Friday, November 5, 2010

The Crocheted Prayer Shawl Companion by Janet Bristow & Victoria Cole

This is the first of the Prayer Shawl books that I've delved into and I really liked the concept from the beginning. I crochet and knit preemie hats and blankets for my hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit among other ministry items. I just simply haven't gotten to making shawls...until now.
This book is well laid out with excellent photos of the finished items interspersed with ideas on how to bless others with a shawl.

My favorite part of the patterns is that the yarns are easily found or substituted. Why is this my favorite? What a boring reason, right? Because I live in an area that is yarn say the least. Most yarns in patterns that I like are simply not to be found locally, and by locally, I mean over an hour radius! Because the nature of yarn is to be touched, I have yet to order yarn online without already having touched it first. I've only ordered online because the store told me they'd not get any more or the website had a color that the store didn't carry.

My next favorite part of Prayer Shawl Companion is that the patterns are simple enough that my yarnie students could make any of these shawls and yet I can make the same shawl and not get bored by it. I've just simply added beads to mine and *POOF*, I have a fun project that also feeds my soul.

Now all I need is to find enough time to make each pattern for our church's Interfaith Hospitality Network. It's a network of area churches that take turns housing homeless families for a week. I love the thought that's gone into each pattern and it's symbolism is amazing also.

Thanks to Taunton Press for providing me this great eBook. I was a bit skeptical of an ebook version for crochet but I've enjoyed this version.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander

When I sat down to read this last of the Timber Ridge Series I knew I was in for a good read. What I didnt' know was that this was going to be a great read! If you like American history, if you like medical history, if you like romance, and I love them all, then you're in for a great read too.
Even though, widow and mother Rachel Boyd's and Dr. Rand Brookston's story are already set up pretty well in the previous two volumes of this series (From a Distance and Beyond This Moment), this volume starts out deepening the characters quite nicely and is a good stand alone. But why eat an appetizer when you can enjoy the whole meal, right? I like to see situations that show the character's relationship with God and each other growing. I want to be moved by their experiences. I want to see how they deal with their strengths and weaknesses in order to inspire me in my own.

Being a southern woman myself, I really connected with Rachel in this:

No question, she was a Southern woman through and through, and like a lot of Southern women, when push came to shove, she had a will of iron that cut straight through the sugar and sweetness.
Being a nurse, I enjoyed reading the trepidation with which a new procedure is used and how the medical model (theory of how a disease is treated and how death and dying are approached) has changed over time. For instance, when nothing curative could be done, doctors and nurses could concentrate on helping the family move through the dying process with as much dignity and grace and with as little physical pain as possible. Nowadays, well, let's just say that there are ways to go through the death and dying process that can ultimately feed the survivor's souls and ways that don't.
Knowing death was coming, or not knowing...Both ways held blessings, he (Rand) guessed.
Here, Rachel  
....wondered....what must it be like for him, knowing he was close to the end of his life? At least his life on earth. Everyone died. That was a given. But not everyone was warned of death's approach. And she wondered whether knowing was better, or worse. She decided the former, based on regrets she had....
I think this story could be pivotal for someone out there in that their life could be affected by the wisdom seen here. I certainly hope so. Keep a tissue box at the ready, I certainly needed it. Just in case, you're thinking that this is a terribly sad book, it isn't, they were tears of bittersweet joy. On a personal and professional note, this touches on a soap box of mine:
I don't mean any disrespect by this, only seems right that the person dyin' should get to choose.
Hallelujah and Amen Sister Tamera! Back in those days people knew that death was coming at some point, had thought about it, had even discussed it. Nowadays, people think that no one they love will ever get sick or die, so they don't discuss it. Poor thinking folks. We will all, at some point face death and/or dying and it is selfish not to discuss it with your loved ones. Watching deaths, like the one in this book, is sad, no doubt, but peaceful too. The Holy Spirit surrounds the people in the room and the peace is transcendent, nearly joyful.
As far as the romance goes, another reviewer suggested that the heat be lowered for the more youthful but raise the heat a bit for the more mature. I vote for increasing the heat just a touch, there's plenty of great reads out there for teens. I'm sure that sexual tension is bound to be a difficult thing to write about without getting explicit at any rate.