Welcome!

As you can see, I’m still working on things over here and moving posts over from my old site, leahatha.com.

In the future, I hope to post more book reviews and other things about life in general, so stick with me! (And I’m sorry about all that old stuff clogging up your readers. It will get better! Promise!)

Regards-

Leah

(aka The Barefoot Theologian)

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Book Review: Constantly Craving by Marilyn Meberg

Image courtesy of the publisher.

Image courtesy of the publisher.

Note: This review originally appeared on my old site, leahatha.com and was published on December 10, 2012.

When I initially signed up to review Ms. Meberg’s Constantly Craving: How to Make Sense of Always Wanting More, I thought that it was going to focus on food cravings due to its cover. Instead, Constantly Craving focuses on mankind’s desire for MORE in everything: romance, friends, marriage, our schedules, and our quest for happiness. These topics are covered in Ms. Meberg’s humorous and easy to follow writing style.
I was encouraged to see Ms. Meberg affirm the sovereignty of God, as in this passage:

Understanding these truths affirming God’s sovereignty over our purposes lets us stop the magical thinking that sometimes springs up in our heads as we attempt to know his will (Loc 1535-36)

Sadly, Ms. Meberg then contradicts her own statement about the importance of Scripture, quoted here:

 I want always to look to Scripture instead of to signs which may be no more than human assumptions and hopes that add fuel to a fire not meant to be (Loc 1536);

by including a passage from the book Heaven is For Real as well as a personal account of her husband’s vision of heaven. I’m certain Ms. Meberg intends to encourage the reader, but accounts such as these should be held loosely due to the account of the rich man and Lazarus, found in Luke 16:19-31 (NKJV).

Another source of discouragement is a rather scandalous account of the private lives of President Franklin Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor (around Loc 1902), with no sources cited. Stories such as this have no place in a Christian book! Other (less scandalous) stories are given as examples, also without sources. Constantly Craving also quotes modern philosophers as well as psychologists like Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. Freud. The role of sin in our lives is downplayed a bit; it doesn’t fully come into play until the end of the book, but, since that is the source of humanity’s problem and the aim of the book is to help the reader discover “how to make sense of always wanting more”, it’s to be expected. I found Constantly Craving  to be more of a discouragement than an encouragement, especially during the first half of the book.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://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 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: Father Hunger by Douglas Wilson

Note: This review originally appeared on my old site, leahatha.com and was published on October 6, 2012.

Image courtesy of the publisher.

Image courtesy of the publisher.

Father Hunger by Douglas Wilson is an informative read that not only tells us “why” men should love and lead their families but also provides evidence as to how we’ve all been affected by “father hunger” in some form or another.

Mr. Wilson correctly informs us that “theology undergirds everything. How we think of God the Father will drive how we think of all fathers. God the Father provides the ultimate definition of what a father should in fact be like”(189).  After all, “we live in fatherless times”(23).  This is important stuff!  We all have a father in some form or another. We have all been affected.

In a statement that best describes the book, Wilson writes:

“Father Hunger is one of the chief symptoms of our idolatry.  It is the basis for our political follies, our cultural follies, our technological follies, and so on. But the solution is not to schedule numerous family retreats. The solution is to announce, preach, and declare that the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of God, and of His Christ” (23).

Father Hunger is a serious book with heavy implications, however, it doesn’t read as such. Mr. Wilson’s writes in a humorous, creative style (think Wodehouse) that keeps the reader from getting too bogged down. In fact, the only aspect of this book that interrupted the flow was a sort of “mini book review” of James K. A. Smith’s Desiring the Kingdom in chapter ten. I realize that Mr. Wilson was using this as part of his supporting argument but it just seemed sort of choppy.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://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 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: The Yankee Officer and the Southern Belle: A Journey of Love Across Africa by Nell Robertson Chinchen

Note: This book review appeared originally on my old site, leahatha.com, and was published on August 19, 2012.

Image courtesy of the publisher.

Image courtesy of the publisher.

The Yankee Officer and the Southern Belle: A Journey of Love Across Africa is the autobiographical story of Nell Robertson Chinchen and her husband, Jack, as they worked together in Christian ministry and especially as missionaries to the Liberian people of Africa.  Throughout the book, Mrs. Chinchen relates events that affirm the Sovereignty of God and His providence in the “small” things. As Mrs. Chinchen aptly writes:

Picayune may mean ‘small’ but it certainly is not insignificant. One step at a time is how God leads us and a step might be small. But each step is a stepping stone laid by His hand of providence (Loc 409-411).

From leaving a comfortable life on a pear orchard, to her husband’s pastorate, to answering the call to go to Liberia to assist in Christian education efforts, to last minute passports and the deadly challenges of a country in political turmoil, Mrs. Chinchen presents a wonderful example of the power of prayer in one’s life and through her family’s story of obedience.  She writes:

God’s providence never ceases to amaze me. His ways truly are past finding out. The hard part is to be obedient to His leading even when we can’t see where we are going (Loc 402-403).

The Yankee Officer and the Southern Belle: A Journey of Love Across Africa is an easy, sometimes humorous read for anyone considering the call to the mission field or for any Christian who wonders if God *really* cares. I found it an especially encouraging reminder that God doesn’t forget His children and cares for all the things in our lives, big and small. As someone who has a “soft spot” for Africa, I’m grateful for the work the Chinchens have done in founding the African Bible College to enable its students to one day lead while continuing to spread the gospel over the continent. I highly recommend it.

The Yankee Officer and the Southern Belle: A Journey of Love Across Africa was published by Christian Focus and is available in trade paperback or on the Kindle. I was provided a free copy from the publisher of the Kindle version in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Beyond Bath Time: Embracing Motherhood as a Sacred Role by Erin Davis

Note: This review originally appeared on my old blog, leahatha.com and was published on June 17, 2012 complete with an extra copy that I gave away courtesy of the publisher!

beyond-bath-time-cover-195x300

Image courtesy of the publisher

“Motherhood is like running a marathon uphill in your church shoes (because your toddler took your sneakers in a game of hide-and-seek)” (89).  Regardless of your denomination*, all mothers can agree that “motherhood is tough” (89).  This statement is repeated throughout Beyond Bath Time: Embracing Motherhood as a Sacred Role.  In ten brief chapters, Mrs. Davis encourages readers to base their view of motherhood on God’s word and to shift their focus to the eternal-Christ’s kingdom.  Many of us have bought into the lie that “children are a burden” (49) but the bible is clear that they are a reward (PS. 127:3, NKJV) and a blessing (Ps. 128) from God.

Beyond Bath Time ends with an invitation to readers to connect with other moms online and to sign up for a thirty day mom makeover email** list (day one is provided in the book).  Mrs. Davis also challenges readers to consider leading a group for moms in their home or church as a way to encourage other mothers and fulfill the Great Commission.  Although this book skims the surface of what the bible teaches on motherhood and Christian living; this does not mean that “mature Christians” or those with differing theological views won’t benefit from reading this book.  One of the points that stood out to me was that Eve’s “sin was not the sum of her legacy” (64).

Beyond Bath Time’s introductory nature makes it a great pick for a group setting or a one-on-one mentoring relationship.  The material in the book can be expanded with additional content in the hands of a teacher or mentor.   Those who wish to use this book as a study for moms and other women in the church should be aware that those who are struggle with infertility issues may experience difficulty with sentences like, “A wife who bears children is a blessing” (94).  While I realize this book is intended for a broad range of moms, including those who are single parenting, fathers are only briefly mentioned.  My primary concern is that the gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life is not emphasized as much as it could have been, or perhaps is not as explicit.  It would be my hope that if this book were ever revised that the gospel and work of the Holy Spirit would be at the forefront of the thirty day mom makeover and/or emphasized in the conclusion. However, I do believe that these issues could be addressed in a group setting or mentoring relationship with additional study or resources.

So, in light of this, would I recommend this book? Yes. It is good for personal study but, I suspect, that it would really shine in a group or mentoring relationship setting.  Although I differ a bit from Mrs. Davis in terms of theological doctrine*, I do not differ from her in my zeal for the gospel-for myself, my son and the world.

*In matters of doctrine, I’m writing from a Reformed (PCA) perspective. However, I do not believe that this prevents me from reading or reviewing books written from other theological viewpoints.  Writing a book review is not the same as casting out demons, but I apply Luke 9:49-50 (ESV) to the process in order to maintain perspective.

**I’ve received ten of the mom makeover emails. I find them encouraging and so far they seem to be taking a baby step approach to building a better devotional life.

A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for a fair and balanced review from Moody Publishers and BeyondBathTime.

Book Review: A Shot of Faith (to the Head) by Mitch Stokes, Ph. D.

Note: This review originally appeared on my old site, leahatha.com and was published on May 24, 2012.

Image courtesy of the publisher.

Image courtesy of the publisher.

A Shot of Faith (to the Head): Be A Confident Believer in an Age of Cranky Atheists (hereafter A Shot of Faith (to the Head) aims to “teach believers to defend themselves using tools from recent Christian philosophy” while “boosting the confidence of believers”. The book is divided into three parts which cover the three common arguments against faith in God:belief in God is irrational, science has proven God doesn’t exist and God doesn’t exist because evil does. Dr. Stokes explains the evidence in each chapter and provides key points at the end for the reader’s “arsenal”.

Throughout A Shot of Faith (to the Head), Dr. Stokes introduces the reader to the works of Christian philosophers Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff and Peter van Inwagen. The two most quoted cranky atheists in the book are Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens.  Dr. Stokes does an excellent job of distilling this continuing battle into a concise that builds slowly from the basics of philosophy and science into the three primary atheistic arguments.

It is my opinion that A Shot of Faith (to the Head) should be read by every Christian (young and old) in America, especially those of us who sat through years of public school science classes (and the trumpeting of the theory of evolution as fact). If you have a child in a public university, buy this book and press them to read it.  They will be on the front lines and dull arrows are useless. A Shot of Faith (to the Head) should be read just as much for it’s introduction to the tools of logic and philosophy as it’s coverage of God vs. science.  As Dr. Stokes states in the acknowledgments, this book does  ”boost faith” and is an encouragement to those of us who have a slight interest in science but have always felt that we shouldn’t. God exists. The proof is there.

If you enjoy book trailers, the trailer for A Shot of Faith (to the Head) can be found here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://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 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: Paris in Love: A Memoir by Eloisa James

Note: This review originally appeared on my old site, leahatha.com and was published on April 3, 2012.

Paris-in-Love-for-blog-225x300Last month, a tweet in my Twitter feed announced something called the Early Bird Read program and the free book was entitled, Paris in Love, by Eloisa James(aka Mary Bly). At the time, I knew absolutely nothing about the author but had recently vowed to expand my reading tastes in order to fertilize the “leaf mold of my mind”.  A memoir was just the change I was looking for.

The book arrived the next day, with an official address label from the publisher, and that alone made me giddy. I skimmed the back jacket and realized that Ms. James writes historical romance.  I groaned a bit. She writes “bodice rippers”(see note at the end of this post, EJ fans)?  New York Times bestselling “bodice rippers”?  What had I gotten myself into?

As it turns out, what I “got” was a very well written memoir with (barely) a mention of anything sex related; no ripping bodices or panting heroines.  This memoir is unique because it is a compilation of tweets, Facebook status updates and essays.  Although it would seem that this would make for an incoherent work, it is far from that.  The style makes for a quick read with enough depth to satisfy the snobbiest of readers.  Ms. James’ well-educated (Harvard/Yale/Oxford) writing does not disappoint and the memoir is a delicate, multi-layered literary sandwich of humor, Paris, love, family, friends, dogs, cancer, change, and grief.  I found myself reading it before bed, and stopping every few sentences, laughing, to read aloud to my husband.  The paragraph below, from page eighteen, is a personal favorite.

Anna flung open the door of the apartment open after school: “Mom! I was attacked today!” “What happened?” I asked. “A girl named Domitilla slapped me!” Anna said, eyes open very wide. “She said I was screaming in her ear.” We chose Anna’s former school in New Jersey with an eye toward just this sort of encounter: they devoted a great deal of time to teaching the students to reject violence, studying Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, and practicing conflict resolution. I inquired hopefully how Anna responded to her first real taste of playground aggression.  “I slapped her right back,” my daughter explained. “My hand just rose in the air all by itself.”

In contrast, I also found myself battling tears, as when I read this paragraph from page 77.

At fifteen, Luca has left “Mama” behind and now calls me “Mom,” whereas Anna still howls “Mama!” across the whole apartment. It occurred to me yesterday that the day will come when no one will call me “Mama,” and I won’t realize it that day, or even the day after, just as I have no memory of Luca’s last “Mama.” There are so many Last Times in parenting-the last book read aloud, the last nursing session, the last bath.

I don’t have the space (or time-mothers never have enough) on this blog to cover all the many nuances and topics covered in this book but I will say, get a copy.  Add this book to your summer reading list. It won’t disappoint. It feels strange to write this about a memoir but Paris in Love was an absolute delight.  If you plan to travel to Paris, Ms. James has also included an “idiosyncratic guide to a few places in Paris” that contains information that could only be discovered by a Parisienne.  You can read more excerpts, reviews, a readers guide for yourself (or book club) as well as a book club party kit at http://parisinlovebook.com/.  If any of you decide to have a book club to discuss this book and then travel to Paris, consider taking me along, okay?

Happy reading, everyone!

Note: I haven’t read anything that Ms. James has written other than the memoir. I have no idea if her novels are the stereotypical “bodice rippers”.

This book was a freebie from the publisher as part of Random House’s Early Bird Read program. No review was required in return for the book, and not a single link in this post is an affiliate link. I published the review because I liked it.