a friend needs.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life

I've been doing a good deal of reading from Hannah Whitall Smith's The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life lately for research. She sure has a way with words. Her religious background is definitely unique, but I love her writing style. She can truly make an idea come alive to me.

Listen to this...
"Grace is the unhindered, wondrous, boundless love of God, poured out upon us in an infinite variety of ways, without stint or measure, not according to our deserving but according to His measureless heart of love. Put together all the tenderest love you know of - the deepest you have ever felt and the strongest that has ever been poured out upon you - and heap upon it all the love of all the loving human hearts in the world, and then multiply it by infinity, and you will begin perhaps to have some faint glimpses of the love and grace of God."

Can you say, Wow?!  I'm teaching about growing in grace tomorrow. This is something I can read over and over, and again and again. She definitely had a gift. It had been a while since I had pulled this book off the shelf, but I'm glad I did. I am about halfway through a biography about Hannah W. Smith. Quite interesting. I'll let you know how it is.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Plain Wisdom

Plain Wisdom by Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud is the musings of an Englisher and a Plain woman on living and raising a family in light of God's truth. Although I am a Baptist by conviction, I've always had an affinity for the Amish lifestyle with the peace and tranquility that are so often missing in our lives today. 

Cindy writes in her book,
"Shortly after I accepted Christ, I felt so guilty I couldn't even enjoy praying. I kept rehashing every wrong deed I'd ever done. One day while wallowing in a melancholy state of guilt, I heard these words in my heart: What did I die for if not for sins?
"I'd heard this truth many times. But in that moment I saw the ridiculousness of lugging my guilt around. Christ was crucified for the very purpose of forgiving us and freeing us from sin and guilt. That revelation brought me great relief."

If we truly could grasp hold of that truth, what progress we would make in our lives for Christ. Truly letting go of the past, and living in gratefulness, and looking forward to the future that he has planned.

John 10:10
"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."

A Lifetime of Reading

Reading has always tied me to my family and my faith. Grandpa read me the "funny paper". Mom checked out Grace Livingston Hill books which I devoured before they were due back. They unknowingly fostered in me an early love of reading.

I suppose I've always been a little solitary by nature. Reading was my way to visit the world before I could actually visit it. I explored New England, laid back in the Deep South, survived the Canadian Wilderness, and roamed Great Britain to name a few. Later I discovered the value of reading for spiritual encouragement. Now, I don't know what I'd do without it.

Although I have now had the chance to visit many of those places, my desire for reading about them hasn't diminished. It has grown. Now it seems like I have more books than truly can read. They line the shelf; from bookstores, book sales, bargain shops and relatives. Some times I have to refrain, knowing that if I start something I won't want to put down that precious volume.     

Reading books about faith has been my mainstay for decades. Whether fictional or not, it is encouraging to see faith blossom, carry, and sustain others through the rough patches of life.  Of course, the Scripture is my best source of strength. How can so much wisdom be contained in the few simple words of a Bible verse? The Spirit breathed...that's how. The Creator has made such a beautiful world, surely He is the ultimate writer of poetry and prose.

This is a blog to share those words in written form that have captured my attention...perhaps even stopped me in my tracks. They say, "think about that for a moment". Really breathe it in. Don't we get so busy that those quiet moments can get lost. That is the beauty of reading. I've never been one who can read while doing anything else. I love it quiet, maybe soft instrumental music in the background, or no sound at all. To be carried along by mere words. Ah, that is tranquility.