Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Book review: The Better Mom

The Better Mom: Growing in Grace between Perfection and the Mess (#affiliate)
By Ruth Schwenk, 2018

This book is a collection of encouragement for moms, appropriate for pretty much any stage of the journey. Mrs. Schwenk maintains a casual "I'm in this too" approach, and does a good job hitting on a wide variety of areas that many moms struggle in. I appreciated her Biblically-sound way of addressing each issue, and the emphasis placed on God's grace.

For some reason, though, this book did not resonate with me nearly as much as other motherhood books I have read. This could be at least in part because Mrs. Schwenk's personaility is clearly very different from mine. I also had to fight back irritation at her constant use of the word "momming": I much prefer the more dignified "motherhood."

But those small things aside, I am sure this book will be a huge encouragement to many. One of my favorite quotes is from chapter 15, dealing with the need to keep a long-term vision during the difficult seasons of motherhood. She writes:

"The real reason momming is hard is because motherhood is meaningful. There is a real purpose and mission for it. That mission, like every mission, comes with opposition. Ultimately, the source of the opposition we face in the world is from our spiritual adversary -- the devil. [...] We are engaged in a fight. We are waging war not only for our own spiritual maturity, but for the hearts and minds of our children. Momming is hard because it is a spiritual battle."

Thanks to the folks at Handlebar for giving me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Book Review: Raising Passionate Jesus Followers

Raising Passionate Jesus Followers: The Power of Intentional Parenting (#affiliate)
Phil and Diane Comer, 2018

Prior to reading this book, I had not heard of the authors. Apparently Mr. and Mrs. Comer founded a church out in Oregon, they started a parenting ministry with conferences ("Intentional"), and they have four adult children who are all walking with the Lord. Pretty good credentials for addressing the topic of parenting.

I have been reading through a stack of grace-based parenting books in the last few years, and was expecting this book to take a similar approach. So I was disappointed to find it much more performance-oriented, with a lot of focus on formulating plans to manage outward behavior. The early chapters included what I would call "scare tactics" about how many kids walk away from the faith these days - facts that I am already far too well aware of, personally.

And maybe I'm jaded from years of homeschool rhetoric, but the concept of conquering the world through sheer numbers of Christian generations (chapter 3), and the "Lamp and Light" teaching (chapter 5) made me sigh and roll my eyes a bit...I have heard these things so often and don't feel they have that much of a Scriptural foundation.

However - there were parts of the book that I really appreciated. They share five different tools for disciplining children, with many practical application examples and a carefully balanced approach. I was wary of "The Box" concept initially because of the name (who wants to put their kids in a box, ha!) - but I ended up really liking the way they use it as a word picture to help parents remember all the aspects that need to go into training. It can't be ALL fun and affirmation, or ALL lecturing about Bible topics, or ALL strict disciplining. I also really appreciated their approach to the "letting go" years of parenting, as that is something so important to do well, too.

Overall, I am glad I read the book. Coming from a conservative Christian, homeschooled upbringing, it did not hit the areas where *I* need to learn and grow as much as the more grace-centric books I have been reading. I think it would be more challenging and life-changing for parents who did not grow up in Christian homes - though for them, too, I would highly recommend that this be read alongside other titles, for balance.

Thanks to the folks at Handlebar for giving me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!

Monday, January 1, 2018

2017 Reading List

I was able to make reading a higher priority again through 2017, even if it consisted of only reading a few pages or chapters late at night after everyone else was in bed. It has been SO fun to have it as part of my life again, and I'm pretty tickled to have made it through a grand total of 26 books this year. Yay! 

Here's my list, including affiliate links to Amazon. I won't take time to write summaries of each title here, but am glad to share my thoughts on specific titles if anyone has questions. Not pictured are the dozens of children's books that I read (and reread, and reread) through the year. ;) 


This is my favorite genre, so I spent most of my time here and found some real gems. Not all are written from a Christian perspective, but I found each to be very thought-provoking and I learned a lot. Some include crude language or some more graphic details so I wouldn't recommend them for younger readers.

Christian non-fiction

This is another favorite genre of mine. As always, I didn't agree with everything in each of these books - in some cases I had strong disagreements. But I also found some true encouragement and inspiration in this stack of books. Surprised By Motherhood is probably my top favorite book this year, if I had to choose just one - it's super good.


I just don't have much time for fiction these days, and generally prefer non-fiction anyway. But I did finish up two fiction titles this year, both books that I started several years ago and wanted to get off my half-read stack. :)

Miscellaneous non-fiction

Not too many in this category this year, either, but these were all interesting titles.

Have YOU read any of these titles? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Here's to a new year full of books! I'm looking forward to seeing where my reading adventures take me in 2018. My goal is to get through at least 24 books - hopefully more. :)