Thursday, January 26, 2012

Our Wedding: Memories and Miracles (part 1)

This month I finally got around to putting all my wedding pictures into albums. Yes, yes, it took me almost 15 months. I still feel guilty that they aren't properly scrapbooked, but I had to come to the realization that I'm simply not going to have time for a big project like that any time soon. Managing to get the prints made was a big step in itself, and it's far better for them to be in a real photo album than stuffed into envelopes somewhere!

So last week we were invited for supper at our pastor's family's home, and I took along the wedding album, knowing their girls would have fun looking through it. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing all the memories and special stories with them, and it gave me an extra nudge to (finally) get around to posting more of those thoughts here on the blog. I'd like to have them out in writing anyway, and this will also answer the requests I've been getting from friends who haven't seen many of the wedding pictures yet.

Sound agreeable? Good. :) Let's pretend we're sitting on a couch together with the photo album between us, and I'll start sharing my stories.

Of course, one of the first things any newly-engaged girl thinks about is The Dress. I knew that finding it would be a challenge for me because of several factors: (1) it had to be modest, (2) it had to be affordable, as in super cheap, (3) it had to fit, and I'm a good bit taller than average, and (4) I had to like it, and I really didn't want it to scream "homemade!" I only had 3.5 months from the time of engagement to find a dress, and knew that it was going to require some sort of miracle.

I began to pray about it, asking God if He would please show me the dress that was perfect for me, and that it would cost me less than $200. I couldn't see justifying much more than that for a dress I'd only wear for a day, yet from my browsing around online I knew that finding one for even $400-500 would be quite a bargain. But God could handle it, right? I knew He could.

My mom is a very talented seamstress, so we talked over the idea of having her make the dress for me. After several trips to fabric stores, I ended up buying a pattern (practically the only one in the book that was even halfway workable in style) as well as ordering some barely off-white satin that was on sale. I've never been a huge fan of satin's shininess, but it was the only kind that was affordable and my mom suggested using the fabric inside-out for a more silk-like look. It seemed to be my best option at that point, and I figured I could live with it. The cost was just under $100 and I figured we'd be able to get buttons and lace and layering fabrics with the remaining $100 I'd mentally budgeted for my dress.

A week or so later - this was mid-July already - a friend of mine came up from MO for a couple days. We girls all went out thrift store shopping together, finding a number of things to use in the wedding decor. I looked at the wedding dresses, of course, and was shocked to see the price tag on one was only $2.38. The style was '70ish, not at all what I wanted, and it was too small - but it came with a slip that looked quite usable and I figured it was worth the price.

It was a little further in to July when I was again at Goodwill with my mom and sisters, checking out the wedding dresses. I didn't expect to find anything I liked or that fit, but a seamstress friend had advised us to try to find a thrift store dress with lace that I liked, then transfer the lace to the dress my mom was planning to make. This store had a dress made of beautiful ivory silk, and I immediately fell in love with the lacework around the bodice. It was delicate and feminine but not overpowering, and it had a few pearls scattered here and there for sparkle - yet not the awful "encrusted" look so many of the 90s style dresses seemed to have. Exactly what I wanted! The price was $30.99, but it also had a red tag - and that day all red tag items were supposed to be only $1.29. We asked a clerk if formal wear was included in the tag sale, and her first answer was no...but she was friendly and we chatted a bit about my wedding budget and the plans to use the lace off the dress, and so on. After a bit she said she'd go ask the manager about the dress price, and shortly she returned saying we could have it for only $1.29. Yes! :D

Once we got home that evening I decided to try the dress on just for fun - what girl doesn't like to try on a wedding dress? :) The instant it slipped over my shoulders, I knew this was The One. It was about 4"too short, the back neckline scooped down far too low for comfort, and I knew it needed to have sleeves added in, too. But this was It. :) The ivory silk was absolute perfection, the lace and beading was exactly what I wanted, and the bodice fit perfectly. My dear mother, brave soul, was hesitant but willing to give it a shot. Could we make the dress work?

Over the next few weeks, brainstorming went on in earnest. My mom's seamstress friend generously gave us her expert opinions along with a small bag of lace pieces she had leftover from another project. We pulled a dress out of my family's costume closet (a ball gown given to us when a friend cleaned out her closet) and realized that the sheer overskirt fabric exactly matched the color of The Dress' ivory. Maybe it would be what we needed for the sleeves and back neckline? My mom spent many hours carefully tweaking the sleeve pattern so it would hang just right, and then painstakingly creating an inset piece for the back, complete with hidden darts so I could breathe and a row of hidden hooks and eyes. I lost count of how many times I tried the dress on and stood for fittings, sweltering in the August humidity of our un-airconditioned home. Talking to Joe on the phone during fittings did help the time go faster, though he insisted I not tell him anything about the dress - he wanted to be surprised. ;)

Finally the sleeves and back were mostly finished, and it was indeed beautiful - but the hemline was still too short. Sometimes it'd sure be handy to be normal height instead of almost 5'11". ;) We really weren't sure how to lengthen the dress as dropping the original hemline wasn't enough to make much difference, and I desperately didn't want it to be obvious that the lengthening had been necessary. Quite a few different ideas were talked over, until someone (I don't remember who) suggested we look again at the overskirt from the ball gown. It was very full, and as we held the hemlines together, we realized that it was almost a perfect fit. But how could we disguise the seam between the original skirt and the additional border? More brainstorming - and we thought about the lace from the first wedding dress I'd purchased (the too-small '70s dress for $2.38). It had yards and yards of lace several inches wide and a nice off-white color. One section was dingy, but it came out nice when washed. It ended up being exactly what was needed to layer over the seam, and even I was satisfied that it didn't look like an add-on. PTL!

For the finishing touches, we bought several bags of tiny pearl beads from Hobby Lobby (at 50% off, of course!) and Lydia spent many tedious hours sewing them on the hemline lace in a regular pattern. This helped it tie in more closely with the lace and beadwork around the bodice, and I was thrilled. Beautiful! One of the silk rosettes from the back was missing when we purchased the dress, so I redid them to make three out of the two. My mom moved the row of fake buttons from below the rosettes to the added-in back area, and I carefully sewed the bits of lace from the seamstress on to the front neckline and the edges of the sheer sleeves. Everything tied together perfectly! I ended up wearing the slip from the $2.38 dress afterall, and it provided just the right amount of fullness.

All told, the dress itself and the supplies used in the alteration, ended up costing less than $10. It was as if God was saying, "You thought you were asking for a miracle when you trusted me for a $200 dress. How'd you like a $10 dress, more beautiful than anything you dreamed possible? That's just a little peek at how much I love you, my daughter." :)

Since the dress had ended up costing so little, I felt free to "splurge" a bit for the rest of my outfit. I bought ivory ballet-style slippers which I dressed up with the last bits of beaded lace (about $10), which ended up being comfortable and practical. I found a gold and pearl tiara on ebay for $22 (exactly what I wanted - not too gaudy, not too big or too small, in a princess-style shape but also flowery and delicate)...and ebay was also where I found the perfect veil for $20 - a fingertip length lightweight ivory with a scalloped edge (matching my bridesmaids' tops) and just the right amount of delicate pearl beading. Perfect!

I was - and still am - absolutely thrilled, and simply in awe of God's provision. All through my wedding day I had so many people come up and say I looked like a princess, and it warmed my heart. Not only does Joe call me his princess (so sweet), but I am the daughter of a King, a true Princess. It was such a special reminder of God's love for me that He cared enough to provide the exact dress He knew I'd like best (admittedly a "frivolous" thing, yet close to my heart) - and at such an unbelievably low cost. How can I doubt His love or His ability to provide all my needs when I have seen Him so super-abundantly provide something so perfect and miraculous as this dress? I can't help smiling whenever I think of it. :)

God is good, my friends! Amen?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Book review: Everything Romance

"A Celebration of Love for Couples"

Compiled by Todd Hafer and Rebecca Currington

"Ready to create romantic memories? If you're looking for new and unique ways to celebrate love, captivate the heart of your true love, or simply enjoy each other's company, Everything Romance offers all of this and much more."

This quote from the back cover is a bit of an exaggeration, in my opinion, but I have to admit that this book had more variety in it than I was expecting. There is a great selection of quotes and Scriptures about love, fun facts and trivia, short stories, poetry, a few "date night" ideas, some recipes (not really romantic as such, but they have creative titles), and so on. It made for a fun read, just picking it up here and there when I had a minute.

My favorite part of the book is a full two-page alphabetical listing of nicknames/terms of endearment to use for your spouse. Joe and I read through it together, and had a good chuckle over some of the names that were included. For some reason we can't quite imagine calling each other Bubbls," "Cool Breeze,", "Fluffy," "Wookums," or "Tadwinks." ;)

I noticed nothing offensive or shocking in the book, and it would be fine to leave on a shelf where anyone of any age could read it. I was also glad to see a very comprehensive, well-organized index in the back of the book, making it easy to find each of the selections included.

I'm doubtful this is a book I'll be keeping on my shelf, but it could be a fun addition to a honeymoon basket, or as reading material on an anniversary trip. As an additional plus, It's well-designed and pleasant to look through.

Blogging For Books

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange this honest review.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cottage Cheese Egg Casserole

A friend was recently asking for breakfast casserole recipes, and I was reminded of one of my favorites. It's super easy, and turns out oh-so-yummy. The crispy, buttery edges are the best part. :D I usually end up making it for supper instead of breakfast, serving it with a green salad, and sometimes bread. Very fast and filling!

1/2 c. (or more) cooked sausage or hamburger, or chopped ham, hot dog, or summer sausage
1/8 c. chopped onion
10 eggs, beaten
16 or 24 oz. cottage cheese (more is better!)
1 c. shredded cheese (any kind works, but cheddar is especially good)
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. parsley flakes
1 tsp. oregano
1/3 c. butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in saucepan and lightly saute' onions. Remove onions, and pour butter in a 9x13" pan. (Or, if you're lazy, like me, throw the butter in the casserole dish and let it melt while the oven is preheating. Use a teaspoon or more of minced, dried onions instead of fresh ones, mixing them in with the rest of the ingredients.)

Beat eggs well and then combine all ingredients except butter. Pour mixture on top of melted butter in casserole dish.

Bake 40-50 minutes, until edges are crispy. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Sound Like Fire

A Sound Like Fire, by K D Veron
WestBow Press A Division of Thomas Nelson
English, 444 pages

After a brief Prologue where a new mother is slain and her day-old baby is delivered to a wealthy aristocrat, our story gets underway with Dax Soileau in a Jerusalem prison in July, 2020. He and his fellow prisoners live in squalor, and the only way they are able to pass the time and maintain their sanity is to hear Dax's life story, as he is the newest person to join the ranks of the imprisoned. We find out that Dax used to be a United States senator, living a high life of privilege counter to his Christian upbringing and against the pleadings of his Christian younger brother, Zack. As the pages turn, we find out that Dax and his cellmates are some of the last Christians on earth, those who received Christ after the Rapture, and the Great Tribulation is in full-swing. Dax lays out his journey from rejecting God to finally coming to the truth and his life after salvation and before this final incarceration.

It took me a bit to get into the story, but once I did, I enjoyed reading it. The plot is good, and I think a decent picture is painted of how so many deceive themselves and are deceived by Satan into rejecting Jesus. God's grace is evident in the lives of many of the characters who finally hear the Lord's call and respond.

My biggest complaint is with the writing style. Again, not to say that I am a perfect writer by any means, but this manuscript shows evidence of either a sloppy editor or no professional editing at all. The perspective from which the story is being told isn't always clear. There are many consecutive sentences with repeated words (e.g., "something began"..."something began"..."something began"); such verbal repetition is something my editor counsels my co-author and I to avoid, and constantly saying something "began" is a weak statement (I think it falls under the passive voice)--instead of saying "The sun began to rise over the horizon," it would be better to say "The sun rose over the horizon," or something to that effect. There are quite a few typos, too. I know that digital versions sometimes have typos and have dealt with that with many other titles I've read on the Kindle, but there are more than really should be present.

There are some scenes that might not be appropriate for younger readers, and I would be hesitant to allow someone who isn't at least in high school to pick up this book. Not that things are necessarily graphic, but topics come up that younger readers might not be emotionally prepared to handle. Parents, I would suggest reading this book first before giving it to your children.

Finally, as I've seen on and the bookstore at, the hard copy of this book is outrageously expensive: $30.95 for a new softcover, and $43.95  for a new hardcover. While I understand that this is very likely a much smaller printing company than many of the ones from which I get my non-Christian fiction titles (and spend less than $25 on nearly 1000-page hardcovers), the cost of this book could be a lot better (this is a complaint I have about a lot of Christian books, fiction and non-fiction; not only can I not afford to buy them very often, I think it further drives the notion that Christians talk a good talk but are just after the money). If you have a Kindle or Nook--or at least a computer program to read their respective file types--I would recommend going that route as you can pick up a digital version for less than $4.00.

Overall, I'd give this book a hesitant 3/5.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A frugal bookworm's delight

It's no secret that we Westbrooks like our books. Just a quick glance over this blog will reveal that fact. I'm thankful I married a man who not only tolerates, but appreciates my large personal library - and has quite an impressive book collection himself! All the books definitely made our moving process more challenging (they're heavy!), but we'd do it all over again. Having books in every room of the house is a special thing for us and we look forward to the day when we have our own house and can buy more bookshelves. :D

Anyway, on the subject of books - today I'd like to talk about a site I've used for years but haven't recommended for a long time: PaperbackSwap. I know a lot of my friends also use and enjoy the site, but maybe it's still new to some of you. And I wanted to share some fun stats. So here we go. :)

PaperbackSwap is one of my favorite ways to go book "shopping" and to share books that I no longer have room for or have duplicates of. I've found so many treasures for my own bookshelf this way - including out of print editions of books by Amy Carmichael and others! I've been seriously amazed at the quality and selection of the books available. There is a waiting list for the more popular/rare titles, but with a little patience you can find some real gems. They have children's books, non fiction, fiction, Christian titles, newer and older editions, audio books, large print, school books - you name it. :D

The books are traded one-for-one, so you get a credit for every book you mail out, and then you can use that credit to "buy" of the 5 million+ books that other members have listed. So the books you receive are completely FREE, and all you pay is the postage needed to mail one of your own books out to someone else. Make sense? :)

Books qualify for media mail, so if they're under a pound you pay less than $2.50 per package you send. And if you try to post mostly smaller books (i.e., children's books or small paperbacks), they can be sent via first class for even less than media mail - sometimes as little as $1.25 or so. That's a super cheap investment for being able to select another book, IMO. It's hard any more to find decent books at that price, even at thrift stores!

Signing up for the site is completely FREE, too, and as a special bonus you receive two credits just for listing your first 10 books or so - you can request any two titles from the site right away, even before any of your books have been requested. Can't beat that. :D

It's super simple and I've never had any problems with the transactions. Most of the books I've received have been in excellent condition, many like new. The site administrators are also SO good with communication: they thoroughly explain any changes that are taking place around the site, and everything is very easy to understand. The site has a friendly, personal feel that I really enjoy.

They also have affiliated sites for swapping CDs and DVDs. I haven't participated in those yet, but I know you can easily move credits from one site to the if you have CDs you don't listen to any more you can essentially trade them for books or DVDs, and so on. Pretty nifty. :D There is also a way to purchase more credits if you choose. It's less than $4 a book, which is still a great deal compared to brand new prices, or even prices at used bookstores.

And yes, as a full disclosure: if you sign up through the link I have here in this post, I will get a bonus book credit added to my account. But that's not what this post is about: I completely, whole-heartedly recommend the site and would do so even without any referral bonus. :)

Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.

Okay, now for the fun stats! :D
  • I have been a member of PaperbackSwap since April 20, 2007.
  • In that time I have mailed out 59 books, going to 25 different states (including Hawaii).
  • I have received 77 books, coming from 34 different states.
  • I have saved an estimated $160.93 (after deducting shipping costs for outgoing books), as compared to buying these books new - I'd guess it's actually higher than this, personally, considering that some of the titles I've received would be very difficult if not impossible to find new.
  • I currently have 30 books available for others to request, and there are 50 titles on my wish list.
If you're not a member yet, check it out! And if you've also been enjoying PaperbackSwap for a while, I'd have fun hearing your stats: how many books have you sent or received?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Kitchen quirks

It's no secret that cooking has never been amongst my top favorite activities. My amazingly patient mother managed to get me away from my books enough times during my growing up years that I entered marriage armed with enough basic kitchen knowledge to keep my husband well-fed (too well fed, some might argue...but I digress). I'm grateful for all she taught me, and for the fact that I can host dinner guests with few qualms: nothing's fancy, but it's edible and hearty, and hopefully plenty to go around.

Having my own kitchen to work in is certainly easier than sharing the area with my mom and sisters, but cooking is still "work" to me. It is something necessary for life, and certainly an important and major part of my God-given role of homemaker, but not what I voluntarily do for fun.

I have a funny dichotomy when it comes to cooking (and a lot of things in life, now that I think of it). On the one hand, I like to keep things super fast and easy, minimizing the time and effort needed. Once I find a recipe that meets this criteria - and is economical and tasty - I generally make it over and over...and over.

But on the other hand, variety and experimentation is vital to keeping me from getting bored in the kitchen. I almost never follow a recipe exactly, to Joe's consternation - there are always improvements and substitutions to be made. I don't like to feel tied down to recipe cards, though I do usually pull them out and use them as a general guideline.

And have I mentioned that cookbooks and recipe magazines have a terrible way of giving me brain freeze? Not sure why, but I avoid using them whenever possible. has been an incredible resource, and is the source of some of my all-time favorites. I keep a Safari bookmark folder of recipes that look like possibilities, and try to incorporate one into my menus every week or so.

My usual MO is to grab a piece of scratch paper and write out the recipe by hand, translating it as I go along with the changes I have in mind (and usually also rewriting the instructions a bit, since most recipes are very poorly of my pet peeves). Then if the recipe turns out to be a success, I'll make it a few times and then copy it off neatly onto a regular recipe card, incorporating my adaptations. Then it's slipped into a clear plastic sleeve and filed in my recipe card box by category. This system works really well for me, and I like knowing that all my tried-and-true recipes are together, uncluttered by duds or newbies.

Oh, and another example of my oddly divided mind shows up in my menu planning. I learned very early on in marriage that if I wait until meal time to decide what to make, I'll completely space out and have no ideas. But then, on the other hand, if I feel constricted if I have a tight list of meals that I must follow. What has ended up working out well for me is to once a week (usually on Mondays) sketch out a list of meal ideas, choosing recipes based on the ingredients I currently have on hand. These are jotted down on my mini magnetic white board, with slots for each day of the week...but just because baked potatoes are listed for Tuesday doesn't mean I'll make them on Tuesday, or even at any point during the week. I'll usually end up switching the days around depending on how much time I have to cook - or I'll substitute different recipes entirely. But having the menu to springboard off of makes a huge difference. Don't ask me to explain why...I've just learned I have to cater to my quirks sometimes. ;)

One of my most recent kitchen adventures has been trying out Amish Friendship Bread starter - or "Herman," as my old piano teacher used to fondly refer to the goopy stuff. :) Herman has now been living in a plastic bowl on my kitchen counter for 17 days, and in that time Joe and I have enjoyed some delicious Apple Raisin Bread, biscuits (twice - they were that good!), and pancakes. Before I discovered this website I didn't realize that the starter could be used for anything besides sweet breads - they have a huge selection of recipes there, plus instructions for starting your very own "Herman". Sourdough bread is next on my to-try list. I've always enjoyed sourdough bread from the store, and am curious to see what a homemade version would taste like.

Just wait...maybe one of these days I'll trick myself into actually enjoying cooking after all. :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Oh, what should I write about? Things so great...*

Well, now. We really had intended to have this blog be about more than just our book reviews (though we like those, too). My problem is, I can't quite seem to decide what sort of focus I want to take for my posts. There are so many things I could write about: homemaking, couponing, my design work, daily life rambles, newlywed lessons and blessings, things God is teaching me lately, DIY/home decor projects, memories from our wedding prep (including frugal ideas) and pictures/memories of the big day itself, our journey towards paying off a 6-figure debt load, and well - the list could go on. But time is limited in this stage of my life, and many of the post ideas that form in my mind sadly never make it past my fingertips.

I've been out of the public blogging mode for so long that it's extra hard to know where to start. I'm starting to think the best plan of action will be to just take a random approach, writing whatever is on my mind at the time, not worrying about an over-arching focus for the blog. Maybe it'll end up going somewhere more specific, maybe not...but hopefully it'll be a fun ride and also a blessing to someone.

Meanwhile, if there's anything specific that you'd like to see me write about, please speak up! And yes, I'm talking to you reading this post - all three of you. ;) I'm sure Joe would welcome any specific post ideas, too. So please do chime in! We'll see what comes of this. :)

*Kudos to anyone who recognizes the adapted lyrics used in the post title. I have a feeling it's something only my sisters would pick up on... ;)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Ride of a Lifetime

The Ride of a Lifetime, by Kitty McGregor
WestBow Press a division of Thomas Nelson
English, 208 pages

Lucas McCade has retired from the PRCA rodeo circuit. Now, he is moving his wife and son, neither of whom he has seen much of for many years as he has spent nine months out of the year on the road, from their Texas home to a working ranch in Oklahoma. McCade has been given a new lease on life after a near-death experience in his last ride, and though he is no Bible scholar, he has a genuine saving faith. His wife, Hannah, is grateful for the time the family will now have to spend together, but his son, Connor, is bitter about being moved away from home after his sophomore year of high school; he has had to leave friends and the joy of the football field behind. Starting over isn't easy for anyone. Despite initially feeling at peace with God over attending a church in the area, Hannah is upset over the show that is being displayed and the lack of genuine faith and conviction. Still feeling that God wants them there, she and Lucas decide to stick it out. However, no one in the family has any idea of what lies below the surface of the area where they now live.

I thought this was a pretty good story overall. I think the writing style was okay, but it lacked some measure of polish. I don't say this because I am some great writer myself, but because things I've had to learn through being published have been hammered into me. One complaint I know Christians will raise is the use of a little bit of swearing. I believe it was only one word used a handful of times, but it will still offend several people, I'm sure. I try to find ways around such language when I write, though I will admit it lends a certain degree of credibility to some characters.

I appreciated that this book tackles the issue of spiritual warfare, something many Christians are happy to ignore. Even I don't think about that area of things too often, potentially to my detriment. It's a fine line to walk, however, because some people see demons around every corner and behind every sin. Believe me, my flesh is bad enough that it doesn't need demonic influence to get me to do things that displease God.

Overall I'd give this book a 3/5. There is a lot of promise, and with the door left open for a sequel, I'm looking forward to seeing where Ms. McGregor might take this story next.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Moments of Truth

Moments of Truth, by John MacArthur
Published by Thomas Nelson
400 pages, English

John MacArthur has been one of my favorite authors and preachers for a decade. Some of the first sermons I listened to were from the Gospel of John dealing with the crucifixion. As a young Bible college student, I was not aware of how starved I was for solid, biblical preaching. With over 40 years of preaching experience, the depth of his knowledge of Scripture is staggering. I don't want to hold him up as a standard or idol (nor would I expect him to appreciate such treatment), but I will say he has been a tremendous inspiration to me to study God's Word more diligently.

His newest book is a devotional. Each month is given a general theme, and that theme is expanded using excerpts from many of his other books. In a few short paragraphs each day, he packs in a great deal of truth, much of which the church at large today seems to have ignored and/or forgotten. However, even with what he offers in this book, I would caution readers to not make this devotional their sole source of daily reading. No matter what someone has to say about the Bible, the best thing we can do as Christians is to read the Bible itself. Nothing will replace spending time actively engaged in the Word. But, I will say that this book will make for an excellent starting point for further study.

All in all, I would have to give this book a 5/5 rating. It would be an excellent gift, and should prove quite useful for Christians at all stages in their faith.

Note: I received a free copy of this book from in exchange for a fair review.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Book Review: The Story of the Bible


"The fascinating history of its writing, translation, & effect on civilization."
By Larry Stone

This book is a beautiful masterpiece, visually appealing and thoroughly covering the history of the greatest Book ever to be written: the Word of God. I was not expecting it to be so large or of such high-quality printing and design. Each page is beautifully laid out, and many full-color illustrations are included. I'll openly admit that I am not enough of a Biblical scholar or historian to vouch for the accuracy of the text - I'll leave that to those who know more - but regardless this is a book that I enjoyed looking through.

But my favorite part (and a fun surprise, since I didn't know the book had this feature!) is the envelopes scattered throughout the book, holding removable pages: replicas of ancient editions of the Bible. It's fascinating to hold them and study in detail the different styles of writing and printing. Inside the covers is printed a detailed timeline to set each of the major events in order. For anyone who appreciates hands-on learning, this is a fabulous resource! I can't think of a better way to really learn the amazing story of God's Word down through the years.

I would highly recommend this as a resource for any homeschool family or church library, as well as for any Bible student. It's also a great look at the advancement of writing styles and printing techniques over the centuries, and as such would be of special interest to art and media students. It makes a lovely coffee table book, too!

More reviews on Amazon.

I review for BookSneeze

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Book Review: As Silver Refined


"Answers to Life's Disappointments"

By Kay Arthur

"What do you do when life doesn't turn out like you planned?", the author asks on the back cover of this book. How we answer that question will have a big effect on each of us. Kay continues, "You can be defeated by life's unavoidable disappointments, or you can become stronger because of them." In great detail and with many practical applications, she goes on to tackle these very difficult issues, always coming back to Scripture as a foundation and a sword.

I have read many books on this topic, and though I didn't find this one to speak quite as powerfully to me personally as some have, it really is an great book. Though full of Scripture, this book is less theological and apologetic in content than many, and as such would likely be less intimidating to those who just need straight, basic answers. It'd be an excellent book to give to any believer who is going through a time of disappointment, discouragement, or depression. A clear gospel message is also included, so it would also be an appropriate book for anyone who thinks or claims they are a believer yet do not truly know the Lord as Savior.

This edition of the book also includes a lengthy study guide portion in the back. I did not read through it closely, but it seems to be quite comprehensive and I expect it would be very helpful for anyone who needs to apply these truths in a very personal way.

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I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange this honest review.