Book Reviews, Books of the Month

Books of the Month: April 2013

Interrogations at Noon by Dana Gioia: I heard about Dana Gioia through Mars Hill Network. His poetry books exude tenacious attention to word choice, rhyme, rhythm, and themes. While not overt, there exists an undercurrent of spiritual depth that draws the reader into the author’s experience and toward self-reflection. I am currently reading Gioia’s compilation of essays titled Can Poetry Matter? and his most recent poetry collection, Pity the Beauty. More on those in coming months. 4 stars

Animal Farm by George Orwell: This slim, unassuming novel contains a full-bodied analysis of communism in post-World War II Russia. Through the anthropomorphism of farm animals, Orwell’s allegory engages the reader with its simple truths and challenges idealism with deep, often troubling, realism. This book is a must-read as our country adopts more and more socialistic ideas. 5 stars

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton: Morton’s first novel captures the World War I era and the Roaring 20s through the memories of her aging main character. She weaves the story by showing only pieces at a time with a final twist at completion. I highly recommend reading this book as well as The Forgotten Garden. 4 stars

Your Child’s Writing Life by Pam Allyn: Although I am an author, I needed Allyn’s insight when encouraging my own children to write. She provides practical hints and writing prompts to develop a child’s writing life from preschool and beyond. Although my children are well into their education, I realized it is never too late to apply advice like Allyn’s. I checked this book out at our local library, but have since added it to our home library and intend to use it for future encouragement in our family’s writing life. 5 stars

Experiencing God: Youth Edition by Henry T. Blackaby and Claude V. King: At times the repetition and simplicity of this devotional seemed overdone, but at its completion I realize the importance of remembering basic precepts. The true benefit of this study was discussing it with my high schooler. I recommend it for parents looking for a study to share with their teens. 4 stars

DPChallenge, One Good Thing Every Day 2013

One Good Thing Every Day: March 14, 2013

Ecclesiastes 10:4b NIV

Calmness can lay great offenses to rest.


Psalm 46:10a NIV

“Be still, and know that I am God….”


“Learn to take minibreaks from the world, finding a place to be still in My Presence and listen to my voice.” from Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence


Matthew 8:25-26 NIV

The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.


“When the storms of life overtake us, we often respond as if God does not exist or does not care. Jesus rebuked the disciples for their failure to recognize His presence, protection, and power, not for their human tendency to fear.” from Henry T. Blackaby’s Experiencing God


It is easy to judge the disciples for their lack of faith. Afterall, Jesus sat in their boat! How could He be more present?

Yet, why do I panic in the middle of life-storms? Afterall, the Holy Spirit sits within my soul! How could He be more present?


DPChallenge, One Good Thing Every Day 2013

One Good Thing Every Day: March 12, 2013

2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV

For we live by faith, not by sight.

The reading comprehension passage in one of our Test Prep workbooks yesterday focused on echolocation. Echolocation is used by animals and humans with limited sight to locate objects and determine distances. Intrigued, I conducted more research. Sonar is a man-made form of echolocation used for navigation in the sea and in the air. Medical ultrasounds are based on the same principle as they detect internal images within the human body using sound waves.

Later in the day, I encountered 2 Corinthians 5:7 in my Jesus Calling daily reading.  Today, that scripture appeared in my Experiencing God reading. At my first reading, I sensed an immediate resonance between this verse and the topic of echolocation we studied. The echo of the verse this morning confirmed my initial thoughts.

Through my darkest nights and on my brightest days, God’s words resound in my heart and mind. When He speaks, my soul reverberates. My short-sightedness prevents even one step without faith in His vision. I call to Him with prayer, with scripture, with sounds undetectable to the human ear. He responds with the echo of His promises, guiding me the distance of my journey.

DPChallenge, One Good Thing Every Day 2013

One Good Thing Every Day: March 11, 2013

From A Jane Austen Devotional

“Sometimes, nothing ushers in a fresh perspective like a good night’s sleep.”

“Through [David’s] example, we are reminded no matter what our circumstances, we can sleep peacefully when we put our trust in the Lord.”


From Henry T. Blackaby’s Experiencing God

“[David] didn’t depend on yesterday’s guidance for today’s decision.”


Psalm 30:5b NJKV

Joy comes in the morning.


Psalm 4 NIV

Answer me when I call to you,  my righteous God.

Give me relief from my distress;

have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

How long will you people turn my glory into shame?

How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?

Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself;

the Lord hears when I call to him.

Tremble anddo not sin;

when you are on your beds,

search your hearts and be silent.

Offer the sacrifices of the righteous

and trust in the Lord.

Many, Lord, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?”

Let the light of your face shine on us.

Fill my heart with joy

when their grain and new wine abound.

In peace I will lie down and sleep,

for you alone, Lord,

make me dwell in safety.


1 Chronicles 14:8-16 NIV

When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over all Israel, they went up in full force to search for him, but David heard about it and went out to meet them.Now the Philistines had come and raided the Valley of Rephaim; so David inquired of God: “Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my hands?”

The Lord answered him, “Go, I will deliver them into your hands.”

So David and his men went up to Baal Perazim, and there he defeated them. He said, “As waters break out, God has broken out against my enemies by my hand.” So that place was called Baal Perazim.The Philistines had abandoned their gods there, and David gave orders to burn them in the fire.

Once more the Philistines raided the valley; so David inquired of God again, and God answered him, “Do not go directly after them, but circle around them and attack them in front of the poplar trees. As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the poplar trees, move out to battle, because that will mean God has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.” So David did as God commanded him, and they struck down the Philistine army, all the way from Gibeon to Gezer.


I smiled when I saw the statement from A Jane Austen Devotional the day after I lost an hour of sleep because of the time change. But, I can attest that a good night’s sleep makes all the difference when facing a new day of decisions. I love the reminder in Blackaby’s book because a solution from the previous day cannot always be applied to now. Every decision requires calling out to God as David did in Psalms 4 and in 1 Chronicles 14:8-16. Notice how God simply says “Go, I will deliver them into your hands” the first time, but in essence says, “Wait! I want you to climb these poplar trees until you hear them coming. Then attack.” Like David, I need to remember that some days God says “go” and other times He says “wait.” He may say, “I’ve got this one.” Or He may tell me, “Do this first. It may not make sense, and you may not think you can do it. But, if you follow my instructions, you will know what to do when the time comes.” Either way, no matter the season of life or time of the day, I need to be ready to surrender my plans, even if it means resting in the boughs of a poplar tree.


File:Four Poplars in four seasons.JPG
DPChallenge, One Good Thing Every Day 2013

One Good Thing Every Day: March 4, 2013

“What we practice –what we truly believe–is indicative of what’s in our hearts. Deceiving ourselves is the same thing as thinking we know better than God. Our relationship with Him cannot thrive if we fail to let him inside our hearts and purify them.” A Jane Austen Devotional

“What you do says more about what you believe about God than what you say.” from Henry T. Blackaby’s Experiencing God

Philippians 4:8 NIV

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.