Book Review:Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas by Ace Collins

Christmas

All about Traditions of  Christmas

What Christmas Traditions are your favorite?  Have you ever wondered where on earth we get the traditions we use when we celebrate Christmas?  You know, things like Christmas Cards. Advent, and Christmas trees just to name a few.  Well, Ace takes us back in time to the times and places that these traditions became an indelible mark on our holiday celebrations.  26 chapters you will learn about the history and heart behind each of these traditions!.  Ace definitely did a lot of in-depth research that left us with some very interesting facts.  The chapters are short and could easily be read each night leading up to Christmas.

Some of the interesting facts learned in reading this book :

  • Many of our Christmas traditions were started or carried on through the Vikings.   Especially since the Vikings had the reputation of being a brutal people group. But after the Vikings became Christians it became very important that they made remembrances of their faith.
  • Christmas Seals.  They have been talked about and I never knew what they were-Stamp like stickers used on Christmas envelopes and I most certainly had no idea what they were used for.  Well, they were used for raising money in helping people beat the disease Tuberculosis.
  • Boxing Day and Epiphany- As Americans we don’t usually celebrate these but it was fascinating to earn about these traditions and I must confess I have mentioned to my husband that celebrating and teaching on Epiphany would be neat for our family!

My Thoughts-

Well, I enjoyed this book immensely.  Though I didn’t get it finished in my timeline I will say that it really doesn’t matter when you read this book.  I do think it would be cool to read a chapter a night with our family in the days leading up to Christmas.

It’s so amazing just how much of our Christmas traditions are tied back to the Birth of Baby Jesus too.  It’s a great teaching tool for kids, and it’s easy to understand.  And it would also be very simple to turn into a teaching tool for even younger kids!  ANYONE can enjoy this book.  It is a delight to read for sure.

I also appreciated the few times throughout this book when the author admitted that he just didn’t have the answers to when exactly a tradition started.  Sometimes details like a specific person, place or time are not available and I thought it was neat that he admitted to not knowing.

I honestly cannot wait till next Christmas season when we will delve into this book as a family!

I give this book 5 Christmas lights! Check out this book on Amazon. 

And a super Big THANK YOU to BookLook Bloggers for giving me a free copy of this book to review!  I always give my honest review and am expected to do so!

 

Book Review: Less Than Perfect by Ann Spangler

Perfect

Ann Spangler writes some of the most interesting narratives of  people of the Bible .  In her Book Less Than Perfect  Ann shows how God takes those who are  “less than perfect” and uses them and their stories for His Glory. It s a truth that our churches and our world so desperately need to hear and embrace today.  The people of the Bible were  not perfect, they are sinful humans like you and I  and we all need to realize that no matter how messy our stories are God is completely capable of taking this messes and transforming them into pictures of his grace and his mercy!

This isn’t the normal devotional either . So many times devotionals take creative license and go too far but this devotional is different..  Ann finds the fine balance of creative license and  truth.   Each chapter (or days depending on how you choose to use the devotional,) is broken into three sections:

  • The Account-  This is what actually happened in Scripture. And yes she takes creative license to fill the gaps.
  • The times- This section is unique because it is basically the historical background and explains why certain things for The Account Section has significance.It is so important to understand these details and it helps us to understand why the account is important to our lives.
  • The Takeaway- YIKES. sometimes the questions in devotionals are  lacking in substance.    In this devotional however you will quickly find yourself digging deep as you interact with the account from scripture.

I really enjoyed the book.  When I first got the book I thumbed through the pages and I got giddy because the chapters were “short” HA Just because a chapter is short does not necessarily mean it’s an easy read or fast read!   I found that  scattered through the chapters were these bullets/ sidebar pieces.  Now these were horrid for me to read!   So I asked a friend to give her thoughts on it.  She said it was way difficult for her to read as well.  So I found that if I  took a picture with my phone and made it bigger I could read it BUT THAT TAKES A LONG TIME!

That is the only real downfall I found with the book.  I enjoyed it thoroughly!  I have not finished all the questions either mainly because they are SOOOOO in depth and took a fair amount of pondering!  BUT I really enjoy that about devotionals I want to dig deep and grow closer to Go!

I give this book four out of five Starts

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for my free copy of this book for reviewing purposes.   All of my options given in the book are mine.  I am in no way compensated fora positive review!

Book Review:The Hundred Story Home by Kathy Izard

book review

Have you ever completely goofed yeah thats what happened for me I thought I was getting this book from one place and then another and then another.  I have been confused.  The long story made very short is you should never judge a book by it’s cover, publisher or otherwise.  Just read the book and decided if it is a good book based on its content and the writing ability of the author!  That was a huge takeaway from this book and that was way before I ever opened it! and I’m not even kidding!

I must confess due to misconceptions I avoided the book for a few weeks! Then we left on vacation and in the moments I had to read I could not put this book down.  I have fallen asleep countless nights holding this book and woke only when it fell and smacked me in the face.  Inevitably after the third or fourth attempt I give up but HONESTLY this book is powerful!

Kathy Izard Life was different than most.  she opens talking about her mother’s struggle with mental illness. this was powerful for me because over the last decade this has become Avery big struggle for many people in my life.   I love these friends dearly but this opened my eyes to how the children really struggle.  This also really affected her faith walk as well and as you walk through the book with Kathy you watch as God pursues her and she is transformed. and how God uses all of these pieces from her life in the formation of  Moore Place. a Place to help the homeless of Charlotte North Carolina.

As I said above I was pleasantly surprised by this book.  Kathy Izard is a skilled writer and I was very much gripped by her ability to be so transparent and honest about her life.   You could tell she was not trying to make her life seem like something it wasn’t’t .  I loved her honestly about how she was feeling in pretty much every area of life..  I really have nothing negative to say and I would read more by her if she ever writes more!

If you want an encouraging and uplifting story this is for you!

I give it five stars!

Thanks BookLook Bloggers for giving me a free Copy of this book for review purposes!

Book Rview: A Memory A day for Moms- 5 Year Inspirational Journal

Memory

This little book is beautiful it’s artwork is amazing. The copper leaf work is gorgeous.  This little book is a journal with the idea to help moms record memories of the precious little ones.  the cool thing about this book is that ut spans a 5 year time period.  It has 366 prompts. and it has a prayer and a verse for each day of the year and that’s about it To describe this book in lengthy terms is not possible, other than what I just gave you I can say  “and the pages have a bunch of lines on it….Let’s get into my critique!

Pros

It’s beautiful- the color scheme is gorgeous.

It feels nice in the hands (it’s just the right size).

It’s a unique idea….BUT….

Cons

The copper foil used on the cover and spine have significantly worn off since receiving it a month and a Half ago.

What is a memory you want to Keep?

THE PROMPTS- ( when I requested this book I didn’t realize it had prompts.  Had I realized this I may have not requested it at all.) I was super excited about this journal and I showed it to a good friend of mine, a mom of 3 kids.  She loved the idea and opened it up. The very first two prompts she opened it up to were about your husband. now no big deal right but my friend left an abusive spouse and so this is rough on her and this spawned some in depth study.  I counted every prompt there are 12 that mention husband/ spouse.  the kicker is that most of them have nothing to do with being a mom (go back and review the title of the book if you are confused why this is a problem.)

As I began to count those something else occurred to me, so I began to count this too.  Out of 366 days there are 159 days that refer to the mother’s offspring as a singular child.  now I don’t know about you bu most of the moms I know have more that one child. SOOO how do you pick which child you will journal about? So you might say  “well Mary, how many prompts refer to multiple children? 100? No 50? Um no. 20? I wish BUT NO.

5. There are 5 prompts that refer to multiple children with a few others referring to “FAMILY”.  ok I get it you need to reach every spectrum of parents BUT that kind of unbalance????  Seriously?

On a whole I think the prompts are pretty much worthless anyway because honestly they really aren’t about “mEMORIES as the title would suggest. honestly I don’t want the memories of what the kids bedtimes were…THATS CHEEZY in my opinion.

the things I want to remember was that a certain child thought he needed to stand in the toilet to pee in it. (yeah that’s real life in this house) or the first day of camp, or first crush or  cute thing the littles talked about at dinner.

The prompts make the journal feel underwhelming and purposeless. it would be a much better book with out it.

The verses and prayers- Ive never been a fan of prayers written for me.  How about a prayer prompt instead?   Something to make you think and converse with God over.  I think that the Christian writing community has the idea that people don’t know how to pray for themselves.  this was a discussion not long ago amongst some friends.  The general consensus we would rather pray for ourselves so we skip them.  the verse a good idea but put it at the top f the page rather than an afterthought at the bottom.

Overall I give this 2 stars and you got them solely on Aesthetics.  I think you can do much better Thomas Nelson.

A Big thanks to book Look Bloggers for sending me this free copy for review purposes and for letting me write what I really think about this book

 

 

Book Review: I Can Only Imagine by Bart Millard

Imagine

Why read the Book

Good evening everyone!  I am sure that most of my readers have heard the Contemporary Christian song “I can Only Imagine ”  written and sung by one of CCM’s (Contemporary Christian Music) biggest groups MercyMe, and maybe just maybe like me you have seen the movie BUT I’m guessing just maybe you haven’t read the Memoir of Bart Millard.  One might ask why should I read the book if I have already seen the movie.  Well let me tell you honey, the movie really is just a condensed snapshot of Bart’s life. The book has far more details and is a fascinating read.

One of the neatest things about this book is that each chapter is titled after  one of  MercyMe’s songs.  and then a snippet from the song.  Bart then takes the  theme from that song and the scriptural truth behind it and weaves in through the chapter.  You are left stunned seeing just how much his life has impacted the music he writes and we like to sing on the radio.

Bart’s Life

Bart’s life would be defined as difficult.  with an abusive father and a mother who leaves her husband and children behind (though not quite how it was depicted in the movie) it would be  understandable Bart rejected any sort of Faith.  BUT God…..had a much bigger plan for Bart! and just so you don’t think that life was all peaches and cream for that Texas boy once “I Can only Imagine” became a hit, you couldn’t be farther  from the truth.    just keep reading as you learn about the struggles that abuse can have on your life even after the abuse is over.  Then there’s the death of a loved one (not referring to his dad) and the lifelong illness of a child.

Bart skillfully writes a poignant autobiography that has you in stitches one minute and reaching for the tissues the next.   and back to laughing just a minute more.  This is the first review I have struggled to write in a long time, except for this time it’s not that it’s bad.  It is because it is soooooo good!  I know I am breaking how reviews are written BUT. this , this is different.  I struggle in what exactly to share only because I want to share it all, but that my friends would be plagiarism, and quite frankly I like to blog!

I’ve also said before that is so very hard to critique ones life story because it is their God-given story.  BUT there is something to be said about the skill level and talent in  writing ones story.  And just like his music Bart has written this  book with great passion, love and sincerity.  One of the greatest things weaved throughout this book is to see his passion for ministry and to reach others with the gospel of Christ.  * if you bear with me I will share a personal experience with MercyMe that exemplifies just that!- yep I said PERSONAL.

What is “I Can Only Imagine”

“I Can only Imagine” is the MercyMe song that talks about what heaven might be like.  It quickly rose to #1 on the CCM charts and surprisingly made big waves on secular radio as well.  It came from Bart’s Mammaw Millard’s statement about what her son was witnessing in heaven – so not only did Maammaw Millard  name the band, she also named their biggest hit.

This is quite easily the best book I have read this year.  It was so down to earth and real I couldn’t put it down.  I seriously read it in a week….and that’s huge for me!  I walked away feeling like I have been Bart’s friend for years.  That is just the way he writes.  Like it’s a conversation!  I walked away being challenged in my faith and to forgive !

I just wanted to say THANK YOU to Bart for such a real, open and honest peek into his life.  It is refreshing to know you aren’t alone in your struggles and that those struggles and insecurities don’t go away even when everything appears to be “better”. What an amazing testimony of God’s great love!

Another Amazing thing is the two resources at the end of the book.  The first is  a bible study of sorts.  It’s all about our Identity in Christ with verses that go along with each characteristic. And secondly is a run down on the history of the band….a bulleted timeline if you will.    I found it interesting going through the timeline I learned a lot.

Let’s Get Personal

Now on for my personal story with MercyMe.   First off let me just say I have never met any of them in person, but in October of 2017 we were able to go see them in concert.  We had a ball and they put on a FANTASTIC show (HAPPY DANCE-if you don’t know what on earth I’m talking about go to  YouTube and search MercyMe and Happy Dance, you will NOT be sorry!!) .  But as I said before  they seek  to lead people in worship and to have a personal relationship with Christ.   And that was exemplified through a rare action.  I have been to numerous CCM concerts BUT MercyMe s the only band I have ever seen that has put ALL of their CD’s down to just 5$ a CD. including their newest CD Lifer.   They do it for   Every. Single. Concert.  No joke!

It’s no surprise that I’m going to give this book a whopping 5 stars.

Now go get the book and be blown away!

Thanks so much to BookLook Bloggers for providing me with a free copy of this book for reviewing.  They never expect a positive review just my honest opinion and that is AWESOME!