Book Review: “Team Us” by Ashleigh Slater

Team Us

The book Team Us: Marriage Together is written by Ashleigh Slater and is published by Moody Publishers. Slater has also written the book Braving Sorrow Together, three eBooks, and numerous articles for various websites. She is married to her husband Ted and they have four children.

Team Us is written in a very conversational format with her own personal story woven throughout the book. Imagine sitting down with the author over coffee and listening to her tell her story while also sharing marriage advice, and every once in awhile her husband leans over from the next table and in two sentences shares his thoughts on what his wife just said. That’s what the book feels like.

The book revolves around the theme of unity. It’s about how we navigate conflict, how we walk through pain and loss, how we honor and love one another well, how we grow and develop, and all to build unity in our marriages.

The chapter that resonated with me the most and I deeply appreciated her transparency in, was the chapter called Pink Slips and Other Loses. In this chapter Slater talks about a miscarriage they had, working through the loss of jobs, and also her struggle with prayer. I thought her (and her husbands) commentary on the purpose of prayer in difficult times being less about the answer and more about our relationship with God was outstanding.

The chapter called The Parent Trap was also great. There is some really strong advice for parents who have different parenting styles in this chapter. Rather than one parent imposing their style on the other parent, she suggests parents discover the beauty within their partners differing style while at the same time both parents being intentional about honoring the other persons preferred style.

Another excellent feature of this book are the discussion questions at the end of each chapter for couples to work through together. Like any discussion guide there will be some questions that might not connect, but there are also some really strong and important questions that every couple should be asking.

Overall I think Team Us is a good book particularly for those who are young married couples or young adults preparing to get married who also have a more conservative Christian leaning. That said, those who have been married for a long time will be sure to find some great truths, advice, and encouragement in this book too.

To see a trailer for Team Us, click HERE.

To visit the authors website, click HERE.

* I received this book from Moody Publishers for my honest review.

 

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Book Review: “When God Made You” by Matthew Paul Turner

When God Made You

As a pastor and a father of a young daughter, I deeply care about the books she “reads” (she’s only 2½) and has read to her, especially the books that speak of God. I want my daughter to have an understanding of God that reflects the beauty, love, wonder, passion, and creativity we see of God in scripture. I also want her to see herself and her neighbor in compassionate and grace filled ways, as seen in how Jesus loved and called us to love.

So it matters to me what books will fill her bookshelves and be found on her nightstand. If I’m being honest I approach most Christian children’s books with an expectation that they are going to be just awful. The thing that bothers me the most about many of the Christian children’s books I have seen is the poor theology they contain and the dumbing down of the message of the Bible.

When I received this book, When God Made You to review, the gloves were off. I was ready to mercilessly pick it apart and tell you why you should never read it to your children. But instead, after reading it I couldn’t wait to read this with my daughter and I hope it becomes one of her all time favorites!

When God Made You is written by Matthew Paul Turner who has written numerous books, including: Hear No Evil, Churched, and The Coffeehouse Gospel and is illustrated by David Catrow who has illustrated more than 70 children’s books.

This book is beautiful in every way. The writing is poetic, the theology is rich, and the illustrations are absolutely gorgeous. Visually this book is stunning and unlike any other children’s book I have seen. My daughter couldn’t take her eyes off the pages as we read the story together.

The main theme of the book is celebrating and holding onto the fact that we are all uniquely created by God and we are to live and create and love in the fulness of our God ordained uniqueness. Turner writes in a way that inspires. Not only does my daughter love the story but as an adult I was taken aback by the depth of the writing. This is a book that young ones will enjoy and even as my daughter gets older I want to continue to unpack more of the beauty found in these pages.

I so badly want to quote the entire book for you, but since that breaks way too many copyright laws, here are a few of my favorite lines:

‘Cause when God made you, this much is true, the world got to meet who God already knew.

Discover. Explore! Have faith but love more.

‘Cause when God made you and the world oohed and aahed, in heaven they called you an image of God.

A you who views others as sisters and brothers and lives by three words: love one another.

Buy this book for your son or daughter, your niece or nephew, your grandson or granddaughter, your neighbors kids, or your friends who just had a baby. When God Made You is a rare find in Christian children’s literature. It’s a perfect combination of excellent writing, really sound theology, and unbelievable artwork.

To see a trailer on the When God Made You, click HERE.

To see a great video of the author Matthew Paul Turner talk about the inspiration of When God Made You, click HERE.

To visit the authors personal website, click HERE.

* Publisher recommended age range for this book is 3-10 years old. 

** I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Pink Potty: A Reflection on Time

potty

Two weeks ago, my daughter and I went out shopping and we were charged by my wife to come home with a very specific item. A potty.

My daughter is at that stage where we are transitioning her from diapers to a potty, so we needed to go pick one up. After learning from Erin about where one goes to buy a potty and a discussion on our budgeted price range for one, Maddie and I were off to the store.

After some time wandering the aisles looking for the “potty section” (I’m new to this), we finally found them. Maddie had one request when it came to the potty, it needed to be pink. So I found two pink options, I put them on the floor, and Maddie made her choice.

Then as she sat on the potty she looked up at me with a huge smile on her face and…I started crying. Not sobbing, but tears filled my eyes. The tiny baby we brought home from the hospital just over two years ago, who was completely dependent on Mom and Dad for everything including all decisions, just picked out a pink potty.

Where did the two years and three months go?

My head immediately started racing to the future. The day I take her to buy clothes for her first day of school. The day I take her out to buy a prom dress. The day I take her out to buy a wedding dress. In that big beautiful smile she was giving me from that pink potty on the floor of the aisle of that store, I felt like time was going at warp speed, and now the tears were really starting to roll down my face.

In an article called Time – A Non-Renewable Resource, Chad Walters says:

Time is the ultimate non-renewable natural resource. Once a second has passed, it’s gone…Every day, every living person is provided with 86,400 seconds. The richest person in the world has just as much as the poorest person, and every day we are presented with the same amount, no more and no less.

Time is priceless. This day, this moment, this breath matters. Once it is gone I cannot get it back. If you’re like me, it is easy to live outside of the moment, to focus on the past and how you would have done things differently or to focus on the future and worry about what MIGHT happen then. But when we are lost in the past or the future, we are absent from the moment. And this moment matters. Life is happening in this moment.

The Bible talks about time and about being present in the moment:

4 Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered-how fleeting my life is. 5 You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath. (Psalm 39:4-5)

18 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 19 And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life-this is indeed a gift from God. 20 God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past. (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20)

(Jesus said) So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. (Matthew 6:34)

When our head and heart is locked in the past or in the future, we miss the moment and we miss the life that is happening all around us right now.

Author Rob Bell says in his book How to Be Here:

Are you breathing? Are you here? Did you just take a breath? Are you about to take another? Do you have a habit of regularly doing this? Gift. Gift. Gift…the first thing that can be said about you is that you have received a gift.

Be present today. Live in the gift you’ve been given today. Have a conversation with a friend over coffee. Hold the hand of a friend or family member who is sick. Pray with someone. Read a passage of scripture, close your Bible and think about it for 5 minutes. Give forgiveness and receive forgiveness. Say hello to the person at the cash register and ask them how their day is going. Visit a loved ones tombstone, thank God for what was and thank Him for His presence now. Kiss your spouse. Tell your son or daughter that you love them. Fill a bag with food and take it to the food bank. Smile at someone. Laugh at a joke. Say thank you. Go for a walk with no headphones on and just listen. Celebrate that today your daughter has picked out a pink potty.

Yesterday has already happened. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. So live fully in the gift of breath God has given you in this moment. Be here now.

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Books I’d recommend on the gift of time:

  • How to Be Here by Rob Bell
  • Death By Living by N.D. Wilson  (click on title for a review)