Book Review: The Lifegiving Table

I am a big fan of Sally Clarkson and her books. From her homeschooling tips to her parenting advice, to sharing her homekeeping skills, Sally has been a source of encouragement to me, so I was very much looking forward to reading The Lifegiving Table, her newest book. This book takes many of the home-ministry concepts from The Lifegiving Home and adapts them for, of course, the table.

The Lifegiving Table contains 14 chapters about why and how you should turn your kitchen table into a place of feasting for friends, family, and anyone that walks into your home. Sally Clarkson explains how feasting at the table with family and friends can nurture every part of a person…physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

The other thing I liked about this book was that each chapter featured several “Clarkson Family Favorite” recipes, such as Easy-Peasy Chicken and Rice, Sally’s Birthday Cinnamon Rolls, Sarah’s Best Cream Scones, and Much-Better-Than-Delivery-Homemade Pizza.

I have really been contemplating the main idea behind this book–how you can effectively minister to the hearts and needs of your family by being intentional with mealtime. And as much as I would love to say that all my meals are prepared in a flourish of happiness with adoring, well-behaved children enthusiastically eating the made-from-scratch, organic feast set before them, that just doesn’t happen. Sometimes it’s really all I can do just to get a meal on the table. So, I really appreciated the chapter entitled Living Out Grace, that affirms these seasons of life. Sally gives some advice, though, that I have been trying to take to heart. First, to prepare for busy times by making freezer meals when I get the chance, to not feel guilty about having “snack meals”, and that the heart of ministering through a meal is more important than the meal itself.

Once again, I have found great advice from Sally Clarkson about how to create a restful, inviting home in the midst of this crazy world.

*I received a copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Book Review: Cherished Mercy

I’ve been looking forward to the third and final installment of Tracie Peterson’s Heart of the Frontier series after reading the first two books in the series, Treasured Grace and Beloved Hope. The series follows the lives of the three Flanagan sisters, beginning with the historical event of the Cayuse Indian attack on Whitman Mission in present-day Washington State in 1847.

Book one tells us about the Flanagan sisters’ trek west, and their experiences in the Whitman massacre. It tells of Grace and her newfound relationship with future husband, Hope and her devastating horrors at the hands of the Cayuse men who took the women at the mission hostage, and Mercy, who was only twelve at the time, and how she saw the attacks.

Book two takes place a few years later, and focuses on Hope and her journey of healing from the attacks.

Book three, Cherished Mercy, obviously focuses on Mercy. This story takes place 8 years after the attacks on the Whitman Mission, although there are still strong tensions with the local Indian populace. Mercy has been asked by friends Eletta and Isaac Browning to travel south through Oregon Territory to help with Eletta’s difficult pregnancy, and increasing tensions with the natives at the mission where Isaac is a minister.

While with the Brownings, Mercy meets Isaac’s brother Adam and is intrigued by him, although Adam seems to push her away. After several tragedies, Adam and Mercy begin to wonder if a relationship is part of God’s will for them.

Like the other two books in the series, I really enjoyed Cherished Mercy. It was a good final book in the trilogy, as it brought things full circle. (Not to spoil, but I enjoyed the ending…) While it was a sad and difficult time in history, I was happy to read about the Flanagan girls and how they managed to continue trusting in God despite their world being so uncertain and difficult.

I am sad this series is done, but I look forward to reading the next series Tracie Peterson is working on!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Book Review: Abiding Mercy

Abiding Mercy begins 15 years ago in a grocery store in Michigan. Wealthy Roslyn Colepepper is knocked unconscious after grocery shopping (an errand typically run by the nanny), and her 18 month old daughter Adriana is abducted.

The next chapter begins in the Amish country of Northern Michigan and introduces us to Faith Pinkham. Faith is a 16 year old Amish girl who is counting down the days until she can be baptized into her Amish community, and hopefully settle down with a nice Amish boy and start a family.

Faith is content with her life. She works at the restaurant her parents own, The Amish Table, and enjoys fishing, gardening, and church functions. One rainy evening, however, she receives word that her parents have been involved in a buggy accident, and have been injured. Aside from concern over her parent’s injuries, she is required to help even more with the restaurant. Gideon has also started to volunteer in the restaurant duties, so the two of them begin spending a lot of time together and want to begin courting once Faith is baptized.

One day during a church function, however, Faith’s life is completely turned upside down, as she learns about the abducted Adriana and begins to question everything and everyone she’s ever known. Who is she? Where does she belong? Can she ever trust her friends and family again?

I enjoyed Abiding Mercy. I liked how we were following two stories at the same time–the past story of Adriana meeting up with the present story of Faith. It also gave a lot of opportunities for deep thought…how would you react if you were Faith? The parents of the abducted child? The Amish parents of Faith? Gideon? The ending seemed a little hasty, but it was satisfying. Hopefully there will be a sequel, though. I would love to learn how Faith reconciles her past and future.

*I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers and the publishers. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.



Book Review: Beloved Hope

Beloved Hope is the second book in Tracie Peterson’s Heart of the Frontier series. (See my review of book one, Treasured Grace).

This second book follows Hope, the middle sister of the three Flanagan girls who survived the Cayuse Massacre at the Whitman Mission in late 1847 (this story is told in book 1). Beloved Hope opens in May 1850, as Hope is wrestling with the memories of the massacre and subsequent captivity because she has been asked to testify in the trial against the Cayuse who were responsible for the deadly attack. At the mission, not only was Hope’s beau John Sager (an actual historical figure) murdered, but she was taken advantage of multiple times during the captivity.

In the two years that has passed, Hope has maintained bitterness and unforgiveness against Tomahas-the Cayuse who stole her innocence–and wants nothing but revenge. She has closed herself to friendships and other relationships, and is convinced that she is no longer capable of loving or being loved.

Army Lieutenant Lance Kenner is stationed in the Oregon City area and has been assigned to keep order during the Cayuse Trial. He meets Hope when the young woman goes to the prison where Tomahas and the other braves are being held with a gun in an attempt to kill Tomahas herself. He is intrigued by this fiery young woman, but Hope has made it very clear that she wants no part in a relationship.

Meanwhile, Lance is struggling with his own feelings of resentment and unforgiveness, and he is stunned to learn that someone close to Hope has ties to the man who killed Lance’s brother. Can Hope and Lance push aside the pain of the past and open themselves up enough to be loved? Or will their bitterness stand in the way of true happiness?

I liked this book quite a bit–it was not nearly as sad as the first book in the series, and instead focusing on hope, second chances, and forgiveness. I enjoyed getting to know Hope, rejoicing with Alex and Grace as Grace as she prepares to give birth to their first child, and watching Mercy mature into a lovely young woman. In fact, I am looking forward to the next book in the series, which I assume will follow Mercy.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Bible Review: Kids Visual Study Bible

9780310758600, NIV Kids' Visual Study Bible, Hardcover, Full Color Interior : Explore the Story of the Bible—People, Places, and HistoryMy daughter is almost 9, so she is ready for a “meatier” Bible, with deeper study notes but she still loves the fun little inserts and bright colors of the younger kid’s Bibles. I was really intrigued with the Kids Visual Study Bible, because it seemed to have the best of both worlds. The Bible, in the NIV translation, is a study Bible that is also chock full of color illustrations and photos, maps, and cultural details of Bible times.

The side 1/3 of each page in this Bible yellow, and includes study notes written for kids to get a better understanding of the verses. The inner 2/3 of each page is the actual Scripture. The visuals in this Bible are great…it includes many lists, timelines, references, and charts and gives a clearer understanding of Bible stories.

My daughter and I were both equally impressed with this Bible. I tend to prefer the NKJV in general, but with the amount of information and commentary this Bible had, it didn’t bother me too much that it was an NIV. Just flipping through it, I really enjoyed the commentary, which gave good information at a child’s level without being too simplistic. The maps and illustrations really helped to bring the Bible alive too. My only minor complaint is that there is no verse index in the back to search for a verse using a specific word. That would have been helpful, but again, this book is well worth it for a child who has outgrown the kiddie Bibles but still wants some colorful features.

*I received a copy of this Bible from Zondervan Publishing and BookLook Bloggers. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.