Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Succeeding At Seminary - Book Review...

Note: The primary focus of my blog has always been sewing and I don't see that changing. However, I'll continue to post the occasional book review as well.

In today's age, it's possible to find books on almost any topic. Want to learn beekeeping? Amazon has over a thousand results for books on the subject. Interested in quilting? There are over 10,000 of them. And there are almost a thousand listings for how to become an adult. (I didn't realize that so many people struggle with that.) Essentially, you can find a book for pretty much anything that interests you.

Succeeding at Seminary is another example of such a book. How many people do you know who are interested in attending seminary? Probably not many. But if you're one of that select group, this book offers valuable advice. Written by the president of Midwestern Baptist Seminary, Jason K. Allen has the experience and expertise to help those interested in pursuing a seminary degree. It just so happens that I'm one of those individuals. I consider it God's providential timing that I ran across this book while I was already considering going to seminary. I didn't search for it; it just appeared on a list of available books to review.

The book's subtitle is 12 Keys to Getting the Most Out of Your Theological Education and it covers the topic from the first step (clarifying your call) to the last (finding a job). In between the covers, there are chapters on finding the right seminary for you, the advantages and disadvantages of online versus on-campus classes, how to carefully steward your time, financial considerations, and tips for studying. The book is only 128 pages so it doesn't dive deeply into each topic, but it contains enough information to provide some useful guidance. I found the chapters on stewarding your time, prioritizing your family, and studying tips to be particularly helpful.

The book is well-written and easy to read. Allen presents the information in a clear and orderly way. I only have two minor critiques of the book. First, the author primarily focuses his attention on those seeking to become pastors. However, there are various degrees in seminary and not everyone attending is being called to lead a congregation. Second, at times it sounds like an advertisement for Midwestern Baptist Seminary, particularly in the first several chapters. That being said, the book contains some useful information that helped me not only get into seminary but should be very beneficial as I work towards my degree.

Overall, I rate this book 3 out of 5 stars.
I received a free copy of this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Our cat Moses is a beautiful girl, but incredibly neurotic. We've recently started her on Prozac to calm her and stop her from beating up her brother, David. He's more than twice her weight, but she attacks him if he gets too close to me. I'm hoping the medicine makes a difference.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you.
Psalm 32:8 NIV84

Saturday, April 10, 2021

When Faith is Forbidden - A Book Review...

 You may not know this about me as I don't often post book reviews, but I am a voracious reader. Always have been. I'm usually reading 5 or 6 books at a time - a mix of fiction and non-fiction books. Generally the non-fiction books take me a little longer because I only read small chunks at a time so I can process what I've read. I probably average a couple hundred books each year.

Lately I have been on a binge reading stories about persecuted Christians and missionaries. I find such encouragement for my own walk with Christ by reading how these individuals persevered in their faith in the midst of great suffering and tragedy. Recently I finished both Hearts of Fire by The Voice of the Martyrs and Bruschko by Bruce Olson. The former contains the testimony of 8 persecuted women throughout the world within the last century. The latter is the story of a 19-year-old-American who traveled to the Motilone tribe in Columbia to share the gospel with them. I highly recommend both of these books!

When Faith is Forbidden: 40 Days on the Frontlines with Persecuted Christians is another book from The Voice of the Martyrs family. Honestly, I expected the format to be similar to Hearts of Fire, but it is actually more of a devotional than a non-fiction book. Each day contains a Scripture passage that relates to the personal story of a persecuted Christian somewhere in the world. The testimonies are short, usually around 3-4 pages long. Although I would have liked to learn more about every individual, the author, Todd Nettleton, does a good job of detailing each Christian's struggle and perseverance. Their stories are followed by a brief Reflection that details a lesson from the passage. He asks questions of the reader that are bound to make you examine your own walk with Christ more closely. I'll admit I felt both uncomfortable and convicted with some of my answers. He also provides a prayer and some journaling space to reflect on your answers. There's not a lot of space to write, so if you really intend to reflect and answer, you're probably going to need extra paper. Last of all, Nettleton includes personal entries from his journal during these visits. However, many times they added nothing to the story and could have easily been left out of the book.

As with most things in life, you'll get out of this book what you put into it. If you want to learn a little about the lives and struggles of other Christians, there are plenty of stories to satisfy your curiosity and you can read them quickly. But if you want to grow deeper in your walk and know better how to fulfill the Great Commission, this is a great guide to use as your daily devotional. When persecution comes your way, you'll have a better understanding of what others have gone through and how to bear up under it.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.
I was gifted a copy of this book from Moody Publishers in return for my honest review.

David often likes to help me read. He's actually very insistent on it!

David helping me read...

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.
Revelation 2:10-11

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

New Beginnings...

When I first started sewing in 2000, I bought my first sewing machine. At that time they used to have a Husqvarna dealer inside my local JoAnn's craft store. Not knowing anything about sewing or machines, I went to them for advice. I ended up buying a Husvarna Viking Freesia 425. Oh, how I've loved that machine! It has been a workhorse for the last 2 decades and I've spent untold hours sewing and quilting on it. 

Husqvarna Viking Freesia 425
In 2005, I became interested in embroidery. After some research, I bought a Babylock Ellegante from my local dealer. This machine is great for everyday sewing, makes a perfect quarter inch seam and has no trouble with thick fabrics. However, the embroidery part has given me nothing but trouble. I've had it into the shop numerous times for the same issue and each time they said it was user error. I brought it in again late last year and told them I didn't want it back until it could stitch out an embroidery pattern I brought with me. It turns out there is a known problem with this model when it starts sewing fast (which you have to do with machine embroidery.) It's far past it's warranty period and the cost to fix it is very expensive with no guarantee it will work. They suggested I replace the machine and offered to give me a good deal. Unfortunately, after this experience I no longer trust them.

Babylock Ellegante
Fast forward to just before Christmas last year. My trusty Viking workhorse started having tension issues and refuses to sew over bulky seams anymore. I was trying to use my Babylock for Free Motion Quilting, but the thread kept breaking. After trying to quilt a 2" block and having the thread break 20 times, I was beyond frustrated and decided to just stop sewing. My dear sweet husband then insisted on my looking for another machine. He justified the expense by saying it was cheaper than the therapy I would need if I quit sewing. (He's probably right...)

After careful research and several hours test driving it, I bought a Janome Memory Craft 9450 from The Broken Needle (a little quilt shop close to me). I know that machines have advanced significantly in the last 15 years, but I was surprised at how many features it has. Of course, I wasn't interested in most of them; I just wanted it to do what I needed it to do and do it well. I tested the free motion quilting, the quarter inch seam, how it handled fabrics of varying thickness and multiple types of thread. (My Babylock is a little fussy about silk and metallic threads.) The dealer was a little surprised to see that I brought my own thread for the test drive! It passed every test I threw at it with flying colors. 

Janome Memory Craft 9450

I got a great deal on it and it even came with a free sewing table.

Janome Memory Craft 9450 with table
 I love my new machine! It is a joy to free motion quilt again. Now I can finally get some of this backlog done! I hope this machine will be with me for the next 20 years and I can't wait to see everything I can create with it.

If you've followed me for long, you'll notice that I usually close with a picture of one of our furbabies. This time I have two. Jack and Gabriel have recently gone onto the Rainbow Bridge. They both lived long healthy lives; Jack was 20 and Gabriel a month shy of 15 years old when they passed. We miss them both greatly.

Jack on a quilting project


He will wipe every tear from their eyes. 
There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, 
for the old order of things has passed away.
Revelation 21:4 NIV