Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Journey to Christmas(DVD Review)

Description from Amazon:

Journey to Christmas is a fascinating new reality DVD series that invites you to explore Jesus’ birth through five modern-day explorers. Shot on ultra-high-definition film and packaged as a four-part DVD church curriculum, this unique study series chronicles the experiences of five very different people—a messianic Jew, a First Nations woman, a poet, a Christian radio personality, and an agnostic lawyer—as they journey through the Holy Land to discover the true meaning of Christmas. Guided by a local historian (Nizar Shaheen) with on-camera commentary from a team of Bible experts (astronomer Dr. Hugh Ross, ancient history expert Dr. Paul Maier, archeologist and New Testament scholar Dr. Craig Evans, Biblical times culture expert Claire Pfann, and others), viewers will see the Christmas story unfold though the eyes of each member on this unique pilgrimage. Journey to Christmas lets you immerse yourself in the culture, places, and people surrounding the Nativity. Stunning photography, a reality show format, exotic locations, and fascinating commentary from a team of Bible experts make this an unforgettable Bible learning experience!

My thoughts:

I should probably mention that I don't celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ. I know! You're thinking I'm horrible. Let me explain, though. I'm just uncomfortable with the fact that it's a completely man-made holiday. I don't like that some random person(or people)-not God, not Jesus, just some random person- decided that December 25th was the most convenient day to celebrate Christ's birth, and that it was the day I need to celebrate the birth of Christ, too. I just feel like I would be adding to the Bible by celebrating Christ's birthday on December 25th, or any other singled out day or season of the year (I feel the same way about Easter)(Rev.22: 18-19). I don't judge anyone who does, though. Not at all!!!! I do celebrate Christmas as a time of family, and giving, and simply spoiling children a little, and it's my favorite holiday! ;) If you've been around my blog very long, I hope you can tell just how important Jesus is in my life! While I'm guessing there's nobody out there reading this post that has the same opinion as me, I do think that most of you would agree, in this case, if I'm uncomfortable with it, I shouldn't do it.

Now that I've got that out of the way, I'll continue with my review. Overall, I really enjoyed watching Journey to Christmas! I would be thrilled to walk where Jesus walked and sit where He taught. That would be an amazing experience! I don't have any plans to travel to Israel, though. I'm not saying I won't, but it's not in the works anytime soon. That's why I'm so glad I was able to experience a tiny bit of the Nativity Story through my TV screen.

In Journey to Christmas we meet 5 people with various backgrounds and faiths who take the trip to Israel to learn more about the Nativity Story for different reasons. I hate to say, even though I did like the series, I could have did without the "reality show" part of it. Sometimes the people just annoyed me, and I felt too much time was spent on watching them play and talk. Most of the "5" were traveling to Israel to decide if they believed in Jesus or not. One was going for artistic inspiration. It just annoyed me! And, I hate that they were constantly referred to as "modern-day wise men". I would have loved to have seen more educational type content. I LOVED watching the history part of the video. If you already know a great deal of background information about the Nativity Story, then I have a feeling you'll be a bit disappointed. It is just basic information about the customs of the times, but parts were still fascinating to me. I don't really get how it's being advertised as a church curriculum type of video, though. I think most people will want to watch this video to have a better connection to Jesus and His birth. While that does happen, I just don't think the spiritual content will be what most are hoping for.

There was one particular part that I really liked. The girls were learning how to season olives. They were with a few women from Israel, and you could tell how peaceful they were. One of the girls(part of the 5) mentioned how overloaded we are. We've constantly got cell phones ringing and computers in front of us. The women in Israel kept their hands busy, but they're hearts and minds were at peace. It just really made me think. There were times when I completely disagreed with what one of the "5" were saying, and there were times when I absolutely agreed with what they were saying.

Just in case this would bother you, I want to mention some of the paintings that are shown. There's a couple of nude-ish paintings, but one is shown over and over. Each episode is 45 minutes long. This apparently aired on television first, because there's obvious "commercial" breaks(without the commercials, though). Due to those breaks and the fact that there are 4 separate episodes, there's a good bit of repetition. One picture shows up several times due to all that, though. I didn't study the paintings or anything(I actually tried to ignore them for the most part), but I think a woman's top is the only actual nudity shown. I think the rest is pretty well covered up.

I'm thrilled to have Journey to Christmas as part of our DVD library. I just wish it wasn't set up as a reality show type of thing. While I do think that you'll have plenty of issues with the video while watching it, I definitely think it IS worth watching, though!

*Thanks to Tyndale for providing me a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Top Ten Books That Caught My Attention in November

November's list of books has probably been the hardest for me to narrow down to only 10. I've saw so many great books this month, and my reading list has expanded a great bit! It hasn't helped that I've started shopping around for Christmas presents, and have found even more that I want to read.

I really wanted to start giving links to posts that made me want to read a book, but I'm not going to this month. Sorry y'all! I'm trying to hurry and whip this post up before the end of the day. Between trying to catch a few online deals the past few days(there were some great ones!!) and being sick the past week, I've gotten behind on reviews and reading. I almost never get sick, which I am beyond grateful for, but when I do, I pay for it! Here goes, though:

Something to Hold by Katherine Schlick Noe

I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on this one. I've been looking around for Native American fiction, and this one looks promising.

Child of the Mountains by Marilyn Sue Shank

This one doesn't come out until April 2012, but I'm excited about it, too.

Bomba the Jungle Boy by Roy Rockwood

This one seems to be out of print, but if I ever luck up and find it at a used store, I'll snatch it up!

May B. by Caroline Rose

The Woman Who Heard Color by Kelly Jones

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

The Reluctant Prophet by Nancy Rue

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures by Caroline Preston

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

These days I'm very hesitant to pick up YA fiction, unless I know it's clean. I saw a review that of this one that really intrigued me, but I don't know much about it. If you've read it, let me know if it was clean please. :)

Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles

There were so many more, but I guess those are the ones that gained my interest the most. What books made your NEED to read list this month?

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Reader, Responsible: Guest Post by Rachel Starr Thomson

Today I'm welcoming Rachel Starr Thomson to Bluerose's Heart! She is the author of the Worlds Unseen Trilogy.

Rachel's Guest Post:

As a kid I read hundreds of books. Maybe even thousands. My memories of childhood are all woven up with fantasy worlds and plot lines; with places I’d never been and people who weren’t real, but seemed to be. I read both fiction and nonfiction of all kinds. I read less now (I’m an adult with responsibilities, it seems), but still plenty: I read the Bible and books of theology, history, or Christian living every morning; I edit manuscripts all day; and I regularly read fiction for the purposes of review. My life is inescapably literary.

But there was a period of time, in my late teens, when I almost gave up reading entirely. I also gave up writing after only just having started seriously (after years of playing around with it, I wrote two novels in my early teens and started a book on missionary history—the latter was never finished, alas). The reason was that God had burst into my life in a new way, and I was so busy walking with him, fellowshipping with real people, and serving in ministry that I didn’t have time for books.

The pendulum, of course, swung again. “Free time” began to happen again, and I discovered that books actually played an important and irreplaceable role in my life: they developed my mind and imagination in ways that translated into real life. I was happier, more grounded, more creative, and more spiritually effective as a reader than as someone who didn’t have time for books.

But I’m glad I had that period of time away from the worlds of paper and ink. It taught me something important: that there’s a world of difference between responsible and irresponsible escapism.

Merriam-Webster defines “escapism” as “habitual diversion of the mind to purely imaginative activity or entertainment as an escape from reality or routine.” That kind of escape can be done irresponsibly. It can be a way of taking ourselves away from reality so that we don’t have to deal with it, of leaving people in the lurch and never really discovering ourselves or God or anything else that really matters.

On the other hand, escape can be valuable and responsible, because it can give us new perspective, new courage, new hope, and new imagination to carry back with us into our “real” lives. We can use what we discover in books to shape ourselves and our reality outside of them. I’ve been able to gain understanding of human nature while I read that later enabled me to show greater compassion or connect on a deeper level with another human being in the “real world.” I’ve been able to take the joy or beauty in a story and use it to see beauty and experience joy in real life. I’ve been able to carry visions of goodness and truth, seen in fiction, into the reality of my prayer life, my daily habits, and my lifetime goals. Books impact our minds and imaginations, and so much of the way we live begins in those places.

Of course, this definition of responsible reading—reading to find strength and inspiration for our lives outside of books—also requires reading good books as often as we can. Rejecting twaddle and embracing the truly great and holy in literature (“Christian” and otherwise) is a discipline in itself.

Rachel's Website

World's Unseen Website

About World's Unseen: (from Rachel's Site)

Warrior, Singer, Seer, Healer, Listener, Voice.

For five hundred years the Seventh World has been ruled by a tyrannical empire — and the mysterious Order of the Spider that hides in its shadow. History and truth are deliberately buried, the beauty and treachery of the past remembered only by wandering Gypsies, persecuted scholars, and a few unusual seekers.

But the past matters, as Maggie Sheffield soon finds out. It matters because its forces will soon return and claim lordship over her world, for good or evil.

An orphan, Maggie’s steps have been dogged by tragedies she’s always seen as disconnected. But when a dying friend appears on her doorstep with proof that the empire is lying about the source of its power — proof in the form of an ancient scroll — she learns that her own tragedies have been part of a deliberate plan to crush the truth. Convinced of the scroll’s importance, Maggie agrees to carry it to the only man who can read it, a scholar who lives across the sea in the eastern reaches of the continent.

Maggie’s journey connects her with rebels and dreamers and makes her the enemy of terrifying shadow creatures and the powers of the empire. And so the past is revealed, and an ancient war begins again, with the Gifted at the heart of it: six individuals whose powerful gifts point to a world beyond their own. The Singer, the Seer, the Healer, the Listener, the Warrior, and the Voice must join together to show their world what is true and what is false — and in the process, to save them all from the evil that lies at their door.

The Seventh World Trilogy is an epic fantasy, beautiful, terrifying, pointing to the realities just beyond the world we see.

Thank you so much for being with us today, Rachel!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Me and the Pumpkin Queen by Marlane Kennedy

Greenwillow Books; (July 28, 2009) 192 pages

This is one of those library book I apparently thought I couldn't leave behind. I think it was an attempt to hang on to the last of Fall. Doesn't that cover just look Fall-y? And, I've grown to think very highly of the Greenwillow Books label!

In Me and the Pumpkin Queen, we meet Mildred.

"There's a bunch of T-shirts with sparkly words on them: Princess, Spoiled, Sweet. I see an orange one with the word Pumpkin in a fancy lettering and grab it. Not only does it catch my attention for obvious reasons, but Mama used to call me Pumpkin. She didn't care for the name Mildred either, even though that is what she named me. She named me Mildred 'cause my grandma, her mother-in-law, never cared for her when she first married Daddy, and that bothered her something awful. Mama thought if she named me after her, Grandma would like her more. Mama was very smart. It worked. Grandma was nearly as brokenhearted as Daddy and I were when Mama died."

It really ended up being a cute book! It's about Mildred's adventures in grieving the loss of her mother and simply growing up. I don't recommend this book for boys, by the way. There's nothing bad at all about it, but I don't think little boys need to be reading about how a girl feels about getting her first bra. ;)

Ever since Mildred's mother died, she's been trying to grow giant pumpkins. Me and the Pumpkin Queen tells of her 4th year of raising pumpkins. I was really surprised that I seemed to be holding my breath waiting to see the outcome of the pumpkins.

If you're looking for a really sweet, quick, light read, Me and the Pumpkin Queen is definitely a good choice!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ice Cube Award by Midge Noble with Interview

Balboa Press (September 7, 2011) 48 pages

I was honored to have the chance recently to read Ice Cube Award: Learning To Be Cool Under Pressure by Midge Noble. I really wish this book was in every single classroom out there! Anger with children just seems to be getting worse these days. I feel like there's so much out there pulling parent's attention away from their children and they just have to grow up too quickly. I think it comes with anger. (Just my little 2 cents)! I benefited from it, though, and I'm 30! :) My little Grasshopper already has some struggles with anger(as does most 3 year olds...I think), so I have no doubt he will benefit from it one day.
If you know of a child struggling with anger, I highly recommend Ice Cube Award.

I'm extremely grateful to Midge for allowing me to do an interview with her! I think her answers are all the convincing you will need to know just how special a book Ice Cube Award is.

-Would you tell us a little bit about Ice Cube Award?

Ice Cube Award is a book for children that focuses on anger management and bullying. In the story, Dani (a female character) has trouble being told no, losing, being teased and when things don't go her way. She lives in Ice Town, and when she gets angry, she gets hot and melts things. She has melted her classroom walls, her sister's crib, the pew at church, the store floor, and when she eventually melts the statue of the mayor, the town has had enough and is ready to ask her family to move. Dani has to learn how to stay cool under pressure, control her thoughts, and manage her feelings.

-I understand a special young man inspired the story. Can you tell us about him and his inspiration?

I worked with a young boy who had a huge anger problem. His rages could be quite explosive and he destroyed my office on more than one occasion. We had worked for a while together and one day I asked him to draw a picture of himself feeling happy and without all the rages he was used to having. He brought me a picture of himself with a goofy grin and a necklace around his neck. When I asked about his drawing, he said that the picture was of himself being happy and that the necklace was an ice cube that kept him cool. The story of the Ice Cube Award popped into my head. I continued to work with him and he began to make progress toward controlling his rages and using specific skills to manage his feelings. Tragically, about two months after that session, he died in a house fire, but I truly believe that he had earned his Ice Cube Award and I dedicated the book to his memory and inspiration.

-Was Ice Cube Award a family project?(Was your daughter the illustrator?) If so, what was that like?

Thank you for asking about the illustrations. Actually, my cousin, Candy Noble Wallace is the illustrator. She lives in Virginia and also illustrated my first book, Sheba: Home Is Where Your Heart Is that focuses on abuse, neglect, trust, and finding your forever home. It has been an honor to work with her on these projects.

-Do you have plans to publish anymore children's books?

I am in the process of writing the sequel to Sheba: Home Is Where Your Heart Is. It is titled, SHEBA, The Tail-wagging Adventure Continues! I feel that the books I write come to me because the stories have purpose and want to be told.

-Can you leave us with some tips to help children deal with their anger?

Know that you are in control of what you think, say, and do.
You are in charge of your feelings, and can stop anger anytime you want to.
Take deep breaths to calm yourself down.
Tell your brain to calm down.
Remind yourself that just because mean things are said about you, that doesn't make it true.

Midge, thank you so much for the lovely interview!!

If you would like to see more about Midge and her books, just go to Midge's Website

About the author:

Midge Noble is a licensed professional counselor in the state of North Carolina. She received a Master of Arts Degree in Counselor Education and Research from Appalachian State University and has worked in the counseling field since 1985. She has worked as a school counselor, a counselor for terminally ill children and their families, a mental health counselor, and now is serving children and their families in private practice. Noble works extensively with children who have been abused, neglected, bullied, or are the bullies. This is her second children’s book.

What's On Your Nightstand? (November 22nd, 2011)

What's On Your Nightstand

I absolutely love reading other people's What's on Your Nightstand posts, but I've always felt I was too much of a "spur of the moment" reader to be able to participate. I really want to organize my reading just a tiny bit more, so I'm going to participate this month and see how it goes. I've told myself this isn't a contract or anything! ;)

I've actually already got several books read this month that are simply waiting on a review to be finished and posted. These are the books I hope to read through the end of November/December, though.

Life Application Study Bible Devotional: Daily Wisdom from the Life of Jesus
-I'm still trying to do this devotional, but I won't lie. I'm not doing it as much or as detailed as I want!!

The Hidden Gifts of Helping: How the Power of Giving, Compassion, and Hope Can Get Us Through Hard Times Stephen G. Post
-I have this one for review. I've barely started it, but I do know that it's different than what I expected. I'm not the target reader for it, but I'm still hoping to come out of it with some wisdom. Hopefully!!

A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander
-This is another review book. I've started it already, and I'm really liking it so far.

Alabama Brides by Sandra Robbins
-I won this book, and I really just can't wait to read it!! I'm looking forward to finally reading some of the works of Mrs. Sandra.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
-I had a bit of time to kill before picking up Grasshopper from class, so I looked around a bit at the library. I was simply dropping off some books I had checked out. I had no intentions of checking out anymore books! I knew I had plenty at home to keep me occupied(for years!). Can you believe I walked out of the library with 3 books and 2 movies?! My goodness, I have no self control when it comes to books!
I've been curious about this one for awhile, though, and apparently decided it was time to read it.

Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins
-This is one of the other library books I ended up with. It looks cute.

The Strictest School in the World: Being the Tale of a Clever Girl, a Rubber Boy and a Collection of Flying Machines, Mostly Broken (The Mad Misadventures of Emmaline and Rubberbones) by Howard Whitehouse
-I bought the whole set for my birthday back in July/August(autographed!). :) I really just wanted to read them myself, but I figured, especially with autographs, they would be something great to pass down to one of my sons one day. I hate that I haven't made time for them yet.

I got to shopping at a goodwill store a few towns away a couple of weeks ago, and found some great books. I mean, jump up and down excited kind of books(for me)! Then there's simply the books already on my shelf that I've been wanting to read awhile. Here's a picture of what I'd love to read if I had tons more reading time.

I'm pretty well stretching it with my list for this month as it is, though, so maybe some of them will make next month! :) And, I'm very grateful that I don't have all the reading time in the world. Especially lately, I've been reminded just how blessed I am to have to my rowdy little boys. Yes, even when I want to go out back and scream at the top of my lungs. I love them very much! ;)

So, what's on your nightstand?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Common English Bible, Week 1 (With Giveway)

I was recently invited to participate in the Common English Bible tour. I don't know a thing about it at this point. I don't even have my copy yet. (Update: I received it Saturday, but haven't had a chance to sit down with it, so I'm continuing with this post as planned). I decided to be part of the tour, though, because I like trying out new versions and translations of the Bible. I don't think it hurts to have different versions to look at and study. To me, it's somewhat like having commentaries.

I'll be perfectly honest and say that I don't have any intentions whatsoever of making the Common English Bible my "main" Bible. I'm trying it out solely as study tool. I may end up really liking it. I may end up hating it. I'll let you know my honest thoughts, though, as I go along. And keep in mind that while I am extremely conservative with my beliefs, I'm still just a simple, stay at home mom. These are purely just my opinions and thoughts.

The tour is running from November 20th through January 31st. For every week that I post about the Common English Bible , I'm given the opportunity to offer one of my readers a softcover edition of it. I just can't pass up the chance to offer as many of my readers as possible the chance at one of these to try out. So, I'll be posting my thoughts once a week throughout the tour. My plan is to give you the NKJV and the CEB translations of specific sets of verses, so you can compare and decide if this is a version you might like. I'm going to try to especially post controversial verses, to see how much, if anything, has been changed.

If you would like to be entered, just leave a comment with your (spam-free) e-mail, and I'll randomly draw a winner each week.

For this week, since I don't actually have the CEB yet(see my update above), I'm going to simply use some of the verses that were e-mailed to me.

2 Timothy 3:15-17 (NKJV): 15 "and from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."

2 Timothy 3:15-17 (CEB): 15 "Since childhood you have known the holy scriptures that help you to be wise in a way that leads to salvation through faith that is in Christ Jesus. 16 Every scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing mistakes, for correcting, and for training character, 17 so that the person who belongs to God can be equipped to do everything that is good.”

Roman 15:4 (NKJV): "For whatever things were written before were written for out learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope."

Romans 15:4 (CEB): “Whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction so that we could have hope through endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures.”

2 Peter 1:19-21 (NKJV): 19 "And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in the dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scriptures is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."

2 Peter 1:19-21 (CEB): 19 “In addition, we have a most reliable prophetic word, and you would do well to pay attention to it, just as you would to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Most important, you must know that no prophecy of scripture represents the prophet’s own understanding of things, 21 because no prophecy ever came by human will. Instead, men and women led by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

I'm new to the idea of "gender neutral" translations, so I'm not positive yet, but I'm pretty sure the CEB is gender neutral. At this point, that is very disappointing, if so! As much as I've been against "gender neutral", though, I actually kind of like the way it is used in the verses above. I have saw verses in other versions that I strongly disapproved of, so we'll see how it goes with this one as I go along. Let me know your thoughts about the Common English Bible so far! I'm just now getting started and learning about it.

The Common English Bible Facebook Page- When you like the page, you are able to print off some calligraphy Bible verses.

Common English Bible Web Page

CEB Twitter

Don't forget to leave a comment if you want to enter for a softcover Common English Bible . U.S. Only.