Sunday, April 24, 2011

Book Review: Daddy Dates

I know what you're thinking, how come the 'mom' of the house is reading a book aptly titled towards the 'dad'.  Well, when I chose this book as part of Thomas Nelson's blogger reviewers, I was hoping to glean not only ideas for my husband but to also read how I can adapt some of the writer's concepts and ideas into my own relationship with my daughters.  My husband already dates our two girls (4.5 and 15 months).  He makes it a priority.  This book was a helpful insight into why and how to continue this habit we have started early.  I was encouraged as a parent to continue the sometimes uphill battle of getting to know my daughters.

The author, Greg Wright, while may not have experience in book writing, offers the experience behind raising 4 teenage daughters.  His humor, insight, and honesty was refreshing and challenging.  Wright has an easy reading style of writing and I was able to breeze through the book, but yet take away important tools to apply Daddy Dates to our family.  I was particularly pleased with his interpretation and application of personality style tests taken by his daughters.  We have found certain activities and 'dates' that our 4.5 year old likes, but to take it to the next level and find out why and how we can engage her heart even further will be a tremendous tool in our belt as she gets older.  I loved hearing the highs and the lows of the daddy dating process.  The chapter on his girls turning 13 and making it not only an extra special date but also to take the opportunity for presenting a purity type ring was heartwarming and also made me think of how important the dates are leading up to that point.  I wonder if his daughters would have been less receptive if the prior years of dating daddy hadn't been there.

Two things I would have loved to read in this book (or would like in a sequel of sorts) would have been to hear from the author's wife on her perspective on daddy dates and what she did to encourage or help in them.  Hearing from the girls themselves would be interesting too, especially as then enter into real dating and marriage situations.  What dates meant the most?  What would you have liked to see done differently?  Hearing some of the 'end results' would be a great sequel.

Reading this book open up my heart and mind to pursing my daughters and to encourage and help my husband do the same.  No, its not a deep read or theologically astounding, but the potential life changes it could bring to the princesses in your home are endless!  I don't think I will be able to read enough books to feel prepared to raise teenage girls, but Daddy Dates certainly will be by my bedside as a great tool.  And...will now be on my husband's reading list :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Book Review: Paradise Valley

I was fortunate enough to receive Paradise Valley by Dale Cramer from Bethany House Publishers as part of their blog reviewer's program. Paradise Valley joins the ever popular Amish Fiction genre in the Christian publishing world.  I am a huge fan of this type of novel and really hoped this piece lived up to the stories of books past.

I am so pleased to say that it not only lived up to, but exceeded my expectations of an Amish Fiction novel.  I was hooked to the storyline, feeling immediately connected to the characters, and intrigued at the twist in the plot line.  While most Amish fiction novels feature strong characters and their inner (and sometimes outer) struggle with the world vs. the old ways of their faith and culture, this book removes an entire Amish family from its comfort zone and transplants them in the harsh, rural wonderlands of Mexico.  I was enthralled at the way Amish life and faith was adapted and changed to fit the needs of the new world, but yet how consistent the family's values remained.  Interactions with others beyond "Englishers" was refreshing.  I really enjoyed the change of scenery and pace that Cramer's book provided while maintaining the integretiy of the Amish fiction storyline.  I feel a good book always leaves you wanting more, as if you want to hear the full story of where the characters go.  While the ending wasn't a full cliffhanger, I am desperate to find out what happens to my beloved characters and how they manage their new lives.

Thank you Bethany House for allowing me to review this novel and a huge 'well done' to Dale Cramer for a an excellent and exciting read.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ahhh. Spring!

Book Review: The Fight of our Lives

I was given a copy of The Fight of our Lives by William J. Bennett and Seth Leibsohn to review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.  I felt this book was an appropriate and fair analysis of the current debates, battles, and news of the situation with the Islamic faith and it's radical spectrum.  News sources, where ever they come are filled with propoganda, agendas, and false sources.  Bennett and Leibsohn have done their best to accumulate a wide variety of sources, most often direct quotes from world political and religious leaders.  Nothing speaks truth louder and more clear than words directly out of the mouths of those we debate.

This book gives extensive research and anaylsis to the wars (physical and psychological and philisophical) being fought over freedom, religion, and the rights of the human race.  This book left me more educated on the fundamentals of Islam and its spectrum of belief matrix's.  I feel more prepared to defend not only my religious and political stances, but to also analyze sources and information being presented on the state of Islam in the world.  Confused about where our country should stand on this issue?  While not an end all solution, this book helped clarify many ideals.  The Fight of our Lives also showed the powerful unawareness and even deceptiveness our country (particularly in the political realm) is to the power radical Islamists have on our current events.  I had no idea (and I would venture to say that most don't given news stories) the complete and documented history of Nidal Hasan and his beliefs and actions leading up to the Fort Hood Massacre.  To think that our nation's leaders would go to such drastic and knowing steps to deny linking this tragedy to Hasan's radical Islamic beliefs is frustrating.  It is the truth- documented- and covered up in order to maintain 'policitcal correctness'.

I felt that the epligue about the importance of teaching American History and its founding ideals was powerful, convicting, and an important tool for preparing the future leaders of this country to know how to stand our ground.  Linking Washington's beliefs in who was a friend or a foe of the American way was also powerful to me in being able to decifer our current friends or enemies.

Overall, this book is an excellent tool for filtering today's news events and processing them into my own political and religious stances.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Feeling like Nehemiah

As Nehemiah was building the wall around Jerusalem, rumors began flying that the Jews were headed for revolt and Nehemiah was stepping in as a new King.  Trying to tame these fanatics Nehemiah declared:   8 I sent him this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.” (Nehemiah 6:8, NIV). 

I can say I feel a little like Nehemiah right now.  Nothing that this "health care" law is supposed to be happening is happening.  The things were were explicitly told won't happen ('no insurance premiums will go up' according to Obama) are.  It's like our President and congressmen are making it up out of their heads to get THEIR agenda's passed, not the will of the people they represent. 

I had written earlier for my disdain for the new health care law.  But I'm writing again because over the past 6 months we have experiences TWO premium increases for a total of a 23% increase.  So, instead of just complaining, I did the good citizen and constiuent thing to do and wrote my state senators, my representative, and the President.  Here is what I wrote:

 Mr. Levin- I am writing to you to share my concern with the new health care law and to show you how it has affected our family personally.  My husband is a self employed real estate agent and I am a stay at home mom to our two daughters ages 1 and 4.  We make it a priority in our life to pay for health insurance and do so out of our own pocket because of the self employment status.  With our first child I had a medically emergent c-section.  We soon after discovered in our search for more affordable premiums that a c-section is considered a 'pre-existing condition' and most companies will not cover a maternity rider on me- which is our main health cost to date as we are all healthy.  As you can see we fit the 'ideal candidate' that this new health care law was suppose to help.  But, Mr. Levin it is hurting us.  Despite the promise by our President that premiums will not go up- we have seen our premiums go up TWICE in the past 6 months with a letter directly indicating it was due to the new services that were required to be provided under this new law.  A 23% increase may not seem like a lot to most, but for us, this $1300 a year increase is taking money out of our pocket that could be put into our savings, college funds, our giving fund, or back into the economy with 'stimulated spending'.  In fact, this increase could potentially put us into the category this health care law was trying to avoid- the under or non- insured!  Because of this law, we may become one of those it was written to protect!  My husband may have to start charging higher fees to cover our new cost of living which will then lead to a trickle down affect to home buyers, commercial companies, and consumers.  Please, Mr. Levin change or repeal this law immediately, before it is too late and thousands of families like ours face the consequences.

I urge you all if you have problems with any new law or bill to write your representatives.  The will of the people was ignored the first time this law was passed, it must be heard now- loud and clear!