Category: A Book in Hand

“Nothing is Wasted” — Finding the Good in the Bad

“Nothing is Wasted” — Finding the Good in the Bad


Nothing is WastedI recently added a new book to my reading list, courtesy of Beacon Hill Press. While it wasn’t the type of book I would normally choose for myself, I did enjoy and relate to the message of hope in redemption found in Joseph Bentz’s Nothing is Wasted:  How God Redeems What is Broken.

The author weaves together historical accounts from the Bible with modern events to create an entire book devoted to the ultimate song of redemption embedded in what may seem like the worst of circumstances. Bentz shows that something can be salvaged from our personal suffering and although it may be messy, unpleasant or downright devastating, God’s will and purpose are there, even if we can’t see them at first glance.

Examples of real suffering and redemption fuels Nothing is Wasted, and if you need to identify with mothers, husbands, victims, authors, everyday people or historical figures you can find it here. Bentz propels his ideas with recounts of horrific, yet healing, events from the Bible and mixes those with true traumatic struggles of people he has met along his way. From sinful acts come fulfilled prophecy, from pain and death come new beginnings.

The several stories of real people in this book include a family enduring death and suffering of several of its members, including three children, and how the goodness of God is reveled, and the story of a young woman on a different life course simply because she was hit by a car while walking across a street. One of my favorite accounts is of a young pastor’s wife and mother plagued by illness and death. While so many people prayed for a specific outcome she prayed for another, and the tale of how it all gloriously unfolded (no spoilers here) revealed God’s love and redemptive nature.

Nothing is Wasted is a good read especially for those folks who often give into their cynical side, who might be going through a traumatic season of life or for those who need a gentle reminder to listen for the music of redemption. With its roots in the Bible and its many personal accounts, this book reveals why we are drawn to stories of tragedy and the promise of eventual renewal.  It also reminds us that we are not alone in our struggles and that God’s song of redemption is real. . . even if we aren’t listening.

untitledJOSEPH BENTZ is the best-selling author of When God Takes Too LongSilent

God,Pieces of Heaven, and four novels. He is professor of American literature at Azusa Pacific University. He earned a BA in English from Olivet Nazarene University and an MA and a Ph.D. in American literature from Purdue University. He lives with his wife and two children in Southern California. More information about his books and speaking can be found at

A Few Favorites for National Children’s Book Day

A Few Favorites for National Children’s Book Day

Saturday was National Children’s Book Day and since my son and I love to finish our day with a good book (or two), I thought I would share a few of our current kid-approved favorites. Of course the go-to books on my five-year old’s shelf have changed throughout the years, but this list today highlights a few that we keep going back to as well as some new fun choices (in no particular order). 

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First on the list is the How Do Dinosaurs. . . series by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague. We have owned How Do Dinosaurs Count to Ten since my son was a baby and it has always been one of our favorites, but we’ve added to our personal collection through the years and anything in this series always seems to be a winner for a little one who loves dinosaurs.


Speaking of dinosaurs, one of our newest favorites is When Dinosaurs Came With Everything by Elise Broach. I judged this book by its cover and purchased it through the Scholastic order form from my son’s preschool last year, and we’ve read it so many times the staples are starting to give way. I really like the mom in this story, because she makes the most of a crazy situation.


Another Scholastic favorite is Millie Waits for the Mail by Alexander Steffensmeier. My son chose this book as one of his rewards during the library’s summer reading program a couple of years ago, and the older he gets the more he likes it. It’s a tale of a cow who likes to scare the mailman until one day it gets all out of control.


Since cows seem to make for good reading, it’s no surprise that Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin is another long-time favorite for the whole family. These zany, take charge cows make for quite the tale in this Caldecott Medal winning book. It might just make you take a closer look at your pets.


The next book on the list is The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone. This Little Golden Book holds a special place in my heart, because it was one of my own childhood favorites. Although I knew how it ended, I enjoyed this story over and over again, and I’m sure it is still floating around Mom’s house somewhere. I bought this one for my son early last year, just knowing he would enjoy it; and of course, it was a winner for both the reader and receiver.


The Bear. . . series by Karma Wilson is next on our list, because who doesn’t like to read about a big loveable bear, all his antics and every sweet fuzzy or feathered friend appearing in these books. From Bear Feels Sick to Bear Stays Up for Christmas, I think we own about every one of these fun, feel good books.


Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss makes our list (although I’m not a big D.S. fan), but my son enjoys this one more than I. I will say this is one of my favorites of the Dr. Seuss books, because it actually has a point and sends the message of, “Try it. You might like it.”


Another silly book making the list is Underpants Thunderpants by Peter Bently. I picked up this book on a lark one day and we have enjoyed it ever since. You’ll have a fun time discovering what happens to dog’s underpants when a storm scatters them “Over the ocean, the jungle and town. . .”


The next book on the list is I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt. While the title originally turned me off, a quick read through made it a worthy choice for my little one. My son loves this book and the storyline makes it a winner for me too. There’s apparently a whole series of Stinky Face books, but this is the only one we have read.


Nightsong by Ari Berk is one of our newest favorites. I have to admit that while my son enjoys this book, it probably speaks a bit more clearly to me. It’s a story of a mother who let’s her little one find his way, and the illustrations are slightly haunting and sweet.


Rounding out our list of favorite children’s books is the Little Blue Truck series by Alice Schertle. We have three of the books, including the Christmas one complete with flashing lights, and we have been enjoying this series for several years now. Even as my son grows older, Little Blue Truck holds a special place in our bedtime reading routine. If you don’t have Little Blue Truck, you really need to get it!

All the cover graphics came from Goodreads. If you click on an image, it will take you to that site for more information.

Mom Essentials:  For Women of All Seasons

Mom Essentials: For Women of All Seasons

2420533The church ladies and I recently finished our latest Wednesday night Bible study via the Mom Essentials, 10 Words Successful Mothers Live By by Kasey Johnson. When I received the book as a member of Beacon Hill Press’ Off the Shelf Bloggers, I suggested it as a group study and the gals, while not all moms, jumped on board. Of course, since it was my suggestion I was elected to facilitate the 11-session study and the fun began.

There were about six to 10 of us that took part in the study each week and, as I said, not everyone was a mom. We had grandmothers, great-grandmothers, single moms, married moms and even one lady whom had never had children; but this wonderful mix of Christians had one big thing in common — we were all women. It quickly became clear that while this study was specifically directed to moms, it also spoke to the heart of women in varied seasons of life.

In this study,  Kasey emphasizes the need for balance in our lives and to support this balance she addresses how we can learn to be “Put Together,” “Shaped Up,” and “Equipped” through Christ to face the challenges of motherhood and life. In the first session, Kasey writes, “During this time of caring for our family, we need to remember we are investing in something bigger than ourselves and God is working everything together to help us enjoy this season while preparing for seasons to come.” Throughout the study Kasey addresses fears, weaknesses, preparation and perspective among other aspects of a woman’s life. She touches on the need to prioritize our time, shape our own identity, beef up our discipline, create a support system and even unplug from time to time.

There are so many great lessons in this study, that I would recommend it to any women’s group looking for a new venture. My only criticism of the Mom Essentials is that the lessons were a bit disjointed. Each session, standing on its own, contained great Biblical truths, wonderful points and valuable insight, but they didn’t all seem to complement the whole in a fluid manner. Of course In my book, if that’s the only problem, it’s pretty much a winner.

As facilitator, I found the supporting opening and closing videos and leader’s guide to be wonderful resources. They can be downloaded free of charge by clicking here. It was quick and easy to prepare for each lesson and I had ample material to engage the group and generate discussion. There is at-home work to be done between each session, but the length of said “homework” is easily manageable, even for a busy mom.

Perhaps one of my favorite parts of the study was the personal prayers at the end of each chapter. Kasey is definitely grounded in scripture and has a way with words and insight into a mother’s heart. As a group, the church ladies agreed this was a worthwhile study for women of almost any season and we enjoyed the opportunity to really get to know one another in ways some previous Bible studies have not allowed. On a more personal basis and as a mother, I appreciated the opportunity to take a closer look at my life, put away some of the mommy guilt and strengthen my walk with God (of course, that super easy-to-use leader’s guide made me look like one of those moms that has it all together, which wasn’t half bad either).

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