Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Book Review: Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

As a disclaimer, this is the first title I've read from the author, and this review is based on the audiobook instead of the book. I'm glad I chose the audiobook because the material was made more personable orated by Shauna than probably reading the actual book. 

As you listen, it is as though Shauna is reading her daily blog posts to the reader: each "chapter" is short, yet meaningful as she shares the discovery of her frantic, overloaded and people-pleasing life to the transition toward a peaceful, satisfying life with better choices and higher priorities. 

Shauna is honest and transparent, which will allow many readers to easily identify with her. Overall, the topic seems written to be relatable to a secular audience as well as the church attender; however, it may be less relatable to a stay at home mom seeking balance than to a woman who is working outside of the home and struggles with career priorities. It also may not seem relatable to a single mom, who does not have the same financial means or resources as the author. Regardless, we all have messy lives and hearing how Shauna was able to identify her struggle, learn to say no to distractions and walk through it to a more positive outcome gives us all hope.... however...

There were a couple of things that made me go "hmm" as I listened, and I have a feeling it may have been purposeful to draw in a secular audience. First, I hesitate when a Christian talks about their pursuit of finding themselves or discovering their purpose by experimenting or incorporating facets of other denominations in order to expand their spiritual horizon (or to find the real/right God). This was apparent in Shauna's use of the term "spiritual director" (which sounds much more New Age than saying "counselor") and having sessions with a Jesuit counselor instead of someone who has more similar religious beliefs. In addition, she and her husband created a more interfaith type worship service that included facets of the Catholic faith and others. This rang bells for me. Not so much that they included the Eucharist in their service, but that the whole thing seemed more experimental, mystic - like combining things to find the right recipe and get the right high -- instead of simply allowing the Holy Spirit to lead the worship service. 

Secondly - and again I feel this was purposeful in order to come across to a more secular audience - there was not much Scripture used. The very few used seemed to be added as an afterthought while putting together the book. There were no exciting revelations she discovered from the Bible that led her to a closer relationship with God or provided the route to the better choices and balance she finally experienced. It just seemed more like the message was "I figured this out" instead of "look at what God has shown me/done through me." 

Needless to say, the ending, while a "happy ending," was anti-climatic. Knowing that this was more of a memoir or biopic, I felt happy for her but also didn't feel satisfied after finishing the book. I had hoped for more depth, more concrete concepts that I could apply in my own journey toward a God-centered, balanced life. 

Did the book deliver what was promised?  Yes. She shares her discovery of how balance comes with being more present with family and home, saying no to those things that distract her and creates stress and struggle.  

Would I recommend this title to someone I know who is struggling, yet doesn't go to church? Maybe. It is written in a loose, easy to understand vibe that they may connect with. 

Would I recommend this book to the Christian, the church-goer, the bible study girl? Um no. While you would sit down and have coffee with Shauna, this book will probably be somewhat disappointing to you. 

And unfortunately, this was my first book to read from the author, and I think it may be my last.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Homeschooling: Upcoming Faithlife movie a resource for Ancient History, Biblical Worldview studies

Next Tuesday, Faithlife is releasing their original movie, "Fragments of Truth"  through Fathom Events for a one night showing on Tuesday, April 24 at select theatres.

Here is the synopsis of the movie, via the Fathom website:

Fragments of Truth
"The Christian faith is based on the New Testament - but can we really trust the Bible?  Skeptics say no, arguing that the Gospel manuscripts have been doctored to push a theological agenda . . . Dr. Craig Evans take this claim head-on, traveling the globe to track down the most ancient New Testament manuscripts.  Along the way, he highlights groundbreaking new evidence, demonstrating that the case for the reliability of the New Testament manuscripts is stronger than ever." 

In a culture consistently trying to prove that creation is a myth and the Bible is only a series of stories with no historical relevance, this movie will be an excellent opportunity for homeschooling teens to see real evidence that will strengthen their faith and reinforce their Biblical worldview

Visit the Faithlife or Fathom Events website to watch trailers, buy tickets and also download a free discussion guide. 

#Ancient History  #Biblical Worldview

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Real Scoop on Essential Oils: It's Not Necessarily From Your Favorite Blogger

In the past couple years, I have read numerous reviews and testimonials by bloggers, in addition to hearing many sales pitches, on essential oils.

And I believed all of it.

I believed that essential oils are well, essential.  To healthier living.

Since changing our entire way of eating at the beginning of 2016, my husband and I have each lost about 25 pounds, and we are still maintaining a good diet, along with regular exercise.  We tweaked our eating patterns various times in the last year to get to a point where we know what foods work best, and which ones we need to avoid.

Recently, a sweet friend told me about her success with essential oils. (In fact, she became so impressed that she joined the company.)  Her enthusiasm encouraged me to once again spend some quality time learning more about essential oils, to see if this is something that we could add to our health regimen.

As a result of my friend's information and reading through two published books, I experimented with a small variety of oils in my newly purchased diffuser.  While the scents were wonderful, I didn't necessarily feel all the benefits that many essential oil users claimed to have.

From the books that I read, the authors related their experiences with essential oils that were good, compelling and interesting.  But that's mainly what it was - their own personal experiences.  The authors gave their insights based on nothing other than what worked for them and repeating what they learned from other users, or from the companies that they associate with as representatives. 

Then I came upon this book.

"The Healing Power of Essential Oils" is in my opinion, the new go-to handbook for essential oil use.  As a medical writer, the author has pored over documented research and elicited doctors to provide information that is useful to the reader.

This isn't a medical tome, but easy to read information; not only on the recent essential oil phenomenon, but on different oils and their uses, recipes, and quick-start guides to get you going on essential oils immediately.

He also provides videos and more information on his website: HealingPowerOfEssentialOils.com 

The most rememberable statement from the book is that essential oils don't necessarily give the same results for every person.  It takes experimenting to find what works best.

Encouraged, I purchased a couple new oils and I'm off to once again experiment with that diffuser.