Category: Book Reviews

When Your Child Asks Hard Questions about the Bible

Just the other day, the kids and I were eating dinner when the topic of the destination of the unevangelized came up. Of course, it didn’t come up in those words, but more like, “Mom, what happens to people who haven’t heard of God or Jesus before missionaries come to tell them God’s good news?”

If this topic hasn’t come up around your dinner table or while snuggled close to your kids at bedtime, then another one has. What happens to the baby that was miscarried? Why did the earthquake happen and kill so many people? Why does God allow people to do bad things to people because of the color of their skin? What will heaven be like?

As parents, we expect these questions to come, yet often feel the sense of surprise when they do. We have some general idea of how we answer the questions for ourselves, but when talking to our child about it, the ideas sometimes seem foggy, or the explanations “not enough”. We long for our child to have assurance of God’s great love for them, and also know that cutting off those questions, and that precious dialogue, may eventually be hurtful to their faith journey.

All that to be said, parenting is hard. Wading through tough questions about faith is hard. We need wise resources from people who have walked through it before us.

bible story handbook

One book that I’m reading through right now is called The Bible Story Handbook, written by Dr. John and Kim Walton. Married for many years and having raised three children themselves, John and Kim offer a theological sound, critical way at looking at the Scriptures that will allow us to teach our kids the intended messages of the Scriptures.

It’s tempting to read a passage of Scripture and then immediately figure out a way to connect it to our life. I mean, isn’t that what the Bible is for?

Well… maybe not exactly.

If a preacher or teacher is going to do a “leadership study”, you can pretty much guess what book of the Bible she or he is going to use… Nehemiah. But, the Waltons argue, leadership is not what Scripture is teaching in this passage. It’s not what the text is intending to teach, and “only the things that Scripture intends to teach carry the authority of the text.”

So, then, when we teach about Noah and the ark with all of the animals, what is the intended message of the Scriptures in that story? What do we teach our children about the story of Abraham? of David’s life? the creation of the world?

We are definitely good intentioned; at least I am. I want my children to find themselves in the Scriptures- to connect to them, to feel like the Bible is “applicable to their lives”. But all too often we pop the Scriptures of of their redemptive historical context only to make it into a nice packaged story with a good takeaway for our kids. The should be honest, obey, feed the poor,  be humble– things like that.

So if we’re not to just dive into the Scriptures to figure out how we should live, what should we do with them? The Waltons recommend first and foremost being careful to ask ourselves- what is the intended message of this passage of Scripture? What was the author trying to convey? Most of the time, it’s teaching about WHO GOD IS, not what we should do. They go on to say, “We want our students to be conformed to the image of Christ and their behavior to have been embraced as a way to imitate God. We accomplish this by helping them know God better, not by telling them that they should obey because Abraham obeyed.”

So, after this and much more (the introduction in itself is worth getting the book; I feel like I’m not really doing it justice), the Waltons go through the entire Bible and lay out lesson guidelines for parents or teachers to use when teaching on the various passages of Scriptures. They include:

  • a lesson focus
  • a lesson application
  • a short paragraph on the biblical context
  • interpretational issues in the story (this part is EXCELLENT. It will help with some of those tough questions that will come up if a child is thinking closely about the text)
  • Background information: Information about different parts of the story or words/images used that will help in gaining a fuller understanding of the message of the author
  • Mistakes to Avoid: a list of ways in which the passage of scripture is perhaps inaccurately taught to kids.

Another interesting thing that Waltons bring up is that it’s better to not teach your child a passage of Scripture than teach them the wrong thing about it. For example, one day their son came home from church and talked about how he learned about Cain and Abel in his class. Interested, they asked a few questions and learned that the lesson learned that day was “God created our bodies”. And while no one is going to argue that that is not a true statement, it’s not at all what the story of Cain and Abel teaches (acceptable and unacceptable sacrifices, murder of a brother, etc.). Most likely the teachers didn’t know how to teach this difficult passage to preschool children, so just tried to grasp at straws. There are passages of Scriptures that are inappropriate for young children to read. Skip them. Come back to them when they are older and you can teach them about it in an honest way.

Not only is this book helpful when teaching children, but it’s helpful to us as adults too. If we’ve grown up in the Church World, it can be hard to tease out the difference between what the Scripture says and what we may have been inaccurately taught about it.

Of course, as with any book, you read it and test it, but so far it appears to be an excellent resource. I HIGHLY recommend it to all parents!


Thanks to Crossway for a review ecopy of this book!!

Cookbook Review: Milk Bar Life

As you know, we like to cook around here. Most of the time cooking is boiled down to the basics, because we’re all busy and I nearly always have a toddler hanging on my legs, which makes me just want to cook and be done with it already.

Aly pushes back on that, always wanting to cook more often and more interesting foods. We try to find common ground by letting her do the basics with me more often, but also cooking “interesting” foods for potlucks, snacks to send with Jake to school, playdates, etc.


I can only imagine Aly someday writing a cookbook like Christina Tosi’s new Milk Bar Life: Recipes & Stories. Christina is the chef and co-owner of Momofuku Milk Bar, and will be one of the judges on MasterChef’s new season starting in a few weeks.


Milk Bar Life not only gives some great recipes, but it also tells a bit of Christina’s story of how Momofuku Milk Bar came about, as well as some of the culture of the bakery. The employees do fun things like gather for meals, and they also serve one another, both physically and emotionally- a giant family!


The recipes in here range from completely normal- Cocktail Meatballs- to totally strange, Fruity-Pebble Meringues with Passion Fruit Curd and Pickle-Juice-Poached fish (ha!). The cookbook is divided into sections that make sense with life- weekend recipes, recipes to cook around the bonfire, craft night recipes, as well as “weak nights” (oh you know the ones). This book is for people who love food, are interested in trying new things or interesting combinations of normal things. Think abstract art for food :).

Christina writes in a lovely, down to earth way. When reading her cookbook, I feel like we’re sitting on a vintage couch in a cozy apartment in a big city. She seems like a creative, brave woman with a love for food and community! So, if you’re up for something new, see if your local library has her cookbook and check it out!

 Thanks to Blogging for Books for the opportunity to review this book!

Review: Nobody’s Cuter than You

You may remember of the time when I told the whole world that I just loved Melanie Shankle’s books. Sparkly Green Earrings and The Antelope in the Living Room are some of the funniest books ever. They kept me laughing out loud and I couldn’t put them down.

Melanie has a new book out, Nobody’s Cuter than You, which is a memoir about the beauty of friendship. In it, she shares the stories of the women in her life who have impacted her, the lessons she’s learned from her relationships, and just how essential girl friends are in our lives.


As expected, Melanie brings her witty, down-to-earth charm to her book, making you feel like you all would definitely be good friends if you lived next door to one another. I must admit that I didn’t laugh as much in this book as with the others, but I was equally as hooked. I love her and her BFF’s, Gulley, relationship. They are like sisters, holding each other up during the hard times, being real with one another, going on crazy adventures, and caring about each other’s mundane. I think that’s when you know that someone is a real, deep friend- they ask and listen to your everydayness.

Jake and I sometimes talk about friendships. Because we’ve moved around a lot, our friendships with people get cut off before we have time to put in the face to face, REAL LIFE hours that it takes to really know someone. The time to share your stories, learn each other idiosyncrasies, watch them parent, see them upset, work through conflict, and make lots and lots of memories.

It also takes confidence to reach out and make the initial contact.

It takes energy to invite someone over for dinner.

It takes a miracle to have a good conversation at the above dinner if you have kids under the age of 5.

It takes courage to ask someone to step into your life, a life that is not perfect and has its rough edges.

It takes vulnerability to lay down the mask first and allow someone to see you without the promise that they will lay theirs down too.

Mostly, though, it just takes time. Time to invite.Time to say yes. Time to come over. Time to drop by (does anyone drop by anymore?!). Time to relax with one another. Time to drink a glass of iced tea. Time to run an errand. Time to do a favor. Time to watch a movie. Time to take a day trip. Time to go shopping.

Nobody’s Cuter than You is a great reminder that although it costs something to have deep friendships, they are absolutely, hands-down incredibly worth it.  


Thanks to Tyndale for the opportunity to review this book! 

Review: Motivate Your Child

I have a love/hate relationship with parenting books.

I love them because they are often comforting in one sense- someone in this big world has figured out an answer that I’m desperately searching for. hallelujah.

I hate them because the answers are often pretty rigid and don’t always work out as promised.

Expectation, disappointment. Expectation, disappointment. I fall for it again and again, because I have hope that there are SOME good parenting books out there.

There are, really. Here’s one of them.


Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told

The title is a little long and perhaps oversells the book a little. 🙂 But, that’s pretty much the worst thing about the book. This is the second book I’ve read by these authors (Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN). The first one I also reviewed here and I LOVED it. So, I had cautiously high expectations for this one too.

What I really appreciated:

  • The emphasis on the fact that every family is different. Every child is different. There is no “one way”. Parenting means a lot of trial and error, and we can’t control our kids. It’s up to them to make the decisions. We can only provide a healthy, helpful environment in which they can grow.
  • BUT, there are a lot of things that parents should have in their parenting toolbox to use. This book carefully lays out some of those tools in a clear, thoughtful way, informed by both Scripture and psychology.
  • The authors uses many illustrations, seemingly from his own counseling practice, and the names represent a variety of ethnicities.

The book is divided into 2 parts. The first has to do with the Moral Development in Children. How are children wired? How does the conscious form? What can we do to help our children choose to do the right thing even when we’re not around? The authors talk about the value of making mistakes, integrity, compassion, and initiative. One chapter is just titled, Consequences, and in it the authors discuss the difference between punishment and discipline, and how punishment really isn’t effective in changing kids’ behavior in the long-term. Instead, parents need a wide range of parenting tools to help them encourage, support, and guide their children’s understanding of themselves, of the world, and of how they can live rightly. Various types of discipline include: natural consequences, logical consequences, loss of privilege, more parental control, and practicing the right thing. While these are not new ideas, the authors do a great job of putting them altogether, and helping parents understand which ones are most helpful for certain types of situations. They recognize that all of these are needed, and that some kids will respond better to a different set of consequences than others.

The second part of the book focuses on Spiritual Development of the Child. This section focuses on the importance of sharing your own faith with your kids, teaching them Scripture, as well as the necessity of building relationships with your children. It also focuses quite a bit of time on the idea of Family Time, which is basically a time set aside each week for intentional time learning from the Scriptures and relationship building.

One realization I had when finishing up this book is that parenting and disciplining kids really is a long-term project. I often read books or blog posts talking about how we can curb entitlement and selfishness and disrespect in 3 easy steps, and I just assume that if I do those, then of course my children should change, right? Well, not really. Discipline (training or coaching your children) takes time and repetition. Repetition. Repetition. Of course there are a few lovely kids who do what they’re told the first time, but for most of them (for most of us!) that’s not really the case, nor is it necessarily an appropriate expectation to put on them. They’re figuring life out, and what seems as cut and dry to us may not always seem to be to them. Also, just like us, kids aren’t perfect, and we shouldn’t expect them to be. All we can do is continue to train and coach them along the way, mixed with a whole lot of prayer! 🙂

 Thanks to Booklook Bloggers for a complimentary book in exchange for an honest review!

Book Review: Brave Girls, Faithful Friends (90 Day Devotional)

Like every other kid alive in the universe, Aly is slowly and steadily getting older. It’s both wonderful and terrifying.

She’s a voracious reader and while she definitely prefers fiction, she has also been getting interested in reading about the Bible and how it applies to her life. I’m careful when it comes to devotionals in general, but especially for kids. I want to be sure that the devotional is a.) developmentally appropriate, b.) faithful to Scripture, and c.) does not heavily rely on gendered stereotypes.


Brave Girls: Faithful Friends: A 90-Day Devotional is a new one in the Tommy Nelson’s Brave Girls series. I was immediately curious just by looking at the cover: 5 girls with a variety of ethnicities that are friends. The tagline of “brave girls” was also appealing to me; it’s sometimes hard to find something not labeled with “God’s princess” or “Daughter of a King” for this age group. While not horrible taglines, there is such thing as too much of a good (or neutral) thing.

This devotional is set within the context of friendship. At the beginning, kids take time considering what a good friend is, and how God desires to be their best friend. The next section focuses on stories of friends in Scripture, and then they move on to tips on being a good friend, but with examples connected to animals (i.e. kittens have to learn to hunt, etc. from their momma, and also parents have things to teach girls about friendship). In subsequent sections, girls learn about how to make friends, what to do when friendships get tricky, being friends with their families, and finally a short section of “quizzes” and word searches.

I would say that this devotional is heavy on friendship, light on Scripture, but not in a bad way. This devotional is no replacement for Scripture reading, but I think it’s a great way to teach young girls about friendships in a healthy way. Especially for kids who don’t know a ton of Scripture, some of the devotionals could be a bit confusing (i.e. one is about Ruth and it jumps right into the story and offers no Scriptural reference), but I think if a parent is there to answer any questions, it’ll be fine.

While the devotional is probably a wee bit mature for Aly, there’s no doubt that within a year or two she’ll be the perfect age.

Overall, I recommend it. Friendship is a topic elementary girls don’t get tired of, and to connect it with a book that points girls towards God’s love for them- sounds like a great combination.

Thanks, Booklook Bloggers, for the complimentary book in exchange for an honest review!

Book Review: Live

Sometimes I struggle with knowing what I ought to do and then doing it.

And sometimes I struggle with wanting to live a certain way, but not knowing how to do it exactly.


Live is a new book created by Micah Challenge to help people figure out what it means to live justly. Written in a concise, straightforward format, Life brings together many voices to get people talking about what it looks like to live a lifestyle of God-centered justice. They focus on five areas of life: advocacy, prayer, consumption, generosity, relationships, and creation care. In each of these areas, readers are challenged to thinking deeply about what living rightly in these areas looks like and then take action as a group as well as individual. The editors use stories, Scripture, discussion questions, online videos, prayer, and projects to help readers deeply engage in the material. It’s written in such a way that if taken seriously, transformation will happen when going through this study.

I love that this book gives you the tools you need to put into practice what you’re reading about. They offer solo work ideas, as well as group activities to cement the principles that the group is wrestling with and learning.

One chapter that is particularly challenging to me is the one about consumption. I’ve talked before about some of my thoughts on our culture’s idea of simplicity (so popular! so great! own less but you end up consuming more!). I care about this a lot because this is a place where i need to grow.  I know what I ought to do, and while I’ve taken some baby steps, I am mostly still figuring out HOW to do it.


Take chocolate, for instance. I KNOW about the child-slavery that takes place so that I can eat a (now Hershey) “cadbury” egg. The real Cadbury egg IS fair trade, but now that the British aren’t exporting it over to the U.S. and Hershey is taking over the Cadbury egg, I’m faced with a dilemma. At first I thought, okay, I will just not eat cadbury eggs. Easy decision. But then, after some mental gymnastics, I decided, you know what- I want the cadbury egg. Me not buying it isn’t going to affect the market at all, so why shouldn’t I enjoy the cadbury egg? IT’S JUST A CADBURY EGG!

But, the deeper reality is this: I KNOW that children are in slavery so that I can eat a cadbury egg. And I’m choosing to participate. Sure, I’m not setting their work rules and regulations. But, I’m participating by buying unfair products. I’m knowingly participating in injustice because I’m far removed from it.

We all know that it’s not just about that foil-wrapped, chocolatey goodness with an oozy sugary center. It’s about cheap products. How do we get a good deal on cheap products? Well, the store is still making money. The one who is getting the short end of the stick is the one who is making the product.

“But my budget is tight!”

Oh I feel you. As a perpetual student-family, I get that. I’m there. That’s EXACTLY why it’s so hard.

If I buy cheap, unfair products, then I get to buy more of other things. My kids get to do fun things. They get more stuff (albeit cheaper). Not even an excessive amount of stuff, but just normal amount of stuff.

If I change my buying habits, then that means I’ll be paying MORE for my purchases, and I’ll have to buy LESS of them.

So, perhaps I buy fair-trade/slave-free chocolate. It’s more expensive. I think I’ll have to make cookies less often, but when I DO make the cookies, they’ll be cookies that are created justly.  Perhaps I stop buying my clothes at stores that have bad records, and instead, pay more money for my clothes and just buy LESS of them.

These are often not easy decisions for me. I LOVE “getting the good deal.” But, I have to reframe that in my mind– whose “good deal” am I getting?

All that to say, this book is an excellent resource for someone who is looking to really live more justly. It’s an uncomfortable read, but not because the authors use any shame language or “oughts” and “shoulds” (not at all!). This book is uncomfortable because it challenges our assumptions, our understandings of God’s character and values, and also reveals some of ways that we unknowingly participate in injustice.

Thanks to Micah Challenge for sending me this book in exchange for a free copy. I’m so thankful to be helping you share this really important challenge! 

p.s. For any of my British readers, PLEASE SEND ME A REAL CADBURY EGG!!!!!!

Just How Married Do you Want to Be?

A few weeks ago I asked for suggestions on Facebook for some favorite books about marriage. I received a whole slew of comments– most of them I had heard of before, but one in particular piqued my interest with its title.


Just How Married Do You Want to Be?: Practicing Oneness in Marriage is a book written by Jim and Sarah Sumner (IVP) who I find to be a fairly unlikely couple (PhD theology student meets former stripper turned Christian- you guess who is who!). The authors’ goal of this book is to encourage and inspire Christian couples to live a biblical marriage (p.14). While I typically halt at anything labeled “biblical” (I’ve come to recognize that word as being one that people sometimes use to “show God to be on their side”), I decided to proceed with caution because this book was recommended by a friend I trust, and because it was published by IVP. 🙂

I ended up liking parts of it, being totally intrigued by others, and downright not liking some sections. So, all in all, I’d say that’s a fun read!

The most interesting thing to me was their theological framework for understanding marriage, especially as it relates to Ephesians 5:21-33.

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Instead of coming at it from a complementarian perspective and translating “head” as “leader”, or an egalitarian perspective and translating “head” as “source”, they come at it from head meaning a physical head (which is what kephale means). So, the man is the head of the wife and the wife is the body of the man. Just as Christ is the head of the church and the church the body of Christ.

I think this passage in Ephesians gets interesting when you realize what words Paul DIDN’T use when saying the husband is the head of the household. He didn’t use oikodespotes, which means master of the house. Paul didn’t use archon, which meals ruler.

This illustration in Ephesians seems to be saying more about the relational connectedness between a husband and wife and Christ and the Church then it does about who holds the power of the home.

The implications of this are interesting:

1. Our lives would ideally communicate our oneness. Both with our spouse and with Christ. Do people view my relationship with my husband as characterized by “oneness” or are we seen as two individuals who are very much doing our own things and constantly trying to figure out how to get our own way (or is one person getting their way while the other spouse just does whatever the other one wants)? Do people view the church’s relationship with Christ by “oneness” or a bunch of people figuring out how to live the life they want while also ending up in heaven at the end?

2. This interpretation would give us another dimension of our relationship with Christ to explore. Christ is our Savior (He saved us from our sin). Christ is our Lord (He leads us and we submit to Him). Christ is our Head (He is an intimate part of who we are- our identity).

All this and much more is found in Sarah and Jim’s book- I’m not 100% convinced that this is a good interpretation, but I’m thinking through it, praying through it. and keeping my mind open to it! Any thoughts?

Please note that some links are affiliate links. 

Book Review: The Grand Paradox

Last week I mentioned that Jake and I will be going to the upcoming Justice Conference in June, and one of the organizers of this great conference is Ken Wytsma, Wytsma recently published a book called The Grand Paradox: The Messiness of Life, the Mystery of God, and the Necessity of Faith and in it, he aims to help readers understand that while life is messy and God often works in ways we don’t understand, He is not absent. He is real, He is close, and He cares about our lives.


More than that, Wytsma encourages and exhorts us to live faithfully while yet recognizing that “faith is often characterized less by clarity than by confusion” (p xx). He says in his introduction:

This book is an exploration of the art of living by faith. It is a book for all those wrestling with the paradoxes that confront those who seek to walk with Christ. It is a look at how faith works, here and now, in our culture, our time– and how to put down real roots and flourish in the midst of our messy lives.” (p. xxi)

Here’s the reality of faith. It’s a constant tension. And one of the essential parts of life, according to Henri Nouwen, is to “‘live the questions’ faith engenders” (p. 13). Wytsma walks us through some of those questions that faith engenders, not giving us answers, but leaving the tension right where it is. Instead of reliving the tension, he encourages a faithful, clear-headed living response to the questions that exist.

  • How do I pray? And how do I hear from God?
  • What is God up to?
  • How do I pursue God in the midst of doubt?
  • What IS faith?
  • Life is messy and hard. How do I live faithfully in the midst of all of that?
  • What is God’s calling on my life?

One chapter of the book in particular, A World Made Right, resonated with me. In it, Wytsma is discussing the elusive “God’s Will” questions. What is God up to? What is my role in it? He addresses the individualism of that question (spot on) and then he discusses God’s general will that is outlined in Scripture in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus: to make the world right, restoring creation to be in a right relationship with God–Righteousness, if you will, which is synonymous with justice (actually, it’s the same word in the Greek, just translated differently in our English Bibles). So, while all of that was not new to me, what he said about living a life of justice really shook me awake:

There’s some bad news involved in discovering what God is up to. Engaging in justice- and especially, seeking to redress injustice- is not the shortest route to fulfilling the American Dream.

While I definitely don’t verbally aspire to the American Dream (in fact, I am sometimes adamant that I don’t), I certainly slip into living like I do without even realizing it. My mind and heart sometimes gets too focused on my bucket lists, the dreams and goals of how I want God to work in me and through me (mostly in ways that are comfortable), but I was reminded that sometimes it’s those very goals and dreams that can keep me (us) from fully realizing my (our) participation in God’s setting right of brokenness in this world. 

Sometimes dreams or overly defined life goals can get in the way of God’s plans. Certainly, God can use goals, and often does, but we always have to hold them in loose hands, recognizing that God could want us to head a different direction, or stop short of reaching a goal, or do something that would make all our dreams and goals unattainable because of how God chooses to use us.

I think why I really like this book is because Wytsma addresses these messy paradoxes of faith through the lens of justice, which just makes the most sense to me. He takes the focus off of the individual’s importance and their “key role” in all of it and brings a sense of humility to the conversation. I think this book is written out of an incredibly healthy place and would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to readdress some of the key questions of faith through a less “me” centered perspective (while also honoring the beauty of the individual reading it).

Thanks to Booklook Bloggers for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! 

I’m linking up to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s “What I’ve Been Readlng Lately”

Book Review: Disquiet Time

I wasn’t raised in the church.

I became a Christ-follower in late middle school/early junior high. I was a part of a fairly conservative Southern Baptist church, but I remember there being a few outliers who, looking back, probably pushed the envelope. To this day I can name these influential people in my life for whom I still hold a fond memory.


It’s in this vein that I introduce Disquiet Time: Rants and Reflections on the Good Book by the Skeptical, the Faithful, and a Few Scoundrels. A compilation of essays put together by Jennifer Grant and Cathleen Falsani, Disquiet Time is a book that discusses many of the things that you’d never hear in church or a Bible study but are actually either quite interesting, entertaining, or profoundly necessary.

What I loved about these essays is that they are honest and they resulted because someone thought that something didn’t line up quite right, and so they asked questions. Some asked questions of the Bible, others about the “norms” of Christian culture, and yet others of God Himself. I believe that asking questions is absolutely essential to a healthy, growing faith (I mean, actually to life in general!), so to read a book full of people asking them? I will settle in and listen intently.

The foreword of this book is written by Eugene Peterson, which says a lot. Eugene is a faithful pastor who loves God, loves Scripture and loves pastoring people into the fold of God. He’s one of those teachers that I really trust, and so to have him foreword such a book says something.

The essays range from topics like what the Bible says about “crap” (this was a funny chapter and I immediately filed this away to bring out in a couple years for a fantastic Bible lesson with my kids), to wrestling with Scripture during seasons of painful doubt. Several of the essays sought to uncover potential bias we have when we approach certain Biblical texts, and generously suggest a reframing to understand them better. What I love most is how the authors entered into the Scriptures in an incredibly honest, real way.

This is mostly of a book of invitation. The authors invite you to come around as they share a piece of their faith journey. They give room to say, “Oh wow, you struggle with that? Me too. I thought I was the only one.” They also offer a place to lighten up and laugh about really funny things that happen both in Scripture and in our quirky church circles. So, if you’re looking for a place to rest and prop your feet up for awhile, you’re invited.



A disclaimer: a least one of the essays in this book will frustrate or offend you, most likely. I ended up skipping over a few that I thought were misguided. Also, apparently in order to write in a book like this you have to curse. So to be fair not every essay includes cursing, but a fair amount of them. Typically no more than one word per essay.


Thanks to the publisher for this complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. 🙂

{Book Review} In Her Kitchen: Stories and Recipes from Grandmas Around the World

For the past couple years, I’ve all but done away with cookbooks. They take up too much space in my kitchen and any good recipe I can just pin to a board. It will be there always and forever. Just click my Pinterest app, a quick search, and bingo!

It’s only been in the last couple months that this ancient kitchen artifacts have been slowly creeping back into cupboards. There’s something about the work of a cookbook — a collection of stories and photos and themes– that I just haven’t been able to recreate on Pinterest.

6184MkUvtwL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_In Her Kitchen: Stories and Recipes from Grandmas Around the World
is one of those collections- a beautiful and diverse group of recipes compiled by Gabriele Galimberti- yummy dishes from grandmas all over the world.

Each recipe starts out with a picture of the grandmother in her own home. The photos are authentic and wonderful in that the photographer lets the picture really represent the woman’s place of cooking. In a couple of the photos, there are small things that are “off”- crooked candlesticks, a calendar featuring a woman in a bikini poised somewhat provocatively, and even one picture has the cook’s husband in the background, sleeping in a chair- ha!

Even more than the recipes, I love that this book celebrates generations of culture and food of REAL LIFE people. No Pinterest photos in here. Sigh of relief.

In-Her-Kitchen-excerpt_Pagina_052As for the recipes, there are some delicious ones indeed! Readers will learn how to make Mboga and Ugal from a grandmama in Kenyai, Lok Lak from a woman from Cambodia, Chicken Vindaloo from India, and Cosksu from Malta. Most of the recipes include ingredients that can be found in the U.S., but you’ll probably need to visit a speciality store for a few of the spices.

This would be a great book to both cook from and to put on your coffee table to enjoy with your family and guests. I love talking with my kids about different cultures, and this is one tool in helping kids get a taste of a little something different.

Check out the author’s video for a little bit behind the story of the man who travelled the world to find out what other grandmas are cooking around the world.

Thanks to BloggingforBooks for this review copy in exchange for an honest review– I thoroughly enjoyed it!