Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mud, Sweat and Tears


When many people think of survival shows, the first one that comes to their mind is Man vs. Wild starring Bear Grylls. Now fans can get up close and personal with Grylls in his new autobiography, Mud, Sweat, and Tears.

Right from the get-go, the book starts off with a near death experience as Grylls is climbing one of the Rockies right here in BC. Well written and thrilling, it keeps you on the edge of your seat and anxiously turning the pages. Even though you know that he is going to survive and make it (he is writing the book after all), it is still tense and you can't help but be amazed at how he is able to survive things that he had no business surviving.

The book isn't all action adventure however. The first few chapters, after it allows you to take a breath from his near death experience, Grylls talks about his grandfather and his father. His grandfather is built up as a legendary figure, and even if some of the stories are exaggerated or embellished, it can't be denied that he was a great man. Flawed, yes (Grylls doesn't deny that), but still a great man and a wonderful role model.

For me, the most interesting part of the book was when Grylls started talking about his childhood school days. He went to an all boys' private school, and he got into a lot of interesting situations (some wholesome, some not as much). He never ignores the mistakes he makes, and he 'fesses up to a lot of things that many other guys would just sweep under the rug. His honesty is refreshing and encouraging.

One thing that he makes perfectly clear, numerous times throughout the book, is his faith in Christ. In one chapter he lays out simply, and yet not aggressively, what being a Christian is and how it can change your life. This theme is constant through the book, and he isn't shy to thank God for protection or question where God was in certain situations. A nice reminder that God is with us everywhere, whether we are in an office, or climbing Mount Everest. 

Most of the book is divided into two sections: Grylls going through intense military training, and his attempt to climb Everest. It's exhausting just reading about some of the things he had to do in training, and me, being asthmatic, I almost had to reach for my puffer a few times just imagining myself doing what he does. It's not easy, and he never claims it to be. He expresses the desire to quit a few times, but he continues to get up and continue, even when his mind, body and spirit are screaming out in pain. A great lesson in not giving up, and how if you put your mind to something, and have faith in God, you can achieve far more than you ever thought possible.

I will mention, as a bit of a disclaimer, that there is a little bit of language in this book. It's not overwhelming, and most of the time he is able to avoid using certain words, but there is an instance or two of swearing. Not to discourage people from reading the book, as the story and overall content is incredible. It's just good that those who want to read it are aware of the content. 

This book is a great read for men and fathers. He is a loving dad and husband, and he can be a great inspiration to fathers and husbands. It's not only for men however, as any adventure seeking woman would love this book as well. It's action packed, has some humour and a bit of romance, and you can't deny his love for God, his wife, and his children. Anyone who enjoys a little bit of action and adrenaline should read this book.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Learning to Read...

One of my favorite activities is to read stories to young children; somehow you cannot help but get caught up in their excitement!!  When my kids were young I read to them daily. Sometimes I found it was difficult as I was tired and knew that a pile of laundry the size of Chicago threatened my basement, not to mention the dishes that felt as tall as Mount Everest on the counter…sometimes I would try to hurry the process by ‘missing’ a page (which rarely worked) but regardless of the chaos surrounding us we always made time for a book or two (or three).
Encouraging children to develop a love of reading at an early age lays the foundation for strong literacy skills, which are crucial for future success.  Exposing babies to books and reading increases vocabulary, makes it easier for them to learn to read later on, and it offers opportunities for positive interactions with the adults in their lives. Early exposure to language—whether through books, words, or songs—can help prevent problems and promote health.
As a grandma I feel fortunate to see the benefits of reading  again and again. My children all grew up loving to read, to learn and to escape into a world of fantastical wonder. I was able to take my love of books and make it part of my everyday existence though a job I love (it is a lot of fun to see all the new books months in advance!) And now I see that love has filtered through a generation to my beloved grandson.
Each week, we do a grandma date night…sometimes we let mommy come along as well. This week we spent some time in the bookstore reading and exploring.  After we had read a number of stories it was time to pick the ‘MOST favorite’ one, the one that would finish out its life on the family bookshelf. It was (and is) so much fun to watch as he starts to narrow down the choices, returning one after another to the store shelf until only the two ‘best’ ones are left. Then it is time to choose, to run joyfully to the counter to pay and hold the book tightly as we exit the store in search of a good place to have a night snack before heading home.
This week’s winner was a delightful book about Pete the Cat written by Eric Litwin,  a popular performer  who delights thousands of children and families every year… and I can see why. Designed to be fun and help children with word recognition this is one of my new favorites. Apparently Austin thinks so too as he woke up early (as in 5:30 early) to read it to his mommy in bed. Watching this video my heart melts because here is a child who obviously loves to read…and because the legacy of literacy continues on.

Here are some other great books to help foster a love of reading at a young age:

 Perfect Pet for Peyton~ Gary Chapman
 Princess Stories~ Carolyn Larsen
Jesus Storybook Bible~ Sally Lloyd-Jones

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Red Sea Rules - Thoughts from a non-reader


Thoughts from my friend Jenelle on the book Red Sea Rules:

I was given this book to read to see what I thought about it.  I am not usually one to read a lot of books and the books I do read take me about a year to complete.  I really am more of a movie person.  But this book was inconceivable.  I had a difficult time pulling myself away from the astounding points that it has to offer. And the quotes that were referenced throughout the book were mind blowing yet so simple.  It's kind of like one of those things that seems so obvious yet our human mind never seems to recognize the facts when they are right in front of us.  Sometimes when we are too close to something it can be impossible to see clearly and we therefore find ourselves facing difficult challenges and are unable to see a way out or even a clear path to indicate which direction to even look to.  

John R. Rice quotes in the book, "Worry is putting question marks where God has put periods."  Just that one statement alone helped me to stop what I was thinking about and realize that God has brought me to where I am now and as the first "rule" states, "Realize that God means for you to be where you are." How splendid! It may not be the most remarkable time of our lives but the satisfaction of knowing that God is not only with us but He brought us here, is definitely something to celebrate!  I took the initiative to post a few of the quotes along with their various authors on my facebook page and below are some of the responses I got:

     "I love this!"


    "These quotes are awesome!"

     "So very true!!!"

As I was reading this book, I was facing a not quite difficult time, but definitely stressful.  University registration.  And since I'm first year, I get almost last choice as to which courses I would like to take.  I felt God calling me to school a few months back and as hesitant as I was, I decided to proceed as I prayed for open doors.  Every step I took, a new door was opened. As my registration date was near approaching, I was anxiously watching the classes I wanted get fuller and fuller and fuller.  I was getting hesitant as I started thinking, "Maybe this is my closed door, and maybe this isn't what God wants from me."  

I realized however, with the help of this book, that God has brought me this far and if I trust him,  He will definitely see me through.  I waited in anxious anticipation trusting the Lord with whatever outcome he had chosen...and everything worked out!  I got into all the courses I had chosen and am very much looking forward to this journey the Lord has set for me.

I highly recommend this book whether you are facing a difficult time or not.  It's never a bad thing to gain some extra wisdom and knowledge under your belt.
This is definitely a book worth buying and as I also wrote on facebook, for us light readers, it's only 117 pages long. We can do it!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Red Sea Rules

About 10 years ago I heard Robert Morgan speak about his book The Red Sea Rules at a Thomas Nelson sales conference.  (Thomas Nelson is the publisher.)  I knew I'd be selling the book to bookstores but his message cut right through the sales pitches and all that sort of thing.  I knew I needed to read it.  I had been going through big transitions and was looking for biblical perspective.  I found it in The Red Sea Rules.  This powerful little book is filled with God's perspective that I think might apply to everyone.  I picked it up again and have been re-reading it.  Yup.  Still a great book.  If your view into the future looks uncertain or if your present circumstances don't match your expectations, I'd recommend you give this book a read.  I think and hope you'll be glad you did.  Let me know what you think of it.  Gary

Monday, May 28, 2012

My Imaginary Jesus

From Keith:

I don't know what I was expecting when I started the book My Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos, but it definitely wasn't what I ended up reading. Part fiction, part Christian Living, part Allegory, and even part Theology. The book is a story of one man's quest to find the real Jesus.

Matt has a picture of Jesus in his mind. At first, he seems legit. But he soon discovers that the Jesus of his imagination is not the real Jesus of the Bible. So Matt goes on a quest (along with other characters) to find the real Jesus. They come across many other fake Imaginary Jesuses (what's the plural of Jesus? Jesi?); ones that we can all relate to believing in at one time or another. Legalist Jesus, New Age Jesus, Eight Ball Jesus, Masculine Jesus and numerous others. But none of them are real. None of them are true. 
This book was fascinating. It was hilarious (I laughed out loud on many occasions), and at the same time, it is heartwarming. It makes you think, makes you question what you believe about Jesus. I'll admit it...I even nearly teared up at one key moment of the book (I won't give too much away, as part of the joy of the book is not knowing what to expect). The past few months for me recently have been very difficult. I won't go into too much detail, but I have found myself questioning a lot of God's Plan, and God's sovereignty. While this book didn't take away all of my doubts, fears, and did help me to realize that perhaps I have been praying to, worshiping and being angry at a false God. A fake Jesus. 
In many regards, while the writing style is very different, the content is similar to Pete Wilson's book Empty Promises. In that book, Wilson talks about different things that we worship in place of God, whether it be money, relationships, success or appearance. My Imaginary Jesus focuses instead on the actual idea of Jesus that we worship, and how, most of us worship a false picture of Jesus (or at least have at one time or another). Both books however talk about how, when we don't worship, idolize or serve the REAL God, we are incomplete, and can never be filled. Fake Jesus can't answer all of our questions, or make us whole, just like idolatry of Relationships and Appearance leaves us feeling empty. 
I highly recommend this book. Perhaps the writing style may turn you off...perhaps you are searching for a deep, theological book. Maybe you are just expecting something completely different than what this book gives you. But I do believe that the underlying content of this book is important, and it is something we can all relate to. When you discover the REAL Jesus...he will change you. Give this book a try, and go into it with an open mind. Not only will it entertain you immensely, but it will more than likely teach you something too.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Deeper Understanding.

 I have read a number of good books of was my intent to tell you about one of them but then I saw something...something wonderful and I could not resist letting you know about it! 
A good commentary is one of the most helpful tools when studying and this week we received one that has me very excited! This is a beautiful book that is filled with section-by-section notes from 43 leading scholars; it provides not only a great overview of the text but includes vibrant, full colored images designed to help us gain a deeper understanding of the time or place. This commentary is filled with great information that can be used by everyone, it is accurate and intelligent without being so academic that it is hard to use.

I am a bit of a geek and I love reference books, they give us such great insight into the Bible and help us to understand His Word which in turn gives us a better understanding of God Himself. When studying there are a couple of core books that will help us tremendously, they are as follows.
1) A Commentary-a collection of 'comments' from various authors that speak about how they have come to interpret verses of the Bible, they can add additional details regarding the geography, customs and traditions of Biblical times, not found in other reference tools.
2) A Dictionary-a reference resource that gives concisely worded definitions and historical information - about people, places, words and events found in the Bible - all in alphabetical order.
3) A Handbook- a companion to Bible reading and a great introduction to the whole Bible. It’s arranged in the order of the books of the Bible, and provides critical background information that is helpful to know before you read through a Bible book.
4) A Concordance-an index to the words (arranged alphabetically) found in the Bible. Often useful in helping to locate certain passages or topics.
5) An Atlas- useful in gaining context to where Biblical events took place.

I have a couple of study books that I would be lost without, The IVP Background Commentaries (Old & New) and The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery are among them.  What are your favorite study tools? I would love to hear about some of them.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012



 From frontliner and booklover, Keith:

 For anyone interested in WWII history, and intense survival narratives, there is no book better than Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  I can honestly say that this book was the best book I read in all of 2011 (and best biography I have read in my entire life).  I know that is high praise, and I know that saying something like that, sets the book up to be overhyped and then disappoint the reader. If that ends up being the case...if I end up overhyping this story, and you end up disliking the book, I sincerely apologize.

The book is about a man named Louie Zamperini, and essentially, the book falls into 4 parts: Louie the Athlete, Louie joins the War, Louie the Survivor, and finally Post-War Louie. I'm not going to give any major plot details away, but the things that Louie goes through as a WWII veteran are incredible. The book is so well written that at times you forget you are reading a biography and mistake it for a novel. 

One of the most refreshing things about the biography, is that Laura Hillenbrand doesn't try to show Louie only in a positive light. Yes, he is the main character and the hero of the story...but he is still a flawed man. He makes mistakes, he screws up a lot, and there are times when he is mean, nasty and unbearable. But those instances make him who he is, and make his character and story that much more believable and enjoyable. He is not just a one-dimensional character who never does anything wrong as is the case with many biographies.  He is REAL. We can relate to him.  He is human.
Another pleasant aspect of the biography is, while Louie is the main character, he is not the only character. Other characters get introduced and Laura dives into their back stories as well. As we get to know Louie, we get to know his friends, acquaintances and even his enemies. By the end of the book, you feel like you became a part of the story, and were right in the middle of the war, survivng alongside Louie and everyone else.
I do need to warn you however, as great as this book is, this is not a Christian book. From what I understand, Laura Hillenbrand is not a Christian author, and, seeing as this is a WWII story, there is language and moments which are cringe-worthy, and even profane. Not to say that there is anything explicit, but there is language throughout the book which may make people uncomfortable.The story doesn't shy away from talking about death, and how many people died. It doesn't glorify it, but it does talk about it. 
Needless to say, I highly recommend this book. Over the Christmas holidays, I got my father to start reading this book, as he is somewhat interested in history. He usually doesn't enjoy reading much, but I thought he might enjoy this book anyway. He LOVED it, and I ended up buying him a copy for Christmas. He didn't finish it while he was visiting, but he made it nearly halfway through, and we would always talk about what was happening in the book, laughing about the jokes and discussing the incredible moments. 
While God is not mentioned a lot throughout the book, when you look back over the story, it is evident that his hand is present in everything. God is there. Read this book. Be encouraged by the sheer determination and survival instincts of an incredible man. Read in awe at the amazing events that happen to Louie (even before he goes off to war). As you read, watch for the hand of God. Pay close attention to all the times that God shows up. And most importantly...enjoy the story. Hang on for a wild, unbelievable and yet amazing true story!

Fog Harbor Series by Nicole Deese

Every once in a while, we find an author that speaks to us…Nicole Deese is one of those authors for me. As often happens, I was first attrac...