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Monday, September 1, 2014

S is for Self {Blogging through the Alphabet}

~The individual as an object to his own reflective consciousness.

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. ~ Proverbs 3:5-7 (KJV)

Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips. ~Proverbs 27:2 (KJV)

Self is the thing. It is all about self. Somewhat recently a photo challenge went out over FB, and probably other social media avenues, to have people photo themselves with the words "I am enough." For who are they enough

There is perpetuate the belief in counseling and psychology that a person needs to improve their self-esteem. They need to see themselves in a better light. It is suggested that the individual put sticky-notes around their house to remind themselves of how much they are worth. "I am worthy of..." "I deserve..."

For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. ~2 Timothy 3:2-5 (KJV)

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy...Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will free from you. Draw nigh unto God, and he will draw nigh unto you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded. ~ James 3:17, 4:7-8 (KJV)

This is the S is for...entry in the Blogging through the Alphabet. See more at Ben and Me or search abcblogging.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Book Review: Bible Study for Busy Mamas- Thirty Days in 1 Corinthians 13 {BookCrash}

Bible Study for Busy Mamas: Thirty Days in 1 Corinthians 13 by Pam Forster
ISBN: 9781891206573
Paperback, 99 pages (also available as Kindle ebook)
Publisher: Doorposts
Retail: $8.00

About the book:
It’s not easy, getting into the Word when your house is full of little ones who need you twenty-four hours a day—but this study will help!

Here is a simple but deep approach to Bible study, divided into bite-size portions that will leave you encouraged and excited as you discover that you do have time for meaningful Bible study.

By giving you short study assignments, five to ten minutes per day for thirty days, this book will help you make time to thoroughly study 1 Corinthians 13 and learn about true, Christ-like love.

See sample pages at Doorposts website.

About the author:
Pam Forster has been passionate about Bible study since she was a teenage girl. Doorposts' parenting charts and books all grew out of her personal (and often desperate) Bible study while raising and homeschooling six children. She writes a blog on parenting, Bible study, and encouragement for moms at www.doorpostsofyourhouse.com

My thoughts:
I've followed other "Thirty Days in..." with Pam's online studies (at the blog linked above) and benefited from them. This book is exactly what you find at the same place, but in a small portable, print book. I like to have physical books; the online studies I have a tendency to leave after awhile. They are very helpful but with being busy- and that's who this book is geared toward!- I didn't have the time every day to find the newest post about which book/chapter we were studying. I was often behind. While this book doesn't necessarily mean I won't ever be behind, it doesn't get left out as often as the online.

This is a short book, to the point. It isn't meant to take up a lot of time. It could, of course, if you let it; or if you feel led to drag it out longer. Pam says that it'll take 5 minutes a day- uh, it always takes me longer. First to do the reading (I read or re-read each day), then read what's in the book, then follow the tips. I don't always get all of them because, well, sometimes I only get to do the reading!

Some things that she goes through in this book are:
What Love Is/Isn't
The Future
How Jesus is the perfect example of Love
and lots of others

Some of the activities include:
Always PRAY!
Act out
Think About
And others

She also sets aside some days for catching up or other 'optional' assignments. On some days it will take very little time at all (like those catch-up days when you don't have to catch-up) because she goes through and tells how to do a search online for something particular. In every lesson there are also optional "For your children" assignments/activities.

I like this little book and think it is a good resource to have. I appreciate it as much as, if not more so, the online versions of the study. This is also available as a set "Busy Mamas Bible Study Kit."

Disclaimer: I received this book free for the purpose of this review from the publisher via Book Crash. All opinions stated are my own. See Disclosure/Policies.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Revised Reading {Goals} List 2014 & On

Going through old posts, clearing up labels, and deleting trivial posts, I found a book goals post from 2012. On Goodreads there is a goal for reading as many books as you set {mine is set to 60 this year}, but I'd not thought in a long time about which books I want to read. There are just so many books and who can read them all?

I decided to just go with a number of books as opposed to particular books. Here are books that I am currently reading:

Forever Dream by Dawn Hartley
The Christian Imagination, editor Leland Ryken
Echoes of Eden by Jerram Barrs
Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can't Live Without It by Dr. David Brownstein
Pursuing Justice by Ken Wytsma
The Stories We Tell by Mike Cosper
10 Books That Screwed Up the World by Benjamin Wiker
Better Policies, Better Schools by Cooper, Fusarelli, & Randall
The Attributes of God by A. W. Pink
Here's Looking at Euclid by Alex Bellos
The Living Page by Laurie Bestvater
Ourselves, A Philosophy of Education & Parents and Children by Charlotte Mason
Keeping the Kids by David Cloud
The Christian's Secret to a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall
The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul

My list will undoubtedly continue as I come across books that I want to pick up and at least begin reading. I just received in the mail the book Tables in the Wilderness by Preston Yancey that I've not even cracked open.

Books I have read this year so far include:
I won't list them out here but will give titles for those two books that only have a 'g' on them: Essays on the Life and Work of Charlotte Mason by the Charlotte Mason Institute and Walking with God in the Classroom by Harro Van Brummelen. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Q & R are for Quality vs Quantity & (W)riting {Blogging through the Alphabet}

I have included some outside links that I found to be helpful in this 'quality vs quantity' post. I don't necessarily endorse these external sites, unless stated. Visit/view at your own risk.
Quality vs Quantity & Writing
~age-old (?) debate of which is better: to produce good works, at the risk of only producing a few; to produce many, at the risk of only producing a few good works. 

That's probably not the best 'definition' up there but I'm not going for exact here. And I just didn't want it to get too technical. Since this post is two-in-one, covering "Q" and "R" (uh, don't mind that it isn't truly an 'r' word; it sounds like it and it goes with my purpose here), I thought I'd try to make a point. Whether it's good or not is to be seen.

I'd recently read a book about the writing habits of one particular author (Robert Benson) in which he says to write, everyday, 600 words. There are others who are of the same mindset, whether in writing or other activities (Why Quantity Should be Your Priority). 

Perhaps it depends on what you're going for: practice doesn't make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect. In that sense, quality trumps quantity, don't you think? (Quality over quantity..., and ACT Writing Tips)

Think how many blogs and websites at our disposal. Does that mean that quantity equals quality? No, definitely not. It is my opinion that it is better to focus on quality over quantity in writing. (Now, to take my own advice may mean I write no more!)

Here are some quality blogs (with quality writing) that I personally enjoy and would recommend:

There are doubtless many more that I don't even know about. 

Would you like to recommend some quality over quantity writing resources? It would be most appreciated.

This is the "Q & R is for" entry in the Blogging through the Alphabet. I'll admit that this slipped my mind but I am determined to make it through these 26 posts. Find others' entries by visiting Ben and Me, or simply searching abcblogging. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Book Review: Little Book of Book Making {Blogging for Books}

This post contains *affiliate links. See Disclosure/Policies.

ISBN: 9780770435141
Hardback, 176 pages
Publisher: Potter Craft/Crown Publishing
Retail: $22.99

About the book:
Making books by hand has never been cooler, with this inspiring guide to 30 top bookmakers working today, plus 21 tutorials for essential techniques to make your own books.

Crafters, artists, writers, and book lovers can't resist a beautifully handbound book. Packed with wonderfully eclectic examples, this book explores the intriguing creative possibilities of bookmaking as a modern art form, including a wide range of bindings, materials, and embellishments. Featured techniques include everything from Coptic to concertina binding, as well as experimental page treatments such as sumi-e ink marbling and wheat paste. In addition to page after page of inspiration from leading contemporary binderies, Little Book of Bookmaking includes a practical section of 21 easy-to-follow illustrated tutorials.

About the author:
Charlotte Rivers is the author of 14 design books, including Little Book of Letterpress and I *heart* Stationery, and has contributed to numerous magazines, including Cents, Grafik, and Uppercase. She blogs regularly about art and design as Lottie Loves, at www.CharlotteRivers.com

Esther K. Smith, author of How to Make Books, collaborates with typographer Dikko Faust and other artists and writers at Purgatory Pie Press in New York City. Their handmade books have been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. Their artist books are housed in many rare book collections including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and the National Gallery of Art. Smith teaches throughout the United States, Canada, and England, and every term at Cooper Union in New York City.

"To receive information about new books, read stories about...authors, and download free projects and patterns, join the CrafterNews community at www.CraftersNews.com" (from the back of the book)

My thoughts:
Such a simple and yet complete book. The small design- dimensions as well as number of pages- I felt to be perfect for the 'art' of book making. Without looking at the table of contents, I noticed that the first 120-some pages are just of other peoples work. The last portion of the book is a how-to, followed by a directory and resources. All-in-all, I am quite happy with the little book. 

I think that a book on book making that wishes to present it as an art form should start out with a showcase of possibilities rather than immediately "this is how you do ..." That isn't what I was truly expecting; but it works wonderfully. For each book that is featured, there is a little note on what section to look at in the "Bookmaking in Practice" portion. Having those initial books presented whet my appetite to make books! 

The "Bookmaking in Practice" section is very well done with clear and direct images and well-written instructions. The directory and resources section I found to be quite beneficial as it includes many websites for shops, suppliers, blogs, and online communities. 

Very good little book. Thank you, Blogging for Books for sending me this book free for the purpose of this review. All opinions stated are my own. See Disclosure/Policies.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Book Review: The Butterfly and the Violin {BookLook Bloggers}

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron
ISBN: 9781401690601
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Retail: $15.99 (paperback)

About the book:
And then came war . . .

Today. Sera James spends most of her time arranging auctions for the art world’s elite clientele. When her search to uncover an original portrait of an unknown Holocaust victim leads her to William Hanover III, they learn that this painting is much more than it seems.

Vienna, 1942. Adele Von Bron has always known what was expected of her. As a prodigy of Vienna’s vast musical heritage, this concert violinist intends to carry on her family's tradition and play with the Vienna Philharmonic. But when the Nazis learn that she helped smuggle Jews out of the city, Adele is taken from her promising future and thrust into the horrifying world of Auschwitz.

The veil of innocence is lifted to expose a shuddering presence of evil, and Adele realizes that her God-given gift is her only advantage; she must play. Becoming a member of the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz, she fights for survival. Adele’s barbed-wire walls begin to kill her hope as the months drag into nearly two years in the camp. With surprising courage against the backdrop of murder and despair, Adele finally confronts a question that has been tugging at her heart: Even in the midst of evil, can she find hope in worshipping God with her gift?

As Sera and William learn more about the subject of the mysterious portrait—Adele—they are reminded that whatever horrors one might face, God’s faithfulness never falters.

About the author:
Kristy Cambron has been fascinated with WWII since hearing her grandfather’s stories. She holds an Art History degree from Indiana University and works as Communications Consultant. Kristy writes WWII and Regency fiction and placed first in the 2013 NTRWA Great Expectations and 2012 FCRW Beacon contests. Kristy makes her home in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons. Website: www.kristycambron.com Twitter: @KCambronAuthor Facebook: Kristy-L-Cambron-Author

My thoughts:
This was a very good book. It was well written and researched. The characters are well developed as well as the various scenes. It doesn't give away the ending until much closer to the end. There is left some mystery just about to the end. 

This was an easy book to get into. I read it in 2 days, without sacrificing my other duties. The paperback has 336 pages so the book is not small but it is easy to get into and keep going. Generally I have a love/hate of dual time period novels but I do think Cambron does quite well with this book. She takes the reader to just a point in one time period, to get us wanting to know what happens next, and then she takes us to a point in the other time period that helps explain the other. It flows quite well.

All wars are terrible. All wars leave scars, physically and emotionally. WWII is one of the more recent to have done so, even after 69 years. For many who were not alive during the war years, it can seem unreal; something one reads only in a book. I admit I am drawn to books that are set in the WWII period, whether about the war or not (although it is hard to find one that doesn’t center around the war). The latest book I read was very good and I would recommend it to others.

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron is about a wealthy and talented young lady, Adele, from Austria at the start of the war. She plays violin in the Austrian philharmonic, which did not allow women to play, because of her wonderful talent. During her time with the group, she meets and falls in love with cellist Vladimir, the son of a merchant, and therefore unacceptable for her in her parents’, and society's, eyes.

The other main characters of the story are a modern-day art gallery owner, Sera, and a rich man, William, who are both tied up in a painting created during the war. Both are searching for it but for different reasons. They have to work together to find it, and in the process they figure a lot of things out about themselves. And finally, another character, key to all of this comes in towards the end.

I was unsure of the ending of this book right up to the last. But I felt the characters and scenes were well developed. There is romance in this, a kiss here and there, but easy to skim over; they do not take over the book fortunately.

Disclaimer: I received this as an ebook free for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own. See Disclosure/Policies.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Book Review: Dancing on the Head of a Pen {Blogging for Books}

This post contains *affiliate links. See Disclosure/Policies.

Dancing on the Head of a Pen: The practice of a writing life by Robert Benson*
ISBN: 97814000743589
Hardcover, 192 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
Retail: $14.99

About the book (from the inner flap):
The Life of the Spirit Meets the Life of Art
A compelling combination of advice and inspiration, Dancing on the Head of a Pen will challenge and encourage writers, artists, musicians, painters--anyone drawn to a life of artistic expression.

Digging deeply into a his own writing habits, failures, and successes, Robert Benson helps you choose the ideal audience for your work, commit to it, and overcome the hurdles that inevitably confront both aspiring artists and accomplished professionals.

Extending beyond the craft of writing, this gentle book moves into a rich discussion o n the relationship between spirituality and art. Including wisdom from revered writers past and present, Dancing on the Head of a Pen is a beautiful mosaic of inspiration, practical help, and a glimpse into the disciplines that shape one writer's life. 

About the author:
Robert Benson is the author of numerous books, including The Echo Within, Digging In, and Home by Another Way. A retreat leader, Benson writes and speaks often on the life of prayer and contemplation, the practice of faith and spirituality, and the art and craft of writing. He is a graduate of and an adjunct faculty member for the Academy for Spiritual Formation, a program of the Upper Room. He is married to the literary agent Sara Fortenberry. Benson lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and he dances on the head of a pen every day no matter where he happens to be.

My thoughts:
A small book full of wonderful bits of inspiration and help. This is not a how-to for writing. Originally, I thought it was going to be more specific in the areas of 'do this for this outcome this reason'; I am very pleased that it is not. It is a charming book full of the author's own experiences. 

There are, as is mentioned in the description, many bits of wisdom from other authors, not just of books. James Taylor, one of my all-time favorite musicians is quoted. There are many that I do not know of but after reading this little book, I am compelled to find them out. Also, I'd never heard of Robert Benson prior to this review book. His books are now on my to-find and to-read booklists. 

I recommend this book to those who are serious about writing but not for those who are looking for a formula for writing. I especially appreciated the following chapters: Six Hundred Words, The Jury Box, Hat Tricks, and Under the Influence. 
Write, don't talk. ~Robert Benson, p. 151
At the end of the book Benson lists books and authors that he's been influenced by (some mentioned in the chapter titled "Under the Influence") and quoted from in this book.  

Thank you, WaterBrook Multnomah, for giving me this book for free for the purpose of this review. See Disclosure/Policies.

P is for Picture Study {Blogging through the Alphabet}

Picture study
~"putting the children in touch with the great artist minds of all ages;" studying art of great artists

Don't let the 'children' portion put you off; picture study is for all ages. This is another aspect of our homeschool but really, it is a part of our living. Art is not just on a canvas. God is the master artist. His creation surpasses anything that has ever been put on canvas, sculpted in clay, cast in bronze, etc. Picture study helps us see through the eyes of others God's greatness.

Perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself. Picture study is just that: studying a picture. How do we do this? We use quality replications of great pieces and we observe what is in the picture until we have it in our minds really well. We have to be very attentive, for if when our time is up and we are asked to recall the picture, we miss details. 

Once we have the details, and the whole image, in our minds, we turn over the print and tell back what we saw. It's a narration, not of what was read in words, but indeed what was learned

In the world today things move so incredibly fast! Commercials are aired for just a few seconds and therefore require a lot of visual information to be transmitted to the viewer. We cannot really catch all of the details of a commercial unless it is very toned down. Even hours long movies are incredibly fast paced, with little time to see all that is taking place in a scene. Move, move, move! That's the sense we get from these mediums.

With picture study, Charlotte Mason explained like this:
"It is of the spirit, and in ways of the spirit must we make our attempt...But there must be knowledge and, in the first place, not the technical knowledge of how to produce, but some reverent knowledge of what has been produced; that is, children should learn pictures, line by line, group by group, by reading, not books, but pictures themselves." ~Volume 6, p. 214
And great pictures, not mediocre or one's made 'for children':

"It is scarcely possible to begin these lessons too early. The first stage is attentive looking at pictures which have been carefully chosen, not for mere bright colouring, but for real artistic merit. To withhold good pictures from children because we thoughtlessly conclude them to be incapable of noticing anything but gaudiness of colour, is to despise them, to value them too lightly." ~Miss R. K. Hammond, Parents' Review Archives, Volume 12, no. 7, pp. 501-509 -emphasis mine

Another Parents' Review article talks about picture study and children love great art, even if adults may think they wouldn't:
"To give an example of the kind of picture a child appreciates, I asked some small children of 8 and 9 which of the Durer pictures they had been studying that term they liked best. All, with one accord said: "The Praying Hands"... Would the casual person consider that such a drawing would interest a child? Here Miss Mason again shows her wonderful insight into the child's mind." ~Marjorie F. Ransom, Parents' Review Archives, Volume 34, pp. 75-84
It really is no different today! Give the children great artists to study, without telling them they are to appreciate these, and they enjoy them on their own. Give them bright flashy colors and tell them, whether in words or actions, that is what they are supposed to like, and they will not appreciate art.

Fra Angelico, The Annunciation, 1450
This term we are studying Fra Angelico. Next term it will be Diego Valezquez, followed by Jacques-Louis David. As an adult I am seeing many of these great pieces of art for the first time. And by that I don't mean that I've never seen them. I may have, in passing. But I didn't appreciate them; I didn't learn anything about them; I didn't understand anything about them. They didn't mean anything to me.

Diego Valezquez, Las Meninas, 1656
I want my kids to have an art gallery in their minds. It will be all their own! We may not have great expensive works in our house. We may not be able to go to a physical art gallery that has these on display. But they will know these works. And they will have an appreciation. 

Jacques-Louis David, Portrait of Levoisier and His Wife, 1788
I may have gotten a little carried away here. Picture study is not the same as art instruction. After picture study, then comes the instruction. But not even over the same picture necessarily, lest the student try to reproduce what has been done by the artist being studied and come to despise the painting when their own attempts are not perfect.

P is for Picture Study. Another entry for the Blogging through the Alphabet. You might have been able to tell that I have Charlotte Mason on the brain a bit lately *wink*. Guilty! 

Find more P is for...entries at Ben and Me, or simply search abcblogging.
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