Review: Sparkle and Change Bible

I still remember my first “real” Bible. It was a Precious Moments illustrated version, either with a white or pink cover. I loved having what felt like a grown-up Bible. The only downside was that the translation was the New King James Version and as a young reader, it was hard to connect with this language.

In this past year, Bea has become an avid and independent reader. Not only can she read the words in her favorite chapter books but she understands the story and themes. I’d been wanting to find a new Bible that would better fit her reading level but was having trouble finding a kid-friendly cover that wasn’t the New King James Version.

Enter: The Sequin Sparkle and Change Bible not only is the cover that fun “mermaid sequin” that is on everything but the translation is the International Children’s Bible – specifically translated with young readers in mind. I love that it isn’t a paraphrase but the actual Bible, just in language that is slightly simpler. In fact, at first glance through some of my favorite verses, I had trouble distinguishing the differences between “adult” translations.

But my 6-year-old notices the difference! She loves reading the verses, especially those highlighted for memorization. We’ve had the Bible just over a week and the pages are already dogeared. She sleeps with it at night at reads it first thing in the morning.

I love that this translation is building her confidence as a reader and in turn, building a love for reading the Bible. If you have a young, independent reader in your life, I’d highly recommend this translation!

Do you have any favorite Bibles for young readers?

I received this book free from the publisher via BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest opinion. Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site. 

Review: NKJV Reader’s Bible

Now that we’re a full week into summer, I’m slowly finding a routine. My favorite part of school being over is a slower start to our mornings. The girls are still up before 7:00 but we don’t have to be anywhere for a while. I’m enjoying a cup of coffee while still in my pajamas, reading a poem or two, and starting to read a chapter from the Bible.

_240_360_Book.2523.coverA couple years ago, I set a goal to complete the Bible in a Year and when I was done, I wasn’t really sure what to do next. My big goal had been achieved and it felt a bit strange to just start right back in Genesis. But I’ve missed the daily rhythm of reading from the Bible and was having a hard time finding a good fit.

I’ve been using the same New Living Translation Study Bible since college and love it. But when I saw Thomas Nelson’s Deluxe Reader’s Bible, my interest was piqued. I haven’t read the New King James Version since my first Precious Moments Bible and I’ve enjoyed rediscovering this poetic translation.

IMG_9363I also enjoy the “reader’s version” formatting. This means it reads like a book: One column formatting without verses. The chapter titles are printed at the top of each page and the chapter number is printed in the margins but otherwise, those key markers are unobtrusive or missing altogether. There is no commentary, concordance, or references.

As the description reads,

The NKJV Deluxe Reader’s Bible is an invitation to get caught up in the story of Scripture, as history, poetry, and prophecy come to life on pages designed for people who love a good book.

This Bible is ideal for someone looking for a clean, simple reading experience. It has helped me remember that the Bible is literature and reading it as such has deepened my experience. I needed a refresh when it came to this familiar text and a different translation combined with a beautiful format was exactly what I needed to reignite my morning routine.

What is your favorite Biblical translation? How do you refresh your morning routine?

I received this book free from the publisher via BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest opinion. Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site. 

Life is a Narrative Story, Not a Report

One of the best outcomes of this practice of blogging has been learning the art of storytelling. My goal with each essay is to take a life experience and weave a greater thought that can be applied beyond my story at this moment. It’s been a good practice as I reflect on this phase of parenting. Some days are hard. What’s a bigger lesson I can learn from it?

Image source: Falco on Pixabay

Part of embracing storytelling is letting go of journalism. I have no recording devices in our house to go back and make sure our conversations are accurately fact-checked. Sometimes I embellish things to make a point. It’s never as deep or complex as real life. In fact, it’s always funny talking with real-life friends about blog posts because they see so much more than is written. (It’s equally funny talking with people who read the blog but who I don’t see often in person. There are a lot of gaps between the written story and the lived story!)

I’m reading through Exodus right now and reflecting on the ways in which we read this text. Some read it in a journalistic style: Each of the elements of this story actually happened in the timeline stated. We read it literally and draw our conclusions based on that. Others believe it’s complete metaphor, leading us toward a bigger story. None of this happened but it helps give us a history and journey as a culture. Many are in the middle: The exodus probably happened, though probably not exactly the way the text states. It’s storytelling and the narrator will embellish certain aspects to make a greater point.

This is what we do. As Americans, we’ve created a narrative about scrappy underdog Colonists fighting the big business of Great Britain. It’s a cultural narrative that lives to this day. I was talking with a friend who said that even though the Confederacy lost the Civil War, they won the narrative. We still revere antebellum culture, architecture, and memorials in ways that usually doesn’t happen to the losers.

We all do this, whether its written or a story we’ve told again and again over beers with old friends. The more we tell it, the more exaggerated it becomes. The bigger our audience, the more we need to think about how our stories can apply to more people. I write from a perspective of motherhood, but I try not to make my stories about motherhood.

I’ve been thinking about this as we interpret laws in our country that are over two hundred years old. We have created a cultural narrative around them, making them something that they weren’t originally. The problem is that my cultural narrative around a particular phrase in the Constitution is going to be skewed differently than someone’s from a different region or background. We all bring our own lens personally as well as within an overarching societal telling.

I’m wondering how to dig in deeper. When I meet with friends in real life and we talk about our journeys, they get a more dynamic story than the one on this blog. They know more sides, more nuances, more of our journey. How do I apply this to the news and current events? How do I step into the discussion and recognize that I’m reading the news and our laws through my own cultural lens?

I don’t have any answers or books to read. I suppose my next steps are simply being aware that I don’t have the whole story – none of us do. How do we interpret and process with this idea of not knowing? Will that help us break our steeped perspectives toward moving forward?

How do you step back and shift your thinking? What are ways you recognize your cultural lens in order to see things in a new way? Any helpful resources?

41P-7PjUPDL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Recommended Resources: Chapter 3: “Why Do So Few Blacks Study the Civil War?” from We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site.

Review: Word of Promise New Testament

Because his time is at a premium, Frank has started “reading” most of his books via Audible. It’s a perfect way to continue reading while commuting, working out, walking Daisy, and doing chores. Growing up, I remember my dad doing much of his reading via audiobooks as he worked. Me? I’m not much of an auditory learner. I don’t retain much of a lecture format unless notes are being taken and visuals are bing used. (This is most likely why I enjoyed art history so much.)

_140_245_Book.1772.cover.jpgI had seen Word of Promise on the Audible website and suggested it to Frank. Featuring a star-studded cast including Richard Dreyfuss, Marisa Tomei, and Jim Caviezel reading the Bible, it seemed like the premium way to listen to scripture. About a week later, I saw that Thomas Nelson was offering the New Testament to review.

Even though the CDs stay in Frank’s car, I’ve managed to listen to a bit on the occasions we switch off. Even as someone who would rather see the words in print, I’m impressed with the production of this version. Told using the New King James translation, it is easy to follow along. I appreciate that each character is read by a different person, making it easy to transition and making it feel more like a story.

It is read as though reading a play or book – so no chapters or verses are given. I suppose if you wanted to use this for scholarly purposes it may be a bit challenging, but I liked this setup. It helped me focus on the story arc rather than placement in the Bible.

Frank has enjoyed this version so much that he has decided to buy the entire Bible, as both Old and New Testaments are available. I would highly recommend this version to people who would like a version to listen to. It’s engaging, easy to follow along, and less daunting than sitting down and reading the Bible straight through.

Are you an auditory learner? Do you enjoy listening to books or would you rather read a print version?
I review for BookLook Bloggers
I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

Review: NIV Study Bible for Women

I have two book goals for this year: Read through the Bible (or at least get started… I began reading in April and I’m only in March of the reading plan) and reading War and Peace. I still have some time for that one, but book clubs and other interesting reads keep getting in the way. We’ll see if this is an achievable goal.

I’m using the same study Bible I’ve owned since before college. I’ve always wondered about themed Bibles, but have never identified with the pink floral women’s Bibles that line bookstore shelves.

_140_245_Book.1719.coverWhen I saw the new NIV Bible for Women on the BookLook Blogger’s site, I didn’t think much about it – until I started seeing the Instagram feeds of some of my favorite bloggers and writers…. When I saw that this Bible was filled with strong, intelligent women who speak of today’s issues, I wanted to read more.

The subtitle: Fresh insights for thriving in today’s world is a perfect description of the essays featured in this Bible. Part blog post, part reflection, part devotion, the essays reflect the authors’ voices and experiences while linking to the featured verses. They are interspersed throughout the Bible, breaking up the text and giving modern insights into the ancient Scripture.

The Biblical text itself is the standard New International Version. It contains no notes on the Scripture or any other maps or references. It’s more like a devotional Bible than a study Bible. You’ll get great insights from women about the text, but none of the essays really helped me understand a particular passage in more depth.

It’s a bit difficult rating a Bible, so my rating is solely on the essays. I went through and read ones by authors I recognized as well as ones I randomly flipped to. There are two reasons I gave this a 4/5 star rating: First, I wish the essays were a bit more spread out. For the most part, they are sprinkled throughout the Bible, but there are several sections with 3-4 essays all in a row. It seemed to interrupt the flow. But, as a devotional book, I’m not sure the flow is necessary.

The second is a small criticism, but many of the essays were republished from blog posts and books. I was hoping for all new content. (Though that was never advertised.) Especially for authors who I have followed for a while and whose books I’ve read, it didn’t feel fresh.

I’d recommend this version to women who already know the Bible and are looking for insights and ideas from contemporary thinkers.

Do you use a study Bible or a devotional Bible? What is your favorite translation?

Usually I do a giveaway, but mailing a Bible would break my budget. If you live in the Denver area and are interested in this Bible, I’d love to meet up and hand it off. 
I review for BookLook Bloggers

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.