Do you know how to make rest a reality? For Christians, Sabbath rest is what God calls us to and what He wants for us... but it's hard. This book is a great read on Sabbath rest--it is practical, encouraging, and challenging all in one! I highly recommend it! Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller
Reviews

Book Review: Rhythms of Rest

Do you know how to make rest a reality? For Christians, Sabbath rest is what God calls us to and what He wants for us… but it’s hard. This book, Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller, is a great read on Sabbath rest–it is practical, encouraging, and challenging all in one! I highly recommend it!

Do you know how to make rest a reality? For Christians, Sabbath rest is what God calls us to and what He wants for us... but it's hard. This book is a great read on Sabbath rest--it is practical, encouraging, and challenging all in one! I highly recommend it! Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller

description of the book from the publisher:

“This book breaks all your preconceived notions about Sabbath.”–Mark Batterson, New York Times bestselling author of The Circle Maker

This book is for anyone who is weary–who longs for rest but doesn’t know how to make it a reality. Shelly Miller, a sought-after mentor on Sabbath-keeping, shows how even busy people can implement a rhythm of rest into their lives–from small windows of time to a whole morning or day. With encouraging stories from people in different stages in life, Miller shares practical advice for not only finding physical refreshment but also restoring your soul. You will learn:

· Simple ways to be intentional about rest
· Ideas for tuning out distractions and tuning in to God
· How meals and other times with friends and family can be Sabbath experiences

Sabbath is a gift from God to be embraced, not a spiritual hoop to jump through. Discover how genuine rest is possible today.

“Shelly Miller writes from her soul–one that has been seekingrest in the midst of heavy transition and the busyness of life. What you learn will help you love God more deeply.”–Margaret Feinberg, author of Live Loved and Fight Back With Joy

As usual, my five point review:

  • When you think about the concept of Sabbath, what are your initial reactions? I don’t think American Christians practice Sabbath very well. I know I don’t–though I have tried to change routines of my week so that things like grocery shopping and cleaning don’t get pushed to Sundays after church. When I’ve talked to my friends about Sabbath, words that come up often include legalistic, difficult, rigid. What I love about Rhythms of Rest is that Shelly Miller encourages us, as Christians, to push back against these notions and embrace the rest of Sabbath through grace.
  • What exactly does that mean, embracing the rest of Sabbath through grace? Miller encourages flexibility and grace with the hows of Sabbath in your life. She doesn’t read the Bible as saying that we need to do x, y, and z to experience and practice Sabbath rest. As I am rereading that, I realize that could look to some as a misinterpretation of scripture… but I don’t think it is. The timing of your Sabbath can vary depending on your profession, family life, and weekly schedule. God isn’t legalistic and His call to rest may vary depending on your stage of life: caring for babies can’t stop on Sundays, after all. Those in ministry work on Sundays, so their day of rest should be a different day. The author gives lots of great examples of how you can rest in Sabbath, and also encourages you to seek God to see how He is calling you to do so.
  • The examples are one of the best parts of this book. Each chapter includes various stories and situations (many gleaned from the author’s Sabbath Society) about Sabbath rest, challenges, and suggestions. The suggestions are simple (move your chores to Saturday, make soup on Saturday to eat on Sunday, etc.) but they are powerful: great illustrations of how one act can set the stage for rest.
  • The end of the book has a section with questions for each chapter. I think these questions could be used in a variety of ways: a Bible study or small group (maybe even read some of the scripture passages in each chapter to enhance your discussion), personal journaling, family conversation… lots of options! Though Miller provides simple suggestions for change, these questions are not simple–many are deep and thought-provoking.
  • My one caution with the book has to do with how the author interprets the hows and whys of hard life situations, like miscarriage and illness. She shares so many personal stories from her own life (like her desire to move to London) and from her friends, acquaintances, and participants in her Sabbath Society. Her understanding and explanation of the situations can be a little harsh and perhaps(!) not entirely Biblical. At the very least, her views, to me, are not theologically sound and could be discouraging, triggering, or offensive to some people. I’m not saying she’s right or wrong–it’s hard to know without more information. But putting them in print seems a little iffy to me, and was my one hang up with the book. Overall though, I found Rhyhms of Rest to be encouraging and challenging. I would definitely recommend it to others.

To sum it up…

Following God’s call to Sabbath has become something I have felt more convicted about in recent years, especially since the birth of my son. My husband and I work full time so it’s hard to get everything done around the house AND spend quality time as a family on the weekend AND carve out space for the Lord. I’ve especially been thinking about how I want to model my faith for my son. I think practicing Sabbath and teaching rest is so important.

Recently I read an article about Sabbath that has GREAT suggestions for celebrating the Sabbath with kids. Many of them will have to wait until my son is older, but some are still doable now. I’m going to close with a quote included in that article that has really stuck with me.

“Did it ever occur to you, as a parent that between the birth and the age of twenty-one years there are three solid years of Sundays — an amount of time almost equal to the number of years given to an entire course of college training? The Creator has not laid upon parents the responsibilities of parenthood without giving them ample time and opportunity to discharge these obligations to Him, to themselves, and to their children.” 

— Sylvanus Stall, D.D.

Things to think about! Even though the reality of implementing rest is challenging, it is so important! I’d love to hear your thoughts about Sabbath in the comments.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!

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A book review about a topic that is recently near & dear to my heart... how to feed my baby!
Reviews

Book Review: The Pediatrician’s Guide to Feeding Babies and Toddlers

Now that #BabyVolde has been eating solids for about a month, this is the perfect time to share my review of the book The Pediatrician’s Guide to Feeding Babies and Toddlers by Anthony Porto, MD and Dina DiMaggio, MD. I received a complementary copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. 

A book review about a topic that is recently near & dear to my heart... how to feed my baby!

A description of the book from the publisher:

A comprehensive manual for feeding babies and toddlers during the crucial first years of life, written by a team of medical experts who are also parents.

All Your Questions about Feeding, Answered.

The choices of when, how, and what to feed your baby can be overwhelming. With The Pediatrician’s Guide to Feeding Babies and Toddlers, you have the expertise of a team of pediatric medical and nutritional experts—who also happen to be parents—in a comprehensive manual that takes the guesswork out of feeding. This first-of-its-kind guide provides practical, easy-to-follow advice to help you navigate the nutrition issues, medical conditions, and parenting concerns that accompany feeding. With recipes, parenting stories, and recommendations based on the latest pediatric guidelines, this book will allow you to approach mealtime with confidence so you can spend more time enjoying your new family.

#BabyVolde making short work of some butternut squash!
As usual, my five point review:

  • From the first time I opened this book, the format drew me in. Each chapter discusses a specific age group: 0-3 months, 4-6 months, etc. And, the chapters are broken up by sub-headings in the table of contents so it is REALLY easy to find what you need. Topics include developmental milestones, medical concerns, and nutritional needs… as well as healthy recipes for you and your baby/toddler [once they are in the solid food stage, that is]. I also appreciated the length of the book: at 256 pages long, it’s a good size to share a lot of information but it doesn’t feel overwhelming.
  • My overall favorite part of the book was the perspective from which it was written: a team of pediatricians, a dietitian, a lactation consultant, and two family chefs who all happen to be parents. The result is a wonderful evidence-based yet realistic perspective about how you can feed your child at different stages AND how to deal with tricky situations like picky eating. You can read more about their goals here. As a librarian and a new mom, the evidence-based perspective was particularly important to me. There’s so much information available online that it can be hard to sift through, and this book took care of some of the legwork for me. I haven’t read it cover-to-cover [and it’s not really a book that you would do that with, anyway] but so far it is pretty unbiased especially about hot button issues like breastfeeding vs. formula feeding or when to start solids. I’m breastfeeding my baby, and didn’t start solids until he turned six months old but even if your baby eats formula and started solids at four months, this book will still be useful because it is not biased or judgy.
  • Also, the book is such an easy read, even if the medical field is unfamiliar and/or scary to you. There isn’t any medical jargon or technical details, and there is even a section about what to expect if you have to visit a specialist and how to prepare for that visit. Including details like that makes the book even more accessible and useful. I also appreciated the section on food allergies: what reactions to look for, what to do if a reaction DOES take place, etc. Calmed my nerves before giving my baby his first taste of solid food: sweet potatoes!
  • The recipes are simple and use real ingredients–I appreciate that so much and think other busy parents will too. I’ve only tried one recipe so far–the zucarrot puree [zucchini + carrots, roasted and pureed] but look forward to trying more as #BabyVolde expands his food horizons. 🙂 Right now, aside from his favorite mama milk, he eats: sweet potatoes, butternut squash, avocado, zucchini, carrots, oatmeal, some herbs and spices, and on Thanksgiving he tried turkey! While I know I can’t control whether my son will become a healthy, adventurous eater or not, I can introduce him to a variety of real foods to encourage him towards that end as much as possible. Some of the recipes for older babies/toddlers may seem a little too “adult” for them, but I think it’s always worth a shot introducing new foods to kids. If all we give kids is chicken nuggets, that’s all they will know and want. Some of you experienced parents might be laughing at me [and maybe I will laugh at myself in the future too], but I am pretty set on this. And I’m not going to be a short order cook, so this baby better learn to like a variety of foods. Ha! 🙂 Just kidding, but really…
  • Overall, this book is a great addition to any baby book and/or cookbook libraries. It includes a wide variety of information on nutritional needs, child development, as well as providing easy recipes that are realistic for busy parents to make for their kiddos. Since I love food and cooking so much, and value healthy eating for myself and my family, I want my son to grow up with that mindset as well. This book will surely help in that quest! I definitely recommend it to anyone who has or works with babies and toddlers.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to for the chance to read this great book!

Reviews

Book Review: Delighting In God

Find out all about A.W. Tozer’s Delighting In God. It’s the intended follow-up to The Knowledge of the Holy and it’s powerful!

Find out all about A.W. Tozer's Delighting In God. It's the intended follow-up to The Knowledge of the Holy and it's powerful! - a book review on thepajamachef.com

A description of the book from the publisher:

Understand Your Life’s Purpose by Better Understanding God

“My worship grows and grows as my perception of God grows. God cannot grow. My perception of God grows as I experience Him day after day. I should be more capable of worshiping God today than I was ten or twenty years ago.”

Delighting in God is the message A.W. Tozer intended to be the follow-up to The Knowledge of the Holy. He demonstrates how the attributes of God–those things God has revealed about himself–are a way to understand the Christian life of worship and service. Because we were created in the image of God, to understand who we are, we need to understand who God is and allow His character and nature to be reflected through us.

We are here to serve and adore Him, and we can only fulfill that role by acknowledging who He is. This is the essence of the Christian life and the source of all our fulfillment, joy, and comfort.

As usual, my five point review:

  • Tozer’s classic The Knowledge of the Holy has been a book that has had a meaningful impact on my life. I think sometimes Christian women especially can have a more “emotional” approach to faith and can forget that we need to engage our minds with God too. The Knowledge of the Holy challenged me to do that, so I was interested in reading this “follow up,” published long after Tozer’s death. I was not disappointed–but keep reading to find out why.
  • Since this is a posthumously published book, I always am interested to know how it came together. With editor James L. Snyder, this book is a compiled collection of selected sermons preached late in Tozer’s life. Like with The Knowledge of the Holy, this book focuses on the attributes of God and our perceptions of him. But it’s not just a repeat of the former book, but rather a refined call to examine these attributes based on what Tozer learned as he continued to know God more.
  • This book is challenging, so I’ll be honest: it took me awhile to get through it, but it is worth it. Sermons can be hard to read, especially when they were prepared in a different era. But that is the beauty of Tozer–he is very timeless and his call to the church to follow God is still very relevant today.
  • One issue I have to mention with the book [that really could go either way, depending on your perspective] is that it’s edited–and by someone from the current era. This can be good because it can make it more readable, but it can also be bad because I think some of Tozer’s voice [but not his perspective] gets lost. Not a huge deal to me but some may be irritated by this.
  • All in all, this is a powerful and convicting book and is recommended for those who are fans of Tozer, especially if you want a more accessible way to read his sermons.

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!

Reviews

Book Review: Called for Life

Today I have a faith-based memoir book review for you. I was so excited to read Kent and Amber Brantly [with David Thomas]’s Called For Life: How Loving Our Neighbor Led Us into the Heart of the Ebola Epidemic, and am grateful to Blogging for Books for offering it in exchange for my honest review.

Called for Life by Kent and Amber Brantly, reviewed on thepajamachef.com #books #reading #faith #LiberiaHere is a description of the book from the publisher:

Dr. Kent and Amber Brantly moved with their children to war-torn Liberia in the fall of 2013 to provide medical care for people in great need—to help replace hopelessness with hope. When, less than a year later, Kent contracted the deadly Ebola virus, hope became what he and Amber needed too.

When Kent received the diagnosis, he was already alone and in quarantine in the Brantly home in Liberia. Amber and the children had left just days earlier on a trip to the United States. Kent’s personal battle against the horrific Ebola began, and as thousands of people worldwide prayed for his life, a miraculous series of events unfolded.

Called for Life tells the riveting inside story of Kent and Amber’s call to serve their neighbors, as well as Kent’s fight for life with Ebola and Amber’s’ struggle to support him from half-a-world away. Most significantly, Called for Life reminds us of the risk, the honor, and the joy to be known when God and others are served without reservation.

And as usual, my five point review:

  • In a word, this book was captivating. Like many Americans, I followed Kent’s story-and the Ebola epidemic–closely. Unlike many Americans, this felt personal to me. When I was in grad school focusing on African Studies and Library Science at Indiana University, I worked for over three years in the Liberian Collections, an archive dedicated to the preservation of Liberian memory and records. During those years, I met many Liberians, learned about their history and culture, and immersed myself in working to preserve their history. By the time Ebola became international news, I was already living and working in Nashville and all I could think was… something else for Liberia?!? First all the years of war… then all the reconstruction… and now this? I was heartbroken for Liberia and her people and just could see the future, and all that will have to take place to rebuild the country–reputation and all. The story also felt personal because of the local connection. Kent is also from Indiana and went to medical school at the IU campus in Indianapolis. So reading this book was a no-brainer. I just didn’t expect to be captivated by this encouraging and heartbreaking story like I was.
  • Unlike some current history-type memoirs, Called for Life didn’t seem to be sloppy or rushed. I was impressed with the level of care, attention, and detail that seemed to go into the writing and production of this book. The maps were great to help situate readers in Liberia and along the coast of Africa. There was also a good deal of background information about Ebola, Liberia, and medical missions which is helpful to most readers. The timeline did jump around, so it was hard to follow at times, though that did get sorted out by the end. Dates at the beginning of each chapter/subsection would have been helpful.
  • As a Christian called to serve others and share the gospel AND also as an academic who has spent close to a decade learning about Africa, I have long had mixed feelings about international missions, good deeds, and foreign aid, so the ethical part of this book was fascinating. In fact, when Ebola was front-page news and Kent was sick, I spent quite a bit of time reading about the ethics behind his treatment [receiving experimental drugs, being transported out of Liberia to one of the most advanced medical facilities in the world]. It is such a hard subject. Why should Americans receive this kind of care while many Africans died? Why should a medical professional be more privileged than the thousands of others who also suffered–and died–from Ebola? And I don’t have an answer, except to say what the title of this book says: that for whatever reason, God called Kent for life and this–the drugs, the flight, the top-notch care–was how He did it. I wondered if [or how] Kent would address it in this book, and thought he did a wonderful job. He discussed these very concepts in depth throughout the last chapter, and in snippets throughout the book. He came across as very humble and grateful, thankful to the Lord. I know this will be a portion of the book  and possibly my review that people who are not Christians may not understand or may not agree with, so I just wanted to say that I know where you are coming from. If you want to discuss it with me, I would be happy to do so. I appreciated how Kent grappled with this and would encourage everyone to read the last chapter of this book before brushing off his story as one of privilege.
  • Aside from being captivating, encouraging, and heartbreaking, this book was also convicting. How do I love my neighbors? How do I serve others? What more could I do if I was willing to follow the Lord more closely? The Brantly family is a great example of this and their story encourages me to pursue this more in my life.
  • All in all, a great book! I read Called for Life in one sitting on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and immediately texted my mom to see if she wanted to read it next. I have a feeling I’ll be recommending it to many people in the future. It would be a great Christmas gift for anyone interested in faith-based memoirs, medicine, missions, or Africa. Hope you can find a copy soon!

Disclosure: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Blogging for Books and the publisher, Crown Publishers, for the chance to read this great book! 

Reviews

Book Review: A Fifty-Year Silence

Today I have a memoir book review for you! I love memoirs, so I was excited to request Miranda Richmond Mouillot’s A Fifty-Year Silence from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

A Fifty-Year Silence... a book review on thepajamachef.com

Here is a description of the book from the publisher:

A young woman moves across an ocean to uncover the truth about her grandparents’ mysterious estrangement and pieces together the extraordinary story of their wartime experiences

In 1948, after surviving World War II by escaping Nazi-occupied France for refugee camps in Switzerland, the author’s grandparents, Anna and Armand, bought an old stone house in a remote, picturesque village in the South of France. Five years later, Anna packed her bags and walked out on Armand, taking the typewriter and their children. Aside from one brief encounter, the two never saw or spoke to each other again, never remarried, and never revealed what had divided them forever.

A Fifty-Year Silence is the deeply involving account of Miranda Richmond Mouillot’s journey to find out what happened between her grandmother, a physician, and her grandfather, an interpreter at the Nuremberg Trials, who refused to utter his wife’s name aloud after she left him.  To discover the roots of their embittered and entrenched silence, Miranda abandons her plans for the future and moves to their stone house, now a crumbling ruin; immerses herself in letters, archival materials, and secondary sources; and teases stories out of her reticent, and declining, grandparents.  As she reconstructs how Anna and Armand braved overwhelming odds and how the knowledge her grandfather acquired at Nuremberg destroyed their relationship, Miranda wrestles with the legacy of trauma, the burden of history, and the complexities of memory.  She also finds herself learning how not only to survive but to thrive – making a home in the village and falling in love.

With warmth, humor, and rich, evocative details that bring her grandparents’ outsize characters and their daily struggles vividly to life, A Fifty-Year Silence is a heartbreaking, uplifting love story spanning two continents and three generations.

And as usual, my five point review:

  • I love historical fiction and non-fiction… I always joke that World War II was my favorite war, but I think that’s simply how accessible it has been for much of my life. Both of my grandfathers as well as other relatives served in the war, and I was introduced to the war in elementary school through books like Number the Stars, Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl, The Endless Steppe, and many, many others. So to find that this memoir deals with the life [and secrets] of the author’s grandparents during and after World War II was incredibly intriguing. And the beginning was fascinating! The author does a fabulous job of pulling the readers into her life and her grandparents’ stories. There’s something magical about Europe, and France in particular, and the author captures the place beautifully.
  • As I read on though, my interest in the book fizzled out and I actually ended putting it down for a time. There just was so much speculation and not enough facts. I don’t want to spoil the ending for you, but while I appreciate the author’s book in that it memorializes her grandparents, her theories are just not compelling enough for me to believe. That does not in any way detract from what she does know–I’m just not sure I could come to the same conclusions about how and what they survived. This also does not detract from the way the author tells her love story, her life story. As a standalone story, her life/her love is pretty neat too. 🙂 Her grandparents’ lives are awesome too–her grandmother became a doctor during the middle of the 20th century in a time when many women didn’t even go to college. Her grandfather was an interpreter at the Nuremberg Trials in Germany after the war.
  • Miranda Richmond Mouillot has a lovely writing style. I’m not sure if she plans to write other books, but her lyrical prose draws in readers like nothing else can… making a non-fiction story read like a classic, lovely novel. Again, the setting of the book in FRANCE definitely helps but still–her writing style and word choice is gorgeous. Instead of being on my couch in Nashville, I was in a medieval stone house in an a village older than time. Can it get any better? Ohhh, France.
  • The biggest problem I had with the book aside from the lack of information was that, not to discount anyone’s survival from the Holocaust, her grandparents were not in concentration camps. They were not captured and didn’t seem to have many [any?] close calls either. They were Jewish. They had to flee, but they survived. And that’s incredible and I don’t want to discount their story or others like it. However, in some tiny ways, saying individuals like that survived the Holocaust is a shaky subject, and may even be one that I can’t take too hard of a stand against since I don’t have that first-person/familial experience. In some ways that discounts the stories of those who did survive concentration camps. It just, to me, softens those survival stories in some ways. I’m not sure of a better way to  frame their experience besides “Holocaust survivors” but I just think there has to be some other category. I do understand the perspective of Mouillot on this though.
  • Overall, I enjoyed reading the story of Mouillot and her grandparents–their stories of life and love and survival were incredible, passionate, and told beautifully. Reading about the animosity [to put it lightly] between her grandparents was hard. I can’t imagine not talking to Ben ever again like her grandparents did, or the effects that would have on our larger families. This book wasn’t exactly what I was expecting but it was lovely, even if hard to read at times and controversial in terminology too.

Disclosure: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Blogging for Books and the publisher, Crown Publishers, for the chance to read this great book!