Book Review: Teachable Moments: Using Everyday Encounters with Media and Culture to Instill Conscience, Character, and Faith

“There’s no way to avoid the intrusion of popular culture into our homes and families, but we don’t have to let these instances exploit and influence our children. Instead, we can use those unplanned opportunities to instill conscience, character, and faith into the hearts and minds of the children God has entrusted to our care.” (pg. 2)

In this day and age, you can’t be too careful when it comes to the things to which children are exposed. The battle to protect their innocence is a difficult one to fight. This book by Marybeth Hicks is invaluable! While I am a few years away from having to put the teachings of this book into practice, it’s definitely not too soon to start preparing for what’s ahead.

More than ever, kids are exposed to content and concepts in the media and the surrounding world that go directly against the Bible and Christian values. How can parents use these instances as opportunities to teach? This book breaks it down in clear language and talks about areas such as media, school, friends, sports, family, and the real world and how you can use these situations to build character in your child.

I especially enjoyed the chapter about media because it is an ever-growing part of everyday life. More than ever, people are connected to screens (whether through smartphones, television, etc.), and it’s increasingly difficult to avoid exposure. I agree wholeheartedly with this quote: “As Christians, we’re called to integrate our media consumption into our lives in ways that support our faith and values, and not as a perpetual temptation or an avenue of corruption.” (pg. 61) After reading this chapter, I feel better equipped to teach our daughter when the time comes.

It’s incredibly important to guard the hearts and minds of our children until they are old enough to maturely handle the content, and this book provides great advice about how to accomplish that. If you’re a parent of children under the age of 18, I highly recommend this book.

I received a copy of this book from Howard Books in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review: The Adventure Bible for Toddlers

The Adventure Bible for Toddlers is a fantastic first Bible! I chose to review this as I am a brand-new parent and want our daughter to experience the Bible as early as possible.

The Bible highlights the key stories in the Bible and presents them in toddler-friendly language with plenty of colorful illustrations. It’s a board book, so the pages cannot be torn easily, which will allow your toddler to enjoy the book in their own way.

The titles of the stories are fantastic as well: my favorites are Daniel and the Lions’ Den – “Drooling Lions” – and Jonah – “Fish Food”.

I can’t wait until our daughter is old enough to start looking at books – this will be the first one we show her. It’s so important to teach our children the Word of God early on, and this is a great way to start.

I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: NIV Once-A-Day Bible: Chronological Edition

The NIV Once-A-Day Bible: Chronological Edition is a wonderful, fresh way to encounter the Bible. I love the concept of a chronological Bible because it makes it come alive in a brand new way as you read about the events in the order in which they happened. History is understood much more clearly in context, and this provides that context.

The readings are broken into 365 sections, and each section is followed by a short “Reflection” section to help you process what you just read. The NIV is easy to comprehend and it flows well, making each reading even more enjoyable.

This Bible will definitely help me read my Bible consistently and to experience the Bible in a fresh, new way!

I definitely recommend this to anyone – even if you’ve read through the Bible many times, this is worth your consideration.

I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review: Goodnight, Ark

Goodnight, Ark by Jane Sassi is a fun bedtime story for children based on the biblical account of Noah’s ark. 

During the rain, the animals are startled and all end up in bed with Noah, which makes for an amusing story with great illustrations to go with it. The book presents a scenario that children can relate to as many children end up being afraid of storms at some point in their lives. 

I loved the illustrations – they are so detailed and colorful. The story is told in rhyme and is easy to read.

While this isn’t an aspect of the ark that the Bible discusses, it is still a fun story that kids of all ages will enjoy. 

I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review: Jonah and the Great Big Fish

download As a new mom, I thought it would be great to start reviewing books for children so that I can add to our daughter’s collection, so here’s my first one.

Jonah and the Great Big Fish by Rhonda Gowler Greene is a biblically accurate and kid-friendly retelling of the story of Jonah. The story is told as a poem, making it easy for kids to remember, and the accompanying illustrations are absolutely beautiful!

The story is simple yet accurate, and it is worded in a way that children will easily comprehend and remember. I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait until my daughter is old enough for me to read it to her!

I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

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Introducing Victoria

DSC_5506Nine days ago our lives truly changed forever. Little Miss Brackbill made her appearance after 20 hours of labor and finally a c-section. Nothing went as we had planned or hoped, but ultimately what matters is that she is healthy and happy and here with us.

I was induced at 12pm on July 29th with “the gel” and began having contractions at home by 1pm. My water broke around 3:30pm so we headed to the hospital where they confirmed that I was indeed in labor and was at 3cm. We were taken to our labor and delivery room around 6:30pm and the “fun” really began there.

I had planned to have a completely natural birth – no medicine or interventions – and I successfully labored for ten hours that way. However, around 11pm I decided to ask for pain medication as I was exhausted, hungry, and in so much pain (obviously). I had another dose around 1am and then finally caved and asked for an epidural around 3am. I was only at 6cm and the contractions were getting to be too much for me. I cried when I made that decision because it was definitely not what I had ever wanted, but I am so glad that I opted to have one – I went from 6cm to 9.5cm in an hour after the epidural was in place! Had my labor been shorter, I think I could have made it naturally…but it was just too much.

They allowed me to rest until 6:30am, which was wonderful except for the few moments of fear when I woke up surrounded by nurses who were flipping me over on my side and wouldn’t explain what was going on. My blood pressure had dropped and so had Tori’s heart rate, apparently, but they were able to resolve that quickly.

We began pushing at 6:30am. For two hours, I attempted to push with no success. Finally, at 8:30am, my doctor said that a c-section was necessary because the baby wasn’t going to fit through the birth canal. They had suspected early on that my birth canal might be “narrow” but this confirmed the suspicion.

At this point, I was so exhausted that I welcomed the decision, though I was again disappointed because I hadn’t been able to deliver her naturally. However, Brennan was (as always) a wonderful support and he reminded me that it doesn’t matter how she comes out, just that she does.

012b63d38c09c6be0095e0f2a8dd64e83b1077b798Tori was born at 9:25am and I was in recovery by 11am, I think. I didn’t get to hold her until about an hour after her birth because my arms were numb from the anesthesia. But, Brennan was able to be with her the whole time after birth, following her around as she was weighed and measured, and then doing “skin-to-skin” time with her since I was unable to do so. I am so thankful for those first couple of days where he was able to be her main caretaker – what a great bonding experience for them!

We chose to keep her name a secret for many reasons, and it was such fun to finally reveal her name to our family and friends. We chose Victoria because it means “victorious” and we know that with Jesus she will be victorious. We chose Ruth to honor one of her great-grandmothers – my mom’s mom – someone who has been such an incredible part of my life and such a great example of what it means to be a godly woman. We chose to give her a “nickname” from birth because we love the name Tori, and now she’ll really know when she’s in trouble ;)

 

I was discharged at my request after 48 hours as I was feeling great but also knew that I would rest far better at home. I only took pain medications (1/4 of the recommended dosage, even) for two days at home and haven’t been on anything since. I praise the Lord for a mostly painless recovery, even though I know I still have to take it easy and I still have 4.5 weeks to go before being fully released. I didn’t know beforehand that I wouldn’t be allowed to walk up or down stairs, so I’m confined to one floor of our house at this point (unless I walk around the house to get into the basement). This does mean that I can’t do laundry, however ;) Not so bad.

My parents have been here since her birthday and will be here for another eight days. They have been a tremendous support to Brennan, Tori, and me, and it has been so nice to have them here to spend time with their first grandchild.

Tori is adjusting to life on earth fairly well, though we’ve had a few rough and sleepless nights. However, she’s learning and so are we, and we just keep reminding ourselves that this will get better, and that these days are precious and numbered.  Someday we’ll look back and think that this was the easy time in life :)

Thank you all for your prayers and support!

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Book Review: Be the Dad She Needs You to Be

Because we are about to have a baby girl any day now, I thought this was a perfect book to pick up for my husband to read. This review is from his perspective.

Be the Dad She Needs You to Be by Dr. Kevin Leman describes many specific situations where simply being present isn’t enough. You have to know your daughter(s) in ways that you never thought necessary, and this can be difficult for men because men don’t always naturally think like women. One of the greatest examples given is in regards to the drama that girls tend to gravitate toward; he emphasizes the importance of keeping your cool and listening, because sometimes that is all she needs you to do.

I loved the number of suggestions and personal examples that he gives throughout the book, and especially the stories from other people about how his teachings have worked well with raising their daughters.

I think it will help me be a better father in the sense that I can be very selfish, as we all can, and I might not naturally think of a lot of things that my daughter is going to need. This book was very blunt and clear about how to discipline, set boundaries, etc. Ultimately, this book reminded me that a daughter needs a dad who is very involved, and that can be the very thing that sets her up for success in this world.

I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review: Woman of Courage

Woman of Courage, by Wanda E. Brunstetter, is set in pre-Civil War America.  It is a tale of a young Quaker woman named Amanda Pearson, who, after being rejected by her fiancé, decides to set out on a cross-country journey from New York to Oregon Territory to become a missionary to the Nez Perce Indians.

Along her journey she suffers personal losses, a near fatal injury and is rescued by a man named Buck McFadden.  McFadden takes her to another trappers cabin where Amanda meets a young Indian woman and her white, trapper husband.

As she recovers from her injuries, she is able to share the love of Christ with each of them. The book ends with Amanda eventually completing her journey to the Oregon territory, with some surprising twists along the way.

While I did not care for some of the twists, I cannot deny Ms. Brunstetter’s ability to keep the story flowing and the reader interested.  She weaves a dramatic tale of loss, gain and learning to trust in the Lord Jesus.

I received a copy of this book from Handlehar Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Thanks to my friend Ashleigh for this great review!

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Book Review: Knowing God by Name by David Wilkerson

Knowing someone’s name doesn’t tell you anything about who they are inside; rather, you have to get to know them to discover their character and personality. The same applies to God – we have to know Him in order to know who He is and what He is like.

Knowing God by Name: Names of God That Bring Hope and Healing provides commentary on many of the Hebrew names of God that are seen throughout the Bible – names that describe His character and reveal part of who He is in ways that we can understand. These names were shown in action, not just in words:

He did not try to reveal Himself by announcing to Abraham or Moses: “The following names describe my nature…Now go and learn these and discover who I am.” These Hebrew expressions do describe the wondrous glories and provisions that are wrapped up in our Lord’s character, but God revealed these aspects of His nature by actually doing for His people what He proclaimed Himself to be. Time and again He saw His children’s need, foresaw the enemy’s strategy against them and intervened supernaturally on their behalf (p. 10).

I was familiar with many of the names mentioned in this book, but there were many that I had never heard before! I really liked the way that the author set up each chapter, starting with the story in the Bible where the name is most found and ending with how this particular name can provide hope in our lives. My only dislike was the author’s use of the King James Version whenever he quoted Scripture, but that is my personal preference.

Read this book and discover for yourself more about the Lord’s character as He reveals it throughout His Word.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review: Parenting the Wholehearted Child by Jeannie Cunnion

In just a week or so, we will become parents for the first time. In the past few months, I’ve been trying to glean as much wisdom as possible before embarking on this journey, and Parenting the Wholehearted Child has proven to be an excellent resource and one that I will keep on my bookshelf for years to come.

There is so much pressure on mothers today to raise the “perfect” children. I’m not on Pinterest (intentionally), but I’ve heard many of my friends complain that they just can’t meet the standards of perfection that are displayed there by seeming “super moms” who can be creative, raise perfect children, keep their house perfectly clean, etc. We’ve somehow created this need to be a perfect parent instead of focusing on instilling important values within our children. These unreasonable standards for perfection are overwhelming and unattainable.

So while shame was brewing on the inside, performance was reigning on the outside, and my worth was becoming more and more dependent on who people thought I was instead of on who God says I am in Christ (p. 23).

This book focuses on parenting with grace, unconditional love, and authenticity. The author discusses the importance of raising wholehearted children, not perfect ones:

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My copy is filled with underlines and I even took pictures of some of my favorite quotes so that they’d be readily available when I need them. It’s filled with practical wisdom! Some of the broader topics covered are: Imperfect Parents, Perfect Grace, Experiencing a Vibrant Friendship with Jesus, Growing in Christlike Character, and Leading with Love Unconditional.

If you are desiring to raise children who love God, love others, and live in grace, pick up this book. I know it will be one that I return to over and over again as I learn how to be a wholehearted parent.

I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

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