Sunday, November 23, 2014

Review of "Furry Logic" by Jane Seabrook

Though you can probably tell I take most of my reading pretty seriously, it's fun to lighten up a little every now and then. The 10th Anniversary Edition of Jane Seabrook's Furry Logic: A Guide to Life's Little Challenges, provides me with a great opportunity to indulge my love for cute critters, expertly painted in watercolors. Each meticulous painting is paired with a playful quip that encourages readers to poke fun at themselves, take the easy road, or revel in their own misbehavior.

What this book is: 
Seabrook shares in her Artist's Note that she creates her wildlife portraits using (and wearing out) fine sable brushes with a single hair at the tip to capture the most delicate hairs and feathers. The level of detail makes each painting a visual treat. The book's diminutive size gives each image a jewel-box quality, but also belies the overstated personalities inside. Her collection of critters, often tightly framed, take on anthropomorphic sentiments when paired with humorous quotes. I especially got a kick out of a close up of a lone crested penguin who lifts a flipper to say "Always remember you are unique..." A page later, the artist zooms out to reveal the creature among a train of equally chipper crested penguins and completes the sentence: "just like everyone else."

What it isn't:
I was curious to learn more about the meerkats and pilileated woodpeckers depicted in the book, but while Seabrook employs a diverse cast characters, she doesn't provide information on the species that have inspired her paintings. While this information would have distracted from the impact of the quotes if added to each picture, I thought the Artist's Note at the end of the book would have been an ideal spot to share more about the critters in the book and whether she painted from memory, photographs or real-life models. 

My Take:
This simple little book is a perfect gift for those with a wry sense of humor and a love for animals. Science-minded readers can enjoy the level of accuracy found in each painting, though they won't find factual information to satisfy the left brain. However, visual minds will love the winsome artistry, and wordsmiths might find some new quotes to add to their repertoires.

*Thanks to Blogging for Books for a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review.*

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Give-Away Winner is....

Robyn Duncan!!! Congratulations!!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Review of the Study Bible for Women

I own several Bible versions and have the YouVersion app on my phone, but I've never owned a women's study Bible. So when the opportunity came to review the Holman Study Bible for Women, published by B&H and edited by Dorothy Kelley Patterson and Rhonda Harrington Kelley, I jumped on it! As you can see in my photos above and below, the leather bound Bible itself is very pretty to look at, with gray and pale teal design elements throughout. I'm personally relieved that for once something designated for women isn't pink. But moving past the superficial, let's get into the meat. 

The immensity of a 2000-page study bible packed full of sidebars, charts, maps, footnotes and character profiles requires some selectivity on my part. I decided to offer my critique on one passage each from the Old Testament books of history, wisdom literature, the New Testament gospels and the epistles.

Exodus 1:15-21- Those Audacious, God-fearing Midwives
Perhaps because my second two sons were delivered by midwives, I really get into the brief story in Exodus 1:15-21 of Hebrew midwives Shiphrah and Puah, who defy Pharaoh's orders to kill any baby boys they help deliver. The Study Bible for Women offers lots of extra commentary for this story, which is the context for Moses' clandestine birth. The sheer number of sidebars helps readers slow down and really consider this passage. I found the "Biblical Womanhood" segment helpful in imagining Pharoah's directive in a  human context. The editor notes that Pharaoh "apparently did not prescribe the means of killing the babies, but his order would clearly require deception, betrayal, and the denial of conscience" (69), which helped me imagine what it would be like to be in Shiprah's sandals. The footnote for 1:19-21 didn't quite ring true to me, saying that the midwives' excuse to Pharaoh was plausible. Would anyone believe that all the babies were born before the midwives could get there? I do agree that they "exploited the king's concern for the difference in strength he had observed between the Hebrews and Egyptians," but to me, it seems the midwives are mocking and insulting Pharaoh rather than trying to talk their way out of punishment.  The "Hard Question" sidebar considers how God rewarded the midwives with families of their own (v. 21) in light of modern women who pine after such a reward. It encourages singles and those struggling with infertility to invest themselves in the service of others, as midwives do, and to "delight in being a daughter of the King, a member of the family of God and the household of faith" (68). I think the advice is sound, but would have liked more exploration into the modern day role women can have in being activists for social justice, but that might be a little too progressive for this Bible. Overall, I enjoyed the Study Bible for Women's treatment of this story.

Proverbs 31- Everyone's Favorite Acrostic on Godly Women
I was pleased with the way this Bible unpacked a passage that could have the effect of making even the most capable woman feel inferior. While I do sometimes overdress my children in wintertime, and prepare ingredients from afar (bananas anyone?), and even occasionally rise while it's still dark to make pancakes for my picky children, I think most of the boxes on my Proverbs 31 to do list are still unchecked. Happily, at the very beginning of a full-page sidebar, the editors dispense with the perceived pressure to be as perfect as King Lemuel's mom, saying, "The poem provides an 'A to Z' ideal, not to prompt despair that no such woman exists but to encourage the pursuit by every woman to the highest standards of excellence" (824). On the adjacent page, another "Biblical Womanhood" feature also places this poem in context, describing its traditional use in celebratory recitations to honor and thank moms and wives at the Sabbath dinner table. Finally, I was encouraged by the editor's idea that even though nobody can match all the virtues of the Proverbs 31 Woman, her "very diversity in giftedness and skills enables every woman to reach out a touch her in some way" (825).

Matthew 19- Jesus' High View of Marriage and Wives
The half-page "Hard Question" feature in Matthew 19 caught my attention, asking "Is divorce ever okay for a follower of Jesus?" The context of this question is Jesus answering the Pharasees' "trick" question whether it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife on any grounds. As the note indicates, the chauvinistic culture of the time allowed men to dump their wives on a whim, while women, being seen as property, had very little reciprocal power. Jesus uplifts the view of a woman's worthiness in the marriage equation with the oft-quoted, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." I like that the editors wanted to show how revolutionary Jesus was in treating woman as people (a concept beautifully explored in Sarah Bessey's Jesus Feminist). The sidebar also states that God intends marriage to be a life-long commitment, making the preservation of even rocky marriages a top priority for godly Christians. Having been married for a brief 13 years, I fully agree that it's worth it to press through the rough spots, personality conflicts and misunderstandings with which most marriages are fraught. A mindset of commitment and mutual submission is the mind of Christ. However, the last bullet point readers are exhorted to heed deeply troubled me: "Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse in a marriage situation must be dealt with in a compassionate and firm manner within the context of church discipline." I read that sentence about four times, then discussed it with my husband, hoping I was misinterpreting what this sentence advises battered wives to do. Yes, wives and husbands in abusive situations should be ministered to by their church body, but I do not agree that the discipline of perpetrators of abuse should be dealt with solely in the context of the church. If you are in a family in which someone is abusing another member, you need to go to the police. In the editors' defense, they did not explicitly say to minimize, cover up such abuse or spiritualize the solution to such abuse. But I think some readers, especially those held in bondage to an abusive spouse, might understand this sentence to mean that they are not free to go to non-church authorities for help and that God requires they not divorce their abusive spouse. I pray not.

Philippians 4:8 - Dwell on These Things
Philippians is my favorite book of the Bible, and this has been my anthem for this particular season of my life. The Study Bible for Women does not provide specific commentary on 4:8, but I thought I would highlight the HCSB translation. The publisher calls it an accessible translation faithful to the original text. Depending on which version you've memorized scripture in as a child, you might find this version less poetic than say than the traditional King James or contemporary wording of the Message. But it is written in an easy-to-read and understand style. I liked the way Philippians 4:8 reads: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable--if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise--dwell on these things." The implication is that we should really sink into the things that reflect God. To dwell on something is to ponder it and to live it. 

In conclusion
There is plenty of commendable content to dwell on in this study bible. The full-color maps, including an especially interesting map of Jesus' ministry around the Sea of Galilee and one of The Passion Week in Jerusalem, would be excellent focal points for a personal or group study. Character Profile features sprinkled throughout give a snapshot of more than 100 women mentioned in the bible, from heroes like Esther and Priscilla to the five Marys, to lesser known or unnamed women. While the theology and doctrine on gender roles is far more conservative than my own, I found plenty of light and inspiration and would recommend it to Conservative Evangelical women hungry for scripture.

A Give-Away!!!
Since I have begun reviewing complimentary copies of books, such as this one generously provided by B&H Publishing in exchange for my honest review, I felt God leading me to bless others with these free materials. If you would like to own this very gently read bible, and if you live near enough to Hopkinsville that I can deliver it to you in person, enter my drawing to win it by commenting on this post!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Reading into life: Go easy

I mentioned in a previous post that I was working my way through Teresa Blythe's 50 Ways to Pray. One of the methods Blythe guides readers through is called Luther's Four-Stranded Garland, a form of lectio divina, or prayerful reading. I gave it a go with Ecclesiastes 12:11-14 from The Message:

"The words of the wise prod us to live well. They're like nails hammered home, holding life together. They are given by God, the one shepherd. But regarding anything beyond this, dear friend, go easy. There's no end to the publishing of books, and constant study wears you out so you're no good for anything else. The last and final word is this: Fear God. Do what he tells you. And that's it. Eventually God will bring everything that we do out into the open and judge it according to its hidden intent, whether it's good or evil." (italics mine)

Because my bedside reading often takes the form of the Leaning Tower of Piza, I felt God was talking directly to me in these verses. Blythe explained that Luther's Four-Stranded Garland involves an initial time of silence, then a slow, deliberate reading of the verses, hunting for a word, phrase or image that sparks something in the reader.  I usually have a hard time selecting just one "word, phrase, or image" because I'm most often intrigued by the juxtaposition of contrasting ideas, with which the Bible is replete. So my "phrase" was actually three phrases: Go easy.... Fear God. Do what he tells you. 

Now, onto Luther's garland, (which seems just about the most random mnemonic device ever):

For the first strand, Blythe tells readers to consider what lesson God is teaching them in the passage. That was the easy part. I love books and have a huge To Read list. And, as the verses state, there's no end to the steady stream of books being published. But if I'm just reading to get through a book or to be able to post on the blog, and I'm not giving myself the time and presence of mind to really hear God in the words of the wise, I'll wear myself out. Besides, the wise writer of Ecclesiastes gives me the Cliff Notes to all the wisdom I could ever read: "Fear God. Do what he tells you." I need to go easy by fearing God and hearing God. And doing what he tells me. It's a given God is telling me something, and that something requires action.

The second strand, Blythe writes, is to focus on giving thanksgiving to God. I'm so grateful for the access I have to so many wise writers (and a few daft ones). Living in this age and this country where books are plentiful is something I'm truly thankful for. And I'm thankful that the source of all true wisdom is the one good Shepherd. I can find God's gentle, leading voice in the books of the Bible as well as literature, poetry, biographies and other non-fiction. He's the source of every wise word. 

The third strand is confession. Blythe recommends admitting sins and shortcomings. For me, I often get sucked into what I'm reading or pursuing in a way that causes me to neglect my three children and the dishes in the sink-- a pile that rivals the tower of books on my nightstand! To make matters worse, I often bask in my personal inspiration and enlightenment without following through. Without fearing God. Without hearing. Without doing. It might seem I'm taking the easy way out, but actually this is the hard way to live because I was made to fear, hear and do. What Brene Brown calls the "cognitive dissonance" of falling short of one's calling makes going through life hard. Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner who too often takes the difficult road of not fearing, hearing and doing!

The final strand, writes Blythe, is to find guidance in the passage. As you might have surmised, God showed me that I don't focus on fearing him and hearing him and doing what he tells me. But, oh, how I want to. This is what a Christian was made to do. I want to discern his heart in all that I read or hear-- wise words or simple nudges. After my time of prayer, I spent some time listening. Sure enough, He had some things to say! To make sure I was really listening, I made a short list of things I felt God was reminding me to do. I'm not proud to tell you that some were things that he asked me to do days or even weeks ago. Near my list, I wrote "Consider each task sacred." I paused for what was probably 30 seconds of contemplative silence ... I'm still working on this feature of lectio divina. Then I got going on "going easy." And let me just gush for a moment: obeying God makes my heart easy! His burden really is light in that it makes me feel light and buoyant when I do what he tells me to do. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Review of "In Her Kitchen" by Gabriele Galimberti

At only 22, Gabriele Galimberti's first real gig took him on a photography expedition around the world. Because he'd never traveled much beyond his small Italian hometown of Castiglion Fiorentino, Galimberti's grandmother expressed concern about his pending adventure. What would her grandson eat, and who would cook for him, she wondered aloud as she served him her homemade ravioli. Galimberti writes that this was the moment he hatched his plan to find, cook with and photograph grandmas from each place he visited, capturing their signature dishes and stories. The result was In Her Kitchen: Stories and Recipes from Grandmas Around the World.

What this book is:
I first sat down with this 250-page coffee table book with my 6-year-old son, Stephen, who has a thing for maps. The inside cover is printed with a world map index pinpointing all the locations Galimberti visited. Stephen enjoyed picking a location from the map then flipping to the corresponding page to learn about cultures and food so different from his own. Each entry includes a full page portrait of the cook posing with the ingredients for her dish in her kitchen or dining room.The facing page features a close up of the finished cuisine. The following two pages provide a brief story about the cook and her family as well as the recipe for the dish. I enjoyed reading through the entire tome, trying to guess the country of origin from the photographs before flipping the the extended caption on the next page. I love that I now know a little bit about Latvian cooking and that I have a Greek grandma's recipe for making phyllo dough from scratch. There were a number of recipes I was eager to try, such as Galimberti's own grandmother's Swiss Chard and Ricotta Ravioli with Meat Sauce. And with the amusing exceptions of recipes requiring moth maggots and fresh caught iguana, most of the dishes involved easily accessible ingredients and common kitchen tools.

What it isn't:
Though it provides recipes from five of the seven continents, the book is not a definitive introduction to the world's cuisines, nor an expertly written cookbook. I tried the recipe for Empanadas Criolla from Argentina, and was surprised that the pastry crust didn't use any oil or fat. (The filling was very tasty though!) Additionally, having studied basic Chinese while living in Taiwan, I questioned the author's translation for the word "rou" as "meat cooked again in the wok," when in fact, it simply means "meat." However, considering that Galimberti cooked and ate with 60 grandmothers in nearly as many countries over a two-year stint, I can cut him some slack. Combine that with the fact that the author and his subjects often communicated in a language that was neither's native tongue, and I know that some details could have easily been lost in translation.  

This is also not award-winning photojournalism. The images are nicely composed and lit, but they follow a predictable pattern: each woman stands or sits behind a table on which the ingredients are symmetrically arranged. Because they aren't candid, the photos give the impression that each grandma had plenty of time to dress for company and stuff her clutter into the coat closet just outside the frame. Few of the photos include additional family members, which means we don't get to see the grandmothers interact or loved ones enjoying the food. At first, I thought that this detracted from the storytelling, but upon second musing, I felt that Galimberti was sending a message of solidarity and unity through his use of uniformity. Through repetition, he triggers our collective consciousness of the importance of food and family.

My take-away:
I'm more than impressed with this project because I can imagine the work that went into travelling to so many far-flung places, connecting with host homes and collecting the stories and recipes. This isn't an expert-vetted cookbook or the most poignant photo essay I've seen. But taken as a whole, these 60 grandmas and their food stories are a powerful testament that people the world over are connected by their communion over a good meal and good company. In Her Kitchen is a great way for an arm chair or kitchen table chair traveler to sample some home cooking that might not appear in typical cookbooks. Each photo story was like an appetizer; it just enough to whet my appetite for exploring more of their cultures, countries and cuisines.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Books to teach gratitude to moms

Well, I couldn't very well post some children's books on gratitude without recommending a couple of books for grown-ups. As much as I'm a fan of literature-based learning, the "book" my children read everyday is my life. I model my heart of gratitude (or greed) each day through what I say, what I spend my time doing and what expression I wear on my face. Usually what I've been reading and pondering have a big impact on the story I live.

If you're following me on this thought, here are two books I highly recommend to help put things into proper perspective:

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Vosskamp
I read this book two years ago after a dear friend gave it to me. In our current culture of always wanting more, more, more, Vosskamp turns our attention to the countless blessings we already have. The farmer's wife and mother of six takes Philippians 4:8 to heart and task, by keeping her eyes and heart wide open for what things are lovely, virtuous and pure in her everyday life. Vosskamp shares both her struggles with anxiety and the simple practice of keeping a gratitude journal that refocused her eyes on everyday miracles and freed her from pain. The opening chapter of the book does contain a very tragic memory of losing her sister at a young age, which might be a trigger for some readers who have faced similar losses. Vosskamp's poetic writing style takes a little getting used to, as she has a dreamy, stream of consciousness approach to retelling some of her story. But once you fall into the rhythm of her voice, you'll probably feel inspired to start recording your own list of daily gifts and writing poetically. I loved the way she was able to transform the most mundane moment into something holy. Her musing on nature and moments with her children resonated with me especially. You might also enjoy her beautiful blog, A Holy Experience, which incidentally, is where I learned about the author and ministry of the following book:

Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis
Cultivating gratitude goes beyond just counting our blessings and feeling good about our lives. A deep seated gratitude releases us and fuels us to live the way we were created to live in God's image. In The Message, the latter half of Romans 12:1 is translated "Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit in without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you." Ponder those words for a moment. What would that look like in real life? If you want to see what that counter-culture lifestyle looks like, read this book.

Born and raised in the ritzy suburbs of Nashville, Katie Davis lived a charmed American life. Homecoming queen, top of her class, she says in her introduction that she, "dated cute boys, wore cute shoes and drove a cute sports car." She was on a track to go to college, marry her sweetheart and live a comfortable life. Kisses From Katie tells the story of how she fell head-over-heals in love with Jesus and the people of an impoverished Ugandan village during a short-term missions trip. It's been more than five years, and Davis is still in Uganda. She's bid goodbye to her former life and culture. And she's so thankful for the materially spartan but busy and spiritually rich life she now lives. She's started Amazima, a ministry that sponsors children so they can attend school and stay with their birth families. More importantly, she's become adoptive mother to 14 children.

Now, when I first read about Davis adopting all these children, some of whom she nursed back to health from the brink of starvation and fatal disease, I was a little skeptical- perhaps even defensive. How could a girl in her early twenties truly be a mom to all those kids? I mean, I have trouble truly loving my tiny brood of three most days. I thought she must have been more like a teacher at an orphanage school or a den mom at a girl's home than a real mom. But by the second half of the book, I saw; no, I felt her mother's heart for her girls. And I saw what it looks like to be genuinely yielded to God, and filled to overflowing with his Spirit of love. Davis recognized what God wanted from her and quickly responded to it. In return, he brought out the best in her. I'm not going to give away more of the plot because I want you to read this book. For my fellow Hoptowners, it will be at the library this weekend after I return it :).

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Picture books to teach gratitude for kids

Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away, and I don't know about you, but I feel like the big holiday season has tip toed up on me this year. Trying to be proactive, I looked for some books to help instill the idea of thankfulness at our local library. I also asked some of my friends for their favorite children's books that promote gratitude. There are plenty of books about the first thanksgiving, but I know my boys are getting the Pilgrim and Indian history at school. So it's also important to read books that celebrate the essence of our November holiday. Here's my short list (a literal short list, not a best of the best list) of books we've been reading this season to jump start conversations about thankfulness:

The Thanksgiving Door by Debby Atwell
Empty nesters Ed and Ann are set to eat a quiet Thanksgiving supper, until Ann accidentally burns the entire meal. Though Ann feels crushed by her mistake, Ed coaxes his wife out the door to see if they can find a restaurant that's open. When they inadvertently crash a large family's party, their Thanksgiving could become even worse... but I won't spoil the story. My 3-year-old, Rockam, really got a kick out of the conga line. You'll just have to read it to see it. This colorful holiday treat gives young readers an introduction to how Thanksgiving is celebrated by a Bulgarian immigrant family while also showing that the best part of the holiday is not the feast but the people with whom you eat it. The wording is simple enough for preschoolers, but the story is interesting enough for adults to enjoy too. Sadly, the hard copy of this book is out of print. But if you live where I do, you can pick it up at the library (after I return it ;)

Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman
We got our little copy of this book in a Chik-fil-A happy meal, and I'd been carrying it around in my purse as emergency distraction for the boys. In this installation of the Bear series, our learns to be genuinely grateful for his friends, even though he frets about not having anything to feed them as they arrive, one after another, at the door to his empty cave. My 1-year-old enjoys the soft illustrations of bear and his host of woodland friends. My 3-year-old also enjoys the story of Bear, who is poor in possessions, but is rich in generous friends who love him for who he is rather than what he has. My 6-year-old was distracted by the details, wanting to know how a mouse-sized pie could be split among so many animals. Either way, this book allowed me to talk about why Bear's friends were thankful for him even though he seemed to have nothing to give them.

Hug Time by Patrick McDonnell 
When I was growing up, Mutts was my favorite cartoon strip in the Chicago Tribune comics section. I'm so glad McDonnell branched out to create several whimsical children's books, such as Hug Time, which tells the story of a little kitten's journey to show his love for all the creatures of the world. Of these three books, this is the least overtly related to thanksgiving, though the idea of appreciation, from which thankfulness can stem, is prominent. I used the book to talk about how we can be thankful to God for his wonderful creation.

What are your favorite picture books for Thanksgiving or gratitude all year round?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Review of "In This House We Will Giggle" by Courtney DeFeo

I'm always looking for inspiration and encouragement as I raise three energetic and unique little boys. The title of Courtney DeFeo's book, In This House We Will Giggle: Making Virtues, Love & Laughter a Daily Part of Your Family Life, attracted me because it signaled a book full of grace rather than legalistic "training." 

Each chapter in We Will Giggle is devoted to one of 12 virtues: love, joy, forgiveness, faith, patience, perseverance, respect, responsibility, service, humility, gratitude and generosity. These chapters begin with a short kid-friendly definition of the featured virtue before flowing into Courtney and her many mentors’ and friends’ thoughts on instilling this virtue into children.

In each chapter, DeFeo also offers a memory verse, talking points, and a lesson plan with discussion questions, a big family activity, shorter optional activities and a corresponding passage to read out of Sally Lloyd-Jones’ The Jesus Storybook Bible. There are also "60 Ways to Bring out the Giggles" sidebars sprinkled throughout the book. It was a lot to take in at first glance, and took me a couple of chapters before I settled into the rhythm of all the components. But instead of letting myself get overwhelmed, I took DeFeo’s advice from the preface to heart: “I encourage you to customize all these resources to fit the style and needs of your family, discarding anything that doesn’t work and mixing in your own creative ideas” (9).

What Spoke to Me
DeFeo’s chapters on Forgiveness, Patience, Perseverance and Humility especially resonated with me, as evidenced by the amount of my underlining, starring and scribbling in the margins. I was especially inspired by her prayer and vision for homes where “we hear their hearts and take responsibility for our part in any conflict. Homes where we never expect perfection but commit to continued growth, where we end difficult conversations with a hug, and where we always point one another back to the only perfect way: the love of Jesus” (51-52). Apologies are not just hollow niceties, but true forgiveness is a “bridge to personal freedom” with a focus on “building relationships” and “nurturing healthy hearts” (57). These are life lessons that many adults have never learned.

As a mom who often caves to every little whimper or trembling lip, I needed to hear DeFeo’s thoughts on the importance of instilling perseverance. The next time I’m tempted to rescue one of my sons from discomfort or struggle, I will have to borrow DeFeo’s line: “‘No, you cannot quit; take a break, but you must finish,’” in order to give them the “gift of character growth and a lifetime of hope” (117).

I’m also keen on her insights into the “tension between humility and confidence.” DeFeo says she never wants her girls to develop an attitude of superiority, yet she strives to raise them to be passionate in their identity in Christ and confident enough to “lead boldly from their gifts” (194). I’ve made this a part of my prayer for my sons as well.

What Didn't
I was a little disappointed that the idea of giggling as an addictive way to instill virtues and godly behavior wasn’t emphasized as much as I expected. I thought this would be the centerpiece of the book, but goofiness mostly appeared in the somewhat disjointed and distracting “60 Ways to Bring Out the Giggles” sidebars that peppered the already busy pages of the book. Having said that, I understand not every teaching moment can or should be full of raucous laughter. However, it made me think the title of the book was a ploy to set it apart from the many other great parenting books that present a similar message of grace.

Another little qualm I had stems from the fact that I’m raising three boys who love to wrestle, rough house or hole up in their rooms building with Legos for hours on end. They don’t care much about exploring their emotions or creating crafty gratitude tote bags or picture journals. (I wish they did, as that would be more fun for me!) DeFeo’s experience raising girls didn’t always translate to my own experience in the land of dirty hands and bug boxes. To her credit, DeFeo includes a few stories about her friend’s little boys. But overall, I found myself thinking, “I could never get this to work with mine.” And… regarding the book's visuals, the abundant daisy and curlicue design elements were a bit much for this minimalist designer’s taste.

My Take-Away
We Will Giggle has got my own creative juices flowing as I’m encouraged to teach virtues more deliberately in my own home. I like the idea of taking it slow, with one virtue emphasis per month, and plan to incorporate DeFeo’s simple, illuminating definitions and catch phrases into my own conversations. I would recommend this book to other moms, especially homeschooling mothers or even Sunday school teachers who are looking for interesting and generally low-budget activities and projects to help get kids thinking about and practicing the virtues Jesus exhibits.

*I received this book from Blogging ForBooks in exchange for an honest review.*