Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fluff Post About Pretty Book Covers

I've just been noticing some really pretty book covers lately.  Here are a  few:

Happy Home: Twenty Sewing and Craft Projects to Pretty Up Your Home


Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Moms

I so enjoy how these colors are put together to create a vibrant look!  I've been noticing them more and more and either illustrators are more creative in their color use or I've not paid any attention to them.  They bring a smile to my face just looking at them and make me want to color!


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Happy Mail

I am the happy giveaway winner of the book, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Moms by Kristine Carlson.  I recently entered the giveaway on Heather's blog House of Woyaks and won!  I can't wait to start reading this book.  It has a delightfully colorful front page that grabbed my attention immediately.  This won't be a book that I will be done reading soon.  I think it's one to peruse and think about over time as you try and apply the tips to your daily life.

You should run over and check out Heather's blog and you'll be smiling along with her adorable boys! Heather blogs about her family and healthy cooking. What's not to love?  Thanks Heather!


Friday, July 27, 2012

Vacation Bible School 2012

Last week was a fun yet busy week with VBS in the evenings at my church.  We used the Sky Curriculum published by Our Sunday Visitor.  I shared the responsibility with another station leader for the craft station.  Our group opted to do crafts instead of the imagination station that is outlined in this curriculum.  We had 40 plus kids, with the majority being bilingual. that participated this year.  It was a blast with lots of high energy kids!  The weather was 100+ degrees outside so we ended up sharing the gym with the snack and game stations which meant for a noisy gym!

Our themes for the week were:

Day 1 
A Roman Centruion Has Faith In Jesus.
           "For the Lord does not see as morals see... the Lord looks on the heart."  1 Samuel 16:7
            Bible Point:  No Matter Who You Are... Trust God!
Saint of the Day:  St. Augustine
Craft:  Hidden Heart

Day 2 
Jesus Brings Lazaurs Back To Life
           "Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Belive in God."  John 14:1
           Bible Point:  No Matter How You Feel... Trust God!
Saint of the Day:  St. Dominic
Craft:  Pilot Goggles

Day 3
 Jesus Is Arrested And Put On Trial
           "But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles." Isaiah 40:31
            Bible Point:  No Matter What People Do... Trust God!
Saint of the Day:  St. Clare of Assisi
Craft:  Constellation & Airplane

Day 4
Jesus Dies And Rises To New Life
"For I am convinced that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God."  Romans 8:38-39
Bible Point:  No Matter What Happens... Trust God!
Saint of the Day: St. Mary Magdalene
Craft:  Butterfly

Day 5
Jesus Makes A Beachside Breakfast For His Friends
"Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."  Joshua 1:9
Bible Point:  No Matter Where You Are... Trust God!
Saint of the Day:  St. John
Craft:  Rocket

Here are some photos of our crafts:

 Butterflies were made from scrapbook paper and pipe cleaners.

Rockets were made from pool noodles that were cut into 1 inch pieces and then labels with the daily theme.

Hidden Heart Craft had the heart and bible verse on the inside with the outside decorated by each child.

The airplane was your typical paper airplane that was a ginormous hit... especially with the boys!

Constellation Craft was made by using black construction paper, star stickers and chalk.  Kids either created their own constellation or looked at the sample and made one from the night sky.

The saint coloring pages came from Faith Keepers and by the ever talented, Charlotte 

Each night, the time just flew by with many happy and eager children ready to learn. Some crafts were more popular than others but overall, our station was a success!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Searchers Book Review

The Searchers: A Quest for Faith in the Valley of Doubt was written this year by Joseph Loconte. To be honest, I wasn't sure what I expected when I picked this book to review from Booksneeze since it's a secular site with a section of Christian books.  This book was found in their "Christian" list yet I didn't immediately think Mr. Loconte was a theologian or a biblical historian.  However, he is an Associate Professor in History at King's College in New York City. I only mention his credentials because after a quick google search, I learned that King's College doesn't obviously identify itself as a Christian college (or at all after a few minutes of searching) yet they claim to "teach a compelling worldview rooted in the Bible and informed by close study of great works of philosophy, political theory, and economics. We study Paul and Plato; Moses and Machiavelli; Adam and Adam Smith." After learning more about his employer, it helps put the book into perspective for me.

That being said and with my unfamiliarity with the author, it was the subtitle that caught my interest. Even though, I found myself hoping it would have more substance than a fluffy self help book. And it did.  In fact, Mr. Loconte, analzyed and explored what might have been discussed between the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and how to relate it to modern day society. This is an ancient story of two men, who have just fled Jerusalem after the the crucifixion of Jesus and do not recognize the stranger that joins them on their walk until they sit down and break bread together.  This reality sets the tone of man's struggle to stand in faith when everything around you is doing it's best to rattle you.  How difficult it must have been for the apostles of Jesus to know what to do, after he was crucified.

Mr. Loconte provides a historical framework for what was happening during this time of Roman rule which helps the reader understand the politics of the day.  At the beginning of each chapter, he shares an event from history such as the assassination of Julius Caesar, to King Henry II separation from the Catholic Church, to the African Slave Trade of the 1700's, to a 1995 Baltimore Orioles vs. California Angels game. He then ties it to the struggles we face as we strive for a world of justice and peace.  Again and again, he examines man's history of struggles such as war, assassinations, conspiracies and revolutions.  We seem to repeat the same mistakes that Jesus encountered when he preached the gospel. Yet as Mr Loconte states "Through it all is an urgent and transcendent message: God has worked behind the scenes of history, deep within culture and society --incognito-- to reclaim the human race from a desperate tragedy of its own making."

In conclusion, The Searchers, delves into the history of mankind since the time of Jesus for a way to find meaning and hope in our own lives. We all become searchers, as we try to navigate our world as we knowingly or not, seek God. Would I recommend this book?  Yes, it is very interesting, yet I do feel like I read a history book with philosophy influences rather than a Christian book.  It's a book of the human experience.  What I do wonder though, is Mr. Joseph Loconte a Christian who believes in God with his heart or does he take an intellectual view as just another point in history that impacted mankind?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their 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.”


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sometimes Life Is Just Not Fair Book Review

I was given the opportunity by The Catholic Company, to review a children's book called Sometimes Life Is Just Not Fair by Fr. Joe Kempf.  This 64 page book was newly released in March 2012 by Our Sunday Visitor.  The purpose of this book is two-fold:  one is to help children, as well as adults, understand grief and loss that may occur throughout life.  The second goal is to assist adults in how to care for and help the children in their lives to cope with grief and loss of a loved one. At first glance, I was immediately drawn in by the illustrations.  They are bright and cheery, which make it easy for children to make the connection between the text and picture.  The two muppet-like characters (Big Al and Annie) accompany the reader throughout the book perfectly conveying the emotion by their facial expressions.  I think it's instrumental in helping the child identify the emotion and put words to the feeling.  The Illustrator, Chris Sharp, has made this book non-threatening by his artwork.

Sometimes Life Is Just Not Fair is organized into two sections, with the first part written for children and the last section for adults, teachers and caregivers. In this first section, each short chapter begins with a poem giving a hint to what the chapter will address and it includes a list of "Things to think about or talk about" and "Things to do".  These lists help the child explore their thoughts and feelings as they face the challenges in life and God's presence during them.  It gives insight into questions we sometimes struggle with such as "Why do bad things happen to good people?" and "What good does it do to pray?"  And it reminds  us all that God is with us when we suffer and feel sad.

The last section of this book is for adults, teachers and caregivers which match up with the chapters for children.  It outlines facets of grief and loss that only adults can comprehend and then breaks it down to assist in explaining it to our children.  It guides the reader into learning God's role in our lives, especially during times of suffering and loss and gives insight in how to explain it to children. Fr. Kempf uses his own advice with scripture and quotes from the saints to enlighten the reader. Additionally, the author includes an audio CD of prayers read by children as well as a song of farewell for a loved one.  This is a very gentle and sweet CD that will draw a child in by it's content rather than scare them off.

This is a very specific book about grief and loss yet it is also about God's love and hope.  It wouldn't be a random book that you'd pick up for your child nor would it be light reading for fun.  What it is ideal for is using with children who have lost a loved one, including a pet or explaining why bad things happen.  Adults also benefit by reading both sections to further understand grief and loss which are deep and raw emotions, that we struggle with too.  We are not alone and can turn to God who loves us and wants us to come to Him is the general message of the book.

My review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Sometimes Life is Just Not Fair.  This is also a great Catholic store for all your seasonal shopping needs, such as Christian wedding gifts and Catholic Garden Gifts.