Book Review: “When Jesus Wept”

As a self-proclaimed history nerd, I enjoy reading books that have an historical element, and historical fiction has always been my favorite book genre.

My favorite authors of this genre to date has to be Brock and Bodie Thoene. They have written dozens of gripping books over more than a few series, including settings in 1930s Germany, 1940s Israel, and the 1st Century AD. The Thoene’s most recent series, The Jerusalem Chronicles, takes a creative stab at the life of Jesus, and His followers and ministry. The first book in this series, When Jesus Wept (Jerusalem Chronicles, The), focuses on the life of Lazarus.

The thing I like most about the Thoene’s writing is also the most aggravating at times. They bring so much detail and character development to their stories, that I can bank on the first 50 pages being really slow. Luckily, once I’ve gotten past the background information and character development, the rest of the book flies by and I can’t seem to put it down.

When Jesus Wept brings the story of Lazarus to life, and through a fictional account of Lazarus’s background, allows you to feel connected to him through his journey as a vineyard owner to being the center of one of Jesus’s most famous miracles–raising him from the dead. One of my favorite parts of the book was how the Thoene’s used vineyard allegories and comparisons when describing Jesus’s miracles and mission. The book was very interesting, and I like how they brought characters and incidents in from some of their previous books so it felt very pulled together.
Jesus Wept was different from some of the other Thoene books in terms of action. Their series that are set in the early state of Israel (Palestine in 1947-1948), and Germany and Austria in the 1930s are filled with action, tense scenarios, and adventure. Jesus Wept is more dialogue and character building for what I’m assuming will be the rest of the series. It did a good job portraying Jesus as human while still presenting Him as the fullness of God, and I enjoyed how they described Jesus’s miracle of the Water into Wine at the wedding, using some of the background information on vineyards and wine making the Thoene’s had presented in the early pages when introducing us to Lazarus.

In summary, I enjoyed this book, but I wouldn’t say this was my favorite series thus far. I would have liked to have seen more action, and there were obviously some creative liberties taken in describing how they imagined Jesus and His followers.

**I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher for review. All reviews and opinions are my own.

Living Joyfully:Today

There are a few life lessons that we seem to learn too late. I’ve learned in recent years that my parents were usually right…staying up late was not in my best interest (or anyone else’s that would be around me the following morning), high school drama would not determine the rest of my life, and that they didn’t hate me for making me eat broccoli. (I can’t say the same about the infamous “International Night” of dinner, though, in which my mother once served French Toast, Mexican Quesadillas with American cheese, and Chinese fried rice. On the same plate. I shudder to this day and wonder if it was some passive aggressive response to my not cleaning my room.) In any case, as I’ve gotten older, the list of “If I knew then what I know now,”s has gotten increasingly longer.

One lesson I’m trying to keep in mind right now is simple yet difficult to grasp. The concept that time is fleeting and nothing from this earth lasts forever is something I remind myself of when I need a little perspective.

We need to enjoy today for today. Not for what it was, or what it will be, but for what it IS.

When I was in college, I had my sights set on one particular guy. “If he only noticed me,” I’d think, “Then I’d be happy.”

Said boy fell in love with my and proposed. “If only we were married,” I’d think, “Then I’d be happy.”

We soon got married and things were good. For a while. “If only we had a house, then I’d be happy,” is what would go through my mind. (I think you see where this is going.) 

We got the house, next on the list was a baby. After the baby was born, I would dream of the day she’d start sleeping through the night. Then the day she’d start walking. Then the birth of the next child…the never ending cycle had begun, because I didn’t know how to be grateful for the now, and was just focused the next.

If we can’t be happy right now, we will never truly be happy. Ever-changing circumstances will determine our attitude and rule our perspective. 

Today, even in the trials, find something to be grateful for. Set your sights on goals and future plans, but don’t let them get in the way of enjoying everything you can in the moment you’re in. I can never go back to the days I missed by wanting something bigger and better, but I can change the way I look at things now.

Check out all the Living Joyfully articles for some encouragement.

Weekly Menu-May 14-19, 2012

Ah, glorious late spring. I love this time of year, using all sorts of fresh, clean, and crisp ingredients. This week, we got our first batch of purple potatoes from the garden, so I’ll be using those, as well as fresh herbs that have also begun to produce, in our meals this week. I’m freezing some meals this week, (such as extra pulled pork and a few extra servings of baked ziti). My budget for this week is $60.

Monday, May 14
Smoked BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Purple Potato French Fries

Tuesday, May 15
Smoked BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Purple Potato French Fries

Wednesday, May 16
Sausage and Bell Pepper Baked Ziti
Spinach Salad with homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette

Thursday, May 17
Cobb Salad
Toasted Garlic Bread

Friday, May 18
Homemade Pepperoni Pizza
Spinach Salad with homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette

Saturday, May 19

Cost Per Serving…
-Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Coleslaw, Baked French Fries: $1.40/serving
-Sausage and Pepper Baked Ziti, Spinach Salad: $1.83/serving
-Cobb Salad with Toasted Garlic Bread: $1.50/serving
-Homemade Pepperoni Pizza: $1.50/serving 

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Art Project–Paper Easter Eggs

My daughter and I decorated foam Easter Eggs last year, but I had forgotten about it until I saw this post from Motherhood On a Dime the other day. This project is kind of made up from a bunch of scrap art supplies, which makes it even easier!

First, clean off the art table. Optional, but recommended. Especially if having things all cattywampus stresses you out. But, it may not. I’ll leave my organizational issues at the door…

Ahhh, much better. (We won’t discuss the paint that won’t come off the tablecloth.) You can use any supplies you want for this project. I have foam Easter Egg cutouts, but you can use construction paper instead of the foam. Just cut out an egg shape. We also used glitter (glitter makes me happy), tissue paper squares, pom-poms. and sequins.

Put the glue and all the decorations out and let your kids do their thing. My daughter started out with the colored tissue paper squares.

Then she moved on to sequins.

The floor didn’t look nearly as messy as I thought it would. My baby is growing up. (Sniffle, sniffle.)

After a couple healthy doses of glitter, here are the finished products. Mine is on the left. I once got a “C” in art. How on earth does one get a “C” in art? But, then again, how does a 20 year old receive a “B” in a course that included using 3-D glasses and foam puzzle pieces? So much for celebrating creativity. Pshawwww.

Anyway, I love this project because it’s kind of like the “Leftover Night” of art projects. You can use whatever you have on hand to decorate, and it’s fun and easy. And tell me, what better combination is there on earth that fun, easy, and glittery? (Hint: The answer is NONE!)

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Weekly Menu, March 4-9, 2012

Since I haven’t been able to tolerate dairy, I’ve been experimenting with non-cow’s milk products. Some have been a hit (coconut milk is my new favorite baking ingredient), while some have been a horrible miss (a soybean does not have mammary glands, therefore it should not be the source of a product marked as “cheese”). I’ve managed to substitute for almost every dairy product, but I could not find a way to make pizza taste like, well, pizza.

Enter Buffalo Mozzarella. It’s creamy, rich, and yes, I’ll admit a splurge. (Since I really only needed to purchase produce this week, it was still in our budget.) I made BBQ Chicken Pizza the other night using the Buffalo Mozzarella and it was very good. A little tangy from the cheese, but a great substitute for cow mozzarella. So, now I’m on a pizza kick. In fact, I can’t wait for pizza night this week!

Here’s the rest of our menu this week:

-Muffins and Fresh Fruit
-Oatmeal with Fresh Fruit and Toast x 2
-Coconut Milk Pancakes and Fresh Fruit  x 2
-Bagels and Fresh Fruit

-Out to Eat x 2
-Ham Sandwiches with Chips and Fruit x 2
-Peanut Butter and Celery with Chips

-Chicken Fajitas (marinated in homemade mojo), Chips and Salsa
-Sausage, Pepper and Mushroom Pizza, Green Salad
-Spaghetti (homemade sauce from freezer), Green Salad, Garlic Bread
-Baked Salmon, Brown Rice, Steamed Green Beans
-Strawberry Balsamic Salad, Garlic Bread

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