Sunday, October 31, 2010

October Favorites

The Evangelicals: What They Believe, Where They Are, And Their Politics. Christopher Catherwood.
While We're Far Apart. Lynn Austin.
Cottonwood Whispers. Jennifer Erin Valent.
God's Mighty Acts in Salvation. Starr Meade.
I Will Rejoice. Karma Wilson.
The Road to Paris. Nikki Grimes.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday Salon: Week in Review: October 24-30

This week I

finished Luke in the Common English Bible New Testament
read Genesis 5-8 in the ESV MacArthur Bible
read 1 Samuel 3-15 in the Holman Christian Standard Bible

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Book Review: Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury. 1953. 179 pages.

It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed.

Our hero, Guy Montag, is a fireman. It is his job to start fires, to burn books. In Ray Bradbury's imagined future, intellectual thinking is too dangerous for the masses, as is reading. Thinking leads to feeling, and feeling leads to unhappiness, to self-awareness. To have a people aware of their feelings--their dissatisfaction, their differences, the true state of the world around them--would be dangerous. The threat of war is high in Fahrenheit 451. Yet, for all the concern people show, you'd hardly notice it. Why? Because people are too connected with the walls in their homes--their "families" on the screen--and listening to the shells in their ears. Guy's wife, Mildred, is just one of the mindless, pleasure-driven, 'family'-addicted individuals in this society. She has three walls--but she needs a fourth. She needs her family to surround her. It's not a big surprise that Guy Montag finds himself married to a stranger, unable to remember when they first met and why they fell in love.

Guy Montag is a fireman with a secret. Though he knows he's breaking all the rules, he can't help himself from rescuing the occasional book--from hiding them in his own home. Yes, he knows if he gets caught then that will be the end of him. The books will be burned. He'll be killed or arrested. But. Since a conversation with a man--Faber, a former English professor--he hasn't been the same. Guy Montag can't help noticing the world around him; can't help noticing the war--the threat of war; can't help noticing how hopelessly lost the world has become; how horrible, how bleak the situation really is. He sees but doesn't quite know what to do about it. One day he decides to visit Faber. He brings him the Bible.
’It’s been a long time. I’m not a religious man. But it’s been a long time.’ Faber turned the pages, stopping here and there to read. ‘It’s as good as I remember. Lord, how they’ve changed it in our parlors these days. Christ is one of the family now. I often wonder if God recognizes His own son the way we’ve dressed him up, or is it dressed him down? He’s a regular peppermint stick now, all sugar-crystal and saccharine when he isn’t making veiled references to certain commercial products that every worshiper absolutely needs.’ (81)

Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because they have quality. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture. This book has pores. It has features. This book can go under the microscope. You'd find life under the glass, streaming past in infinite profusion. The more pores, the more truthfully recorded details of life per square inch you can get on a sheet of paper, the more 'literary' you are. That's my definition, anyway. Telling detail. Fresh detail. The good writers touch life often. the mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.
So now do you see why books are hated and feared? They show the pores in the face of life. The comfortable people want only wax moon faces, poreless, hairless, expressionless. we are living in a time when flowers are trying to live on flowers, instead of growing on good rain and black loam. (83)
The novel is very intense. And Guy Montag's life is in danger, and his world is on the verge of collapse. But it's such a great, thought-provoking novel!!!

Earlier this month, I reviewed the graphic novel, Fahrenheit 451, at Becky's Book Reviews. It had been several years since I'd read the original novel, and I wanted to see if it had been adapted well. I enjoyed it so much, I decided to take a risk--to watch the movie adaptation. I expected many changes--it is a movie adaptation after all. So I wasn't particularly surprised by the change of which book our hero, Guy Montag, "becomes" at the close of the film. You see, in the book--and even in the graphic novel--Montag "becomes" Ecclesiastes. He reveals to his new friends--new allies--that he has a little bit of Revelation and some Ecclesiastes. The Bible is one of the books he'd hidden away--"rescued" from the flames he--as a fireman--was required to start. The novel closes with TWO scriptural references! Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 and Revelation 22:2.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: The First Christmas

The First Christmas: A Changing-Picture Book. Illustrated by Sophy Williams. 2010. Candlewick. 14 pages.

Long ago, a star appeared in the East above a town called Bethlehem. Seeing the star filled some people with hope, but others--including Herod, the king--were worried. There was an ancient prophecy that a king would be born under a star and that he would be greater than even Herod himself. So Herod ordered his chief priests and scribes to find out all they could about any child born under the star.

The First Christmas is a beautifully illustrated picture book for children. It presents the 'Christmas' story for young readers. While it takes a few liberties* with what we know--from the Bible--it does no more than some traditional christmas carols we sing each year in our churches.

What makes this Christmas picture book unique are the illustrations. Not only are they beautifully done in gentle pastel colors, this is a "changing-picture" picture book. Readers by turning pages--flaps--"change" four pictures.

*I think Herod was more concerned with the fact the child was born in Bethlehem than he was with any child "born under the star." The prophecy was about a child being born in Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2) The book also has three wise men who arrive shortly after the shepherds finding Jesus (and his parents) in a stable.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Salon: Week In Review October 17-23

This week I

finished Proverbs in the ESV MacArthur Bible
finished Ecclesiastes in the ESV MacArthur Bible
read Genesis 1-4 in the ESV MacArthur Bible
read 1 Samuel 1-2 in the Holman Christian Standard Study Bible

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Book Review: Cottonwood Whispers

Cottonwood Whispers. Jennifer Erin Valent. 2009. Tyndale. 352 pages.

I've heard the dead whisper. Every time I tell my best friend Gemma that, she frowns at me, says "There ain't no such thing as ghosts," and then tells me I'm crazy. But I'm not crazy. The dead really can whisper, only it isn't their ghosts that do it. It's the memory of them.

I loved Fireflies in December. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it. It was such a great novel--set in the 1930s American South. It was beautiful; it was lyrical; it was oh-so-right. Cottonwood Whispers is the second in the series. It begins four years after Fireflies in December.

Jessilyn Lassiter and Gemma are still friends--as close as real sisters in a way--after all they've grown up together for the most part. But that friendship will be challenged in Cottonwood Whispers. Gemma, two years older, isn't always "understood" by the younger Jessilyn.

These two are growing apart. While Jessilyn still feels comfortable sharing her life with her best friend, telling her best friend her private thoughts, her dreams, her wishes for the future, Gemma isn't as forthcoming. In fact, she is becoming more reserved with the whole family as she busies herself with work. She's now working in service to the Hadley family. She's on friendly terms with their son, Joel, something that Jessilyn couldn't begin to understand. He is oh-so-repulsive to her. She would never--could never--trust him. But Gemma sees what she wants to see. And "advice" from Jessilyn isn't welcome when it comes to how she should live her life.

But after a tragic event in the community--the death of a young child--life in the community is turned upside down. And Gemma and Jessilyn (and Luke and Mr. Lassiter) find themselves in the middle of it once again. A man stands accused of a horrible crime. A man they believe to be innocent. A man one of them KNOWS to be innocent. How can a few people stand up for what is right, stand up for justice against the majority?

I loved this one. While I probably didn't love-love-love it in the same way as the first, I did love it. I loved spending time with Jessilyn and Luke. I loved spending time in this community. I loved the characterization, the setting, the writing. I think it's definitely one of the better novels I've read this year.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Snow Day

Snow Day. Billy Coffey. 2010. October 2010. FaithWords. 195 pages.

Some things in life are constants. Mountains. Rivers. Sky. But not on that particular December day.

For the right reader--at the right time--Snow Day may prove a satisfying read. It could depend on if you're a glass half-full or a glass half-empty type person. You may find the message-driven Snow Day to be heartwarming, sincere, and satisfyingly optimistic. Or. You could find this MESSAGE-driven novel to be arrogant, condescending, and a little unbelievable. Each and every chapter has at least one sermon-illustration in it.

Readers are brought into Peter's life for just one day. Through Peter's eyes, we witness the beauty, the mystery, the wonder of life. Of course, life isn't always a thing of beauty. And Peter acknowledges that. Peter is in fact struggling with depression, with doubt, with worry, with fear. But because Peter takes a "snow day" from the factory to "be" with his wife and kids, he has an extraordinary amount of time to reflect, contemplate, observe, absorb the world around him and his place in it.

I enjoyed some chapters more than others. I enjoyed some messages more than others. I think some messages were more intentional than others.

Peter is very self-aware as a narrator. He is trying to sell readers on his message, his journey. And I found him--at times--to be arrogant, condescending. There were definitely places where I thought Peter was a little too proud of himself for being so good, for doing the right thing, for being so wise, for being so observant. I think that Peter thinks that he is always right--that his way of seeing the world is the right way. I doubt that was the author's intention! And perhaps it's just the way I read it.

I didn't like Peter. Perhaps it was his selfishness. Or the way he intruded in on other people's lives. Going up and questioning strangers. Or how angry he became when an employee wouldn't return his Merry Christmas the right way. Or the way he demanded to see a store manager to "report" the "unfriendly" encounter at the check out lane. Or the way he applauds an old man yelling and screaming for "help" just because he couldn't find a price for a skillet.

There's one incident that I really disliked. His wife has sent him out on this snowy, snowy day for "bread and milk" and stocking stuffers. He matter-of-factly dismisses his daughter, Sara, and heads to the "boy" aisles. He doesn't want to go to the girl aisles, the pink aisles, the domain of dolls and busy mothers. No, he'll buy his son something special--a Superman costume--even if it is slightly over budget on what he agreed with his wife to spend on stocking stuffers. Not that he says to himself, "Well, since I'm not buying Sara anything I can spend twice as much on my son!" But I think it screams out BOYS ARE WORTH MORE THAN GIRLS. That sons are better than daughters. He then nostalgically goes on and on and on about the wonderfulness of Superman. How every little boy deserves the dream of being a super hero. How every boy has to one day grow up to be a man. But the dream should be held onto while it can. Which I suppose is okay. He can bond with his son over Superman. But I think a REAL man would not be embarrassed to shop for his daughter. A GOOD man would love his daughter and want to be involved in her life. For Peter to care so much "about being a good Santa" to his kids while he still can, while they still believe, he sure is blind. I think this incident makes Peter weak and selfish.

If anything, Snow Day made me appreciate my Dad in a whole new way. And I have to be thankful for that.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book Review: While We're Far Apart

While We're Far Apart. Lynn Austin. 2010. October 2010. Bethany House. 416 pages.

Esther's father halted the lazy swaying of the porch swing. "Listen," he said. "There's something I need to tell all of you." The darkness in his voice made Esther's skin prickle. He had used the same phrase, the same tone, when he'd told her that Mama had gone to live up in heaven.

I loved While We're Far Apart. I wouldn't say it's my favorite-and-best Lynn Austin novel, but I wouldn't hold that against While We're Far Apart. Like her earlier novel, A Woman's Place, it is set during World War II. It's set in Brooklyn.

Once again, the story is told through alternating voices. Esther, a young girl coming-of-age at this difficult time, Penny, a young woman who is finally gaining her independence from her strict parents, Jacob, a Jewish landlord mourning the loss of his wife, a man deeply worried about the fate of his son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter in Hungary, a man who is angry at God.

The novel opens with Eddie Shaffer making an announcement. He's enlisted in the army. He's looking for someone to take care of his two children--Peter and Esther--for the duration of the war. Since his mother is unwilling or unable, Penny, the girl-next-door, volunteers. She's had a big crush on Eddie for years. And now that he's a widower, he's "available" again. She knows it's a big commitment--a commitment that her own parents just don't understand no matter how many times she tries to explain it--but she's happy to be needed. She'll move--temporarily--into his apartment in Brooklyn so that his children won't need to change schools, so their lives won't be as disrupted by the sudden change.

Soon before Mr. Shaffer leaves, the Jewish synagogue across the street from his apartment burns down. Jacob Mendel happens to be the first on the scene. And as angry as he is with God, he can't allow the Torah scrolls to be destroyed. Not if there's a chance he can save them. So in he rushes into the burning building. The landlord Penny meets is a man very much in need of a friend. And it's friendship he finds...first with Peter and Esther...and later with Penny.

While the novel--for the most part--is set in America, it does present some of the horrors of the Holocaust through letters. As Sarah waits not knowing her fate, the fate of her husband and daughter, not knowing when Hitler will make his next big move to eliminate Jews. At first I wasn't sure if these narrative letters "fit" with the rest of the novel. But. I think it worked for the most part. I enjoyed learning that Raoul Wallenberg was a real hero.

Penny, Jacob, Esther, Peter, and Sarah (Jacob's daughter-in-law) are individuals in need. While We're Far Apart is very compelling, very dramatic (but not melodramatic), very human. I loved these characters. I loved how human they were, how complex they were. I loved their brokenness. I loved how they came together, how friendships developed slowly, how deep wounds began to heal.

I would definitely recommend this one. If you're interested in World War II, in historical fiction, then this one may work well for you.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Salon: Week in Review: October 10-16

This week I

finished Matthew in the ESV MacArthur Bible
read Proverbs 1-14 in the ESV MacArthur Bible
read Exodus 3-4 in the HCSB Study Bible
read Luke 19-21 in the Common English New Testament

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Book Review: The Evangelicals

The Evangelicals: What They Believe, Where They Are, And Their Politics. Christopher Catherwood. 2010. August 2010. Crossway. 168 pages.

Let's take what many Christians call a basis of faith to describe what specifically evangelical Christians believe.

I loved this one. I just loved it. It was such a fascinating read. Why? Because it was so much more than theology. Yes, there are a couple of chapters on what evangelicals believe. Simple and straight forward. He uses the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students doctrine of faith. He also examines three different church vision statements--two in England, one in Washington D.C. (Capital Hill Baptist Church--9Marks) A rural British church. St. Andrew the Great Cambridge). And these chapters are crucial, fundamental.

But. What makes this book so much more than just another theological book is what comes next. For the first time perhaps, you'll think about the who and the where. Chances are you'll be surprised--maybe even really surprised--at what you learn in the following chapters!

From "Who Are Evangelicals?"
For many readers who might not know any professing evangelical Christians, the answer to this chapter's question might seem a simple one, if what you see in the newspapers is any guide. An evangelical is a white, middle-class male Republican from the southern part of the United States (or, as we now have to add, a white female Republican from the rural West of America.)...
But, in truth, this description presents a highly misleading picture, and also a dangerous one, as it confuses evangelicalism as a whole, which is a worldwide, global movement, with just a tiny segment of it, and gives it a political coloring that is utterly atypical of evangelicals in most countries today. For it is now widely said that the average evangelical is an economically poor black Nigerian woman with numerous family members suffering from HIV/AIDS. 
So wrong gender, wrong skin color, wrong country, wrong social class--in fact wrong everything when it comes to the stereotype of evangelicals we commonly see on television or in the newspapers. For the fact is that the overwhelming majority of evangelical Christians today do not live in the West at all but in what most commentators refer to as the Global South, or the Two-thirds World, since most of the world live there. (71-72)
These chapters are very informative. Very thought-provoking. Think sociology and statistics. What we learn is that evangelical Christianity is thriving. Not just surviving--but flourishing in astonishing numbers. In countries where it is dangerous to be a Christian.
The strongly evangelical Church of Nigeria, part of the Anglican Communion, sees around 167,000 converts each year join their churches. That is almost the size of some entire countries in Europe or states in the United States. It is certainly bigger than the membership of some entire denominations in the West. This is spiritual growth on a most extraordinary scale, and shows that globally evangelical Christianity is on the rise, even while all kinds of Christian faith, evangelical included, are on the decline in the increasingly secular West. (83-4)
The book also discusses politics--past and present. How evangelicals--past and present--have been involved in society, in social reform, in politics, in government. How being an evangelical isn't about identifying with a certain political party. (Or isn't just about identifying with a certain party.) It isn't about being told what to think about party issues.

I loved this book! I did. I just loved it. It was fascinating and challenging. It was also very compelling. I would definitely recommend this one!!!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thoughts on Little House Season 1

I haven't watched Little House on the Prairie in many, many years. But this past month, I've been able to watch almost all of season one. (And the ones I missed were by choice.)

A Harvest of Friends. Pa obviously didn't hear me telling him not to climb the tree to rescue the kite. Still. I liked this one. The ending is very emotional.

Country Girls. One of the best, best episodes ever. Laura's "essay" makes me cry every time.

 100 Mile Walk. I watched part of this episode. But not all of it.

Mr. Edwards' Homecoming. A good episode. Plenty of good moments! Though it's not my favorite Mr. Edwards' episode. That would be Ma's Holiday!

The Love of Johnny Johnson. Silly Laura! Why Johnny Johnson?! Mary has a funny line in this episode. I wish I could remember it but it was about there not being many cute boys to choose from in Walnut Grove.

If I Should Wake Before I Die. Not a favorite by any means. Though it is interesting to see how one woman can manipulate so many people. You could definitely see her point--to a certain extent--how sad it was that your own children and grandchildren could be so very, very distant.

Town Party/Country Party. I liked this one okay. But not as much as Country Girls or The Campout.

Ma's Holiday. I had forgotten how funny this episode is! I love Mr. Edwards as a babysitter! I loved how he "took care" of Carrie. I love seeing his friendship with the three girls--Mary, Laura, and Carrie.

School Mom. This was a good episode. I liked seeing Ma as the new teacher--even if it was always meant to be temporary. I sometimes forget how spirited/tempered Ma could be in the show.

The Raccoon. I skipped this one.

The Voice of Tinker Jones. Interesting to see the church bickering. In this episode, a suggested "improvement" or change of the church building causes fights to break out in the community. Neighbors and friends turning on one another because they see things differently. Some things never change.

The Award. In the books, Laura always thinks of Mary as perfect. On the show, not so much. This episode has Mary making a few bad choices. She's keeping secrets, lying, and setting the barn on fire.

The Lord is My Shepherd. This is admittedly an emotional two-part episode. A strange episode covering at least ten months. In the first ten or fifteen minutes, Ma goes from telling Pa she's expecting a baby to having the baby--a boy--safely delivered. But the baby fails to thrive. He's not gaining enough weight--no one knows exactly why. He dies and sends Laura to the top of a mountain. I have a few issues with this episode. It just doesn't seem very Laura like to me. I think Laura would have been smarter than this. Smarter than to think that she could die in place of her brother.

Christmas at Plum Creek. I liked this episode. I liked how the focus was on the real meaning of Christmas--Jesus.

Family Quarrel. One of my favorite parts of this episode is when Dr. Baker is trying to convince Mr. Hanson to court Mrs. Oleson. While this isn't a favorite--by any means--it wasn't without entertainment value.

Doctor's Lady. I liked this one. I didn't love it. But I liked focusing on Dr. Baker for an episode.

Circus Man. I didn't like this one much.

Plague. Skipped this one.

Child of Pain. Skipped this one.

Money Crop. I watched this one. And it's always interesting to see how the community acts/reacts. Sometimes they seem very kind and reasonable. And other times very silly and mob-like.

Survival. Skipped this one.

To See The World. Johnny Johnson. Did we really need another Johnny Johnson episode? Actually, this one is funny. Mr. Edwards has some great lines! I liked it because I could laugh at it.

Founder's Day. I liked this episode. But I can't help comparing it to Wilder and Wilder in season 6. I just love, love, love Wilder and Wilder. (Almost as much as I love, love, love Sweet Sixteen.)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Book Review: Embers of Love

Embers of Love (Striking a Match #1) Tracie Peterson. Bethany House. 352 pages.

"I won't let you go through with this," Deborah Vandermark declared.

This historical romance is set in Texas in the 1880s. It's the first in a new series. 

Wanting to save her friend, Lizzie, from a loveless marriage, our heroine, Deborah, invites her best friend to stay with her and her family in Texas. Deborah's brother, G.W., likes Lizzie quite a lot. And Lizzie is the first person who has been able to convince him that his father's death is not his fault. But this romance isn't without conflict. For Lizzie's mother--a suffragist--and her former fiance, Stuart, arrive to make everyone's lives miserable. They both insist that the marriage is legal--because she signed the paperwork--even if there were no vows or ceremony. They both insist that she accompany them back East, back to Philadelphia. But Lizzie knows that she could never go back. Even if she wasn't desperately in love with someone else.

Is this Lizzie's story? Partly. It also stars Deborah Vandermark. A well-educated woman returning to her home after several years away, after several years of education. She loves her family. But. She's having a hard time fitting back in the community as well. It's a good thing there is a new doctor in town to distract her. These two become good friends. He is one of the few men in town Deborah feels is smart enough to hold a real conversation with. But the doctor provides some conflict as well. Because he isn't accepted by the community--not at first. For this small Texas town is superstitious and foolish. It may take a major epidemic for him to prove himself worthy.
Plenty of conflict, plenty of drama. (Personally, I could have used a little less.) I liked it well enough, but didn't love it.© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Book Review: Mortimer's First Garden

Mortimer's First Garden. Karma Wilson. 2009.  Illustrated by Dan Andreasen. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages.

This one is being reviewed slightly out of season. A book about spring time in fall? Well, that happens sometimes. And I think better late than never. I really, really loved this one. It stars Mortimer the Mouse whom we first met in Mortimer's Christmas Manger. (I reviewed that one yesterday).

Little Mortimer Mouse looked outside. "Brown, brown, brown," he squeaked. "Nothing but brown! Too dull, too drab, too dreary!" Mortimer longed to see something green. Anything green.
As the title suggests, this one is about Mortimer planting a garden. To be truthful, it isn't so much a whole garden as it is one tiny seed. Mortimer has decided--after eavesdropping on his humans--to plant one sunflower seed. He's not always sure that this was a good idea. But he's hopeful that something good might come of it. If he's patient enough. But it sure is hard to be patient sometimes!

What should you know about this one? Well, Mortimer is a God-loving little mouse. So if pictures of a mouse praying to God and being thankful for God's blessings offends you, then this might not be the book for you. I personally, thought the book was sweet and charming.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, October 11, 2010

Book Review: Mortimer's Christmas Manger

Mortimer's Christmas Manger. Karma Wilson. Illustrated by Jane Chapman. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages.

In a big house lived a wee mouse named Mortimer. He dwelled in a dark hole under the stairs. Nobody ever noticed little Mortimer. And Mortimer liked it that way. But he didn't like his hole. "Too cold. Too cramped. Too creepy," squeaked Mortimer.
I liked Mortimer, for the most part. Have you ever noticed how mice make great bookish characters--especially in picture books?! Yet these "oh how cute" feelings don't translate to real life! Mortimer has a good life. Mostly. He gathers his crumbs and tidbits without notice. (Which is a good thing if you're a mouse!) But Mortimer does wish he had a better home, a better place to call his own.

One day Mortimer discovers the perfect new home. Unfortunately, it's occupied. By statues. There's even a baby statue in what would be a perfect bed for a mouse. So Mortimer claims his new home. But day after day he has to move the statues out of the way. Until he overhears the Christmas story. Then Mortimer realizes that there are more important things in life than a nice cozy bed, a nice cozy home. Maybe the manger scene isn't the best place for a mouse to be.

So does this mean Mortimer's forced back into his hole where it's too cold, cramped, and creepy? Read for yourself!

While I didn't love this one, I did enjoy it!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday Salon: Week in Review: October 3-9

This week I

finished Romans in the HCSB Study Bible
finished Nahum in the HCSB Study Bible
finished Ephesians in the HCSB Study Bible
read Exodus 1-2 in the HCSB Study Bible
read Matthew 17-22 in the ESV MacArthur Bible
read Luke 12-18 in the Common English New Testament

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Book Review: I Will Rejoice

I Will Rejoice. Karma Wilson. Illustrated by Amy June Bates. 2007. Zondervan. 32 pages.

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118: 24

I Will Rejoice celebrates Psalm 118:24. Wilson imagines how children might rejoice in the LORD morning to night.

I will rejoice in the early light
with a good morning kiss
and a hug so tight.
I'll dress myself up,
sit down in my seat,
and give thanks to the LORD
for the food that I eat.


I will rejoice as I run and I play.
Thank you, dear God,
for this beautiful day!
I'll sit at the table and eat up my lunch.
(I'll save a few bites for my teddy to munch.)
Every simple activity--from meal time to play time to nap time and bed time is an opportunity for little ones to be thankful, to rejoice in God. To praise Him, to love Him, to think of Him.

I enjoyed this one very much. I liked how she includes the Scriptural refrain throughout her text. But I also like how she makes it her own. How she expands this theme of rejoicing. How she adapts it for a young audience. How she shows that rejoicing in God is more than just attending a worship service on Sunday. How you can delight in God wherever you are. You're never too small to have a heart for God.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: The Road to Paris

The Road to Paris. Nikki Grimes. 2006. Penguin. 160 pages.

From the prologue: Ask Paris if a phone call can be deadly. She'll tell you. She learned the truth of it last night.

From chapter one: The trouble with running away is you know what you're leaving behind, but not what's waiting up ahead. 

I loved this one. I just LOVED it. It's one of those oh-so-magical books for me. Proof that an author can weave faith into fiction. I first read The Road to Paris in 2006, and I've been wanting to reread it ever since. Today seemed like the perfect day to revisit an old friend.

What is it about? Paris and her brother, Malcolm, have been abandoned by their mom. They've been placed in a foster home together, but it's not a good match. It's an abusive situation. So Paris and Malcom run away to their grandmother's house. Unfortunately, she's only willing or only able to keep them a few days. Just until a new placement can be found. The good news? The next foster home is wonderful. Paris meets a great family--the Lincolns. She becomes a part of their lives. She becomes a part of their family. And Paris grows in strength and love. She learns how to keep God in her pocket. The bad news? She's separated from her brother. Yes, she's got two new brothers and a sister. Yes, she's got a new mom and dad who love her. Yes, she's making a few friends at school. Yes, she's joined the church choir. But. Paris can't forget about her brother. Can't help wishing that there was a way for them to be together again. There may be a way...but it won't be without sacrifice. Can Paris learn to trust God in any situation?

The Road to Paris tells the story of one girl's journey of healing and recovery.
Home was such a funny word. For most kids, home was where your mom and dad lived, where you felt safe, where the bogeyman was merely make-believe. Home was where you knew every square inch of the place by heart, where you could wake up in the middle of the night and know exactly where you were without opening your eyes. Paris didn't have a place like that. She didn't even have an address she'd lived at long enough to memorize, no single place that felt familiar as all that. Except maybe the city itself. For Paris, home was more a person, and that person was Malcolm. (30)
The next evening, when Paris and David were alone in the dining room setting the table, David said out of the blue, "I used to be afraid of the dark. And of the bogeyman, and of spiders--all sorts of things." "Really?" said Paris. "Really." "What did you do?" "I started keeping God in my pocket." "Huh?" "It's something my mom told me once. To keep God in my pocket." "I don't understand. How can God fit inside your pocket?" "No that's not it. It just means to keep God close, you know, like he's right there, in your pocket, close enough to call on, or to talk to. That's what I do when I'm afraid." "And that helps?" "Yup. Sure does." And that was all he said on the subject. But it was enough. It was something she'd never forget. (41)
She wasn't afraid anymore. Not of being beaten, or being locked in the closet. Not of the dark, or of never seeing Malcolm again, or of nobody wanting her. . .Paris could hardly recognize the fearless person she was turning into. . .She was learning to keep God in her pocket, and because she had him to talk to, she was beginning to have faith that she'd be all right. (103)
A lot can happen in a year. Life can become normal, an address can become more than numbers on a piece of paper, and family can become more than just a word in the dictionary. (145)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, October 8, 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Book Review: God's Mighty Acts in Salvation

God's Mighty Acts in Salvation. Starr Meade. 2010. August 2010. Crossway. 87 pages.

Looking for a book of family devotions? You should definitely consider Starr Meade's God's Mighty Acts in Salvation. It's designed for use with children--aged 8 to 12. Forty messages that provide deeper insights (though still incredibly kid-friendly) into the book of Galatians. Why Galatians? Well it's an important letter that is all about getting the gospel right. It focuses on what the true gospel is, gives warnings about listening to false gospels, and highlights the fruit of the Spirit.

From the Introduction:

"Bible" means "books." The Bible is one big book, made up of sixty-six smaller books. One group in the sixty-six is the group of "epistles," or letters. Some New Testament epistles were written to one person, but most of them were written to whole churches. This book will help you look at several big ideas from one of those epistles, the epistle to the Galatians. "Galatians" were people who lived in Galatia, like Americans are people who live in America or Russians are people who live in Russia.

The message of Galatians is just as important today as it was when it was written. Today, too, some people try to say that what Jesus has done to save us is not enough. 

From "What Can You Add to Perfect?"

Which of these is the true gospel? (A) Jesus has done all that we need to make us right with God or (B) Faith in Jesus plus keeping God's law makes us right with God.
Before you choose, consider what it means for something to be perfect. If something is perfect, it couldn't possibly be any better. There's absolutely nothing wrong with it and nothing missing from it. (20)
I loved this book. I loved the subject, the focus. Loved hearing these kid-friendly definitions of grace, love, and justification. Loved the depth of it.

Each reading is two pages; each includes an "As for me and my house..." extension activity. (Similar to Starr Meade's Bible story book, Mighty Acts of God and God's Mighty Acts in Creation.)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Dark Sons

Dark Sons. Nikki Grimes. 2005. Hyperion. 218 pages.

A few weeks ago, I reviewed Nikki Grimes' A Girl Named Mister, a verse novel about how a Christian teen handles her pregnancy by taking comfort from Mary's story.

Dark Sons, like A Girl Named Mister, is a verse novel. It stars a young man, Sam, who is struggling to accept his new reality. His father has left his mom. His dad has fallen in love with a white woman--a young woman--and he is starting a new life, a new family.

Dark Sons is about his struggling to make peace between his past and present. How the father he loved and respected and admired goes missing. How he feels about his father marrying again. How he feels about having a half-brother, David. Where does Sam belong? Has this divorce displaced him forever? Or will he find a place to belong in this new home?

Sam may be confused, but he never falters in his faith. He holds onto his belief in God. He sees God as his Father. The one Father who will never fail him. He identifies with Ishmael's story.

Dark Sons is a verse novel. The book alternates between a modern story (Sam) and an ancient story (Ishmael).

Child of Promise

Long awaited.
Twice promised.
Heir of Canaan.
Born of Sarah.
Son of miracles.
The one intended.
The son
who is
not me. (75)

Newly available in paperback from Zondervan. I really liked this one. I liked both narrators. I liked seeing the bible story through fresh eyes. I liked the poetry.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

2010 Bible Reading

Here is where I'll be keeping track of what books of the Bible I read in 2010.

Last updated: November 5, 2010

Written by Moses
1. Genesis -- XX
2. Exodus -- X
3. Leviticus -- X
4. Numbers -- X
5. Deuteronomy -- X

OT Narratives
6. Joshua -- X
7. Judges -- X
8. Ruth -- X
9. 1 Samuel -- XX
10. 2 Samuel -- X
11. 1 Kings
12. 2 Kings
13. 1 Chronicles
14. 2 Chronicles
15. Ezra -- X
16. Nehemiah -- X
17. Esther -- X

Wisdom Literature
18. Job --
19. Psalms -- X
20. Proverbs -- X
21. Ecclesiastes -- X
22. Song of Songs

Major Prophets
23. Isaiah -- X
24. Jeremiah -- X
25. Lamentations
26. Ezekiel -- X
27. Daniel -- X

Minor Prophets
28. Hosea -- XX
29. Joel -- XX
30. Amos -- X
31. Obadiah -- XX
32. Jonah -- XX
33. Micah -- X
34. Nahum -- XX
35. Habakkuk -- X
36. Zephaniah -- X
37. Haggai -- X
38. Zechariah -- X
39. Malachi -- X

NT Narratives
40. Matthew -- XXXXX
41. Mark -- X
42. Luke -- XX
43. John
44. Acts -- X

Epistles by Paul
45. Romans -- XXX
46. 1 Corinthians -- XX
47. 2 Corinthians -- X
48. Galatians -- XX
49. Ephesians -- XX
50. Philippians -- XX
51. Colossians -- XXX
52. 1 Thessalonians -- X
53. 2 Thessalonians -- X
54. 1 Timothy
55. 2 Timothy
56. Titus -- X
57. Philemon -- X

General Epistles
58. Hebrews -- XX
59. James
60. 1 Peter
61. 2 Peter
62. 1 John
63. 2 John
64. 3 John
65. Jude -- X

Apocalyptic Epistle by John
66. Revelation

See also, Bible Reading in 2009.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

The Big Red Tractor (video)

The Big Red Tractor by Francis Chan. 2010.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday Salon: Week in Review: September 26- October 2

This week I read

Matthew 13-16 in the ESV MacArthur Bible
Romans 1-11 in the HCSB Study Bible

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, October 1, 2010

Time to nominate for Cybils!

Nominations opened today for the 2010 season of the Cybils. Nominations  remain open until October 15th at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time.

There are several faith-friendly young adult titles that are eligible--if YOU take the time to nominate them!

Such as A.S. Peterson's The Fiddler's Gun! (my review)
Nikki Grimes' A Girl Named Mister (my review)
Melody Carlson's Anything But Normal (my review)
Stephanie Morrill's Out With The In Crowd (my review)
Kristin Billerbeck's Perfectly Dateless (my review)

I'm sure there have been other releases--but these are the ones I've read.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

The INSPY Shortlists Are Announced

Today the INSPY shortlists were announced in these categories: general and literary fiction, creative nonfiction, historical fiction, thriller/suspense/crime, speculative fiction, amish fiction, romance/romantic suspense, and young adult fiction.

I've reviewed the following books from the shortlist:

A Lady Like Sarah by Margaret Brownley (romance/romantic suspense)
The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen (historical fiction)
She Walks In Beauty by Siri Mitchell (historical fiction)
Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes. (general and literary fiction)
The Last Christian. David Gregory. (speculative fiction)
The Frontiersman's Daughter by Laura Frantz (historical fiction)
Fiddler's Gun by A.S. Peterson (historical fiction)
Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr (young adult)

Of the ones I've not read, I'm most curious about...

Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers
Rooms by James L. Rubart

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible