Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday Salon: Week In Review (October 18-24)

This week...

I read Ezra in the KJV.
I read Ecclesiastes in the NASB Bible.
I read Hebrews in the NASB Bible.
I read Ephesians in the NASB Bible.
I read Job 11-15 in the 1599 Geneva Bible.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday Salon: Week In Review (October 11-October 17)

This week I ...

finished Proverbs in the NASB Bible.
finished Exodus in the KJV.
finished Nehemiah in the KJV.
finished Song of Solomon in the NASB Bible.
read Job 1-10 in the 1599 Geneva Bible

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, October 15, 2009

How do you read Psalms?

How do you like to read the Psalms?

Do you do five a day? (You'll get done in about a month if you do!)
Ten a day? (You'll get done in about fifteen or sixteen days.)
Fifteen a day? (You'll get done in about ten or eleven days.)

Or perhaps--like my mother--you like to read in the Psalms for a certain length of time. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. Twenty minutes. Etc.

I'm a bit quirky when it comes to Psalms. I like to vary things up a bit. Since Psalms is one of the few books of the Bible where you don't have to read it straight through--to read the chapters in any particular order.

Of course, you've probably read them in order 1-150. But have you ever read them backwards? 150 to 1? I have. And the reason I did it--was to mix it up a bit. Am I the only one who feels a little too familiar with the first dozen or so Psalms? I wonder why that is. Why the first twenty-five or thirty seem so cozily familiar. And most of the others--with some notable exceptions, 51, 91, 119--don't?

Another approach I've tried was to really mix it up by sorting them numerically.

Day 1: 1, 11, 21, 31, 41, 51, 61, 71, 81, 91, 101, 111, 121, 131, 141
Day 2: 2, 12, 22, 32, 42, 52, 62, 72, 82, 92, 102, 112, 122, 132, 142
Day 3: 3, 13, 23, 33, 43, 53, 63, 73, 83, 93, 103, 113, 123, 133, 143
Day 4: 4, 14, 24, 34, 44, 54, 64, 74, 84, 94, 104, 114, 124, 134, 144
Day 5: 5, 15, 25, 35, 45, 55, 65, 75, 85, 95, 105, 115, 125, 135, 145
Day 6: 6, 16, 26, 36, 46, 56, 66, 76, 86, 96, 106, 116, 126, 136, 146
Day 7: 7, 17, 27, 37, 47, 57, 67, 77, 87, 97, 107, 117, 127, 137, 147
Day 8: 8, 18, 28, 38, 48, 58, 68, 78, 88, 98, 108, 118, 128, 138, 148
Day 9: 9, 19, 29, 39, 49, 59, 69, 79, 89, 109, 119, 129, 139, 149,
Day 10: 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120, 130, 140, 150

I haven't tried to read them this way, but I suppose you could read them based on who wrote them. Or even by type.

Do you have a method when it comes to reading Psalms? Can you think of a creative way to mix it up?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Challenge Updates

How are you progressing on your Bible reading? Have new links to share for Operation Actually Read Bible?

Feel free to leave a comment with your progress if you're not blogging along for the challenge.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fall Festival Recipe Exchange: Dr. Pepper Cake

My Friend Amy is asking for recipes today. It's "Fall Festival Recipe Exchange" time. I've got a recipe to share. But I don't know that anyone would consider it especially fallish. Does that matter so long as it's tasty? I hope not. I'm sharing a family recipe (of sorts) with you.* One that more often or not gets made more in the fall than at other times.

(Could it be because of three birthdays and two holidays?) (It could also be that the oven doesn't get used much during the summer. In Texas. No matter how much you crave something.) (I think there are only two seasons in Texas. In this case oven weather and not-oven weather. And oh the celebrating when it is finally time to make oven goodies: meat loaf, baked potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, oven-roasted (sweet) potato fries, baked chicken with a cracker-crumb crust, baked carrots, hot ham and cheese sandwiches, casseroles (all sorts), biscuits, corn bread, etc.)

You can make a cake, cup cakes, or little loaves with this recipe. It does transport well. And they make great gifts for teachers during the holiday season. :)

Dr. Pepper Cake

For the cake
  • 1 white or yellow cake mix (A cake mix without pudding. Cheap kind is fine. You'll have to trust me on that.)
  • 1 cup Dr. Pepper (1 measuring cup of Dr. Pepper. Which leaves just enough of your 12 oz. can to have some while you're working.)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce

For the topping:

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts (pecan or walnut works best)

Baking directions:

1) Follow the directions on the box of your cake mix. EXCEPT that instead of adding their amount of liquid/water (oil, etc.) you substitute 1 cup Dr. Pepper and 1/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce.

2) Pour the batter into your cake pan. (It works as cupcakes if you prefer.)

3) For the topping, mix your brown sugar and nuts together well. Mixed Well being the key words if you don't like eating clumps of brown sugar. Brown sugar is clumpy and lumpy for the most part.

4) Sprinkle the topping mixture on top of your cake batter.

5) Bake it according to the temperature and time given on the cake mix.

It smells heavenly. Really, really heavenly. And it tastes as good as it smells.

*Mom got the recipe from a friend back in the early nineties. I'm assuming Mom's friend got it from another friend who probably got it from someone else.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

New Review Policy

Review policy for Operation Actually Read Bible

I am interested in reviewing christian fiction, christian nonfiction, Bibles, audio Bibles, audio books, Christian music CDs, Christian DVDs, etc. I am interested in reviewing for all age groups.

Picture books. Early readers. Chapter books. Tween and Teen fiction. Adult fiction as well, of course.

I especially like historical fiction with or without romance. Biblical fiction (fiction set in biblical times) is also a thing I enjoy. I am interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

I am pickier on nonfiction. I'll only review it if I can honestly recommend it and find it biblically sound and for the edification of the faith.

If you're an author or publisher and would like me to consider your book for review, I'd love to hear from you. You may contact me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com. You should know several things first:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I will read picture books and early readers in their entirety.
3) I will give all longer books (chapter books, etc) at least fifty pages.
4) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. (I do NOT work like that.)
5) All reviews are my honest, subjective opinions of a book. My blog features reviews ranging from positive to negative.
6) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately.
7) Emailing me to ask if I've read your book every other week won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Salon: Week In Review (October 4-October 10)

This week I read

Psalms 145-150 in the 1599 Geneva Bible
Exodus 13-30 in the KJV.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Reflections (round-up)

Have you written up a post about your Bible reading lately? Have you reflected on any verses or passages? Have you written a post sharing your insights? Or possibly even your thoughts and questions and doubts? How about a post sharing your hopes and struggles as a Christian? Your praises and prayers? As I was visiting the list of participants this past week--remember, I was trying to update the list and keep it current--I noticed that quite a few of you do write these types of posts. Part reflection. Part meditation. And yes, rambling posts are allowed too. (I do a bit of rambling myself at times. Especially in person!) Anytime you write a post about the bible where you ponder what it means or what it means to you or for you, I want you to be able to share that link with the group. So tentatively speaking at least, I thought I could round-up these posts every month. Typically, I'd post around the first of the month and leave McLinky open for a full month. That way, you can add links throughout the month.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Weekly Geeks 2009-39 (Looking for a Good Book)

I'm looking for...good Christian fiction that isn't historical. I'll be the first to admit that I almost always prefer my Christian fiction to be historical fiction--whether it is a romance or not. I'm sure I'm missing a few good books by only reading historical fiction. (Just like I *think* people miss out on a lot of great books by avoiding historical fiction.) So what contemporary books would you recommend for me? I'm looking for good characters, strong characters. (By good, I'm not looking for morally good (aka goody-two-shoes). But rather I mean well-written, fleshed-out, human characters.) Plot is almost secondary to me. I'm not looking for christian books with explosions or anything :)

If you're looking for...great Christian fiction that goes above and beyond, I recommend...

(These are books I'd recommend to anyone and everyone. If you think you hate Christian fiction, if you think it offers nothing for you. If you think a book can't be great if it's published by a Christian publishing house...try one of these. Though if you hate historical fiction with a passion, maybe these won't prove anything to you.)

Lynn Austin. I can't really say that enough. Lynn Austin is my favorite and my best. What do I love most about Lynn Austin? Her characters. They're always so human, so fleshed-out, so imperfect, so real. Her stories matter because they're filled with life--not perfect life, not life as we imagine it or dream it, but real life with real problems. Her characters struggle because we as humans are always struggling.

Fireflies in December by Jennifer Erin Valent*
The Frontiersman's Daughter by Laura Frantz**
Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen***

*This one reminded me of To Kill A Mockingbird. And I'm just not saying that. I mean, this book was a powerful read for me. It just wowed me.
**This one I just loved. It is historical fiction at its finest. I loved settling down into this one. And I loved the romance. An absolute must if you have a weakness for Scottish men. If you loved Christy, give this one a try.
***This one is set in the Regency period (in England). But it's anything but fluffy. It has substance. :) So if you're a fan of the Regency--Austen, Heyer, etc.--give this one a try.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Are you peculiar?

I was reading in Exodus this week, and I was struck by this phrase "peculiar treasure" in the King James Version. I first found this in Exodus 19. Which is one chapter away from the giving of the Ten Commandments, and several chapters after the great deliverance.

Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which though shalt speak unto the children of Israel. (Exodus 19:5-6)

A quick search at revealed that this isn't the only time God calls his chosen people peculiar.

Praise the LORD; for the LORD is good: sing praises unto his name; for it is pleasant.
For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure.
For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. (Psalm 135:3-5)

Aren't you curious about what the word peculiar meant to the translators of the King James Bible? Did it carry the same meaning then that it does now? How do other translators choose to translate that passage?

Well, the NASB translates "peculiar treasure" to "My own possession."
The NIV and ESV translate it as "my treasured possession."
The NKJV translates it as "a special treasure."
The NLT translates it as "my own special treasure."

As to the first question, Merriam Webster tells me, peculiar comes from the Middle English peculier, from Latin peculiaris of private property, special, from peculium private property, from pecu cattle; akin to Latin pecus cattle. It dates to the 15th century. The first definition is "characteristic of only one person, group, or thing." The second definition, the one I would say most people think of when the word comes up is: "different from the usual or normal." Clearly, the translators meant it as the first.

Regardless of which translation you prefer, I think we can all agree it is a good thing to be a part of God's treasured possession, to belong to Him.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, October 9, 2009

Book Review: A Measure of Mercy

Snelling, Lauraine. 2009. A Measure of Mercy. Bethany House. 368 pages.

"Go or stay." Astrid stared at the daisy in her hand and pulled off two petals. Sitting on the back porch, she was supposed to be hulling strawberries. But somehow that didn't work as well when one had life-altering decisions to make. She pulled another petal. "Go." And watched it drift down to the second of the three steps.

The year is 1903. And Astrid Bjorklund has a decision to make. A big one. Should she go to Chicago or stay in Blessing, North Dakota?

If she goes to Chicago, she can further her medical training. She's been working with Dr. Elizabeth (Bjorklund). And she loves it--for the most part--especially when they're able to save a patient. But when they don't, it crushes her. So if she goes, she can train at a medical school for women. But if she goes, she'll be leaving her family--her big family behind. And she loves her family so, so much. Then there's that oh-so-dreamy boy, Joshua Landsverk, who's just returned to town. If she were to stay, something might happen. He might ask her to marry him. True, he hasn't mentioned marriage. But when these two are together, when they talk, when they dance, she feels a connection. But the medical training wouldn't last forever, it would just be half a year or so. So saying yes to Chicago doesn't mean saying no to marriage. What should she do? Or is there another option to consider?

Though this is the first book in the "Home To Blessing" series by Lauraine Snelling. It is not the first book starring this family. This is the fourth series of books about this family, about this settlement. (The other series are: "Red River Of The North" and "Return to Red River" and "Daughters of Blessing.") Does this make a difference? Can this book stand alone? I admit I struggled at the beginning. I struggled to make sense of all the family connections (and the chart did not help me). But. I stuck with it, and by the middle of the book, I was beginning to make connections and enjoy myself. Still, I know that if I had been familiar with the previous books that this one book would have meant more, much more, to me.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Book Review: Though Waters Roar

Austin, Lynn. 2009. Though Waters Roar. Bethany House. 430 pages.

It was ironic.
I lay in my jail cell on a squeaky iron bunk, gazing at the stained mattress above me, and I remembered the day I first understood the meaning of the word ironic. I couldn't help smiling at...well, at the irony of it. The meaning had become clear to me ten years ago on the day my grandmother, Beatrice Monroe Garner, was arrested.

I love, love, love Lynn Austin. Granted, I don't love all of her books equally. Some are more amazing (to me) than others. So how did I feel about her latest book? Did it have me at hello? Is it a book I want to rush to put into my mom's hands? Will it top my best-books-of-the-year list?

What do I love most about Lynn Austin? Her characters. They're always so human, so fleshed-out, so imperfect, so real. Her stories matter because they're filled with life--not perfect life, not life as we imagine it or dream it, but real life with real problems. Her characters struggle because we as humans are always struggling.

What is Though Waters Roar about? Well, it's about women, about family, about rights, about social justice, about living life with purpose, having a cause. In Though Waters Roar we meet four women: Hannah Monroe, Beatrice "Bebe" Monroe Garner, Lucy Garner Sherwood, and Harriet Sherwood. It's a story of mothers and daughters and granddaughters and great-granddaughters.

And it's historical fiction. The modern setting (Harriet's present-day-in-jail) is 1919. With flashbacks, we travel back to the nineteenth century, to the 1850s I believe. (We're definitely there for the 1860s and 1870s as well.)

The story's heroine is Harriet Sherwood. When we first meet her, she's in jail. In jail and trying to figure out just how she got there, what led her to be in the place she is. She's a thoughtful character. The narrative is told through memories of her life, her family. But we also get a few flashbacks. That is, we get 'inside' the minds of other characters. For example, we spend a great deal of time with Bebe. We follow her from childhood through grand-motherhood.

I mentioned this one was about causes--and it is. Hannah is part of the Anti-Slavery movement. Bebe is part of the Temperance movement. Bebe and Lucy and Harriet are all Suffragists. (Though Lucy is a new champion of women's rights.) It was interesting to trace these movements through the decades.

So did I love it? Yes. Did I love, love, love it? Not as much as A Woman's Place. Not as much as Until We Reach Home. But I did enjoy it. I do think it's a good book. Well-written. Great characters that you can relate you. A compelling story. So I'm definitely going to be recommending it. And yes, I'm going to see if mom wants to read this one.

My review of Until We Reach Home. My review of A Woman's Place.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A few changes...

Change can be a good thing. I hope you've noticed a few changes I've made lately.

Do you like the redesign? I am loving it. So far. I've also updated the list of participants. I'm almost ashamed of how out-of-date the list was. I'm hoping to keep it up-to-date. I'm hoping to add links immediately after people join. And I do *hope* more people join the perpetual challenge. I'm hoping people will remember that it is perpetual. That they can join at any time. That they can keep right on participating. This is one challenge with no end date! I've also updated the blog roll. I'm hoping since all of the participants (well, the ones with blogs anyway) are on the list that it will be easier for me to visit your blogs. I'd love to be a more active hostess. To get to know you better.

Did you notice the new mini-challenges? I hope I can get a few of you to join in on one or two of them.

I hope to offer a mini-challenge every month or every other month. I'm already thinking of a mini-challenge for January. What say you to "New Beginnings" a mini-challenge to read either Genesis or Matthew in the month of January? Would that be something you'd like to do?

If you have an idea for a mini-challenge, you can always leave a comment or send me an email!

If you know of anyone who might be interested in participating in the perpetual challenge or any of the mini-challenges, I hope you share the project with them. You *don't* have to have a blog to be a part of it!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Audio Book Review: The Screwtape Letters

C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters. Focus on the Family. 4 CDs. 2009.

Do you like to listen to audio books? How about dramatized audio productions? Focus on the Family's "Radio Theatre" has done an amazing job with C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters. This edition comes with 4 CDs and 1 DVD. In addition to a drama of the book, you get 10 original 'inspired-by' songs.

I'm not one to normally listen to audio books. Though there are always exceptions to the rule. For example, I really loved listening to C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia on audio book. What made me, a skeptic, want to pick this one up? Two little words. Andy Serkis. Yes, Andy Serkis of Gollum fame is Screwtape.

This wasn't my first time reading The Screwtape Letters. I remember first reading this one back in high school. (I went through a C.S. Lewis phase where I read anything and everything Lewis.) But it was my first time listening to it.

What is this one about? Screwtape, a demon, is giving advice to his nephew, Wormwood, (also a demon) on how to influence or tempt his human, John Hamilton. The book was told in thirty-one letters. And each of those has been dramatized for the audio version. Early on, Wormwood's patient becomes a Christian. The rest of the book is focused on those two discussing how to undermine and sabotage this man's faith.

What can you learn from this one? In this little book, there are sprinkled so many insights, so many aha moments. (I especially found his insights on the church useful.) His way of seeing the world, the topsy-turvy perspective where good is bad and bad is good helped me see some of my own weaknesses. I bet every reader can find something to relate to something in this one. And if they won't admit it, is that pride at work?!

What did I love about this one? I loved the drama of it. I know that sounds obvious. But just because it's obvious doesn't make it any less true. I loved the actors--especially Andy Serkis and Bertie Carvel. I thought they did a wonderful job. Their voices were just so perfect for this. I mean it really couldn't get any better. The other actors did well too. All together they did such a great job at bringing this one to life.

Have you read The Screwtape Letters? Have you listened to it? What did you think? Did any of it speak to you? Do you think Lewis did a good job with his fictional account of how things might work?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, October 5, 2009

Operation Actually Read Bible, Challenge Update

I know I haven't been the best host for Operation Actually Read Bible. I've been busy participating, not busy hosting. But I'm going to *try* to do better from here on out! I promise.

Here is a place for you to post links to your progress. Every two weeks (give or take a day or two) I'll give you a place to update your bible reading progress. If you're not blogging about your progress, feel free just to leave a note or two in the comments! I do *love* to hear from you!!!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Handel's Messiah Mini-Challenge

Start Date: December 6, 2009
End Date: April 4, 2010
Goal to listen to Handel's Messiah at least once during Advent and/or Lent. Ideally, participants would commit to listening twice--once for each church season.
Come back to the blog and share your thoughts. Perhaps blog about your experience...
I will be providing a question/answer meme for you to answer (in whole or in part) if you should decide to join in!

Read more about Handel's Messiah here.
You should be able to listen to it online here. (NPR's Messiah Live in Philadelphia)

To sign up, leave a comment...

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Welcome The Light Mini-Challenge

I'm happy to host the Welcome the Light mini-challenge. This advent-related mini-challenge asks readers to read Isaiah and choose one gospel to read as well. (For example, I'll be reading Isaiah and the gospel of John).

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9:6-7.)

The challenge will run from November 22, 2009 through December 29, 2009.

Sign up by leaving a comment!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wise Up Mini-Challenge

I'm happy to host the Wise Up Mini Challenge. This challenge (or mini-challenge) for all who choose to join involves a commitment to read at least one of the wisdom books in October and early November.

Job. Psalms. Proverbs. Ecclesiastes. Song of Solomon. (There are a few deuterocanonical books that may count as 'books of wisdom'. There's one called Wisdom. And one called Sirach or Ecclesiasticus. So I'll allow those two to count as well.)

The challenge will run from October 1, 2009 through November 21, 2009.

To sign up, leave a comment!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Progress So Far For 2009

Genesis (ESV Study Bible) (KJV Bible)
Exodus (ESV Study Bible) (KJV Bible)
Leviticus (ESV Study Bible)
Numbers (ESV Study Bible)
Deuteronomy (ESV Study Bible)
Joshua (ESV Study Bible)
Judges (ESV Study Bible)
Ruth (ESV Study Bible) (RSV Bible)
1 Samuel (ESV Study Bible)
2 Samuel (ESV Study Bible)
1 Kings (ESV Study Bible)
2 Kings (ESV Study Bible)
1 Chronicles (ESV Study Bible)
2 Chronicles (ESV Study Bible)
Ezra (KJV Bible)
Nehemiah (KJV Bible)
Job (ESV Study Bible) (1599 Geneva Bible)
Psalms (1599 Geneva Bible)
Proverbs (NASB Bible)
Ecclesiastes (NASB Bible)
Song of Solomon (NASB Bible)
Isaiah (1599 Geneva Bible)
Jeremiah (RSV Bible)
Lamentations (RSV Bible)
Ezekiel (ESV Study Bible)
Daniel (Nelson Study Bible: NKJV)
Matthew (Tyndale) (NASB)
Mark (Tyndale)
Luke (Tyndale) (KJV) (NASB)
John (Wycliffe) (Tyndale) (ESV Study Bible)
Acts (Wycliffe) (Tyndale) (RSV)
Romans (Wycliffe) (Tyndale) (RSV)
1 Corinthians (Wycliffe) (Tyndale)
2 Corinthians (Wycliffe) (Tyndale)
Galatians (Wycliffe) (Tyndale)
Ephesians (Wycliffe) (Tyndale) (RSV) (NASB)
Philippians (Wycliffe) (Tyndale)
Colossians (Wycliffe) (Tyndale)
1 Thessalonians (Wycliffe) (Tyndale) (NASB)
2 Thessalonians (Wycliffe) (Tyndale) (NASB)
1 Timothy (Wycliffe) (Tyndale)
2 Timothy (Wycliffe) (Tyndale)
Titus (Wycliffe) (Tyndale) (NASB)
Philemon (Wycliffe) (Tyndale) (NASB)
Hebrews (Wycliffe) (Tyndale) (NASB)
James (Wycliffe) (Tyndale)
1 Peter (Wycliffe) (Tyndale)
2 Peter (Wycliffe) (Tyndale)
1 John (Wycliffe) (Tyndale)
2 John (Wycliffe) (Tyndale)
3 John (Wycliffe) (Tyndale)
Jude (Wycliffe) (Tyndale)
Revelation (Wycliffe) (Tyndale)

*updated November 22, 2009
**updated December 31, 2009

Sunday Salon: Week in Review (September 27- October 3)

This week I...

Read Lamentations in the RSV Bible.
Read Proverbs 15-22 in the NASB Bible
Read Psalms 125-145 in the 1599 Geneva Study Bible
Read Exodus 1-12 in the KJV.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, October 2, 2009

Book Review: My Story Bible: 66 Favorite Stories

Godfrey, Jan. 2009. My Story Bible: 66 Favorite Stories. Illustrated by Paola Bertolini Grudina. Tyndale. (You can read the first four stories online.)

My Story Bible: 66 Favorite Stories is a good introduction to Bible stories and characters for young readers. It's simple, but not too simple. I think it is written at a level that preschoolers and early-school age children can enjoy and appreciate. As a read aloud that is. I think the text tries to engage young listeners. And I think it succeeds for the most part. It's rhythmic and repetitive where it needs to be. Yet this wordplay isn't too distracting from the story itself.

The selection. I liked that it was a nice blend of Old Testament and New Testament. I think it is easy for books to drift one way or another. To focus all on the early stories--for example. Genesis is such a rich book for stories. And to neglect the later stories of prophets. And when it comes to the New Testament, sometimes it becomes all about the gospels and nothing else. It was nice to see a fuller range with this collection. True, the book doesn't offer every story I'd like to see retold for children. But no children's story bible ever could. It would be impossible to tell them all. To simplify them all. Some stories just don't translate down into the simplest, most basic forms. Some concepts are just too big for little minds to grasp. So you have to prioritize. And you have to always, always keep your audience in mind. Parents familiar with their bibles may see that not all the details are there for each story. Some things have been simplified and shortened. (For example, with Moses and Pharaoh, we don't get the full picture. We don't see the plagues coming one by one by one with rejections and drama in between. We get an abbreviated account of the king's stubbornness.) But again, I think it was a choice to make this one work for the youngest listeners.

Here's an excerpt from one of my favorite stories "The Sound of Music."

Three friends were taken as prisoners to a place called Babylon, far away from home. They worshiped the one true God, but the king worshiped pretend gods. One day the king told everyone to bow down and worship a golden statue.
"I won't," said Shadrach.
"I won't," said his friend Meshach.
"I won't," said his friend Abednego.
"There will be trouble if you don't!" said a messenger of the king.
"As soon as you hear music and instruments, you'll bow down to that golden statue, or they'll be trouble--you wait and see! If you don't bow down and worship it, you'll be thrown into a fiery furnace!" (54)

A little later on we read,
"So they were thrown into the blazing, fiery furnace. It was very, very, very hot. But they did not die. They did not get burned. They didn't even smell smoky!" (54)

And here's how the collection handles the Ten Commandments (in part) and the Lord's Prayer (in full) respectively.

"The seventh day of the week is special," said God. "It's a rest day, a family day, a happy day, a holy day. It's a day when everyone can worship me together. Even the animals can have a rest!"
"Treat your moms and dads well," said God. "Be polite and loving and respectful and kind and obedient to them."...
"And don't tell lies or say mean things about other people."
"Don't look at the things other people have and want them so much that you can't think about anything else." (29)

"Our father in heaven, your name is great and holy.
We want to do what is right so that your love will spread all over the world.
Please give everyone enough to eat each day, and help us to be kind to each other always.
Keep us safe from harm and from doing wrong things.
For you are true and wonderful and glorious and your Kingdom will last forever and ever. Amen." (72-73)

So for the most part, I loved the way these stories were told. As I mentioned earlier, I thought they were engaging and kid-friendly.

The illustrations. As I've said dozens of times, I'm not *good* at judging illustrations. I only know what I like, what I love, and what I hate. I liked these illustrations. I found them refreshing compared to say the illustrations in the Read and Share Bible. (I haven't *read* that one cover to cover. So I'm not saying anything about the text. Just the illustrations.)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Summer Vacation Reading Challenge Completed

Molly hosted the Summer Vacation Reading Challenge.

I forgot to post a wrap-up for this one until now.

Whirlwind by Cathy Marie Hake
Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist
Love's Pursuit by Siri Mitchell
Offworld by Robin Parrish
Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible