Anselm of Canterbury


Posted by Bambi

I have had my eye on Simonetta Carr’s Church History books for children, for quite some time.  Pricey, they are.  So when Cross Focused Reviews offered a free copy for a review, I jumped on the opportunity.

I believe one of the missing disciplines in the lives of Christians is the study of church history.  Studying church history produces in us a humility as we read of our Christian forefathers who served Jesus unto death.  It puts our own meager efforts in perspective when we read of martyrs, willing to give all.

Also, church history can help us see our error.  If we don’t read of the errors in the history of the church, we are doomed to repeat them.  Old heresies can creep up again and again and it helps to have a knowledge of them. Therefore, we have quite a few church history resources on our shelves here at home.  But aside from a few mediocre biographies, I just haven’t been able to find much for the 7-10 range to cut their teeth on.

Simonetta Carr’s Anselm of Canterbury delivered.  While the information can be dry, the story of Anselm is presented in an engaging way for younger students of church history.  Also, the illustrations are particularly beautiful.

Have you ever heard of Anselm?  I hadn’t either, but I have long been impressed enough with Carr’s collection of titles, to know that I should know who he is. <blush>

Anselm was a great theologian and deep thinker,  who lived during the time between Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas. That is, the 12th century.  Therefore, Anselm lived in a world quite different from ours. In Anselm of Canterbury, the big questions before Anselm, and therefore what Carr presents to young readers are, “Why did God have to become man? If God can do anything, couldn’t He have saved His people some other way?” With clarity and simplicity, Simonetta Carr presents Anselm’s Biblical answer to this question in a way that children can easily comprehend, without over-simplifying the concept.

Carr is certainly a gifted author, and the words of truth come off the page in an easy-going manner, not coming across as “preachy.”

While Carr’s books are said to be written to children as young as seven, I found that Anselm was way over my (almost) seven-year-old’s head.  Sarah Grace, who is eight, had more understanding, but honestly… it took some effort on her part.  However, by age 9-11 I think just about any kid would enjoy and benefit from the book, taking away knowledge they didn’t previously have.  In my opinion, the book is a great length for narrations if you are of the Charlotte Mason persuasion 😉

I would really love to add the rest of Carr’s titles to our shelves:

John Calvin

Augustine of Hippo

John Owen


Lady Jane Grey

I think Anselm of Canterbury is an excellent childhood introduction to the life of this great thinker.  You can purchase the book at one of our favorite book stores: Monergism Books.


American Phoenix


Posted by Shelbi

American Phoenix, by Jane Hampton Cook, is—in a nutshell—a biography of John Quincy Adams (pre-presidency) and his wife Louisa, a history of the War of 1812, and a good look into an early-1800’s Europe being terrorized by Napoleon Bonaparte. The book is rather long (512 pages), very well written, and both enjoyable and educating. I didn’t know much about the War of 1812, so I was surprised to learn that it really can be seen as America’s second war for independence from England.

The thing I liked most about the book, though, was its study into the life of Louisa Adams. Her strong patriotism and love for her country, coupled with devotion to her husband, led her to leave her home and two children for six years (1809-1815) in order to accompany her husband to Russia, where they together represented the Republican United States in a monarch/dictator-run Europe. As America struggled to be recognized as an independent nation by the rest of the world, the Adamses worked tirelessly on the other side of the world to promote that end. Their fascinating encounters with European royalty and interesting brushes with Napoleon often took place in the midst of personal tragedy (Louisa Adams gave birth to a daughter in Russia, who died 13 months later) and extreme anxiety about their children and family in America, who lived in some of the very cities attacked by the British. Their quest to see their beloved country achieve honor, dignity, respect, and recognition from the other nations of the world was ultimately successful. Speaking of America, Louisa Adams wrote in her diary, “I trust in God that the day of retribution is not far off and that glory which yet awaits us will far, far outweigh the disgrace which has hitherto attended us.” A godly Christian woman, she penned these words a few years before her death:

“And when it is His will that I lay me down to sleep; that sleep, from which we wake no more in this world; may I die in my Savior Jesus Christ; in the fullest hope of those divine promises, which lead the purified soul to heaven forevermore.”

The book runs a little lengthy, and I did think that the same amount of information could have been condensed into a smaller space. That issue aside, American Phoenix is a wonderful re-telling of important American history that should not be forgotten.


The Law Of Rewards


Posted by Seth

In The Law Of Rewards, Randy Alcorn shows that actions we perform here on earth will play a major role in how we will live in the next life. He poses the question, ”Why would people keep money for themselves on earth to get the things that they desire, when they can help others and their church financially to invest in that prized possession that will be even better in heaven?”

After giving an example of a couple who came to his office wanting to know if they should give their money to the church and missions, or use it to build their dream house, Dr. Alcorn asks the question, ”Who would want to divert kingdom funds to build a dream house if they understood that either it will leave them or they will leave it? Instead, why not use your resources to send building materials to the Carpenter, our Bridegroom, who this very moment is building our dream house in heaven?”

He also answers the following questions:

Since God is our Father, not our employer, can we really earn eternal rewards? Wouldn’t that be putting God in our debt?

What are we missing if we do not give, especially to the needy?

How can pastors teach their congregations the art of joyful giving?

Is it always wrong to let others know how much we give financially to the Lord’s work? If we say anything at all about what God is teaching us about our giving, does that mean we will lose our rewards?

Once I’ve decided to give, how do I decide where to contribute money? How can I be sure that the money I am giving will be used with integrity?

Are we rewarded in heaven for leaving money to Christian ministries when we die?

This book centers around the fact that we cannot take our treasures with us to heaven, but we can send them on ahead to be there waiting for us when we arrive. The Law of Rewards is an easy read, and a great way to spend your time. I would recommend it for every Christian.

Amusing Ourselves to Death


Posted by Shelbi

“Everything in our background has prepared us to know and resist a prison when the gates begin to close around us. We take arms against such a sea of troubles, buttressed by the spirit of Milton, Voltaire, Jefferson…But what if there are no cries of anguish to be heard? Who is prepared to take arms against a sea of amusements? To whom do we complain, and when, and in what tone of voice, when serious culture dissolves into giggles? What is the antidote to a culture’s being drained by laughter?”

Amusing Ourselves to Death was written in 1985, but reading it is like reading something published yesterday. Before the internet or cell phones, Neil Postman (who died in 2003) wrote this powerful book as a warning against…television.

“The problem is not that television presents us with entertaining subject matter, but that all subject matter is presented as entertaining.” -Chap. 6

When George Orwell wrote the book 1984 in the 1940’s, he prophesied oppressive government that would conceal truth and hide information. When Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World in 1931, he predicted the opposite: “There would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.” Instead of being deceived about the real state of things, which Orwell feared, people would be given so much trivial information so quickly that important things would drown in a sea of irrelevance. Instead of being held captive kicking and screaming, they would love their oppression and adore what undoes their ability to think.

As the author states in the preface to Amusing Ourselves to Death, “This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.”

Exploring and analyzing not only television but also the “Age of Show Business” in general, this book shows how completely our culture has been taken in by the lies “entertainment is the highest good” and “we exist solely to be amused”.

I especially liked chapter 9, called “Reach Out and Elect Someone”, which is about how politicians put themselves forward as sources of amusement to better their chances of being elected; and also chapter 7, which is titled “Now…This”.

There is no murder so brutal, no earthquake so devastating, no political blunder so costly–for that matter, no ball score so tantalizing or weather report so threatening–that it cannot be erased from our minds by a newscaster saying, “Now…this.” The newscaster means that you have thought long enough on the previous matter (approximately 45 seconds), that you must not be morbidly preoccupied with it (let us say, for 90 seconds), and that you must now give your attention to another fragment of news or a commercial. -Chap. 7

Amusing Ourselves to Death alerts us to the real danger of this state of affairs, and offers helpful suggestions as to how not only resist the current “media onslaught”, but also recognize the ways we’re unconsciously letting media shape our lives.

What We’re Reading


To fill up the quiet spots here on the book blog, we’re going to try to periodically list what everyone in the family is currently reading. Hopefully we’ll soon be back in the swing of posting reviews regularly.   ; )

Kevin: Keeping the Heart by John Flavel


Bambi: Standing on the Promises by Douglas Wilson

The Beauty of Modesty by David & Diane Vaughan

The Gospel’s Power and Message by Paul Washer


Shelbi: Ashamed of the Gospel by John MacArthur

Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot

A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Elliot

The Cranford Chronicles by Elizabeth Gaskell


Savannah: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien


Seth: Radical by David Platt

One Heartbeat Away by Mark Cahill

Heaven by Randy Alcorn


Sarah Grace: Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John

The Forty-Acre Swindle by Dave & Neta Jackson (part of the Trailblazer series)


Stephen: The Littles by John Peterson

Insects do the Strangest Things by Leonora Hornblow


Mama & little kids’ current read-alouds:

Teddy’s Button

Wisdom and the Millers by Mildred Martin


Current family read-alouds:

Our 24 Family Ways by Clay Clarkson

Already Gone by Ken Ham & Britt Beamer



Posted by Sarah Grace

This book is about a girl named Pollyanna. Pollyanna is an orphaned girl who goes to live with her strict aunt. Pollyanna loves carpets and pictures. When she gets to her aunt’s house, she finds a big surprise. Instead of finding carpets and pictures she finds a hot musty attic room (that is hers). All the other rooms were beautiful.

But Pollyanna and her ”Glad Game” find a way to be glad about everything. The ”Glad Game” all started when she wanted a doll from the missionary barrel (because her father was a pastor), but she got crutches instead of the doll she wanted. The good thing about that is, you can be glad that you are not the one that has to use those crutches. Pollyanna is able to transform the sick, the lonely, and the plain miserable with her  “Glad Game.” For instance the lonely Mr. Pendelton, the sick Mrs. Snow, I’m not sure I know one for the miserable but I’m sure there is one! Anyway I liked this book because Pollyanna is so friendly and she tries to make everyone else friendly.

Trim Healthy Mama


Posted by Bambi

I didn’t want to read this book. Although I kept more padding after my last pregnancy than I’ve ever kept in my life, I still didn’t want to read it. Why?

  •  It overwhelms me to think of colossal diet changes.
  •  I have no interest in diet fads that eliminate certain food groups, like fruit and bread. I’ve been there, done that and bought the ebook.
  •  I like chocolate. I like muffins. And don’t even talk to me about coffee.
  • I don’t jump on bandwagons easily.  If it’s on the top ten list anywhere, I’m suspicious.
  • And even if I could get past all that, I knew huge diet changes simply had to transfer into a higher grocery bill. I’m feeding an army and I have to be careful.

Nope, no interest. Leave me alone, healthy mamas. I’m doing just fine, K? I’ll just keep enjoying my coffee and learn to love my new love handles.
I changed my mind.
I changed it because I heard testimony after testimony from women I respect who said just implementing a few of the changes the authors recommend would leave me with more energy.  I was officially intrigued.  By the end of the day I usually feel like a boneless chicken. More energy sounded fabulous. I put in an interlibrary loan request for the book because I thought it was too expensive.
Our library was slow.
I contacted the authors and they gave me a free book to review.  Yes, there are advantages to blogging. And so here is my take on Trim, Healthy Mama.
The book opens describing four different types of eaters.
They are:
1. A raw food purist
2. A meat-n-taters gal
3. A woman who is called drive-thru Sue
4. A whole-grains fanatic
Incidentally, I have been all of these eaters at one time or another. You will probably find yourself in one of these women too.

There is an explanation of what exactly is causing most of us ladies to be fat and unhealthy (insulin) and why we’re not doing ourselves any favors by eating banana smoothies (yes, even if they are green) or pounds of apples. I admit it, I was suspicious.  But the authors make a compelling case for working with our changing metabolism as women.  Sure, give the kids the apples and oranges. But moms should eat fruits that keep our insulin levels balanced and not on a roller coaster all the time. Didn’t know your insulin levels were on a roller coaster?  Me neither.  But I learned a lot.

A Little History: Atkins Vs. South Beach Diet
In the 80’s and 90’s everyone told us fat was bad.  Everything on the shelf sported  “fat free!”  Trouble was, the sugar content was higher to compensate for the loss of taste.   Enter the Atkins’ Diet.  Dr. Atkins said eat all the protein and fat you want but no carbohydrates.  We all stocked up on bacon and eggs and consumed loads of those nasty pork skins that smell like you-know-what when you open the bag.
A few years later came the South Beach diet, which I know nothing about because I was still doing pork skins.  But I hear that it was similar to Atkins, they just advised less fat.
The authors of Trim, Healthy Mama conclude that there are some truths to both of these diets in that they help control blood sugar and insulin surges. But eating this way is hard to maintain because who wants to be deprived of bread and sweets forever? The authors show us how to indulge in some sweets and healthy breads (with real butter, of course) without spiking our blood sugar. High blood sugar = insulin spikes.  And it’s all about the insulin, gals.
Most importantly, they never scolded me for drinking coffee, but actually encouraged it.
So there went two of my hang-ups with why I didn’t want to read the book.

What about the cost of the food?
I have been eating with some of the Trim, Healthy suggestions for three weeks now.  I have not noticed any change in my grocery bill.  While the authors do make recommendations for some special, you-can-only-get-this-online ingredients, they are not needed for most of the recipes.
The purpose of learning to eat this way is not to lose weight, but to be healthy and have energy. However, I have lost that excess baby weight plus a few pounds.  I have read countless testimonies of people who have significant weight to lose, and are doing so by implementing these changes. Even better, I have more energy due to exercising the way the authors suggested.

I Just Said the “E Word”
I almost skipped the exercise chapter because I despise exercising.  But again I learned a lot.  Statistics were given to prove that our current trends of exercising are not doing us much good to burn fat.  That means that elliptical machine I torture myself with on rare occasions probably isn’t helping a lot.  Well.  Except for the sermons I listen to on my iPod as I sweat.  But all that energy doing cardio exercise could have been better used with short bursts of energy (like ten minutes’ worth.  Who can’t handle ten minutes?) and strength training.
In other words, a ten minute run with intermittent sprints, will do us more good than a one hour steady cardio session.

Sweets and Chocolate
The authors recommend using Stevia, Truvia or NuNaturals as your new sweeteners because of their low glycemic index (meaning they don’t cause a significant increase in blood sugar.)  However, I tried using Truvia and it made me sick.  Stevia tasted terrible.  Although I didn’t try NuNaturals (I’m not going to buy “special food” remember?), I searched out the Trim, Healthy Mama Facebook page and discovered others were using Coconut Sugar with success as well.
I strolled over to my hand-dandy Wal-Mart and there it was on the shelf just sitting there smiling at me. I have made the book’s sweet recipes using Coconut Sugar and have continued to maintain the weight loss.  Coconut sugar (which isn’t actually sugar from a coconut) has a higher glycemic index than Stevia, but nowhere close to table sugar.
But truth be told, eating the THM way (that it to say—becoming aware of insulin spiking foods and/or combinations of them and avoiding them) has made me crave sweets less.

The Cost
I held off buying this book because of the price, but: it is worth the price. If you can’t stomach the $35 then you could try the digital version which is only $20. You can buy it here.  It is like buying three books (619 pages!!) because the first part of the book explains the why for the diet changes, the next portion explains the how and the third portion is full of recipes.  There are also chapters on hormone imbalances and how to cure them naturally, an exercise chapter (which remember, I almost skipped, but was so pleasantly surprised with the recommendations…that work!) and also a chapter on marital intimacy.

Who the Book is For
This book is for married women.  Trust me.  The end.

Who the Diet is For
The diet is for everyone: husband, children and even grandma included.  This isn’t a fad diet, but changes that can be made to your liking and pace, that are overall a healthier way of eating. Even if you don’t have weight to lose, you will learn a lot about how to eat by reading this book.
I do believe the book to be balanced, although as with every book we should read it with radars at attention (discernment).  The two sisters writing are very different, one is more of a purist and really educated me at times,  while the other uses the microwave and helps us identify short-cuts if we want to use them. ( I like her.) The ladies write in a conversational style and I especially like that they were humble enough to share their past mistakes and extremist tendencies that they now regret.