More on Books. . .

We’re on a roll here. . . Books, books, books. Tracy of The Secret of Living tagged me earlier this week with this book meme. Of course, I couldn’t resist!

1) Total books owned, ever: Impossible to answer. Really, I’m clueless. Hubby and I used to joke that the reason we married was to join our two libraries. We seriously stripped our book collection when we moved overseas. I was shocked when we got back to the States to see how many we had kept. Right now we have about 50 shelves in 10 bookcases filled, and some boxes in the garage of books we don’t want to put out for young, reading eyes.

2) Last book I bought: A couple of motherhood memoirs at the library book sale in Illinois. Actually, my sis bought those for me because I didn’t have a dollar. The last book that I actually purchased was a book for my sister, Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful .

3) Last book I read: Finished? A Live Coal In The Sea by Madeleine L’Engle. Currently reading books on my booklist.

4) Five books that mean a lot to me.
1. The Bible. Right now I’m sticking in the Psalms. Again.
2. Berkhof’s Systematic Theology. It leads my heart to worship.
3. I’m going to come back to this one and answer it more completely later.

5) Tag five people: Camille. Eric. Valerie. Brian. Mollie.

Unlock the Prison Doors: A Mind and Media Review

I usually don’t just open a book to page one and start reading.

First I read the back cover, skimming over the book reviewers’ quotes. Then I read the front flap summary and back flap author bio. Then the dedication. And thanks and preface and table of contents.

I like to get my feet thoroughly wet before jumping into a pool, too.

So even before I started reading the main text of Unlock the Prison Doors: Keys to Breaking the Chains of Habitual Sin, I knew it would be hard to give Terry Barber’s book a favorable review.

While Pastor Barber has many years of experience–and I especially respect the time he and his family have ministered in Turkey–his educational background is less than I expected. I’m autodidactic myself, so degrees are not everything to me. However, I am on alert when I don’t see a degree from a seminary which I respect.

Then the first resource credited in the acknowledgements is Bill Gothard. The big Bill G., fount of principles and legalisms. My scriptural-principle-and-corny-diagram detector was on high alert after that.

And Pastor Barber doesn’t let us down.

His book is divided into fifteen chapters, one for each of the “Keys” he’s teaching, like Key Six: Spiritual Laws. In a Gothardesque way, Pastor Barber expounds on the “Cycle of Sin” and “Cycle of Righteousness,” keys four and five respectively. Chapter seven even has a diagram including an umbrella of authority.

By this point I was unwilling to consider this book as a reliable resource.

Perhaps this is all simply a matter of expectations and perceptions. I was expecting a more theologically oriented book on sanctification, with sound exegesis and ideas on practical application on “breaking free from habitual sin.”

Instead, this book is written in a warm and conversational style. Pastor Barber’s desire to help comes through clearly. Yet, perhaps that informal touch comes across too strongly with the “Uncle Ebee” stories. I’d rather hear an author share from the heart their personal struggles with sin and how they found God to be faithful, than to hear folksy vignettes. In and example of victory over lust, I don’t want to hear of a fictitious Uncle Ebee looking at a girl in a bikini. What about sharing the real struggles, dependence upon God, and breaking free from sin?

That said I do want to point out some good things in this book. First, instead of merely giving Scripture references, Pastor Barber frequently quotes the full text of Bible verses. How can a reader but be blessed when he is reading from the Word of God?

Also Pastor Barber continually points people to Christ, reaffirming the Gospel and our need for God. He didn’t seem to fall into the trap of “Implement these Biblical principles I’ve discovered, and succeed!”

In summary, I don’t doubt that God can use this book to help people. But it’s not a resource I’d particularly recommend for a theological understanding of sanctification or real help in our struggle with sin.

This is a review of Unlock the Prison Doors: Keys to Breaking the Chains of Habitual Sin by Pastor Terry Barber. This book was provided through Mind and Media as a gift from the publisher.

Read more about this book at Diet of Bookworms.

Books and Stuff. . .

We were still in Kyiv when Mind and Media (aka first began. Of course I was intrigued, but waited until returning to the States before participating.

So, I was pretty excited to recieve my first Mind and Media book in Friday’s mail. I chose to review it because the title and cover caught my eye. (Who doesn’t judge a book by its cover?) Within moments of opening the book, I realized it would be difficult to write a glowing review. I’m disappointed about that. But M&M said go ahead and write a review. So I did.

Veering to another topic, Hubby’s unpacked and organized most of our music. We worked and unpacked more boxes while listening to Skankin’ Pickle tonight. This cd has great cover graphics, as well as catchy music.

And I finished reading the Madeleine L’Engle book Hubby picked up for me at a library book sale earlier this week. Her writing in this book doesn’t have the musical rhythm that it does in other ones, but it still made me cry. Mercy, mercy was the theme and went straight to the heart.

Madeleine is one of the names on my short-list for a girl.

I’m also reading Lawrence Cohen’s Playful Parenting and Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies right now. Both very uplifting.

I have my collection of cookbooks in the kitchen now. I didn’t bring any to Kyiv with me, thinking I could rely on the old stand-bys that didn’t need recipes as well as google. Boy, was I wrong. I inherited a tiny Betty Crocker paperback from a bachelor (along with a great assortment of spices!) And in time, found a couple to buy over there. Today I skimmed through Through the Enchanted Broccoli Forest. My, Mollie Katzen sure does know how to inspire one to enjoy cooking and eating! I love her writing style and her illustrations and asides.

We still had a very straight-forward tuna noodle casserole tonight. Comfort food.

Eternal Father, Strong to Save,

Eternal Father, Strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bid’st the mighty Ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
O hear us when we cry to thee,
for those in peril on the sea.

O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy word,
Who walked’st on the foaming deep,
and calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea!

Most Holy spirit! Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea!

O Trinity of love and power!
Our brethren shield in danger’s hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them wheresoe’er they go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee,
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

This is one of my favorite hymns.

It stirs childhood memories, especially of the Chapel on Guantanamo Bay. We sang it as the closing hymn every Sunday at the Chapel. These are the original verses, but there are 20 or so printed in the Chapel hymnal.

I’ve wanted to teach it to my boys for awhile, and this Memorial Day weekend seemed a good time to do it, especially since I have a lovely version on cd that came with Hymns for a Child’s Heart.

Thai Night


The last night I was in Illinois, we went out for Thai at this great little restaurant in downtown Chicago. Oh, it was soooo good. My sis is in that regrettable part of pregnancy when she actually has an appetite, can keep food down, but then takes only a few bites before being full again.


Mom, Th4 and Me


Th4 and my Sis

More On My Illinois Trip

My sister is halfway to her due date. She’s beautiful and blissful. I got to see the ultrasound video and hear her story of her trek to Mexico to get it.

I got to go to Trader Joe’s for the first time. Thought of Kristen and Zero Boss.

My Dad, brother, sister and I hung around the kitchen table and played scrabble. We laughed and played and challenged each other’s word choices. Sis bought Dad a scrabble dictionary before we left.

We went to Borders. And the library. And the library used book store.

We drank coffee. And white tea. And lots of water.

We stayed up late telling stories. I got to see the faxed house plans for the house my Dad is building in Arizona. The site prep is done and I think they are pouring the concrete foundation this week. It’s designed to take advantage of the geography and climate of where they live, and be environmentally low-impact.

Quite a difference from the house where my Dad is living right now. Dad places high value on architecture that is appropriate for where you build. He drive through neighborhoods shaking his head at some of the building choices. . .

One of the things Dad is incorporating into the house he’s building is a Japanese soaking tub, and an amazing greenhouse just off of the bathroom.

My brother’s thesis was related to postmodern living and the novels of Paul Auster. I’ve read The Red Notebook and am going to keep checking more Auster out from the library.

We went to Walker Bros. one morning for breakfast, a family tradition that began after I got married and moved away. The table next to us was full of Russian speakers who considered Short Circuit to be a classic American film.

My neice, Th4, is an amazing child. She exudes confidence and security. She is one of the most loved children I’ve ever known. (And her impishness reminds me of my sister when she was that age. . .)

Mom took my sis and I to the thrift store. Another family tradition.

Mom’s apartment felt like an art gallery when I walked in. Acrylic paintings, found art, sculptures. I brought home an amazing mobile. It’s hung in my kitchen window now, replacing another one Mom made that’s now hanging in the bathroom.

Mom gave me a great mini-massage, too.

My sis remarked on how one of the girls she watches is only six, but always asking first whether foods contain artificial flavorings or colorings. That comment has really stayed with me, and reminded me of my earthy-crunchy past. I’m feeling the need to get back to the basics, food wise. Ukraine was great for getting fresh, homegrown produce. I miss that.

I’m really glad to be home. I’m really glad I got to have some reconnecting time with my family.