Saturday, October 14, 2017

Saturday's Selections


I cannot express how much I love Fall. The cold weather, the warm jackets, the need for socks so that your toes don't get too cold. Not to mention sitting on the porch with a cup of hot tea, watching the leaves fall off the trees and land on the lawn.

Frank Sinatra (and pretty much any singer in that era) has a voice with the splendid style that reminds me of driving in a car through the city on a cold night, not really going anywhere, just looking at the stores lining the streets, all locked up tight with the lights left on in the windows. This song, Autumn in New York, makes me smile.

Happy Fall, everyone!



Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Flowers | My Photography

In the midst of all the book reviews and scribblings I've been writing, I feel like I haven't quite been true to the reason my younger self started this blog in the first place - posting photos. (My blog name is The Godly Photographer, is it not?) So, here are some photos of flowers I have taken in the past couple of years. Hope you enjoy!




Most of these photos were taken while vacationing in Colorado. A couple were taken at a relative's farmhouse. I think it's a safe bet to say all of these were photographed using my 50mm lens (my favorite lens). I love that the photos that involve subjects other than flowers have flowery pieces - the floral appliques on my sister's dress in the photo above, and the flower curtains in the photo below.




I hope you enjoyed these photos! I'll hopefully be posting some more of my photography here on the blog. If you want to see more of my photos, you can visit my photo blog at DiverseReflections.com.


Monday, October 9, 2017

I Started A Book Club...

Over the years, I have acquainted myself with many intellectual people - people who like to get into deep conversation instead of the simple "how's the weather?" sort of talk. In TeenPact, we talk about politics, government, figuring out how we can fix the nation's problems when we grow up. I have my family to share opinions with, as well as awesome friends with whom to discuss big topics. I enjoy having discussions with others.

And I enjoy reading books. Grand books. Old books. Most books, really. I'm currently in the middle of Les Misérables, which is now one of my favorite books. At any given time, I am reading at least one book. I also enjoy talking to my friends about the books I've been reading.

So I decided to start a book club with some of the teens in a homeschool group I'm in. I chose to start the club with Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - a book I had read and enjoyed (and also a book which is a favorite of my best friend, Paprika...she can quote it cover to cover!). We would read the book and meet the next month to discuss the book, what we'd thought of it, which character we most liked and why...That's what a book club is, isn't it?

I spent the month leading up to the first meeting re-reading the book, finding favorite quotes to share with my fellow club members, making little favors (bookmarks with some of the book quotes on them, with pieces of ribbon tied to the ends), and coming up with questions to spark discussion. I was super excited, positive the club's first meeting would be a fantastic one, and could hardly wait to discuss Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth and Jane and Bingley. On the day of the club, I strolled in and met one person. Okay, I thought, I'm a bit early. Maybe the others haven't arrived yet. So I started chatting with the girl - I'll call her Rachel - who had already come. Five minutes passed, and no one else had arrived. I learned from Rachel that she had only read the first chapter of the book in the past month since I had announced the book club. The first chapter. If you have ever read Pride and Prejudice, you'll know that the first chapter is less than two pages long. Rachel had read two pages of the book, but hadn't understood it, so she had chosen to read a series of less-Classic books instead...which she had already read once before.

I supposed I hadn't been clear about reading the whole book before the first meeting. Maybe when the other teens arrived, we would be able to have a bigger discussion about the book. For the time being, I explained the first part of the book to Rachel without giving away too many spoilers (I hate spoilers, but I suppose nearly everyone knows what happens at the end of Pride and Prejudice?).

Well, after a bit, Rachel told me that the people who were going to come - a couple other girls - couldn't make it. So it was just me, who had read the entire book and craved intellectual discussion, and Rachel, who had read one chapter and didn't want to continue reading Jane Austen's writing style.

So instead of discussing Mr. Darcy's trying to break up Jane and Bingley's relationship, or how hilarious Mrs. Bennet's attempts were at getting her girls to marry richer men, Rachel and I ended up talking about other books which she had read - and a few that I had read that she knew of.

"Have you read Journey to the Centre of the Earth?"

"Uhhh, no. Have you read the Lunar Chronicles?"

"Can't say I have...um, have you ever read The Time Machine?"

"Hmm, no, I haven't. But I've read (lists book I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole, while other homeschoolers might love it as much as Rachel did)."

"Oh," I tried to sound just interested enough, but not too much so that she shared everything I didn't want to know about this book.

"Yeah, I love it so much. I've watched all the movies."

"Oh, yeah?"

We tried. A few books we had both read - all modern - and we casually chatted about those. I didn't expect her to have read Arabian Nights, which I had read and really liked (I mean, c'mon! A girl who cheats death by telling stories?). But when I told her the next book would be The Hound of The Baskervilles, she asked in a bit of an anxious tone, "So are all the books going to be Classics?"

I understand that people don't read like they used to. Most books nowadays are written on an eighth-, even sixth-, grade reading level, so trying to read Jane Austen can be a bit foreign to some. But even though I like the average modern book just as much as the next person, the Classics are the books that I love, the books I want to share with others. But I couldn't have the first book club meeting I had been so excited for because the one person who could come hadn't read past page two.

So what I've learned from that first book club meeting is this: Some people won't ever get to grin at Elizabeth Bennet's wit, or shudder at the thought of the footprints of a gigantic hound, or feel relieved when Jean Valjean and Cosette escape Javert on the Cul-de-sac Genrot. These are the books I want to share with people. I want them to feel the excitement I had felt, or something like it. And while modern books can sometimes be just as good as Classics, some people just won't get past the "antiquated" writing style to see the adventure in it.

It is a sad truth, but Mr. Darcy was right when he said not everyone reads the same, or with the same feelings.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Book Review: Meals from Mars

Hi everyone! Today I have another book review: "Meals from Mars" by Ben Sciacca.

First off, I must say that I got this book in high hopes that it would be a inspiring book and not just another polarizing or sympathetic read. The front cover itself called the book "a parable of prejudice and providence." However, in some ways it didn't quite live up to my expectations.

The book begins toward the end of the story, then backtracks twenty hours before the end, telling the story of a well-to-do white guy from the suburbs and a black teen from the inner city. Through a twist of fate, they end up stuck in an icy storm at night in the country together. Neither cares much for the other, and the well-to-do man, Jim, argues about how Malik, the inner city teen, could be something better than he is if he "moved on" or "got a job" while Malik argues about how bad things are and how nothing ever matters and how much he dislikes false sympathy. This arguing (which seemed like whining) continues through the night, and there is little to no resolve between the two men.

I won't spoil the ending (which was a bit predictable, in my opinion), but when I finally turned the last page, I felt that there were more arguments and sympathy than mutual understanding and relief of prejudicial tension between the two characters. I do, however, appreciate that the author wrote the book in such a way that I was given two sides of the story and was not told what to think. Also the book is written with interesting imagery, humor and some relatability. The characters were polar opposites (one has a great, well-paying job, great house, good family life, etc, and the other lives in the bad side of town, is dirt-poor, gets into trouble, speaks very stereotypically, etc), but seemed real enough to be believable. While the book was well-written, I still wish there had been at least some sort of real resolve instead of the sudden, almost unreal ending.

(I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.)


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Book Review: Bible Promises for Parents of Children with Special Needs



Today's book review is from my Mom, Amy from Raising Arrows.

Bible Promises for Parents of Children with Special Needs  -     By: Amy Mason


A book like Bible Promises for Parents of Children with Special Needs would be a perfect gift for a mom with a baby in NICU, or a mom with a child who has a condition that makes normal feel like a foreign word.  

As a mom who has a daughter with a syndrome that will affect the rest of her life, I appreciate being able to flip through by topic and find Scriptural answers to exactly what I am feeling.  Everything from finances to accepting the diagnosis to dealing with the loneliness of being a mom with a child who isn't quite "normal" is addressed in this small purse-sized book.

It answers the hard questions of raising a special needs child with grace, mercy, and God's Word.  It is exactly what every mom walking this road needs in her arsenal of encouragement.

(I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Book Review: Different



Hi, everyone! Today I'm reviewing a great book called Different.

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Although I love to read, there aren't many books that leave me feeling the way this book did. After I finished the very last page, I wished there was more. I felt encouraged and empowered.

As some of you may know faith does not always come easily to me. I've always had a lot of questions about a lot of things, including faith. Part of that is because I have something called Aspergers, which means I'm basically high-functioning autistic. I've never felt degraded by Aspergers, but that doesn't mean it's easy being an Aspie. I deal with things like being socially awkward and having sensory processing issues, and I also have a hard time understanding faith. I tend to feel disconnected during worship, and sermons can be difficult for me to wrap my mind around.

But this book has helped me with some of that.

Different is written by Sally and Nathan Clarkson. Nathan has OCD and a few other diagnoses that make him, well, different. He sees the world in his own unique way - which sometimes makes him misunderstood by others. However, through all the highs and lows, he and his mom have believed that his differences are all a part of what could build him up.

What I like most about Different:

1.  It's easy to read. There's no 'Christianese' (I've never been able to understand those types of phrases) or long chapters. Each chapter is divided into a section written by Nathan and a section written by Sally. It's a super quick read (so quick it left me wishing there was more).

2. It's not about how to "fix" a person who is "different." It doesn't talk about all the things that are wrong about OCD or ADD or ADHD. Rather, this books is a compilation of personal stories (and pencil sketches drawn by Nathan) that share what it's like to be different and how Nathan and Sally have grown closer to God because of it.

3. This book does not condone hiding behind a diagnosis. It's not about making excuses for mistakes you've made or the way you live your life just because you have a "problem." Nathan and Sally encourage you to believe in your (or your child's) potential. They have a calling to be a hero in their own way.

I am beyond elated that I came across this book. Different has not only inspired me in ways I'd never felt before - it has also taught me that being different is 

If you or your child is out-of-the-box, and you want to be encouraged and uplifted, read this book! You won't regret it! No matter how different you are, you can still dare to make your story a great one.

(I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Book Review: Hidden In My Heart Scripture Memory Bible

Hi, everyone! I'm back with another awesome book to review!

Recently, I had the chance to review the Hidden In My Heart Scripture Memory Bible, and it is amazing! It's not your usual Scripture memory Bible - it's better!



With this Bible, you get access to free songs that use memory verses as the lyrics. Studies have shown that music aids in memorization (which is why you'll never forget the Kit Kat song or Jesus Loves Me), and memory verse songs are a fun way to encourage memorization.

The text is very easy to read, and memory verses are highlighted in special sections. Each section contains a memory verse in 3 translations (NLT, KJV and NIV) for various ways of memorizing them.

My favorite part of the Memory Bible is the thematic memory verse plans. This section provides a list of verses to guide you in memorizing verses based on a theme, such as peace, joy, and hope.

The only disappointment I have with it? Most of the memory songs do not have the contemporary sound I like. They're more written for children ages 6-10. If they were a bit more like the contemporary worship music I listen to, I would definitely be more prompted to memorize the verses that way.

All in all, this Scripture Memory Bible is perfect for any age, and is a wonderful prompt for easy Bible verse memorization. I would definitely recommend this Memory Bible!

(I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.)