Sunday, March 25, 2018

Fool Proofing Your Life by Jan Silvious

This book is a tough one for me.  I really haven't decided yet on what I think about it.  The premise is that there are "fools" who make life difficult for everyone around them.  There have always been such people.  Silvious takes a look at the biblical description of a fool, categorizes types of fools, and then gives practical advice for dealing with the fool in your life. 

I struggled most with this book on  the fact that she refers to the difficult person in your life as "your fool."  It felt prideful to think of someone in my life and label them as a fool.  After all, perhaps I am the biggest fool.   Despite my hesitance to label people fools, Fool Proofing Your Life did have some biblical, practical insight into dealing with "your fool."  If you have someone in your life you just can't seem to make happy, who just seems angry all the time, who doesn't listen to reason, who stubbornly insists on their way, who consistently makes bad decisions...this book can help you take a step back and evaluate what you can do for your fool.... nothing.  You are incapable of changing another human being, so Silvious encourages you to look critically at the relationship and give it to God.  Accepting that is NOT my responsibility to change or improve the "fools" around me in a sense was liberating.  However, I didn't find the answers I was searching for with regards to how to relate to my difficult person, but the book still validate my feelings toward a particular person. 

The other thing this book did for me was inspired me to really read the Proverbs.  I highlighted every reference to what is foolish and what is wisdom.  I made a list of the characteristics of a fool, and I'm spending quite a bit of time in prayer to ask God to help me choose wisdom of foolishness.

If you have a person that is difficult to be around and you always leave feeling defeated, angry, or guilty, this book may be of help to you.  I have someone like that in my life...and I've really struggled with how do I relate to them in a God-honoring way and this book did have a few nuggets of wisdom for me...but I'm still searching, studying, and practicing.  I think my next book will be Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend.

A Loving Life - Paul E. Miller

A Praying Life by Paul Miller is one of those books that actually changed the way I thought about prayer.  I found it so touching that I was excited to see A Loving Life was also published.   A Loving Life is a short read examining the book of Ruth in the bible and more specifically her hesed (loving-kindness) toward Naomi.

What is love? A passionate, fleeting feeling?  What is our biblical, God-given calling when the person you love is difficult?  This book outlined Ruth's response to such a query.   When Naomi's husband and 2 sons passed away, 3 women were left unprotected in a patriarchal society.  Naomi decided to travel back from Moab to Bethlehem, her home town.  Orpah, upon Naomi's urging, quickly abandoned the journey to stay in Moab with her family.  Ruth cannot be persuaded to leave Naomi even though it means the loss of her family, culture, and home for an unknown and unstable future.  Her sacrificial love for Naomi exemplifies hesed and models Christ's love for his people.  I enjoyed reading insight into the culture of the day and learned many things I had never known about the familiar story of Ruth and Naomi. 

Miller's anecdotal style made this book easy to read with many applications to real life.   If you are struggling to love someone who is ...not very lovable, this book will be an encouragement to you! 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Mom Enough

10 years ago if you had asked me how I felt about mother hood, I would have said it was a goal secondary to pursuing my career. “I could never be a stay-at-home-mom…I’d go crazy.”  Who knew that the moment I held my first little baby after a long, exhausting, and painful day of labor, my heart shattered into a million tiny pieces and then reassembled in a manner more complicated and beautiful than ever before?  In that moment, my life changed dramatically.  My husband and I fell in love with this tiny creature who immediately wrapped her tiny fingers around my finger…and my heart.  Then…the mommy wars started pressuring me…
How could you possibly go back to work?  Did you breastfeed for over a year?  You should try baby wearing…how could you put your baby in a stroller?  Do this, not this.   The judgment and pressure from society can be simply overwhelming and can suck some of the joy out of motherhood. 

This book is a delightful collaborative effort among 7 mothers to provide women with a godly view of motherhood.  So are you "mom enough?"  The answer to this question according to this book is a resounding NO. are not mom enough on your own, but God is infinitely more than you could imagine.  Together with God, you are mom enough.

"And somehow, in God’s mathematics of grace: Mom (never enough) + God (infinitely enough) = Mom enough"

The book is formatted in easy to read, short, digestible chapters.  It reads much like a collaborative blog.  Each woman brings her own unique perspective and insight.  It starts out with a chapter on “Motherhood is a Calling.”  Our culture is afraid of servitude, afraid of living a life of sacrifice for another, and afraid that you won’t be able to accomplish your life goals if you are a mother.  As a Christian mother, our calling is more than a call to a life of resentful drudgery, but instead a way to model Jesus’ sacrificial love to our children and to the world through motherhood.  Jesus loves the little children. 

The rest of the book covers a variety of subjects from motherhood as a mission, maintaining an eternal view, trusting God with your children, prayer, letting go of society’s impossible standards, embracing love, ending the Mommy Wars, practicing Grace, and an treasure box of other topics.  It is the perfect combination of conviction and grace.   I highly recommend it to any Christian mother, and it would make a great baby shower gift.

Did I mention you can read it for free?   You can download the entire book at

Sunday, February 28, 2016

David and Goliath - Malcom Gladwell

Hello my friends!  Reading moved to a back burner as I learned over the last year how to be a mother to both a teenager and a toddler.  Although I'm still working on that, I've found time and energy to read again.  This year, I want to read about 1 non-fiction book a month.  David and Goliath by Malcom Gladwell was the first.

In his book, Gladwell outlines tales of the underdog and challenges the reader to view being the not always undesirable!  There are advantages to being the underdog.   He discusses examples of people rising from the loss of parents, dyslexia, mediocre colleges, persecution, and political oppression.  He uses a series of stories to outline his points.  While not a scientific work, the stories are challenging to a typical worldview.  Small is not always weak.  Large is not always strong.

My favorite part of the book was the portion that described stories from famous and less famous black civil rights activists.  We played this portion out loud to my teenage son, and it struck his interest as well.   "Are these people real?"  Wyatt Walker was described in the book the Brer Rabbit of civil rights.  He staged protests and riots with hopes of tricking authorities into arresting and causing a national scene to draw attention to racism and inequality.   His strategies were very carefully thought out and enacted. In all ways he was an underdog, but he used that to his advantage. 

Overall this was a fun read - full of anecdotes of unlikely successes.  It will change how you view "the underdog."

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Praying Life - by Paul E. Miller

As I go to sleep, I've been reading this book to help me unwind and refocus.  This book is different from other books on prayer that I've read.  It's real. It's honest.  It's gritty.  It's practical.  Miller identifies common barriers to an effective prayer life including a tiny attention span, distractions, and feeling like you are too far disconnected from God to pray.   He explains what a child-like faith in prayer actually means in real life.  Miller uses anecdotes from his personal life to communicate practical tips on prayer.  My favorite part of the book was his explanation on prayer cards.  After reading about the first mention of these cards, I promptly skipped ahead to the chapter describing them and made prayer cards for my family, church, and country.  Finally...a way to pray that fits my scattered, tired thoughts in between late night diaper changes and feedings!  This is a great book for anyone (ie...every Christian) who struggles with prayer.   I highly recommend it.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Fostering Love by John DeGarmo

This is a great little book that follows the early fostering career of the author.  What I love about this book is the author's heart.  It's clear that he loves the children and does his best for them.  The book gives great insight into what it's like to be foster parent: the challenges, the bureaucracy, and the joy of helping children.   It's hard and heart-breaking work, but so worthwhile.  I was inspired by the authors prayers for the children. As a foster parent myself, the struggles were all too familiar.  This is a great read for anyone considering becoming a foster parent.  I have 2 points of criticism.  The first is foster parents should be actively working toward reunification.  This is difficult, and this author did portray that struggle.  However, I think he was a little harsh on biological family (and he admits it in the book).  *SPOILER ALERT* (highlight to see text) Secondly, I was brokenhearted when they sent the older child back.  I realize that you must protect your family and foster children, but it was hard to see this adoption fail.  *END SPOILER ALERT*

Friday, February 13, 2015

Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn (4th Edition): The Complete Guide - Penny Simkin

While I was expecting my little MM, I read Penny Simkin's Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide.  It was by far my favorite pregnancy book.   I bought it at first in Nook format, but quickly decided I wanted the paper version.  The diagrams and charts didn't show up well in digital format.  

This book is a great overview of pregnancy, childbirth, and the newborn - just as you would expect from the title.   This book begins with information on interviewing doctors, evaluating hospitals, and choosing a doula.   I printed many of the handouts on  to help me with this process. 

The sections on pregnancy and fetal development were not as detailed as other books.  I supplemented with reading from other books and pregnancy aps on my iphone.  This book doesn't have a weekly summary of fetal changes, but instead features a more of an overview of developments each trimester.  I found the exercises and stretches useful.

The real value of this book lies in the labor and delivery section.   Admittedly, it is a little biased toward natural delivery, but does include information on interventions.   I was considering a natural birth when reading this book, but I was also open to intervention if I got in over my head.  I printed the chart of coping techniques featured in this book, studied them, and included them in the documents I brought to the hospital.  This book was also very helpful in writing my birth plan and featured a few examples of plans (from mothers with different goals).   I used many of the strategies in this book to have the natural, in-hospital birth I wanted.   Luckily for me, I had a normal, uncomplicated labor.  Even if it had gone differently, this book gave an overview of interventions: why they might be recommended, what happens, and potential side effects.  

Overall, I highly recommend this book especially if you are considering a natural birth or if you want a different view than the typical hospital birthing class.  I just passed mine off to an expectant friend, and I hope she finds it as helpful as I did.