I have discovered over the years, that life can be challenging. God desires to sustain us as we look for "splashes of His grace" every day. My desire is that through posts, or book reviews, you may find something that points you to the grace of God, and that He ultimately will make a difference in your life.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ask and You Shall Receive

It's almost here. There are only two more weeks until Christmas! With all the ice we've had over the last five days, many people are frantically trying to figure out how they will get their last minute shopping done. I'm one of those people, not only because of the ice, but because my children still haven't given me a lot of ideas. I want to know what they need -- even what they want, but they just can't seem to come up with much.

I guess in one way, that's a good thing. They are not greedy kids. They are content with what they have. They would just as soon receive a little money so they can put it toward things they may need through the year. But I still want to buy them gifts that will excite them -- like the Digimon toy that had Daniel jumping up and down and screaming when he was seven.

I know the real meaning of Christmas. Jesus came to earth to ultimately go to the cross. I know Christmas is not about gifts, and Santa, and material things in life. But there is something about seeing the excitement and joy in a person's eyes when they unwrap a gift and get something they've been dreaming of or needing!

I had been thinking about these things this week and then I saw a video posted on Facebook this morning. It was something WestJet Airlines did for Christmas. Watch the video below for yourself:


There were many different reactions to what WestJet did. Some people commented about how terrible it was to promote commercialism at this time of year. Others saw it as a great marketing ploy. Still others saw the sheer delight it brought to children of all ages! I tended to be in that last group. (Though I did feel really bad for the guy who said all he really needed were socks and underwear -- but hey, that's somewhat of a tradition at our house too!)

That's when it hit me. We love and serve a "giving" God.  No, he's not "Santa Claus" who waits for us to sit on his lap and tell us all the grand and glorious things we want him to bring us, yet He is a God who desires to give us what we need (and even sometimes what we want, if it would be good for us). He did give us His best when He gave us His Son, Jesus!

We all have needs. Some of our greatest needs don't have anything to do with material things. We have emotional and spiritual needs that sometimes overwhelm us. Do we even take time to ask God to give us what we need for those situations? Do we settle for socks and underwear when He's willing to offer us a "spiritual" big screen TV? Do we really believe He can provide us everything we need to make it in this life?

Matthew 7:7-11 tells us:
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!"  
Notice, the child in this passage didn't ask his father for a fancy new car, or a home in the Hamptons. He asked for things he truly needed. Just as an earthly father meets the physical needs of his child, Jesus tells us that our Heavenly Father knows how to give good gifts to His children. He desires to meet our needs. I am as far as you can get from the health/wealth, name it and claim it gospel! This passages doesn't give us liberty to be greedy or selfish. I do not believe we are promised a life of luxury and ease. I've been to India and seen Christians who are persecuted and have nothing and yet are joyful! But I do know God is willing and able to give "good gifts" to His children.

                    Need Peace?    ASK!
                              Need Hope?    ASK!
                                             Need Joy?    ASK!
              Need Forgiveness?    ASK!

Ask and you will receive.  You don't receive because you don't ask!  Believe that you serve a good and gracious and giving God who desires to give good gifts to His children. Ask for what you need and who knows, He may just give you above and beyond what you could even ask or imagine! He's waiting to hear from you!
Are you willing to ask Him for what you need?


Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Wayfinding Bible

I enjoy traveling. I like to go places I've never been before, but I also like returning to places that hold special memories. What I do not enjoy is getting lost on the way.  It's always helpful to have a GPS, map, or someone who has been there before, to help guide the way. In a sense, that is what the Wayfinding Bible is all about. As you venture out on your journey of faith, it is a resource to guide you as you make your way through the Bible.

The Wayfinding Bible is set up with three options for your Bible readings. You can choose the route you'd like to take. There are three options: The Flyover consists of 54 readings. It hits the highlights in the journey from Genesis to Revelation, and gives you a chronological overview of events in the Bible. If you prefer to go a little more in depth, you can take The Direct Route. This plan includes 215 readings and gives you a deeper perspective of how the Bible works together and offers more of the events and stories of the Bible giving you a greater understanding of God and events of the Bible. Finally, if you really want to get the most out of your Bible reading, you may choose The Scenic Route. This option contains 386 readings which takes you through well known and not so well known Bible passages and gives you the most comprehensive and complete journey through God's Word.

Each route is color coded at the top of the pages. You simply follow the route you've chosen throughout the Bible. Sometimes you will jump to another book, or flip back to where you once were, but it tells you exactly what page number your next reading will be on. As you complete your reading you are encouraged to read the "Observation Point" and "Exploration Point" which give you further information to think about - almost like devotional thought.

To make your journey even more interesting, there are helpful features throughout the Bible. There is an introduction to each book of the Bible to give you a general overview of the book, it's place on the biblical timeline, and also to show you how Jesus is seen in that particular book.  As you make your way through the readings, you will find other features like "Getting Your Bearings," which allow you to see exactly where you've been and where you are going, "Historical Markers," which give you further information about locations and fill in background information about the passage, "Scenic Overlooks," which give you an opportunity to pause and take the time to gain further insight about the location, history, people, and God's Word, and "Side Trips," which are topical studies. All these features enhance your understanding of Scripture and makes your time in God's Word even more interesting.

As I reviewed the Wayfinding Bible, I chose the Flyover Route. It hit the highlights, but also had to skip over some important biblical events, simply because of the limited number of readings. For someone new to Bible reading, this route may be less overwhelming, giving them the "basics" and pointing them ultimately to Christ.

With all the options included in this Bible, it may appear a little more confusing than it actually is. The best way to understand how this Bible works is to just use it!  Choose a route, follow the reading plan, and as you read through the Bible, pause and read the supplemental material found in the added features. I really liked how the book introductions showed how Jesus can be found in each book of the Bible. It was also helpful to read the background information about a location. The pictures, maps, and charts are all very colorful, which adds interest. The Bible uses the New Living Translation, which is a version that uses clear, contemporary English. This version is especially helpful for those who are new to the Bible.

Overall, I think the Wayfinding Bible can be a wonderful tool as you navigate through God's Word. The only real downside I would say would be the paperback cover, but it does come in a hardback version at a very affordable price. I would recommend this Bible for those new to the Word as well as for those who have been believers for some time. It could be a wonderful daily reading Bible for the new year!

Simply click here to see a short video about the Wayfinding Bible. It will help you see it in action!

I received this Bible through the Tyndale Blogger program in exchange for my personal, honest review.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Dangerous by Caleb Bislow

I am not a risk-taker.  I usually stay on the "safe side". Caleb Bislow, author of the book Dangerous, would be my polar opposite! Caleb started out as a youth pastor, but became a person on mission in some of the most "dark, dangerous, and despised" places in our world.  He metaphorically calls it ministering on the 13th floor -- a place people usually try to avoid. He shares stories about his journeys to places like the Congo, villages in Africa, Haiti, Guatemala, and red-light districts in Asia.

The book is not an easy or comfortable read. We are exposed to "darkness" in places where the light of Christ has not shined. We are exposed to the sin and suffering of people groups that have not heard the name of Jesus yet. We get a glimpse of prison life, prostitution, human trafficking, and yet we see that the truth of the gospel can reach into hopelessness and bring peace. We see a need for courageous men and women to step up to a challenge. We see a need for us to listen for the leading of the Spirit of God, and then move in the direction He leads.

I believe God has created certain people, like Caleb, to take these great risks, and "boldly go where no one has gone before" and to train others to do the same. He is very deliberate in letting people know they need to be prepared before they venture out. The appendices of the book lists various organizations along with their websites, that interested readers could find further information. If God calls you to this "dangerous" mission, then GO!  If He doesn't, then do what he HAS called you to do here, where you are!

The book challenged me to look at myself and see what God has in store for me beyond my comfort zone. We don't have to go to third-world countries to find some of the same sin and suffering.  We have a lot of the same problems here!  Am I willing to go across the street, or across my own city, state, or country to share the hope I have in Jesus?  That, to me, could also be considered a HUGE risk for someone like me!
Dangerous is a book that will inspire you to do SOMETHING for the cause of Christ. You may not board the next plane to India (or maybe you will!) but this book will make you at least think about it!

I received a complementary copy of this book from the Bethany House Blogger program. The opinions are my own.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Secrets to a Happy Life by Bill Giovannetti

Many people spend a great deal of their lives searching for “happiness” and never truly finding it.  They look to circumstances, possessions, or position in life hoping that the next “thing” will make them happy. Disappointment often follows.

In his book, Secrets to a Happy Life: Finding Satisfaction in Any Situation, author Bill Giovannetti, attempts to challenge his readers to look deeper as he describes the eleven secrets to a happy life. Truly happy people find their satisfaction in the deeper recesses of their soul and in their faith in God.  Giovannetti artfully weaves the biblical story of the life of Joseph through the book to illustrate how even when “bad things” happen,  a person can remain content, satisfied, and “happy” (or using a biblical term – joyful) throughout his life.

I found the book to be engaging, thoughtful, encouraging, and very practical.  Secrets to a Happy Life makes it clear that being “happy” is a choice. It all comes down to how we view our situation.  Not everything in life is good or easy.  The life of Joseph exemplifies that!  But like Joseph, we can find peace and joy even in the midst of chaos.  We can entrust our lives to a God who loves us unconditionally. We can anchor our soul in that. This book inspired me to look at situations differently and trust that God can work in and through any situation.  I can choose to be happy, or I can choose to be miserable. It’s my choice!

Each chapter concludes with a series of questions for reflection and discussion, making it a book that could be used in a small group study.  The questions help you process the information you just read and allows you apply it to your own life situations. I definitely would recommend this book to anyone who would like to discover what true happiness is!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Hopelifter by Kathe Wunnenberg

Feeling hopeless can be devastating. Life can throw you into situations where you find yourself emotionally and physically drained. You are knocked down and sometimes it just takes someone to come along side of you and to help lift you up.  That's what the book Hopelifter: Creative Ways To Spread Hope When Life Hurts is all about. Author Kathe Wunnenberg offers practical ways that we can help to bring hope back to our friends, family, co-workers, and those we come in contact with.

The book is divided into three sections: Discovering Hope, Embracing Hope, and Giving Hope.  Before you can share hope, you must discover the true source of hope, Jesus Christ. As you understand and experience that hope yourself, then you will be able to share the hope you have found with others. She does caution her readers that there will still be times when you, yourself, may need to be lifted! As you embrace that hope, she encourages her readers to have a plan of action so you will be able to spread hope. Because each of us have different personality types and different resources, the way we express hope may differ. The final section gives personal testimonies of how others have expressed hope in specific situations.  These "life events" are listed alphabetically, so if you want to see an example of how hope was extended to someone suffering from cancer, or depression, you can easily find it by the topic. These may be a catalyst to spur ideas of how you could minister in a specific situation.

At the end of the book, there are other helpful appendices which include Discussion Questions if you'd like to use this book in a small group setting, Verses of Hope to share and be encouraged by, and a list of Helpful, Hopeful Websites, where you can find additional resources to help others.

Overall, I found this book to be a down to earth resource to help you begin to discover how you can be the hands and feet of Jesus as you purposefully look around you and see the needs. Sometimes you will find an encouraging word is all someone needs. Other times it  will require a longer commitment on your part as you walk through a tragedy with others.  Either way, we can be a Hopelifter -- someone who sees those around them who are hurting and brings the hope Jesus promises to them.

The only slight problem I had with the book was the quality of the cover.  It seemed to immediately begin to curl.  That doesn't diminish the content of the book, but it did bother me a little!

I received a complementary copy of this book from the blogger program, BookSneeze, in exchange for my personal review.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Thrown for a Loop!

The other day, I met someone for the first time. We exchanged some "pleasantries" and I extended my hand and said "nice to meet you".  Then it happened. She said something that threw me for a loop.  She asked, "What are you?"  Ok, I'm a little slow sometime, so my mind quickly began to race.....What am I? ..... What am I?  and then it dawned on me.....she wanted to know what I did for a living.

Most women today can answer that question easily.  They could say, I am a teacher.  I am a nurse.  I am an executive at such and such company. I am an accountant. Others could respond with any number of other "impressive" titles. I used to say I'm a stay at home mom, and I would usually insert the word "just" before the stay at home mom part, but my kids are grown now, so I couldn't really even say that. 

An eternity passed as I frantically tried to come up with something that sounded interesting, impressive, like I really was SOMETHING.  I stood there with my mouth gaping open, and looking like the idiot that I was beginning to really feel like. She already knew my husband was a pastor, so the old "I'm a pastor's wife" didn't really seem necessary to state. She wanted to know what "I" was, and at that moment I really didn't know!  After what seemed like another eternity passed, I blurted out awkwardly, "I'm a retired stay at home mom, ...... and a grandmother, ....  and I'm "just" a receptionist, ..... on Fridays at the church." (There was that word again -- "just") Then I felt even more like an idiot.

Here she was, a young "professional" and there I was, a 52 year old woman who really had no clue "what" she was.  The conversation didn't last long, we repeated our "was nice meeting you" statements and we parted ways.

The question she posed still lingers in my mind.  What ARE you?  Now, here it is, a couple days later, and I still don't have a real answer to her question. We often evaluate the worth of a person by what title he or she holds. We consider "important" people valuable. Those in the spotlight are honored, praised, and admired. Those who hold a certain title are respected.
I've been doing the Bible Study, Gideon, by Priscilla Shirer these last couple of weeks. (Highly recommended by the way!) Gideon is a story of a man who is the least of the least. He is a man who is afraid, hiding, and working an ordinary job. It is a story of "less is more", as God whittles his army down from 32,000 to 300.  It's a story of little being used by a BIG God.  That's how God usually chooses to work.  He takes weakness and shows His strength.  He takes a few fish and loaves of bread and feeds 5,000.  He takes a shepherd boy and makes him a king. He does much with little. He calls a lowly person a "Valiant Warrior"!
I've been feeling more like "less" lately. And maybe that's why her question threw me for a loop. 
I know my focus shouldn't be on what others think of me. Instead of trying to impress them with WHAT I am, I know I need to concentrate on WHOSE I am, believing He can still use an insignificant, fearful, 52 year old retired stay at home mom, for His purposes and His glory.
In God's eyes I am WHAT He created me to be.  So if that consists of "ordinary" things like being a wife, mother, grandmother, homemaker, friend, "receptionist," book reviewer, life group leader, women's ministry team member, choir and praise team member, hard worker, and for the most part, a generally nice person, --- God still sees me as valuable in His sight. Who cares if I can't sum that up into a one-word occupational answer to the question, "What are you?"  --- Though I probably still need to come up with an answer so I don't have that "deer in the headlights" look in my eyes the next time someone asks me what I am. (I'm open to suggestions!!)

But until then, who knows.......Maybe the next time someone asks me, "What are you?"
                       I might simply say --
                                                                   I'm AMAZING
                                                                                                               -- and leave it at that!


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Downside Up by Tracey Mitchell

How do you view rejection?  Do you see it as a negative thing that you try your hardest to avoid?  Or have you ever considered that rejection can be a good thing? Author Tracey Mitchell, invites her readers to look at rejection with a positive twist.  She sub-titles the book:  “Transform Rejection Into Your Golden Opportunity”.

We all face rejection in one form or another all our lives. It just cannot be avoided.  What we do with it is important though.  Do we let rejection send us into a downward spiral of defeat and despair, or do we learn from it, move one, and turn it into something positive. Tracey takes the subject of rejection and explores what it can teach us about a variety of things including our relationships, dreams, the truth, and most importantly about ourselves. 

At the end of every chapter, there is a summary of the “Chapter Principles” which I found to be handy.  The next section is “Words of Wisdom” which gives a verse of Scripture.  Following that, there is a “Power Quote” by a famous person, and then to finish it off, she provides a “Plan of Action” – something positive you can do the help you deal with the issue of that particular chapter.

Overall I felt the book was helpful.  It allowed me to see some of the root issues like fear or abandonment, or unhealthy relationships that contribute to the feelings of rejection.  Each chapter takes on a different issue, so the book does not necessarily “flow” from one chapter to the next, except for the fact that it also describes a person struggling with rejection.  It is not a depressing sort of book, but rather a book of hope.  Learn from your rejection, fix what you can, avoid the things that you should, and go on with your life in a positive way.

Though it was not a “can’t put this book down” kind of book, I think it could be helpful for people to discover that life isn’t over simply because someone rejected you or your ideas!

I received a complementary copy of this book from BookSneeze, a blogger review program, in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What If......?

Are you a positive or a negative person? Do you see the possibilities or the problems? Are you an optimist or a pessimist? 
When you hear those two little words "what if," do your thoughts turn to a positive outcome or a negative one? Those same two words can produce a scenario of anticipation -- or a scenario of fear in your mind, depending on the next few words in the sentence!  For example, if my family was considering where to go on a vacation, I could say, "What if we go to Hawaii this year?" What if we go snorkeling; hang out on the beach; see beautiful sunsets; go zip lining; or simply relax! The positive person thinks, "Yeah! That would be fun! Great idea -- when can we go?" 
The negative person could use that same scenario and turn it into a disaster!  That person could think, "What if.....the plane crashes. What if..... I drown while snorkeling.  What if....I get a sunburn on the beach.  What if..... it is cloudy and rainy.  What if.....the zip line breaks.  Pretty soon the "what ifs" take over this person's life and  consume it with fear.
For most of my life I think I've tended to hang out on the negative side of the street. I am the cautious one. I am the one looking for what could go wrong. I don't want to jump out there and try something new because I don't want to fail or be disappointed. I think some of my outlook on life is genetic and some is learned behavior, but I finally had to come to the conclusion that my outlook could and had to be changed! It does take practice, and an encouraging person or two to help me take one step at a time to see and think the positive rather than the negative, but I am trying!
While on vacation last week we actually did go on a zip line adventure! No, not in Hawaii, but in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. My husband and daughter were all for it. I, on the other hand, was bit fearful. I had a couple fears:  "What if... I can't do it?" "What if... I freeze and can't get off the platform?  What if... I'm the only one screaming like a little girl as I fly down that cable?"  Then I looked and saw a seven year old girl who was going to be in our group. My husband assured me that if a seven year old could do it, so could I.
Well I was able to do it and had fun.  I didn't have to "jump" off a high platform. I simply sat in the harness and the guide let me gently start to slide. And I never even had the urge to scream like a little girl (except once when he spun us when he started us down one of the lines -- but I contained myself and it actually was fun!) How much would I have missed if I had chosen not to try something new. What if the "what ifs" would have controlled me?
How often do we miss out what God has in store for us simply because we dwell on the negative "what ifs" instead of trusting God. How different would our lives be if we thought the positive:  What if....God CAN use me?  What if.... His plan really is the best?  What if....God has a grand adventure awaiting me if only I would be willing to jump on HIS zip line of faith?
Have I mastered this?  Have my negative thoughts and fears vanished? I wish I could say "yes"!  But the reality is, I'm still working on it.  When those negative "what ifs" try to crowd my mind, I'm beginning to try to turn them around to the positive.  So instead of thinking "what if I can't" I have to start thinking "what if I can?" Instead of thinking "what if I'm not good at it", I have to start thinking, what if I am!"  Most of what we fear never even happens. But what if it does? Then God will be with us there too.  There is a cause (if) and effect (then) in every thing. Think of it in this way: What if (fill in what happens)......then God (will be with me, provide for me, help me, etc.)  God is with us and God is for us.  Let's join Him in a great adventure and leave the fear and negative "what ifs" behind!
"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand."                                                              Isaiah 41:10 


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cape Disappointment

My daughter teaches Kindergarten, and recently she invited me to be a chaperone for the field trip her class was taking to the Fort Worth Science Museum and Imax Theater. I went and found it to be an interesting (though very crowded) place! After spending a little time looking at the exhibits, we settled into our seats at the Imax Theater to see the film "The Living Sea".  The screen of the theater surrounds you so you feel as if you are right there in the movie. It was fascinating to see the fish and coral and hear about the remarkable life in the sea that many people don't even know exists. But what struck me most was when we were introduced to the power of the ocean at a place off the coast of Washington called Cape Disappointment.  A Search and Rescue school for the Coast Guard is located there. The Coast Guard trains for search and rescue missions in these rough waters so they will be prepared for the 300-400 calls for assistance that they receive every year. We watched wave after wave crashed onto their boat. At times the waves seemed to swallow them whole.

When I got home I just had to "Google" it to get more information about Cape Disappointment because the name intrigued me. My disappointment sometimes "swallows" me like those waves did that boat, and I wanted to find out how this Cape got it's name. What I found was interesting.

This area is regarded as one of the most treacherous river bars in the world. The river entrance is often called "The Graveyard of the Pacific" because of the number of shipwrecks that have occurred there. In 1775 Bruno Heceta charted this headland as "San Roque" as he was exploring the Northwest Coast. He believed there was probably the mouth of a large river there, but because his crewmembers were weak and suffering from scurvy, he was unable to explore the entrance. Thirteen years later, Lieutenant John Meares, who after exploring the area, decided that no river entrance or channel exisited there, changed the name of the rocky headland to Cape Disapointment. Captain Robert Gray successfully crossed the bar in 1792 and found the river. He named it the Columbia River in honor of the ship, the USS Columbia Rediviva, that he captained. These men braved the sea, suffered through "disappointment", but ultimately discovered the river.

Photo of Cape Disappointment by razvan.orendovici 

As I thought about those crashing waves at Cape Disappointment, I couldn't help but contemplate on how "disappointment" affects me.  The dictionary defines disappointed as "depressed or discouraged by the failure of one's hopes or expectations." There can be varying degrees of disappointment. Small disappointments can be discouraging, but you can easily recover from them. For example, you order something at a restaurant, and they, for some reason, are out of it? Are you disappointed? Probably, but you order something else and move on.  Disappointing? Yes. Was it life shattering? No. 

But then there are times when the disappointment is devastating! You loose hope. You wonder if you'll even survive. It is as if huge waves are crashing against your spirit. If you've ever experience a disappointment like this you know what I mean!  Your life's plan or dream has suddenly been twarted. You didn't get the job you expected to. You've been trying to have a baby, and another month comes and goes and you're not pregnant. Your child or close friend has made another poor choice with devastating consequences and once again those waves of disappointment begin to crash. The list can go on.....but what do you do when it's this type of disappointment? It's not as easy to pick up and move on. You want to believe there's a river there, a way of rescue from those waves, but at that moment all you see is Cape Disappointment. Figuratively you're at the "Graveyard of the Pacific".
In times like these, what do we need?  We need HOPE restored! Not the "I wish" kind of hope, but biblical hope -- the kind Romans 5 talks about.
"Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Also through Him, we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand,
and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that,
but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that afflictions produce endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.  This hope does not disappoint, because God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
Romans 5:1-5   (HCSB)
Discovering this type of hope is our "river" at Cape Disappointment. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ you have been reconciled to God and now have access, by faith, to all the grace you need to live life now. We not only have the hope of eternal life after death, we also have hope to live every day through His grace and through the Holy Spirit. We have the ability to rejoice even in our afflictions, because we know that good can come out of even those things, which at the moment, are difficult! Affliction, trials, and disappointments may not seem pleasant while you're in the midst of them, but if you persist, grow, and continue to trust God, you end up with hope -- an assurance that God IS who He says He is. He will take care of you, whatever the outcome. We have "hope that does not disappoint because God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (v.5)
So, if you find yourself at Cape Disappointment, don't give up. Look for the River. Through the Holy Spirit you have access to the River of Life.  He is there and will provide all the grace that you need, and if you let Him, He will rescue you from Cape Disappointment.
"We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never loose infinite hope"
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Simply Delicious Amish Cooking by Sherry Gore

The Amish are known for living a simple life that honors God. Their life revolves primarily around family, church, and the community.  Many of these events often include food!  This cookbook, Simply Delicious Amish Cooking, by Sherry Gore, is a collection of recipes gathered primarily from ladies from the little Amish community of Pinecraft, Florida, as well as from other Amish communities across the country.  This book contains more than three hundred recipes, and true to the Amish tradition, are made up of "simple" ingredients which most people will have in their pantry or can easily find in their local grocery store.
This cookbook reminds me of some of my own favorite cookbooks -- copulations of tried and true recipes from "real people". In fact, I found recipes in Simply Delicious Amish Cooking that I have made before and have loved, along with many new recipes that I plan to try.

The cookbook is divided into the traditional categories, such as Breads and Rolls, Appetizers, Beverages, Soups & Salads, Vegetables & Side Dishes, Meats & Main Dishes, Cookies, Cakes, Desserts, etc.  A very helpful index, organized by category, is also included in the back of the book for easy access to a specific recipe. Each section of this cookbook is introduced with a black and white photo of Amish life. There are also two sections of color photographs of some of the prepared recipes.  Interspersed throughout the cookbook are some cooking tips and excerpts from The Budget newspaper, which author Sherry Gore explains is a newspaper that provides "its Amish and Mennonite readers with a place where the good news reported in its pages routinely outweighs the bad." These little snippets show us a glimpse into the everyday lives of the people in this community. Some of these stories made me long for that "simpler small-town life."

The only slightly negative thing I found was the cover. It is a spiral-bound book and yet the front of the cover is not included in the binding. This makes it look like a regularly bound book if you put it on your shelf (which is nice), but it makes handling it a little ackward. You are still able to fold it completely back, which is convenient.
When I first saw the title I guess I anticipated finding "stranger" recipes, (although I did find one for Alligator Stew) but what I discovered was, Amish Cooking is simply down-home cooking -- comfort food. Food cooked with basic ingredients and a lot of love.  It will definitely be a cookbook that I will use. In fact, maybe I'll whip up a batch of Whoppie Pies this week! And if I'm ever in Florida, I just might swing by Sarasota, and visit the little Amish community of Pinecraft.
I received a complementary copy of this book from the BookSneeze Blogger program in exchange for my honest review.  I was in no way obligated to write a positive review.