Category: Books

Great Books when Traveling with Young Kids

Our family loves to get lost in books, but sometimes its hard to decide what to do with the non-independent readers of the group when we want to read on our own. We could always read to them, which we do a lot, or they could listen to a story on the iPod, which is also great, but only if you can manage to tune out the noise so that you can enjoy your own.

There are also those times when your readers don’t really FEEL like reading, but you’re all stuck in the car and they just need something to do to distract themselves while having fun.

Interactive books are a great way for kids to read in a different kind of way.

Interactive Books

Flap Books

For the youngest, flap books are the best. Kids have to find the flaps, of course look under each one a million times, and then turn the page again only to find a gazillion more flaps. In my opinion, the more flaps, the merrier.

Our favorites over the years have included Dragons (Usborne), The Seven Continents of the World, Little Pear TreeElmo’s Big Lift-And-look Book, Dora’s Lift and Look Book, and the whole set of Little People Life the Flap books.

Look & Find

A wide variety of these Look and Find books exist: easy, hard, and everywhere in-between. Some tell you what to find specifically, and others allow you to look and find things that are interesting to you! We even use the Mamoko one (below) to tell our own stories.

Our favorites include Littleland and Littleland Around the World, Where’s Waldo?, and The World of Mamoko in the Year 3000.

Magnetic

Magnetic books have hard pages that magnets can stick to. Many books have magnets that kids can use to “fill-in” missing pictures in the book.

Mostly we’ve used the Magnetic Learn and Play Counting book on road trips with all four kids! Their 2 year old selves have gotten the most fun out of it.

Doodle Books

Who says you can’t write in books?! Doodle books come in all kinds of themes. Some books are actually stories where kids can just fill in missing parts of the pictures. Other times, the pages are independent of one another and challenge the reader to use their imagination to make different animals, scenes, foods, etc.

We really like the The Bible Doodle Book, Charlie and Lola’s I Absolutely Must Do Coloring Now or Painting or Drawing , Mega Mash-Ups, Magical Mix-Ups,

You can find most of these in local libraries!

What are your kids’ favorite interactive books?  

20+ Great Audiobooks for Kids

Many people are surprised when they hear how early our kids go to bed. While Asante just got a promotion to 7:30, Aly and Ada are generally in bed no later than 7:00– and sometimes they are even asking to go to bed at 6:45.

While some of you may be a little jealous…. it’s not really what you think. One, our kids get up EARLY (no matter what time they go to bed), so by 7:00p, if they’ve had a nice active day, they are exhausted and are dragging themselves into bed. But, it’s also because they LOVE to listen to stories before falling asleep. While Jake and I used to tell them stories (Adventures of Asante, Aly, and Ada), we mostly rely on audiobooks loaded on our iPod, connected to our iHome so that the kids can all hear it well.

We also listen to audiobooks while in the car, whether it be on the way to our church gathering on Sundays (it is a bit of drive), or on a road trip to grandmas. If the kids are cranky and fighting with each other in the backseat, we’ll sometimes ask them if they’d like to listen to a story and PEACE falls over the car. Thank you Jesus for audiobooks. 🙂

In case you’re interested, here are some of our favorites!

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Short Books (Under 15 minutes)

Skippyjon Jones: A funny short story of a Siamese cat who pretends to be a Chihuahua. He goes on some great adventures! 🙂 Every hardback book that we have checked out from the library has a audio cd inside of it, so that’s a great way to listen!

Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! Hungry bunnies are trying to get into Mr. McGreely’s yard, and he goes to great lengths to keep them out.

The Uglified Ducky and Rapunzel and the Seven Dwarfs by Willy Claflin: Super silly retellings of common tales. It takes awhile for me, as an adult, to get used to his voice, but the kids think it’s great. 🙂

medium audiobooks

Middle-sized Books (15-60 minutes)

The Bippolo Seed and other Lost Stories: These are a set of Dr. Suess stories that are read by some really famous people- Neil Patrick Harris, Anjelica Houston, and Joan Cusack, to name a few. Neil Patrick Harris HITS IT OUT OF THE PARK. It’s a really fun group of stories to listen to.

Mercy Watson: Mercy Watson is a pig who knows how to get into trouble. Each story is about 20 minutes long. These books in general are REALLY good starter chapter books for young readers because they include a lot of colored pictures to go along with the text. As of right now, I think there are 6 books in the series.

Leroy Nicker Saddles Up: This is also by Katie DiCamillo, and it’s a spin-off of the Mercy Watson series. The kids like it less than Mercy Watson, but they still enjoy it every now and then.

Where the Wild Things Are and other stories: We have a set of stories that include Where the Wild Things, In the Night Kitchen, Alligators All Around, Chicken Soup with Rice, etc. He’s a strange fella, but the kids love his lyrical books.

Magic School Bus: Normally between 20 and 30 minutes, these audio books are great for kids who already love the books and/or cartoons.

A to Z Mysteries– Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose come across a lot of mysteries in their small little town of Green Lawn! The characters are 9 years old, making it a pretty perfect book for a Kindergarten-2nd grader. These mysteries are fun, interesting, and the characters are really good kids. Each book comes in at right under an hour.

Calendar Mysteries– These mysteries star the younger siblings of Dink, Josh and Ruth Rose and are just as fun as the Calendar Mysteries.

Nate the Great: Short detective stories. I TOTALLY DISLIKE these stories. I refuse to listen to them with the kids, but again, the kids love them. 🙂 They are each about 15-20 minutes long, so perfect for a going to bed listen!

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Long Books (60+ minutes)

Charlotte’s Web: This childhood classic comes in at about 3.5 hours, so definitely one that will have to be broken up into pieces!

The Tale of Desperaux: Asante read this one last year in school, and he was eager to listen to it afterwards. The tale of a young mouse who is rejected by his family and falls in love with a Princess. This brings up some heavy topics, but it’s a beautifully told story. Asante didn’t have any trouble emotionally with this book, but there are some kids who may have a harder time dealing with some of the scenes.

Fudge series: These Judy Blume classics will be different than you remember them. I loved Judy Blume growing up, and it’s really funny to hear them again as an adult. It’s fun to pick up on the things that you wouldn’t pick up on as a child. Jake doesn’t enjoy these as much as I do, but these are fun ones for the car.

Then Underland Chronicles: This series, written by Suzanne Collins, shares how one boy who falls through a hole in his apt’s laundry room ends up trying to save a whole world underground. This tale is incredible. The whole series is about 37 hours long. We listened to this one last summer: in the evenings after dinner, on lazy rainy afternoons, and in the car traveling to and from the grandparents’ houses. Our kids really enjoyed this series, but it does certainly have some violence. You may want to look it up on commonsense media before deciding to listen to this one if you have young kids.

Magic Tree House: The well-loved books can not only be read, but listened to as well. We originally listened to each book after the kids finished reading it as a celebration, but now it’s fun to just listen anytime. Jack and Annie are fun characters who go on many magical, historically-themed adventures together! Each of these books are really close to being about an hour long.

James and the Giant Peach: Robert Dahl is fantastic, and his books have been capturing kids’ attention for years. This one is around 3 hours long and I found that my kids enjoyed this one more after watching the movie, perhaps because the movie helped them visually create a framework for what’s going on?

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: Another good one by Ronald Dahl. You’ll have fun listening to this childhood classic with your kids!

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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: Live Just.ly

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.

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Live Just.ly 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 Just.ly 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.

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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.

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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. 

Review: The Beginner’s Bible Come Celebrate Easter Activity and Sticker book

Holiday books are a bit tricky, in my opinion, especially the ones surrounding faith-centered holidays.

For Christmas, there’s a lot of books about trees, presents, Santa, etc.

A few about Jesus’ birth.

For Easter, there’s a lot of books about eggs, bunnies, and spring.

A few about Jesus’ death and resurrection.

In both categories, some of the books that are Christ-centered tend to be a bit boring or poorly illustrated, which makes it harder for the kids to really want to read them.

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I had the opportunity to check out The Beginner’s Bible Come Celebrate Easter Sticker and Activity Book and it’s great! It weaves the story of the Passion week through Jesus’ resurrection and ascension with all kinds of stickers and activities to do along the way. The stickers are reusable, so you can re-use some of it next year. There are also some parts of the page to color, so obviously that’s a one-time shot.

51qavk6qenL We use the Beginner Bible for the kids, birth through preschool age, and really like it. The pictures are good (I really like that the illustrations portray people of many shades of skin), and if you’re familiar with this Bible, you’ll immediately recognize the same kind of illustrations in their Easter sticker book.

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I’d say by the ideal age range for this sticker book is 3-5 years.

Thanks to Booklook Bloggers for the review copy in exchange for an honest review! 

Please note: Affiliate links are included in this post. 

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.

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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”

How to Build Your Library on a Few Dollars a Month

I absolutely adore a new book.

Jake and I used to shop for books a lot. We would come away from used bookstores with a big bag full of books, reading the chapter titles of each book to one another on the way back to each others’ apartments (oh we were so young and in love). During one Lent season years ago, we gave up buying books. Our obsession with book-buying never fully rebounded after that. Which is probably a healthy thing.

Fast forward nearly 10 years later and we are now working on not only our own personal library, but also a library for our kids. While we LOVE the public library and utilize it on a weekly basis (it’s not unusual for us to have 75-100 books checked out at any one time), we still like to have certain kinds of books around the house to read or reference on a whim. But, since we’re on a student budget, that means our book budget is very slim. Like, a few dollars a month.

homelibrary
“What are those tin can lids doing on their bookshelf?” Check out my hubby’s blog for the cool project he did with our Ikea bookshelf.

 

So, if you’re looking for ways to build your physical and/or electronic library but don’t want to spend a lot of money, here are a few things that have worked well for us:

1. Public Library Sales. Twice a month, our nearest public library has a book sale. It takes place off-site and is put on by the Friends of the Library. We have found so many treasures because people who love books are cleaning out their attics/playrooms/basements/personal shelves and donating them to the Friends of the Library so that the library can buy more awesome books. People who love books donate really great books, which means you get to buy really great books at super cheap prices ($.25-$1.00 a book). Everywhere we have lived (several states, several cities) have had such sales. You just need to ask your local library and I’m sure they’d be over the moon to give you the details (in smaller libraries, maybe they’ll have this sale once or twice a year).

2. Consignment Sales. When looking for children’s books, kid consignment sales have also been successful for us. It does take a bit of time to sift through book after book to find the diamonds, but when you do, it’s worth it!

3. Used Book Stores/Thrift Stores. About once a year we trade in a big stack of books for cash at Half-Price Books and that money goes back into our book budget. Many cities have great hidden used bookstores, so be sure to get to know them well! Sometimes store owners will get to know you and offer better than advertised deals :).

4. Garage Sales. Especially retired teacher yard sales or church pastor yard sales :). If you are into yard sales, ALWAYS look through the book box. You never know what you might find and because books are often hard to sell, haggling is in your favor.

5. Start a Blog. You love to read? Want to tell people what you thought of the books? Start a blog and get free books from the publishers in exchange for reviews. Children book publishers are a bit harder to do this with, but for adult books, I review through Booklook Bloggers (Zondervan/Thomas Nelson), Blogging for Books (Crown Publishing), and Tyndale Blog Network. After awhile, you can begin to email publishers and request books off their website without being a part of a certain program. That’s when it gets more fun because you get to read the books you really are dying to read! There are normally always print or ebook options.

6. Subscribe to feeds that let you know of free or discounted ebooks. Some of my favorites:

7. Swap books with other book-loving families. Sometimes I get tired of seeing a book around or just don’t want it anymore (maybe I’ve grown out of it, kids have grown out of it, whatever) and I’ll ask around and see if anyone wants to do a book swap. Meaning, everyone brings their books they no longer want as well as a yummy snack, and you just hang out, talk, eat, and grab a few new books for the road!

Your turn: What are your favorite tips for building your personal library?