Friday, May 29, 2015

"Only God Can Make a Kitten" Quietly Promotes Outdoor Exploration

I'm always on the look out for God-aware picture books to enrich my boys' understanding of Him. Only God Can Make a Kitten, by Rhonda Gowler Greene and illustrated by Laura J. Bryant looked promising for several reasons. The book follows a curious boy, his mom and baby sister as they romp through quintessential experiences of a curious kid outdoors- star gazing, tree climbing, beach splashing, nest spying and kitten snuggling to name a few. With each new scene, the boy asks, "Mama, who made...?" Mama answers her little boy in simple rhyme that God made each wonder he points out.

"Mama, look! On the ground! Who makes these rocks so smooth and round?" the boy exclaims as he scales a pile of boulders. "With a way unknown, only God can make a stone," Mama answers as she climbs after her son.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Review of "Found: A Story of Questions, Grace & Everyday Prayer" by Micha Boyett

I was drawn to Found, Micha Boyett's memoir/musings on Benedictine spirituality for several reasons. First off, Boyett writes from the perspective of a one-time youth minister turned stay-at-home mom who moves away from all her relatives when her husband's job takes them to San Francisco. The tension of wanting to be a good, content nurturer to her son amid the mundane and often wearisome tasks that rob her of her prayer life was something with which I easily relate. I was also interested in learning more about praying the hours, as I've been exploring various Christian spiritual practices beyond my own culture. Finally, the foreword is written by Ann Voskamp of One Thousand Gifts fame and the opening pages are graced by recommendations from Rachel Held Evans and Sarah Bessey, who've both written books I enjoyed.

Boyett's book tells the story of her loneliness, isolation, discontent and aimlessness as a new mom longing for the days when her life was filled with spiritual activities as a busy youth minister. She struggles openly with feelings that God wanted her to choose a more lofty life, perhaps as a missionary or continuing in ministry. She wonders if she took the wrong path by choosing her handsome, caring husband and adorable, precocious son who fill her days with trips to the park and dinner parties (and allow her to take not one but two solo retreats to monasteries in idyllic locations within the first two years of motherhood.)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Clean, care-free eating: a review of "A Modern Way to Eat" by Anna Jones

My happiest meals are the ones where vegetables take center stage; they're full of color, textures and nutrition. Food stylist and student of Jamie Oliver, Anna Jones has compiled a comprehensive book of not only vegetarian recipes, but also information on individual ingredients and idea generating charts of how to combine foods for maximum impact and flavor. The understated cover and philosophical title of A Modern Way to Eat, I think, was meant to signal that this book is more about promoting a life-style of simple, clean, creative eating that takes advantage of our current knowledge of the benefits of plant-based diets and our access to global ingredients and cooking techniques. And it's right up my alley.

Reasons I like this book:

It has a good variety of dishes- from breakfasts, to snacks, to light lunches to food for a crowd to desserts and condiments.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Reading into life: Thinking as a worthy pursuit

Oftentimes I catch my oldest son, Stephen, staring off into space or romping around the house muttering to himself. "What'cha doing, Steve?" I'll ask, already knowing his answer: "I'm just thinking." My middle son, Rockam, eventually does everything his big brother does. I was still surprised when he recently shot back that same line to me when I asked him whether he felt alright. He had appeared to be moping on the couch for half an hour.

My thoughtful sons got me thinking. Is "just thinking" a valid way to while away twenty minutes or even an entire afternoon?