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Sunday, March 13

Spring Forward with a New Book!

Spring cleaning isn't just for your's a good time to spring clean your heart, too.  While many folks are now realizing that they've broken their resolutions for the year, that doesn't mean that it's a complete loss.  Take this time of year to rejuvenate your spirit, and pay it forward!
The boys have been passing out these Spring RACK coins this year...

Books for Spring Cleaning Your Spirit

 (Jason Wachob)

“Many of us aren’t satisfied with just trying to accumulate the most money and toys. The good life is no longer just about the material—instead, it can be found in a lifestyle that is devoted to mental, physical, and emotional health. A wellthy existence is one in which happiness is attainable, health is paramount, and daily living is about abundance. It’s a life in which work is purposeful; friendships are deep and plentiful; and there’s a daily sense of richness or overflowing joy. But since there’s no one-size-fits all definition for a wellthy existence, I hope this book will serve as a guide to help you embark on your own personal journey that is both unique and meaningful.”  Eat. Move. Work. Believe. Explore. Breathe. Connect. Love. Heal. Thank. Ground. Live. Laugh.  These are the building blocks of Wellth…and in this blend of memoir and prescriptive advice Jason Wachob shows us all how to enjoy truly ‘wellthy’ lives—lives that are deeply rich in every conceivable way.  Through his experience and personal story, as well as in exclusive material from popular expert contributors (including Dr. Frank Lipman, Dr. Lissa Rankin, Joe Cross, Charlie Knoles, Kathryn Budig, Dr. Aviva Romm, and Dr. Sue Johnson), we learn how we too can embrace this new movement and develop richer, fuller, happier, healthier, and more meaningful lives. What will make your life more wellthy?  Come and explore it.

To come across this book at this point in my life was truly orchestrated from someone higher up.  While we feature our travels, and our homeschool life, broadly in the blog, we don’t really discuss our personal lives.  Suffice it to say that, just like the rest of the country, we have experienced our share of hard times recently.  The author of this book laid out his own life and experiences, showing how they changed him.  I liked it.  It was real, and it was raw.  Sometimes, you need a swift kick to remind you that it’s not the circumstances you find yourself in; it’s how you react to them that really matters.  I look forward to passing this book on to someone else who needs that reminder, too.  This is a good book to read if you want some perspective.

Flirtation Walk (Siri Mitchell)
Trying to escape the shambles her con-man father has made of their reputation, Lucinda Curtis arrives in West Point, New York, determined to land a husband from the military academy. Campbell Conklin is first in his class and preparing to embark upon a storied career in the U.S. Army. Lucinda thinks Campbell will make the perfect husband . . . as long as he does not find out about her father.  Seth Westcott also has taken a liking to Lucinda. He's kind, smart . . . and working extremely hard to graduate last. Tradition states that the worst cadets are assigned to the cavalry out west. And west is where Seth must head to track the swindler who stole all of Seth's mother's money. Seth is smart enough to vie for the top spot, but life isn't fair and this is his chance to catch the man who ruined his family. It's too bad Campbell is all shine and no substance, but Lucinda will surely see through all of that, won't she?

One of the most striking things about this novel is the level of research that the author put into developing the historical background.  The story is so vividly described, that you feel like you’re right there on the West Point campus with the characters during the Civil War.  The story was believable and well-paced, and the characters were both interesting and realistic.  I like that the point of view switches back and forth, as you get an opportunity to get inside both of the main characters’ heads.  An added bonus are the occasional one-liners and sardonic wit which is woven into the story, mostly through the villains, who are also quite believable.  While it wasn’t my favorite book ever, it’s a nice read for a rainy afternoon. 

As early as 50 AD, Christians had gotten away from knowing who Jesus really is. Our generation is no different.  In every decade we, as Americans, lost something important that we couldn't afford to lose:
  • In the 1950's, we lost innocence
  • In the 1960's, we lost respect for authority
  • In the 1970's, we lost love
  • In the 1980's, we lost values
  • In the 1990's, we lost faith
  • In the 2000's, we lost security
  • In the 2010's, we lost hope in the future
Pastor Ray Johnston shares the Jesus of the Bible and how we can be Christians without being jerks. He reveals how the radical message of the gospel calls us to love and serve not only our neighbors but our enemies as well. That’s the Jesus the American Church has missed and needs to meet.  Jesus' mission is clear—risk everything in order to take care of people, starting in our home, neighborhoods, cities, and those in need around the world. That's the Jesus the American Church has missed and needs to meet. What can restore what we've lost? Only Jesus. Jesus gave us His name, His friendship, and a commission to accept responsibility for ourselves and for the world. When introduced to His words and ways we'll rediscover the Jesus who:
  • Wants His enemies won over, not wiped out
  • Wants you to stop playing it safe
  • Believed great things were possible no matter what things are like right now
  • Was full of grace and truth
  • Unleashed compassion
  • Believed no one was too far from God to return to Him
  • Came to seek and to save that which was lost
  • Loves the church                                                                     
“Come and see is always more effective than shut up and listen.”  I loved this quote from the book, and felt that it epitomized the entire sentiment.  The church shouldn’t be about rituals and rites, but about loving and giving.  Too often today, our churches are filled with spectators that want to preach on Sunday, but go back to whatever lives they were leading on Monday.  The author calls us to go back to the roots of this religion and ‘act’ on it.  At times, it gets a little bit preachy, but not very often.  If it had, I wouldn’t have finished it.  Overall, this book inspires you live faith and work to change lives, both your own and those around you.  It’s a call to action, to be more involved in your community and church.  Think of it as a much-needed swift kick in the rear end for the vast majority of complacent churches around the nation.

Faith (Lyn Cote)
The Civil War battlefield is the last place Quakeress Faith Cathwell thought she’d find herself. But with a gift for nursing, Faith seizes this opportunity to join the fight for abolition―and to search for Shiloh, a freeborn childhood friend who was kidnapped and sold south by unscrupulous slave catchers. Knowing it’s much too dangerous for her to search enemy territory alone, Faith enlists the help of Colonel Devlin Knight, who is indebted to her for saving his cousin’s life. A career soldier, Dev is committed to the preservation of the Union but conflicted about freeing his own slave and confidant, who plans to enlist as soon as Dev gives him manumission papers. Blazing a trail east with the rest of Grant’s army, Dev and Faith fight their personal battles―and a growing attraction to each other. When beliefs clash and passions flare, they quickly find that the only thing more dangerous than the war surrounding them is the battle within their hearts.

I love how the author uses vivid details to transport you back into the Civil War era.  There are two books that come before this one in the series, and I would have liked to have read them first.  Starting in the middle of a series is not my favorite thing to do, as there is a sense of disconnect with the characters that you don’t have if you’ve read all the way through.  You can tell that the author has put a lot of effort and research into making this story as authentic as possible.  I didn’t know that much about the Quakers, either, and there is a lot of background information in this book.  I can only assume that it is true to life, and that she has put as much research into the religion as she did into the era.  Overall, it is a good read, albeit not a quick one, and I look forward to seeing the other two in the series!   {Other two books :  Honor & Blessing}

An Unbroken Heart (Kathleen Fuller)
One minute, Joanna Schrock was arguing with her parents, and the next, her parents’ lives were claimed in a hit-and-run buggy accident. Her body is broken, but her heart is in even deeper pain— after all, how do you cope with your parents’ deaths when your last words were spoken in anger? After an extended stint in a physical rehabilitation center, Joanna re-enters her Amish life. But nothing is the same—not even her feelings for Andrew Beiler. Joanna has loved Andrew since the age of twelve, and her feelings have not changed throughout the years. She is thrilled when Andrew wants to get married, but she wonders whether it’s love he’s feeling, or pity. As the couple’s wedding date approaches, Joanna isn’t overcome with the deep joy she was hoping to feel; instead, she’s wracked with anxiety and guilt. Joanna hears God whispering to her, Be strong and courageous, but she’s afraid that courage looks a lot like walking away from her dreams and into the plan of her Heavenly Father. If Joanna takes the first step toward healing, will it cost her everything she’s ever wanted? Or could God be changing the desires of her heart?

The first thing I’ll say is that I wish I’d read the previous book in this series first.  I feel like I would have connected with the characters much more, and earlier on in the story.  This book focuses on healing, and wrestling with the characters’ relationships with God and each other.  As the story progresses, they grow and change, but not without drama.  It was, at times, a very frustrating read.  You know how the story is going to end, but the journey is long, dramatic, and occasionally surprising.  Overall, it was a nice read, and I will probably go back and read the first book in the series to get a more solid footing.

Berenstain Bears Mother's Day Blessings  (Mike Berenstain)
Mama Bear is the best mama in all of Bear Country and Brother, Sister, and Honey Bear know just what to do for her on Mother’s Day. In this newest title in the Berenstain Bears Living Lights, The Berenstain Bears Mother’s Day Blessings, join the Bear family and all of Bear Country as they spend Mother’s Day together remembering just why our mothers are so special to all of us!

While we’re still a bit away from Mother’s Day, this is a very sweet story that will show how some folks honor their moms.  Like its predecessors in the series, this story makes a great read aloud for young children.  The end has discussion questions and activity suggestions.  The book seems to focus, however, more on the mother’s jobs than on the job of motherhood itself, which was somewhat of a disappointment.  I grew up reading Berenstain Bears, but the past few books that I’ve seen come out from them have had a different vibe than the older ones.  But maybe that’s just me.

The Five Love Languages of Teenagers (Gary Chapman)
In this adaptation of the #1 New York Times bestseller TheFive Love Languages, Dr. Gary Chapman explores the world in which teenagers live, explains their developmental changes, and gives tools to help you identify and appropriately communicate in your teen's love language.
Get practical tips for how to:
  • Express love to your teen effectively
  • Navigate the key issues in your teen’s life, including anger and independence
  • Set boundaries that are enforced with discipline and consequences
  • Support and love your teen when he or she fails
  • Get ready to discover how the principles of the five love languages can really work in the life of your teenage and family.
Thank you, Mr. Chapman, for this book!   I've read the children and adults one, but this teen one comes along at a perfect time, as our own children are reaching that stage.  It's a difficult time to navigate, and this book has given me lots of suggestions for how to get through the tricky times.  With any luck, I'll be able to, husband into reading it, too!

I received some of these books at a discount in exchange for an honest review.
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