Monday, December 30, 2013

10 Books That Have Stuck With Me

A friend tagged me in a post on Facebook, a "Bookish Game" as she called it, which she answered then tagged us to answer as well: What 10 books have stuck with you?

I have been pondering this since last night.  I could do 10 recent books, more impressive, more in alignment with what I think and believe now, or I could just be more vulnerable and honest.  Choosing books that have helped to shape who I am today, in small and big ways, depending on the book.  So I am.  And instead of just listing the titles on facebook, I wanted to expound a little on why I chose the ones I did.  I prefer to give a more lengthy answer on a blog than merely on facebook.  Those who were curious enough to click the link can read more.

Please note, the scriptures have "stuck with me" the most, so it receives the highest regard.  But this is a list that have supplemented the scriptures.

Ten Books That Have Stuck With Me:

David Livingston Biography
 Little Pilgrims Progress
 Authentic Beauty 
Mere Christianity
Tortured for Christ
Law & Liberty
Westminster Confession of Faith
William The Baptist
Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America

  I have color coded the books in order of the time of life I read them.   Red books were ones I read in my younger years, specifically "junior high" age.  I don't remember which I read first, possibly Little Pilgrims Progress, which was part of the school curriculum my mom bought.  I wasn't required to read it, I was just intrigued by the title.  I never heard of John Bunyan, and this particular book was very close to the original, just updated for younger readers to grasp, and a slight modernization of language. (I read the original a few years back).  It was very likely the first "Meaty" book I ever read by myself and I've never forgotten it.  I still can picture the cover of the hardback book, little Christian on a path toward the celestial city.  It was my first taste of the realities of Christian living, and though it took many years for me to actually understand the ramifications, I know the Lord had me read it then to plant the seeds in my life to grow later.  The David Livingston Biography I read shook me to my core.  I was absolutely enthralled with this selfless, courageous, disciplined, man of God and his life!  But it also absolutely terrified me.  I hated the thought of becoming a missionary and did NOT want God to "make me be a missionary" as I thought back then.  I was also acutely aware of the fact that this man was everything I was not, I was selfish, scared, and very undisciplined.  Though this is a very mild biography of David Livingston, as I have come to find out this past September (due to Peter Hammond's talks given on his life), I am grateful to have read this simpler biography many years ago.  It turns out the heart and theology of Dr. Livingston was incredibly more robust than I ever knew. I am highly in favor of naming a son after this mighty man of the faith!  His life and story has impacted me and I've thought of it very often over the years.  

Orange books were ones I read during my "high school" age.  A dear friend of mine had asked me if I wanted to do a bible study with her, Authentic Beauty, and this book was one that literally rocked my world.  Through reading this book and doing the study, I came face to face with the ugliness of my own sin and pride.  It was using this book that the Lord began to change my heart and I began to understand what love and grace truly meant.  I prayed my first "Calvinistic" prayer (hah!), by being utterly honest with God and telling Him that either He was who He said He was in His word, or He was the wimpy God I knew through church and the shallowness of everyone around... so I told Him, I don't enjoy reading your word, and I think I know pretty much all there is to know about You... and I can't stand to believe in a god like that, so IF You are who you say You are in Your word (that I thought I knew well! hah!), then reveal Yourself to me, and give me a desire to read and love Your word!  It is here I will link you to an older blog post where there is a Quote From Ludy Book, though it is after high school, it is a excerpt from one of their books, not sure if it's from Authentic Beauty or not.  It portrays my thoughts after reading things such as this.  In any event, I came face to face with the reality of my faith and realized how puny it was, how I knew so little of the cross, and that I could care less about reading the bible (but I never would have admitted that to ANYONE at the time, I was the "Angel" Christian).  How faithful God is in drawing me unto Himself and bringing friends into my life to give me good reading that would convict and be a tool to change my life.  His Spirit was doing such a work in me at the time!  Mere Christianity is one I read that prompted me to realize believing in Christ & His Word was more than "blind faith", but there is so much more intellectually.  I never thought much about apologetics until I took a class at one church, then read this work of Lewis'.  It was a whole new world to look at the bible and realize there was such depth to it!  Without reading a few works of C.S. Lewis, I never could have been ready to read Bahnsen or Rushdoony (let alone Van Til, which I read an article of his before the two previous mentioned).

Yellow books were ones I read after my short duration as a student at Texas A&M.  (After Fall 2010).  Tortured for Christ was one that left me speechless.  Here I wrote a little one it in This Blog Post.  This sparked a passion in me to live and be content where God had me (which was a very difficult place at the time), and a new understanding that to suffer for Christ was not something to be resistant to, but rather to walk the path God had ordained for me to walk on... suffering or no. (Hint, lot's of suffering followed, but that's another story for an in person kind of conversation).  Law And Liberty was a jolt into the reality that God's word is for every area of life.  I turned each page and said, yes... yes... yes!- I couldn't believe someone explained things so well and that I had missed so much before.  Something I knew, but was slowly coming to understand was that faith was for ALL of life, and that there was a definite, amazing, and wonderful congruency between the old and new testaments.  God's standard is not something that changes or passes away, it is something for me here and now, and for all men.  I need to read this one again soon. (:  I'll admit, I actually have not read the entire Westminster Confession of Faith, it is a work in progress.  But when I first stumbled upon this confession it was after reading an article written by Van Til, which was posted on a reformed website that I explored, seeing the confession.  I was blown away!  I had NO idea that such a thing existed, that faithful men of God had systematically laid out the essential truths of the Christian faith, with scripture proofs!  All I had been exposed to were those teeny tiny little "Statements of Faith" most of the baptist churches I attended/been a member of had on their websites.  I did quickly discover the London Baptist Confession too, and read it as well.  Now I am a member of a church that holds to the Westminster Standards, which would have been totally foreign to me a few short years ago.  My how things change!

 Green is 2011 when I first began to be aware of a richer and deeper understanding of the scriptures and how it affected my entire life.  So I was visiting different churches because I was so hungry to hear the word of God and was tired of listening to sermons online... I wanted to fellowship with those who heard the word being preached.  I first visited the church I am now a member of, and the pastor (now my father in law! Again, how times change!) and he asked what questions I had after the service.  I was very drawn to the Presbyterian form of government, the little I read before visiting, but just didn't know what to think of their views on baptism.  So he recommended William The Baptist which was the exact introduction I needed, a short easy to read book chock full of scripture, and it helped that it was a fictional story setting to make it more engaging to read on the doctrine.

Blue is during the time I was engaged to my now husband, just over 2 years ago.  Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America  is without a doubt one of the best things I have ever read on modesty, hands down.  This was during a time where I was struggling inwardly with establishing a standard of dress for myself, of which I was resolved that being pleasing to the Lord and dressing modestly was of more importance than what my clothes looked like.  Not that I dressed horribly, it was just different than times before, and this "new style" or lack of style some might say, caused me a lot of grief from others.  This book helped to round out my understanding considerably, and actually prompted the one of the first blog posts on this blog, Here.  I wrote the blog post a few months after reading the book.  This book gave me more biblical understanding and reasoning for why, and gave me much freedom in this area.  I can better articulate the "why" I dress the way I do since reading this book.  Which is of utmost importance, to give a biblical reason for why you live your life the way you do!

Other Blue (I know, I could call it royal, but whatever) is this past year.  Samuel gave me Apostate for my birthday this year.  An excellent book!  After finishing it, now months later, Samuel and I are reading it together.  Kevin Swanson is such a good writer; witty, intelligent, serious, and thorough on all points.  This is the book to read to get an understanding and engage in the worldview battle.  

Why did I not choose the book title for which this blog is centered around?  Since this blog is centered around it, I figured I have exclaimed my love for Luther quite enough and to give recognition to others for once. (;    There now.  A little insight into why these books have stuck with me.  They have all been a part of me and shaped who I am today.  I thank the Lord for giving me a love of reading and books, and that He has used so many different authors to impact my life throughout the years.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Year In Review

This is my completed reading list of 2013.  Though I did not read everything I initially set out to read, I read far more than what my goal was, for that I feel accomplished.  It is because of the unexpected changing of the seasons of life and my desire to grow in knowledge, understanding, and to prepare for the future.  I plan to continue my reading goal of one book per month... possibly for the rest of my life. (:  There are so many books I want to read and it is amazing how simply setting a goal and organizing my reading ever so slightly, has greatly helped me to read more.  This has been a year of learning to be more organized.  From simply meal planning, to planning for the future, keeping our home orderly, etc. it has been well worth it.

A scale of 1-5 (Subject to change upon my own whim and will).

1) being, complete waste. Why did I finish it?
2) being, minimally thought provoking/entertaining. Won’t read it again.
3) being, borderline useful, mild usefulness in instruction about the faults in it/mildly entertaining; Enough good to be challenged, grow a little in thought. Might read it again.
4) being, a really great book, useful to instruct, thought provoking/good entertainment, very challenging, growth as a reader, way more good than bad, would recommend. Worth reading again.
5) being, found enjoyable, challenging, useful in many ways, would highly recommend with no holding back, over all EXCELLENT book. Need to read again!

A 3 1/2 star is not as harsh as a 3, but not quite deserving of a 4 (a really great book), but a good book none the less.

And without further ado, the completed reading list of this Housewife (and momma!!):
  1. How to Read a Book, Mortimer J. Adler  4 Stars
  2. The Bondage of the Will, Dr. Martin Luther  5 Stars
  3. The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin  3 Stars
  4. Easy Chairs, Hard Words, Doug Wilson  5 Stars
  5. The Last Disciple, Hank Hanegraaff  4 Stars
  6. The Revolution: A Manifesto, Dr. Ron Paul  4 Stars
  7. Beautiful Babies, Kristen Michaelis  4 Stars
  8. The Last Sacrifice, Hank Hanegraaff  4 Stars
  9. The Harsh Truth About Public Schools, Bruce Shortt  4 Stars
  10. Heroes of the Holocaust: True Stories of Rescues by Teens, Allan Zullo  4 Stars
  11. The Reward of Childhood Truth  5 Stars
  12. IndoctriNation, Colin Gunn  5 Stars
  13. Dollar NonCents, Peter Allison  5 Stars
  14. Duncan's War, Douglas Bond  5 Stars
  15. Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, Ina May Gaskin  4 Stars
  16. Maternal Fitness, Julie Tupler  3 Stars
  17. Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way, Susan McCutcheon-Rosegg  4 Stars
  18. Birth in Four Cultures, Brigitte Jordan 3 1/2 Stars
  19. Changing Diapers, Kelly Wels  4 Stars
  20. Gentle Birth Choices, Barbara Harper  3 1/2 Stars
  21. Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, R. C. Sproul Sr.  4 Stars
  22. Christ-Centered Childbirth, Kelly Townsend  4 Stars
  23. Husband Coached Childbirth, Dr. Robert Bradley 4 Stars
  24. The Power of Prayer Handbook, Peter Hammond  5 Stars
  25. The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, Rosaria Champagne Butterfield  5 Stars
  26. Blood Money: The Civil War & The Federal Reserve, John Remington Graham  4 Stars
  27. Breastfeeding & Fertility, Jenny Silliman  4 Stars
  28. Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in Trenches, Rachel Jankovic 3 1/2 Stars
  29. Apostate, Kevin Swanson  5 Stars
  30. Breastfeeding: A Parents Guide, Amy Spanger  5 Stars
  31. On Becoming BabyWise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nigh Time Sleep, Gary Ezzo 3 1/2 - 4 Stars
  32. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, Le Leche League International  3 1/2 Stars

You can go through the archives of my blog to read the reviews, or click here to view my GoodReads profile.

Currently I am reading The Cure of Souls, R.J. Rushdoony, The Other Baby Book, Megan McGrory Massaro as well slowly going through the Westminster Confession Study Guide by G.I. Williamson.  That is more of a long term reading, since I am using it in more of a "devotional" way, reading small bits.  Before II Samuel was born I read it with my bible reading.  Now I just read it occasionally while nursing my precious baby boy, even reading aloud to him so he benefits from the rich systematic teaching of my beloved bible!  I'm also reading through The Institutes of Biblical Law by Rushdoony as the book to go with a ladies bible study I recently joined (and after one week, already loving both the time to discuss & learn with other ladies, but to be extremely challenged by such a book as this!).

Also, what could be more fitting than drinking a cup of tea as I plink away at updating this post?  This is a delicious and exotically interesting tea blend called, "Sweet Cinnamon Spice" of the Tazo brand.  Yum!  A dear friend gave me a lot of teas when she came and visited II Samuel and I.  She knows I love tea!  Very rarely do I find a tea that doesn't need anything added to it.  Maybe I should do tea reviews too?  Haha, just kidding. (:

Here is my original book list:
How to Read a Book, Adler & Doren - 346 (11 pages a day)
The Bondage of the Will, Dr. Martin Luther - 260 (9 pages a day)
Nullification, Tom Woods -  266 (8 1/2 pages a day)
Last Days Madness, Gary Demar - 442 (15 pages a day)
Dollar Noncents, Peter Allison - 155 (5 pages a day)
The Excellent Wife, Martha Peace - 249 (8 1/2 pages a day)
The Creature from Jekyll Island, G. Edward Griffin - 588 (19 pages a day)
Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, R.C. Sproul (Sr.) - 287 (9 pages a day)
The Revolution a Manifesto, Dr. Ron Paul - 167 (5 1/2 pages a day)
The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, John Owen - 309 (10 pages a day)

I find it interesting that I finished exactly half of what I intended to read.  I still want to read these titles, and perhaps I will finish them in 2014.  As for kicking off my reading goal, I did stay the course of reading X amount of pages each day for the first few months.  Then I found out I was pregnant.  Then I started reading multiple books, sigh.  That nasty habit weasled its way back into my reading regime.  But even so, I accomplished far more reading than I set out to do, and wanting to learn as much about labor/pregnancy/birth/postpartum really motivated me!  For that I count it as a blessing, even if I did not stick to my original plan rigidly.  But part of finishing so many books was being flexible, and part of having a rigid regime enabled me to begin at all.  Both styles of reading were beneficial to me this year.

There is no way I can pick one favorite.  I enjoyed them all, though I did like some better than others.  I am hard-pressed to choose a "favorite" and instead point to my ratings as a guess as to which ones I liked better than others. (;

I thank the Lord for giving me the perseverance to accomplish my 12 book reading goal, and go even further beyond what I thought I could finish.  I have grown mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually as a result of reading this vast array of book titles!  They all impacted me in very different ways, yet I'm grateful to have read them all. 

Baby (Has Been) HERE!

Well, lookie here,

Birthday was November 14th, 2013 at 10:47am. (:  His name is Samuel Rutherford Allison II.  Weighing in at 8 lbs. 14 oz.  Length 21 1/2''.  Apgar score was 9/10!

There is so much to say, so much to write, and less time to say it all.  As I type these words my precious bundle of joy is laying on my chest sleeping contentedly.  I don't always like to lay him down in his co-sleeper crib because I love holding him so much! And since I am simply tapping away at a keyboard, I can hold him easily (as opposed to dishes, or say eating, lol!) thanks to my boppy billow from a friend!  He is so precious.  I can still hardly believe he is here in my arms after so many months of preparing, waiting, and praying for him. (:

For the record, I am working on writing out his Birth Story and will share it on this blog, as well as a 2013 Complete Book List Post.  Both of which I hope to post before December is over.  They are both a work in progress. 

About this baby, and life with him.  It is humbling.  Extremely humbling.  From day one of his life it has taught me this deep reliance on my sovereign Lord, realizing ever more how I am not the one in control, but that I depend upon the Lord and His graciousness toward me.  It has made me acknowledge in so many moments that He is the one who holds us in His hands.  For example needing this baby to poop and pass all that meconium.  Yes, cue the parent blog posts talking about poop! I am that  mom now.  It really was crazy how badly we were waiting for him to poop, wondering if his diapers were wet enough, and wondering if he was getting enough to eat!  He lost 4 oz. by the second day.  Then Day 3 he had an explosion! Like, his diaper could not contain it and it went ALL over and up his back, right when Grandma Sue arrived for her first visit, LOL!  My sweet and selfless husband cleaned the baby up and managed to save the Onsie my bestie Hannah gave to him.  And I'm talking the black, tarry, sticky, so hard to clean up poop.  You know if you're a mom, and you'll know when you have a baby. O_o Since then he has produced a massive amount of soiled diapers, praise the Lord!  And when he wasn't, I was silently praying to the Lord in each moment, not wanting to worry, but to cast all my cares and anxieties on the Lord.  And at his two week visit he gained TWO WHOLE POUNDS!  And grew to 22 3/4''.  Apparently, according to my midwife, they typically hope for babies to gain half a pound in the first two weeks.  (: He's eating like an Allison already!

It is surreal to me that I could love a little person so much.  It has also been amazing how Samuel and I's relationship has grown deeper and sweeter.  I love him even more, and it continually surprises me how I could possibly love him more than before!  He has been so selfless, so sacrificial, so gracious, so loving, so very patient and dear to me.  His tenderness has touched me deeply, both toward me and II Samuel.  I honestly do not know what I would have done without him home the first week and half.  He's been amazing. (:  Still is!  I look at my Samuels and my heart is so full of love for both of them.  One of the best parts about mothering, so far, for me has been nursing my little one and seeing him grow on the nourishment my body is providing for him.  It is indescribable.  I look down at his sweet face and he looks so secure and at peace.  His little baby breathing and eyes are so mesmerizing.  It wasn't easy at first, but nor was it horrible.  Just minor discomfort compared to some of the stories I've heard. How fearfully and wonderfully we are made, how perfect the Lord crafted mother's bodies to meet the needs of their child, I praise Him for His works are great!

It's constantly a learning process for us all.  It's been interesting to implement some of the things I read about before.  You could say I'm somewhere in the middle between Attachment Parenting and Babywise parenting.  We coslept the first two weeks, then moved him to the "Arms Reach Co-sleeper" that attaches to the side of your bed.  We do a mixture of "demand" feeding and trying to establish a routine.  In many other instances it's been a both/and.  I don't like the concept of "baby-led" very much, because those who advocate for it seem to think the infant knows all and knows it's own needs and the parents ought to respond accordingly.  On the contrary, God has given us the responsibility to care for this little one, we are accountable to Him for the way we raise this baby, so we are the ones directing this child in life according to the word of God.  Even now.  We were given this gift, we are entrusted with his care, so we lovingly lead this little one, nurturing him, and depending upon God for our every need (and teaching II Samuel the same!).  So far I am learning to recognize some of his patterns, his little baby noises, and how to calm him down.  It can be tearful sometimes, but I have a wonderful husband who is so encouraging.  So I watch for when he is communicating and learning what his "cues" are, while lovingly (learning how to) guide him.

He's nearly 4 weeks old and I am ready to get on with this new normal.  But it has been such a sweet time of rest and recovery.  We have been abundantly blessed by so many friends and family during these first few weeks.  And as I ease back into my regular life, I m thankful for the time I spent before of freezing so many meals and prepping things to make the transition easier.  But oh wow, I was not prepared for how much more laundry a baby could produce! I'm glad I took the time to make our laundry detergent before he was born.

(Looks like a little pitcher already!)

This new season is a blessed one.  In the midst of this journey called life, I pray that the Lord would continue to keep me humble, pliable, and ready to learn, grow, and change as He moves me from place to place and from season to season.  It is quite a paradox, for things to seem to be changing as life goes on, and yet there is such peace, security, and stability in trusting in God's plans... especially as He has given me a steadfast husband who gives me earthly security.  I am so grateful for the good gifts my heavenly Father bestows on me, especially my husband, the greatest gift I have received in this life, and second being my son.  What a joy it is to rest in the knowledge and love of my Redeemer.  May this life of mine be for His glory and nothing less.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pregnancy Expectations

I keep having these thoughts and feelings of, "The baby will come at ANY time from now on." and part of it is the overwhelming peace and calm, and another part of it is, "Ok, let's get these things done!!"  Since I've read a myriad of pregnancy and labor related books, my expectation is that I really do not have any preconceived expectations.  I don't expect the baby to come on his "due date" and know it could be before or after, or on the due date, really any time.  God has numbered the hairs on my head and He has providentially ordained when my baby will born into this world, so I am not holding onto some arbitrary date, I see it more as a motivation to have things ready and in order weeks before that date.  There is such peace because I trust in the Lord and His will, not only for my salvation, my every day life, but also in labor and birth.  Maybe I'll take 2 days of laboring, maybe a few hours, either way, I will draw on His strength and the support of those who He has surrounded me with.

But what about the "nesting"?  Maybe that is what it is, I've had people ask, "So have you gone into nesting mode yet?" and I've said no, because I didn't feel like I had.  But this last week and a half I've felt this urgency to have some simple things prepared.  Part of the craziness is waiting until the baby shower to see what things people are kind enough to gift us with, and then make a list of essentials I want in the home before the birth.  Part of me thinks, "What if everyone gives me a bunch of cute stuff that I can do without?!" then we have a lot of money to spend before the baby arrives!  But if I can trust the Lord with labor and birth, then I most certainly can trust Him to provide the essentials, especially since I know the Lord uses means, and one of those means is a hard working husband who loves his unborn child so fully!

One of the non-baby related preparations I want to finish by next week is freezer meals/snacks.  It's quite popular on pinterest and the food bloggers to do "40 meals in 4 hours!", but I've found that isn't very feasible for our budget, especially because I do not buy cheap meat and cheap food-like products.  In fact, it's kind of annoying how 95% of freezer meals out there are so meaty.  We consume about a fraction of the amount of the meat the average American family eats.  And when we do, I try and find the higher quality hormone free, grass fed, free range, etc. types.  So even if I wanted to do 40 meals in one Saturday and have it all done with, the meat would be far too expensive, aside from the fact that I don't want to eat meat for every meal.  Mixing it in with something is more feasible.  Thus, I've just been trying out a few new meals that are freezer friendly, or making some normal meals we eat that are freezer friendly, and doubling or tripling it so we can eat it for dinner, then I can freeze the rest for later.  No extra work on my part, since I'm cooking dinner every night anyway, and I'm slowly stocking my freezer.  Note, slowly.  Which I'm ready to have it full, but this method works for me and our budget, so I'm just learning to be patient.  But then that thought, "What if the baby were born NEXT week and I only have a weeks worth of freezer meals?!?!"  Well then, we'll only have one week of convenience, I suppose.

Our home is not really baby-ready yet, due to waiting on the shower.  But that's ok. Come next Monday, I know that will change significantly, and come Saturday night, I'll probably have a working list for Samuel of what items I think we need, and then discuss what he thinks we need. (:  It's all so surreal to think about because our little man is almost here.  The exciting new season of parenthood, diapers, feeding, and learning about a little person is so close, and as excited as I am now, I cannot comprehend what joy and excitement Samuel and I will have when it actually is here!

In summary, I've talked to many different people, read many different blogs, books, and advice, that the truth is, my expectations are that I don't really have set expectations.  I'm ready to be flexible and just experience it all as it comes.  God has been so incredibly gracious toward me throughout this whole pregnancy, that I count it all undeserved blessings.  I have not been horrible sick, I have not been hindered from doing my normal routines, and He has surrounded me with so much love and support that I cannot help but be overwhelmed.  This pregnancy has been one of great learning in many ways, both intensely personal, and in general, and I wouldn't trade one moment of it for anything.  I've had an amazing supportive husband who has lived out his Christ-like role of

"Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered." 1 Peter 3:7

Truly, Samuel has been so patient, loving, and understanding of me.  I could not ask for a more wonderful husband!  As we learn and grow together in marriage, I am always so struck by how perfectly we fit together, how good the Lord was in bringing us together.  Samuel is just the man I need and I know he will be just as understanding, loving, and patient after the baby arrives, as well as be a godly father to this little one.  There is such a confidence and peace knowing that my baby's daddy loves him just as much as I do.  I am thankful that the Lord has been so merciful to us, that we know His truth and that we desire to live lives pleasing to our Heavenly Father, for apart from His amazing grace, we would just be selfish sinners... and who knows where we might be.  We know that children are blessing, we know it is our responsibility to care for their physical and spiritual well-being, we know it will be hard work, but we know we cannot do it apart from God's grace.  How good the Lord is to reveal anything at all to us as a young couple. 

It is all for His glory, this pregnancy, this labor & birth, this child, and our family.

Monday, September 30, 2013

In Review: Christ-Centered Childbirth

Well it seems as if the number of books completed in September is the lowest of the year, but at least I finished one, right?-after all, one book a month was my goal.  It is that bad habit that has hindered me, the one where I am reading multiple books at once.  Samuel and I have 1 or 2 chapters left in Husband-Coached Childbirth so I cannot review it properly yet.  We also started reading The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosara Butterfield on our drive up to Omaha.  I received my copy of Apostateby Kevin Swanson in the mail shortly before we left for our trip, so of course I began reading it!  I'm not sure which book I will plan to finish for October.  But with September being so busy, planning for our trip, being gone for a little less than two weeks, and then being sick upon our arrival home, I just didn't have the time or energy to do extra reading.  I've found reading with a terrible headache is not really that enjoyable for me.

But our trip!-we went to the Providential History Festival which our sister church, Dominion Covenant Church hosts every year.  This years theme was God's providence in Missions.  The Keynote speaker was Dr. Peter Hammond, and Bojidar Marinov spoke as well.  It was such a thought-provoking, edifying, and challenging conference to be at, since both speakers actively challenged the audience and gave out many recommendations for reading.  Both said they are working on a "Worldview" reading list, and I hope to see those in the future.  Samuel and I were able to pick up some great resources while there.  Since Samuel's job requires a lot of driving in his work van, it was a blessing to support Peter Hammond and Frontline Missions, but also receive a lot of audioresources.  Samuel has a lot of time to listen, whereas I am the one with more time for reading, in this season of our lives.  So it was wonderful to find things for both of us!  I also spied a lot of new material in our church library as well. (: 

We also were blessed to visit his grandparents in Indiana afterward.  It is so precious to me that my unborn son has such a rich and godly heritage in being born an Allison.  He will have a godly father who loves him so dearly, even now in the womb, and grandparents-Samuel's father being a pastor, and great-grandparents-where Samuel's dad's dad was a pastor as well, and still and elder.  This will be the fourth generation of son's being raised in a Christian home with a biblical worldview.  How blessed!  So I enjoyed visiting his grandparents and getting to know them better, for they are so loving and accepting to all who enter their home, and have been especially to me, simply marrying into the family!  There is so much wisdom between all the generations in this family.  Though Samuel did get sick while on our trip and we canceled visiting Washington D.C., it was wonderful to spend more time with family.  Lord willing, we plan to visit them again next year and bring up our little baby boy to meet his great-grandparents.

I could write more, but I just wanted to include a short update on the blessings of this month and why I did less reading.  This next month will be full of excitement and preparation for the arrival of our little one, our home is starting to change, bit by bit, getting ready to hold baby things!  But, without further ado, here is the book I was able to finish in September:

Christ-Centered Childbirth
Kelly Townsend

This was such a refreshing book to read amid all the pregnancy/labor books I've been reading the last few months. One thing I've been wanting out of a pregnancy book was for it to be thoroughly Christian.  This was indeed, thoroughly Christian.  But, of course, I cannot write a review without my critique, right?  I cannot stress enough how much I enjoyed and appreciated this book, however, as "Christian" as it was, I still was a little disappointed by some of the practical theology/doctrine in it.  It would be wonderful to have a childbirth resource with a thoroughly biblical worldview and more orthodox theology in it.  That being said, I do not hold it against the author for her differing views because it was so obvious she was passionate about her faith, a genuine Christian, and passionate about helping women understand pregnancy and labor with the intention of glorifying the Lord in every aspect.

She is a big advocate for natural childbirth which was refreshing.  I haven't read "Supernatural Childbirth" but it is said the author of that book believes NO woman should ever have pain in childbirth, but the author of Christ-Centered Childbirth does not take that view, but rather believes birth to be a normal process with it very possible to experience zero pain, but even if there is pain, it is not this horrible excruciating pain commonly portrayed in our culture.  She believes we are "redeemed from the curse of the law" and so we do not have to have pain, as the curse of the fall indicates, but that we can seek to glorify the Lord in our birth, drawing from His strength, His peace, and His presence, not doing it in our own strength or "finding strength within" as many natural birth books say to do, but truly we are dependent on Christ to sustain us, not ourselves.  Which she stresses throughout the book, and since God is sovereign over all, wouldn't it make sense He is sovereign over labor and birth as well?  She is practical and realistic too.  She does not just say, "God's got this, just pray!", but rather has the understanding that the Lord works through means, and so we are responsible to prepare, but trust in the Lord for His provision and hand in what He wishes to accomplish.

Scripture is present all through out the book in every chapter.  She goes over nutrition, fitness, labor positions, effects of drugs and certain procedures, different stages of pregnancy, coaching techniques, a few birth stories, information on Doulas, an overview of "average" laboring, has many diagrams and pictures to help the reader visualize, she even goes into the feasts of the O.T. and parallels it to pregnancy, which was interesting, but I wondered at some of it being a stretch...  Over all, this book contains a LOT of information for the woman wanting a Christ-centered natural childbirth and pregnancy as a whole.  She does not go in depth on so many things, but this is a great starter for any Christian wanting to prepare and doesn't know where to start.

I believe this was self-published, and I found a lot of typing/spelling errors, but that is easily forgivable since it is obvious she didn't write this to make a lot of money, but truly wanted this resource to be available to any Christian woman.  I would absolutely recommend this book to any of my pregnant/newly married friends. (:

4 stars.

Friday, August 30, 2013

In Review: Birth in Four Cultures & Essential Truths of the Christian Faith

I am happy and quite pleased with my reading accomplishments for the month of August.  For the sake of brevity, you can look to my "Good Reads" profile for the reviews of the following books:

Changing Diapers: The Hip Mom's Guide to Modern Cloth Diapering by Kelly Wels
(4 Stars)
Gentle Birth Choices by Barbara Harper (3 1/2 Stars)

I also read Birth in Four Cultures & Essential Truths of the Christian Faith.  Since the latter was on my original reading list, I am reviewing it, but I went ahead and decided to include Birth in Four Cultures on the blog because of how fascinating it was.  It was of a different approach than the other birth/pregnancy books I've read, since it was not written for the lay person and masses, but originally a grad paper, so the tone and style of communication is quite different.  It is not one I would necessarily recommend to any pregnant lady, or woman wanting to conceive, unless they had lots of spare time to read and could read many other books too.  It's not an essential read for the expectant momma, by any means.

Birth in Four Cultures Brigitte Jordan
Truly, a fascinating book.  What started out as a comparative anthropological study of birth in different cultures by a grad student, Brigitte Jordan, has proved to open the discussion on traditional and medical birth and the pros and cons that go along with the differing systems.

This was the fourth edition and greatly expanded and updated, and yet it is 20 years old!  The original work was done 40 years ago.  I would be very interested to read another book of this sort that is current within the last few years.  The four cultures are the Yucatan, Mexico, Sweden, Holland, and the United States (California).  The first is an indigenous culture that primarily uses traditional midwives, the second, a modernized country where the use of drugs, etc. is very high, yet has a good birth outcome, the third, primarily natural births with midwives at home and in hospital, with doctors to take over complicated pregnancies, and the last, a controversial highly technological, interventionist, drug laden country where obstetricians are the supreme authority.  What was fascinating was the fact that though Sweden and the U.S. were both highly technologically and medically advanced in the area of birth (though, Holland is advanced too, they just reject the philosophies of these two nations), they had very different outcomes.  The author primarily focuses on the U.S. and the Yucatan in comparison, which was disappointing for me personally, since I was very interested to know more about the Dutch way of birth.

As an overview, The Swedish & Dutch have a socialized medical regime, whereas the U.S. and Yucatan do not.  The Swedish & U.S. both are routine in their obstetrical practice of drugs in pregnancy and treating it as a highly medical event.  In Holland and Yucatan, they see birth as a normal occurrence in women and completely natural, not needing highly specialized care in typical pregnancy and labor.  The Swedish are very informed about the drugs they can use in labor, and even choose which type and when they want it administered, and how much (since they are educated on the procedures, side effects, risks, etc), whereas most American women are completely ignorant of the safety or lack thereof of routine drug use and any procedures done to them and are treated rather childishly for their lack of understanding.  The Dutch women are evaluated and screened to find out if they fit in the normal pregnancy tier, or risky, or high risk.  They are given care accordingly and expected to labor naturally if no complications are foreseen, and drugs are not an option for them, unless they choose to opt in and pay for all the extra expenses themselves.  Interestingly, the Yucatan women see birth as a part of life and typically reject hospitalization for labor at all costs.  So most labor and birth in the quiet of their home, where the midwife comes to her.

This book compares more than just the practices of pregnancy, labor, and birth, but the social aspect, the "medical" aspect, or natural, and the cultural implications of such.  She urges for certain practices to be re-evaluated, and even gives her input on how to reconcile the gap between traditional labor and birth and the highly technological & medicalized view of birth. 

Over all, an interesting book to read, though at times a bit tedious due to the nature of the book being an anthropological study, (i.e., filled with many facts, statistics, data, footnotes to other research).  It was informative and useful, though I would not necessarily recommend this as pregnancy reading to most mommy-to-be's, simply because it was not as engaging or *fun* to read, like Ina May's book, which I highly recommend! But if you are very interested in all things baby, pregnancy, midwifery, etc. then this book is for you.

Essential Truths of the Christian Faith by R.C. Sproul Sr.

This is a book that every Christian ought to read, young or old, new to the faith or mature in the faith, as it is a refresher to some of the fundamental truths to our faith. For anyone who does not adhere to a confession of faith, or know the benefits of catechisms, would benefit the most to this systematic and easy to understand approach.  But it is so much more than mere concepts!  This book is the outpouring of a man who loves the Lord and meditates upon His word, loves His word, and wants others to love the Truth as well, and not fall by the way side of bad theology.  And R.C. Sproul is a very gifted teacher, both audio teaching, as well as the written word.  He has such a way with words in bringing things to an understanding level that all may comprehend, no matter what their background or how much they may or may not know about the bible.

If you are the type of Christian who says "No Creed but Christ!", or think theology and doctrine to be a hindrance or too much religion and prefer nothing but love and a relationship with the Lord Jesus, you would be pleasantly surprised as you read this book.  These are things that make us love the Lord more, humbly bow before His awesome presence, appreciate His mercy, grace, & truth, simply by reading them and being reminded of them.  Theology is not bothersome, on the contrary, it is the knowledge and study of God Himself!-the amazing Creator God who sent His Son to Redeem a people for Himself, to love and pour out His grace.  Why would you not want to know more about Him, to study Him and His word?  This book is an aid to that end.

As to the book itself and its contents, it was a very straight forward, concise, intelligent, clear, and easy to understand in simple yet thought provoking terms. This could even be used as a devotional since each "chapter" is 2 to 4 pages long.  And R.C. Sproul does not just spout off mere opinions, but in every single truth he presents and thoughtfully addresses, he includes four or more scriptures for reflection directly relating to the topic at hand, typically old and new testament.  Each topic ends with a review to give the reader a concise understanding of what was just read and presented to them.  I felt this provided clarity as well as a strengthening reminder for the memory. 

There were a few points in which I think he lacked, such as when he talks of Creation.  He merely says all things were created and need a creator, which was very weak in asserting that the bible is the standard for all truth and a Genesis Creation.  This may be controversial to some, but one of the other truths he presents is the infallibility of the word of God, so it seems he could have been stronger in this (and other) areas.  Over all, a very basic and general presentation of very important truths to our Christian faith, when it is biblically based.

God's word is indeed the standard, and R.C. Sproul seeks to show how essential our beliefs concerning the bible are, and what are the common things that hold us as Christians together, no matter what denomination.  And might I add, it was refreshing to read this from a covenantal position!  You will not waste your time reading this book.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Failure, Pregnancy, and a New Puppy!

Well, as upsetting as it is, right in the middle of my book goal, I have failed!  It seems life has caught up to me.  I have not completed a book from my reading list this past month.  *Sigh*

Part of my bad reading habit has caught up with me.  Namely: reading multiple books all at once.  It seems pregnancy is quickly growing and consuming more of me and my life, ha!  I'm reading multiple different pregnancy related books, Childbirth Without Fear, Maternal Fitness, & Childbirth the Natural Way, & Husband Coached Childbirth.  I did finish one light read in the month of June, Duncan's War, which I have the review up on my good reads profile (a 5 star).  I also finished reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, which the review is also up on my good reads profile (a 4 star).  I borrowed this from my Bradley Class Instructor's Lending Library, but it is definitely one I want for my own bookshelf.  I liked it so much I think every first time pregnant lady must read it! 

Since Samuel was the one who was the natural birth advocate out of the two of us (I was very open to it, but he was the driving force!), I didn't know as much about everything.  This pregnancy has caused me to read and do some light research of my own, educating myself about myself.  Ina May's book is probably my favorite, to date.  (Of course, that could be because it's the only pregnancy related book I have read cover to cover, so far).  Some books you just connect with and are so engaged in that you want to read it and finish it as soon as you can.  This was one of those books.  It was more engaging than Childbirth Without Fear, though I still want to finish this one.  It is absolutely amazing how God has prepared women's bodies for birth!  The more I read, watch, and learn, the more I am amazed and my confidence goes up.  We ladies do not have to buy into the cultural fear, stigmas, and portrayals by anyone with a negative attitude about labor! (Cue hollywood scene where woman screams in agony and yells at her husband "youuuuu did this to me!").  I am so thankful for the abundance of resources at my fingertips, and that the Lord has saw fit to reveal so much to me to prepare for such a wondrous event.  He has redeemed me, and He will uphold me, even in labor!  Now, to trust in Him when it hits is the key. (:

My life is just engulfed in pregnancy and baby related reading lately.  And I love it!  I'm very interested in Cloth Diapering as well, even though I haven't done in depth research about the health benefits of it, I've just heard mommy friends talk about the bleach and other junky things they put in regular disposable diapers.  CD interests me more for the economical aspect of it; if you stick with it and have a few babies, it will be infinitely cheaper in the long run.  Though I may be changing more diapers by myself if I go this route. (:  It would be worth it to save money in the long run though.  So many things to decide!

On a non baby note, we adopted a new furry friend, and he is super cute.  We named him Baxter, after the reformed minister, Richard Baxter.  We always have to have a good solid name for out pets, none of those random names for us. (: I'm fairly certain he is a Beagle and Rotweiler mix, since he looks like a Rotweiler but is smaller.  Plus, I did a google search and those pictures look the most like him.  On a doggy note, I am working with Lex (our Lab/Border Collie mix) to help prepare her for the baby, and my own sanity.  An obedient dog that does not jump on my lap sounds wonderful... especially if there is a baby in my arms! Baxter is very calm and is responding more to my commands of come and stay.  If only Lexi were as easy as he was...

Methinks that John Owen might get neglected until after the baby is born, or maybe until I slow down and get a lot bigger belly... which is sad.  There is only so much time in the day to read, and I have so much to learn about this new season of life I am in, and about to enter into!  So a heavy Theological work like his may not get the attention it needs til later. 

I think in August I will dedicate myself to one of the books off my reading list and finish it.  Maybe one by R.C. Sproul.  And of course, I have the liberty to change my own book list on a whim, so maybe it will just end up including lot's or pregnancy, labor, and baby books. (:  In December I will try and do a blog post with a complete list of every book I've read this past year.  Counting books not originally put on my list, I have already passed my goal of 12 books.  So I'll keep on doing what I am doing, even if less from my original list are read.

What are you reading these days?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

In Review: Dollar NonCents

So I *did* finish more than one book this past month of May, but I decided to stick to my one review on the blog.  You can visit my Goodreads Page to see the following reviews:

IndoctriNation, Colin Gunn &
Heroes of the Holocaust: True Stories of Rescues by Teens, Allan Zullo

The Reward of Childhood Truth

As for the books actually on my reading list, it's one I've been meaning to read for quite some time now, as it is written by my father-in-law.  One interesting tidbit is that he didn't publish the book to make money or anything along those lines, rather, he wrote it to educate.  And as an educational tool, he very often gives them away for free! I gave a copy away a few weeks ago as well.

Dollar NonCents, Peter Allison

This is a very quick read.  However, it took all month to read it!  My dear husband said he would like to read it with me.  One thing about our couples reading is that it is both sporadic and intermittent.  (;  I said sure, but I have a deadline! I need to finish this book by the end of the month.  Well, we finished all 90 pages by June 1st (not including the additional appendixes).

I feel this book needs no excerpts, it just needs to be read.  This helped me understand with simple and straightforward explanations, just what is wrong with our monetary system.  The Federal Reserve is corrupt and fraudulent, but why?  What exactly is "money".  What is a "dollar"?  Did you know our money is actually debt? This book gives a history lesson of where the Federal Reserve came from, when silver and gold were used as commodities, when we stopped backing the dollar by gold, etc.  It also calls upon many experts to testify.  It ends with what we should do.  Should we go live in a cave and refuse to use the dollar?  How can we get rid of this horrendous thieving monster?

Read the book for the answers!  It is a fantastic book that shows us where to look for Truth.  It was a very insightful book as well as encouraging.  It is not all hopeless.  The first step is to get educated. 

This gets a big 5 Stars from me!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Breakfast... Second Breakfast... Elevnsies

 *Finally* I can post this. (: Been sitting in my drafts box for 2 months, waiting to be posted, waiting for Samuel and I to announce online we're expecting our first precious little one!  So without further ado:


Yes, it is a Hobbit's life for me!  Truly.  Ever since finding out I was pregnant, I have felt like a hobbit.  My way to combat nausea (the dreaded "morning sickness"-not just in the morning after all!), was to eat plenty of raw fruits and veggies intentionally, take all my supplements and prenatals, drink at least one cup of raspberry leaf tea each day, a cup of milk with molasses, have my ginger candy at the ready, and, of course, eat every couple hours.  Literally.

So I began joking that I was having "second breakfast".  And "Second dinner".  But then I decided to look up the official mealtimes of Hobbit's, and their respective names.  So without further ado:

Breakfast (seven a.m.),
Second breakfast (nine a.m.),
Elevensies (eleven a.m.),
Luncheon (one p.m.),
Afternoon tea (four p.m.), |
Dinner (six p.m.), and, later in the evening,
Supper (eight p.m.) (only approximate times of day)

I feel this sums up pregnancy eating very well.  I'll munch on some nuts, cheese, fruit, veggies, caviar, etc.  But those meal times, breakfast, second breakfast, luncheon, dinner, and supper, those are real meals, just slightly smaller portions than normal to be spread out.

I'm happy to report, that I've only had one horrible sick day (pukey included) where I could not keep anything down.  My hypothesis is that I ate out twice the day before, and thus, did not eat as well as I have been.  The milder sick day was the evening where I had a small snack BEFORE dinner (around 5:30) and then dinner was postponed until 9:30.  Oh, what a rough 4 hours that was!  I didn't even get supper.  I was ready to crash.  Sleep also helps.  The fuller I am before bed and the earlier I get to sleep, the better I feel in the morning.

I think what strikes me the most (besides living a Hobbit's life as of late), is that I do not crave sweets or sugar, in fact, it rather repulses me!-then makes me feel sickly.  Which is good.  Fruit is borderline too sweet, but I don't ever feel bad after eating it. 

A lot of my new found knowledge about nutrition (and where I go to, to get snack/meal ideas) is from Mommypotamus, Foodrenegade, Weston A Price Foundation, and the best primer to date, the book "Beautiful Babies" by Kristen Michaelis.  I HIGHLY recommend that book, not just to those wanting to be pregnant or already are pregnant, but people in general!  Everything she says is tailored to nutrition for fertility and pregnancy, but it is so much more than that.  It is an excellent book to read if you are wanting to transition to a better diet, but would like more insight.  You know what I found intriguing about her suggestions?-  She lists organic veggies and fruits as the LAST thing to change in your diet.  I know right?  Don't sweat the small stuff, but change the things that will make the most impact on your health in your diet.

But I can't complain.  Having a half Hobbit's life is not so bad. (:  Especially when I know it is full of nutritious delicious food for baby Allison and I.  I might even be tempted to call my growing baby my little Hobbit (;  My very own halfling!

But in all, I am praising the Lord for this unborn life within me!  It is amazing to think that there is a little life inside me, and my first instinct is to nurture and protect him or her.  I'm very thankful that He has opened my eyes to His wondrous truth, that I have a fear for the Lord, a respect for life, and desire to love my child.  There are many who are not so.  They believe there is nothing wrong with the murdering of innocent life... a tragedy indeed!

We are so excited for November to get here!  Prayers are very much appreciated during this time.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Redeeming the Time

"See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil" Ephesians 5:15-16

Sometimes I think about this and realize how often I fail at redeeming my time.  Part of it is that I lack the self-discipline, and part of that is because it seems most of my life my time was dictated by another.  Such as, co-op classes, then community college classes, work, then college classes, then more work.  It is easy to be productive when someone else expects it of you, but it is something else entirely to be the manager of our home and I am the only one expecting much of my time!-though Samuel too, but in a smaller way (and I must say, he is the most patient man I know!-I am a blessed woman that he does not criticize me, but rather lovingly encourages me).  So I am constantly learning and growing in this area.

But there is one area I've found that I do redeem the time wisely.  Back before I had this new occupation as wife, helpmeet, and manager of our home, I drove.  A lot.  It seems I was either driving to and from work, to and from church, or to and from a friend's house.  Always driving.  But I lacked free time, and what free time I had, I devoured books and online articles.  But here I had all this time whilst driving to and from so many places.  I don't precisely remember how long ago it dawned on me, but however many years ago it was, I discovered I can listen quite well while driving.  Not to music, but to sermons, lectures, and anything that I could learn from!  It was my one year at Texas A&M (Whoop!) that I began to enjoy listening to sermons when I discovered Sermonindex.  Prior to that, I listened to some things on Youtube.  But when I found a source to download from, it was a whole new world that opened up to me. But it wasn't until after I left college that I filled my driving time with sermons/etc. in the car.

But I don't drive nearly as much as I used to.  And I have generously donated my iPod to Samuel's work van and his pleasure to use while driving (he drives a LOT).  But immediately after we wed, I realized there were new tasks in life that I could actively listen to edifying teaching at the same time.  Things like, folding and hanging up the clothes, doing the dishes, cleaning around the house, during the prep and cooking of dinner, to name a few.  And I love it!-still love it!  In this small way, I can redeem the time from what could be mundane and monotonous tasks, to a time that I truly enjoy.  I don't dread these endless tasks (they just go on forever, you know, the rest of your life!), but see it as a time where I can listen and learn.  And sometimes I do just put on music to listen to.  (:  But the important thing is that I can constantly learn, even when it seems there is no time to read (but I do get plenty of time to read in this season of life).

A few of my favorite resources are:

Generations With Vision - A web radio show that airs Monday-Friday that weighs in on a myriad of topics and issues from a biblical worldview.  A newsource of sorts that isn't filled with the despair, but hope we have in Christ. It's generally about 30 minutes long, so I'll listen to a few in a row.

Ligonier Ministries - Essentially the teachings of R.C. Sproul Sr.  One of my favorite teachers.  There are so many different series you can find on this site to download or listen to on your web browser.

Sermon Audio - Like sermonindex, but I just like this one better now.  You can find plenty of Ligonier teachings on here as well.  Kevin Swanson (host of generations radio) is also a pastor, and I love listening to some of his sermons.  Paul Washer is great too.  Dr. Joe Morecraft III too.

Monergism - A website with more than just audio teachings.  But they do have some free MP3's to download that I have benefited from.  They also have great discounts from time to time too. (:

My Church Library - Lately I've listened to "A Critique of Modern Education lecture by R. J. Rushdoony; "Raising Godly Children In and Ungodly World" lecture(s) by Michael and Susan Bradrick.  Our church has a lot from the Chalcedon Foundation.

Sometimes I like to put on documentaries while I'm folding clothes. So many great ones out there, especially on youtube.  I recently watched Food Matters because a friend let me borrow their dvd, but it's on youtube.

I love discovering new resources, and the above mentioned are just a few that I utilize.  What/who do you like to listen to?  Do you have any suggestions?  Also, what are some ways that you have found to redeem your time wisely?

Friday, May 3, 2013

In Review: 3 Again

These three books were vastly different, yet brought much pleasure to read.  The first was the most laborious, the second, a borrowed book that was a page turner, and the third, a gift from a friend and very informative.  I enjoy reading any chance I can get and I'm pleased that I've been able to consume 3 times as many books as I anticipated this month.

The Harsh Truth About Public Schools by Bruce Shortt

I think the title of this book accurately sums up what the contents inside hold.  I read a few reviews on it and one lady was quite put off by his harshness.  Um, did you even read the title, lady?  He is unapologetic about his findings, his views, and presents a plethora of research, studies, and statistics just to drive home his point on {almost} every single page.  About 90 pages at the end of the book are just endnotes to source his facts and findings.  You could not ask for a better reference guide to how awful the government schools are doing in every area for some ammunition against the defenders of a sinking ship.

"Research from the Nehemiah Institute shows that children from Christian homes who attend government schools are five times more likely to adopt such anti-christian dogmas as moral relativism than those who attend Christian schools." pp. 13

"The fact is that government schools are killing our children spiritually, morally, and intellectually.  But most of us don't even see the problem;" pp. 14

And it's true.  On these three grounds the government funded education is failing your children by a Christian standard.  It's no hidden fact that children raised in Christian homes and who attended church are leaving the faith of their parents behind.  This is the fundamental reason: parents don't think it is their responsibility to educate their children!-academically or spiritually.  It's the highly trained professional teachers who are responsible for making sure my child gets a good education; it's the Sunday school teachers and youth pastors who are responsible for teaching my children about God.  He doesn't go into the latter, but definitely the former.

Each chapter is fascinating and a bit horrifying to read.  I think chapter two was the hardest to read because it was so explicit in the perversion and morally bankrupt culture in the schools.  It’s true, I never attended a public school, but most of my church friends did, and I was invited to go to school events including homecomings.  It was through that small window I can attest to the grotesque nature of the schools, so it doesn’t shock me to hear what Mr. Shortt says in his book, though it does make me sick.

In this book you get an understanding of the history behind education in America, how the schools were started and how they ended up where they are today.  You get a sense of the political agenda and driving force behind modern education as well as see the painful reality of the failing academic side of the failure.  He doesn’t leave out the disciplinary failures as well as complete lack of any standard for morality.  And yes, he even points his finger at you [the parent] who says, Yeah, well my kid’s school is different.  Above all, I appreciated his research about the very early education in this country and those of reformed protestants influence in education for everyone.  At the end of his book he offers a chapter of helpful information for parents who are looking for either a private Christian school to send their children, or the resources to learn about home education.

So what is his point?  “A Christian education must impart a Christian worldview in which the sovereignty of God and the central role of Jesus Christ in human history and affairs are understood by every Christian child.” Pp. 315-316.  But clearly, this is not the case for public schools.

This gets a 4 Star. 4) being, a really great book, useful to instruct, thought provoking/good entertainment, very challenging, growth as a reader, way more good than bad, would recommend. Worth reading again.  With the caveat that not every Christian parents needs to read this, but every Christian parent with children in the public schools, or planning to put their children IN the public schools needs to read this.

The Last Sacrifice by Hank HaneGraaff & Sigmund Brouwer
This is the second book in this series, fictionally set in the persecution early believers might have endured during the tribulation set in Revelation.  I think it’s fascinating that they included the disciple John in this fictional series.  The previous book was more about him, but his character is more prominent in this second book.  They have a cast of characters all interwoven, including zealous Jews, Jewish Christians, and a myriad of Romans.  Some of the perversions in this book are hinted at, but not as explicit as the last book, in my opinion.  So in that sense I liked it better.

Again, I think this is way better than the left behind series.  The history in it fascinates me.  The Christian culture is much more vivid, vibrant, and full of life than in the LB series.  Plus, this is an eschatology of hope, as opposed to the bleak and hopeless one of LB.

This gets a 4 ½ Stars. 4) being, a really great book, useful to instruct, thought provoking/good entertainment, very challenging, growth as a reader, way more good than bad, would recommend. Worth reading again.

Beautiful Babies by Kristen Michaelis
This is the book given to me by a friend from church.  What an excellent book!  This is not just for those women pregnant or wanting to be pregnant. This is an excellent resource for traditional nutrition in general. As well as a great navigational tool to wade the waters of "food" in our modern culture. What is good to eat and why. I appreciated her being a Christian, though I differed with her on a few points. Overall, a great book I would recommend to anyone wanting a great introduction, refresher, or more information on healthy, whole, and real foods.

She includes recipes in the back of the book, some great charts and lists for navigating the waters of GMO’s, MSG, oils, and tips on how to manage your kitchen, even on a budget.  A very practical book for starting changes in your diet.  Yes, it has some wonderful information on breastfeeding, what foods young children should eat, and what to avoid, as well as things to eat for fertility, and things to eat while pregnant.  But, it is in general, a great health foods book.  The Foreword was written by Joel Salatin!  All in all, I am glad I read this, and I use it as a reference guide now.  I would highly recommend this to any woman married, with children, or no children but want children.  In fact, it may even be a gift choice. (:  I appreciate the friend who gave this to me as a gift!

This gets a 4 Star. 4) being, a really great book, useful to instruct, thought provoking/good entertainment, very challenging, growth as a reader, way more good than bad, would recommend. Worth reading again.