Friday, November 30, 2012

Israel at War

Israel At War is an extremely timely book. As I was reading it the events were literally unfolding on the national news.

Certainly things are heating up in Israel. As a messianic, Torah Observant Believer in Yeshua, this reality has me alarmed. As an American I have been drawn to my knees frequently that we would be the ally that we claim to be.

Joel Rosenberg gives a great inside perspective of what might be expected if the threat of nuclear warfare is not neutralized soon.

My favorite aspect of this book is how it puts a personality on Netanyahu. I didn't really know much about him and this book gave me a  great respect for him and his leadership.

I also appreciated Rosenberg's inserts about the relationship between Romney and Netanyahu. This is information that I had not heard before. I liked feeling aware and having this extra knowledge about their previous relationship warmed me to Romney a bit, however,given the timing (just prior to the elections) at times it felt a bit like propaganda.

I wondered at times if he was simply restating the obvious or extremely perceptive since so much of the content was general knowledge that was happening in live time or on the verge of happening.

The book bounced a bit between time periods and was not always chronological or easy to follow. There was a bit of restating but I think that was probably more for emphasis.

When I began reading this book I new nothing about the Twelfth Imam. Israel at War educated me as it will any reader.

Are you wondering how you can help Israel? So was I.

Here is one brief excerpt that jumped at me:

"The most important thing is to tell the truth." Netanyahu replied. "There is a campaign of lies against us . . .It is important to get the facts straight. The facts do count. The facts should be spoken and written loud and clear by friends of Israel."
It was an intriguing answer, I thought. Netanyahu did not ask for funds. He did not ask for Americans to call the White House or their representatives in Congress and urge them to provide political support or increased military assistance for Israel. Nor did he ask for humanitarian aid, either from the U.S. government or through Jewish and Christian relief organizations. Rather, he asked us to counter the "campaign of lies" against the Jewish people, to accurately explain the truth about the enemy Israel faced . . . 

If you are wanting to better understand this crisis and the threat that builds in Israel everyday, Israel at War is definitely worth reading.

You can order your copy at Amazon or Barnes&Noble. $2.99 is a great price!

I received a free from Tyndale Publishing House in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Coming Soon: Sweet Tea Sunday

Watch for it . . .
I am in the process of creating a Sunday Meme featuring my love for tea.
I will be hosting a tea party with my kiddos each Sunday and inviting my readers to participate too by sharing pictures of their own tea party fun and writing about what's in their cup.

I'm hoping that this will be not only a special time to build my relationship with my kids, but also a time to meet some interesting new people and explore some fun new blogs.

Keep your eyes peeled for updates coming soon. 
I've never hosted a meme before so I have a learning curve to overcome.

In the meantime:
Here is a picture of my FAVORITE tea. It is only available in stores around the holidays. My local grocer needs to get with it and stock some soon or I'll be buying online.

What's your favorite tea?

The Artful Parent~ A Review

As an art teacher and someone who strives to make art a priority in my home, I was very excited to review this book. 

First, let me tell you a bit about the author and where this book got its start. 

Jean Van't Hul is a blogger with an obvious passion for art. Her blog has been featured in FamilyFun magazine and her writing has appeared all over the web and in some print work too. 

Her perspective on art is very refreshing. She approaches art in a friendly, child-focused way that emphasizes process and inspires the young and young at heart to let loose and invite creativity into every day. I actually love the way she approaches art and her explanations for that position.

The Artful Parent: Simple Ways to Fill Your Family's Life With Art & Creativity is a complete overview of resources and ideas for making art available to children. This book includes information on how to select, store and use art tools. You'll also find a few recipes for making some of your own art materials at home.

The project ideas listed in the book are pretty basic and non-threatening. If you aren't naturally artistic they shouldn't scare you off since they are simple to set up and, best of all, simple to clean up.

My favorite idea in the book was a Color Journal. The purpose of this project is to encourage the artist to express feelings in a constructive way. Since colors mean different things to different people, it also opens up for some self-awareness and promotes open discussion on perspective. 

One of my children frequently struggles with his emotions and how to express them in a healthy way. I think this activity would be very beneficial for him.

I enjoyed the material in the book, but I was not as impressed with it as I expected to be.

The copy I received was in kindle format and had multiple errors in formatting. No pictures showed up, leaving several blank pages. It was difficult to navigate since the order of chapters seemed sort of random. What bothered me most was that there were absolutely no capital letters in my copy at all. I need my sentences to start with capital letters. Maybe that's picky, but it distracted me a lot.

Personally, I would rather read her blog than pay for this book in kindle format. She has a lot of great material, but I'm not sure that an Ebook is the best way to convey it all. 

If you're artistic (or striving to be), I definitely recommend stopping by her blog and gleaning what you can. Also be sure to sign up for her newsletter

The kindle version I can't in good conscience recommend, but perhaps the print copy is worth the cost. Actually, I think it would be a much better choice especially for navigation.

This book will be available April 9th, 2013. You can pre-order it on Amazon for $13.91.

I received my free pre-release copy via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sensational Haiku Wednesday: Reactions

Join the fun!

This week's theme is: Reactions

This theme caused me to think about how I react in difficult situations. If I don't pout, cry or scream; if the pain is just too deep to come out, I write. I journal. The following sets are along that theme.

A blank new notebook
scribbled on furiously
shows my reaction.

Cursive emotion
bent violently to the right
touching the future.

Reactions in ink
undeniable heartache
a moment preserved.

Journaling can heal
even the unsuspecting
exposing the heart.

If there is something you are trying  to deal with, but can't vocalize it, journaling is a wonderful alternative. It's private and completely your own so you can say whatever you want without fear of hurting someone or experiencing the stress of censoring your rawest thoughts. 

Here are some great websites on journaling:
Journaling for kids (note this isn't a free resource, but my kids have enjoyed them)

In my second set I reference handwriting analysis, something I have studied as a hobby off and on since I was 16. The way your writing bends, the form of writing you use, even how you cross your t's or dot our i's say something about you. If you want to learn more about graphology (the art of handwriting analysis) I recommend Handwriting Analysis : Putting It to Work for You. It was the first book I read on this subject and got me hooked. It's a great resource for the hobbyist. (Note: The link I provided is an affiliate link, you could also look for this book at your local library). 

Back to journaling: Please don't forget that, if words aren't your thing, there are other options for journaling. You can create an art journal, a color journal, a nature journal. Explore the many ways of expressing yourself through journaling. Find the way that suits you best and learn to react by reaching for your beloved journal.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Blue Monday #2: Wise Old Owl

This week I played with an old 4x4 art chunky I created of an owl. 
(This is my original artwork so please admire, but don't take it without permission). 

Today I worked my graphic tools to create this:

I really like this quote. I have the hardest time being quiet and observing. I'm a "tell-it-like-it-is" person. I throw my whole heart into everything I do. I don't shy away from confrontation. This can be both a blessing and a curse. Not everything in life deserves an extreme reaction. I could stand to temper myself more. Yes, I could learn a lot from the owl, like how to . .

1. Sit. Never become big and too quick to defend. Relax. Stay approachable and in control.
2. Look. Watch everything. Form opinions based on what I myself see. Blend in while subtly observing.
3. Speak less. Learn to listen. People say more when they feel safe. Be that safe place.
4. Act only when appropriate. When wisdom directs it. When it makes sense.

Why am I not like this wise old bird? Perhaps, if I was, those around me would be less blue.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sensational Haiku Wednesday: Books

Join the fun!

Something I have really wanted to rekindle is my love for poetry. I used to write a ton of it in High School, but that was a while ago. My poetic flare has been a bit trampled so I will be taking a refresher and engaging this part of my mind by participating in this meme each Wednesday. Keep in mind, I'm rusty. 

This weeks's theme is: Freestyle

Of boy! That means I get to pick so . . .my chosen theme is books (of course).  


The cover called her
The book beckoned her to read,
An invitation.
She flipped the pages,
Digesting every word
Becoming the book.
Each page told stories
Each word held immense power
The book came alive.
Broken thoughts seemed whole.
Fantasy was tangible,
held between her hands.
Her eyes scanned the page.
                                                               Emotion lit within her
                                                                     books are pure magic!

                                                                    ~By Heather Randall 11/21

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

November 20: Top Ten Tuesday

November 20: Top Ten Books/Authors I'm Thankful For:

1. Robin Jones Gunn ~ I was introduced to this super cool author when I was 11. Christy Miller was my example for all things teen. What a fantastic role model! Robin's the chick that made me fall in love with reading and want to grow up and become an author.
2. Rene Gutteridge ~ Her amazing unique writing style captures me. Her stories always cross genre and tease you to try something new. Her messages are rich. Oh . . .and I've met her in person. She speaks as well as she writes. Double threat. The Boo series is awesome!
3. Charlotte Bronte ~ She was the first author I studied like a mad person. Her writing is beyond her time. The dark beauty of her writing intrigues me so much. Besides, how hard would it be to hold your own in a family of authors? I like her unfinished novels best.
4. Louisa May Alcott ~ Edgy, real and fabulously feminine. Her range of storytelling is broad and compelling. I love everything from Little Women to her unknown thrillers. Her writing evolves.

5. Maeve Binchy ~ Ode to Ireland. Her books are the largest I've read and the hardest to put down. She wove a story like no one else. Her themes are universal and yet deep. I especially love London Transports and The Glass Lake.  
6. Helen Fielding ~ Who doesn't love Bridget Jones Diary? When it comes to pushing a character out of their comfort zone, Helen Fielding is the most hilarious, real and creative. 
7. Harper Lee ~ To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book so I have to include this in my top ten. This book has every form of drama a reader could want.
8. C.S. Lewis ~ Dreamy fantasy settings with a moral aim and deep insightful religious non fiction. His writing runs the gamut and comes out sparkling.
9. David BiebelIf God is so Good, Why do I hurt so bad? touched me at my lowest point. Not to be too dramatic but this book (along with the Bible) kept me alive. I could not recommend a better book for anyone battling disappointments and tackling this life altering question.

  10. Kristen Billerbeck ~ Charm and wit, Christian and totally chick lit. Love it!

Stop by next week to learn my Top Ten Most Anticipated Books For 2013!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Blue Monday #1: Books in Blue

The artist in me can't resist the chance to notice color in ordinary thing on ordinary days. 
What could be more ordinary that Monday?

This week I piled up some of my blue books. This is, after all, a book blog. 

Among them are: 
1.The Oxford Book of Letters
2. Bar Mitzvah/Bat Mitzvah: Planning the Perfect Day  
3. Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes (Sisterchicks Series #8)
4. Mother-Daughter Duet: Getting to the Relationship You Want with Your Adult Daughter
5. The Denim Diet: Sixteen Simple Habits to Get You into Your Dream Pair of Jeans
6. Blue Like Play Dough: The Shape of Motherhood in the Grip of God

I set them all on a blue silk scarf with a blue candle on top and a luscious blue chunky I received in an art trade from atcsforall.

Don't be blue. I'm sure you can find something wonderful to read. 

Look for the first blue cover you see on your book shelf and post the title below.  

Or maybe you have your own blue item you want to show off. Share it here.

Musing Monday Nov.19

Today's Question is: 
Do you read the ending before you start a book? Do you ever skip ahead to read the ending?

Wonderful question if you aren't a writer and don't believe in honesty. Unfortunately, I am and I do. 
Here it goes: My confession . . .
I never read the last page ahead. But, yes, I do sometimes peek near the ending to see if a book will keep my attention until the end. I wouldn't actually call it reading though. I skim a little, just enough to get a feel for the plot and that it continues beyond the middle. No, really. It's the truth. That isn't just guilt talking.

When selecting a book I want to read, I read the first three pages before committing to the entire book. If I'm bored reading three pages I don't want to go any further. I guess I'm picky. A book has to grip me in a short amount of time to keep me reading. 

Sometimes the writing is beautiful so I keep reading even if the plot or characters aren't really developed in those first three chapters. You can spot a writer who loves language early on. I prefer authors who paint a picture with vivid descriptions and an abundance of classy adjectives. I also appreciate authors who pull me in with witty dialogue that makes me part of the story (a fly on the wall) from the start.

The last page is sort of sacred. I try to peak close to it but not at it and never for long. I treat it like staring at the sun. 

Then I return to the beginning and read all the way through. I don't skip pages. I used to do that in elementary school and still remember teachers catching me jumping ahead and missing important details that always seemed to end up on a test. If it's worth reading, I want to read all of it.

That's me. What about you? Come on, confess . . .you peek too don't you? You can tell me. I won't judge.

Comment below or join the meme.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My New Blog Button

If you've visited here recently than you know I've been very busy. I've been pulling and re-posting items from my other blogs so I have everything in one place. That's my goal: Streamline.

So . . .here is my new blog button. I'll be adding it to my sidebar too. Feel free to copy it and let me know you have so I can return the favor.

If you do not have a blog button or banner I would love to create one for you. Take a look here and email me to order yours today.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Coming Home

Let’s just face it. Max Lucado is brilliant. Coming Home is yet another beautiful allegory from this talented writer who skillfully engages children while teaching them Biblical truths.
Fantastic life like paintings by Justin Gerard compliment this heartfelt story about Argo and Arion, twin brothers who are shipwrecked on an island and given very specific instructions by their captain to stay out of the forrests of Terrene while he is away. 
The Captain tells them that he is going to a color-filled island that is alive and perfect for them. He promises to return and bring them there, but first they must wait and endure the temptations of Terrene and it’s dismal greyness.
The response of one brother is not without consequence as his color fades and he becomes like the forrest he was warned to avoid.
Will Arion be able to sway his brother back to the Captain’s side before his return? Will he be left no choice but to leave the island without his brother?
I loved the depth and message of this story and enjoyed sharing it with my children. My only disappointment was that  Argo does make a bad choice and recovers at the last second, as the boat is leaving the shore. I found this sad. 
I believe that the opportunity to be rescued from sin is there until the last second and that God’s will is that none perish, however, who wants to achieve forgiveness at the last second? Essentially Argo makes it by the skin of his teeth, a scary and avoidable position. 
God’s mercy is HUGE. Yet, unfortunately, there will be people who don’t “come home”, but linger in the forrest. This is a reality. Admittedly, I’m not sure how you can tactfully present that concept to children, but I still felt it was an element that was important and lacking in this story.
This book is available at Crossway for $15.99.

* I was given this product free to review on behalf of Crossway, November, 2012

November 4th

This is my spot for personal reflection. It won't always be exciting. My life is pretty dull actually.  If you are looking for something exciting please check my tabs (above). This section is my journal, boring and raw as it is. It might not be what you're expecting, but I'm unashamed.

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

I spent today catching up on reviews and breaking up fights. My kids are always fighting. The thing is, I have no reference for sibling relationships or how to fix them. I'm an only child. I just don't get it. They have a built in play mate. All they have to do is go play.

I'm currently reading a book that references sibling relationships and the intimacy, influence and effects of this type of relationship. It's fascinating to me. It seems that (with proper boundaries) this should be one of the best relationships a person can have. There is a vulnerability, a complete knowing that exists in this relationship that can't be found in any other. You share a family, a history, a home, a bedroom, and sometimes even clothes.

I want my children to get along, to find comfort in each other, to be kind and generous to each other and to have each other's backs. I want this, but I have no clue how to teach it.

We have decided to drop traditional schooling for a time and focus on character. Of course I can't help myself and still sneak in writing, math and history whenever possible. Character is the issue in my home though.

My kids are incredible at math. They have a standard respect for history and are average when it comes to writing. Character, however, is too frequently deficient here.

The thing is  . . .character is a subject that doesn't stop on the weekend. It's an ongoing lesson. An exhausting, mentally draining and repetitious battle to teach.

Lord, help me succeed here. If math comprehension dissolves, history becomes a list of faded facts, and writing never occurs help me to have fostered caring and compassionate children full of character and unwavering in their devotion to you.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lady in Waiting

I’m a sucker for historic fiction. Lady in Waiting by Susan Meissner does not disappoint. With a clear handle on history, a vivid imagination and loads of emotion, the author brings Jane Grey to life in this unique and heart wrenching story.
It’s not enough to know what a historical figure feels or thinks. That’s been done so many times before. Susan Meissner applies a different strategy, exposing this intriguing character through the eyes of Lucy Day, her fictional dressmaker. How Lucy feels about Jane tells so much more about this character and adds depth to the story in a fantastic way.
The reader doesn’t start in the past though. This book begins it’s journey with Jane Lindsay, a present day antique dealer with a shop in Manhattan. The first section is told in her voice and we learn that she is dealing with a failing marriage and business pressures when her international assistant sends some newly acquired antiques her way including a prayer book and rosary that belonged to a Jane as well as a ring which has been carefully embedded in the spine of the book.
This begins a mystery and the weaving of past and present as we meet Lucy Day and discover the connections she has to the prayer book, rosary, and more importantly Jane Grey.
I was hooked into the story very quickly. My fascination for British royalty kept me glued to the page.
This book has two story lines which tie together well remaining somewhat separate. Of the two story lines I preferred Lucy. Her perspective of Lady Jane was heartfelt and connected me emotionally to history, which I loved. I think the historical aspect is truly this author’s strength and so I could have read an entire novel about Lucy alone.
There are discussion questions in the back of the book which are great. If you have a book club, don’t miss these questions. They are really great questions.
I not only recommend this book, I’ve shared my personal copy with others. I truly enjoyed this book and believe others will as well.
Pick up your copy today at AmazonCBD, or Barnes and Noble.
Like to try before you buy? Read the sample here.

* I was given this product free to review on behalf of WaterBrook, November 2012