January Book Review…a few days early <3


Even though it isn’t quite the end of the month, I decided to do review the books I read in January since I know I am not going to get another one finished in the next two days. 

As you can see, I had an eclectic mix again. 

So here we go:

The top one, A Bear Called Paddington, was one Tia nabbed for the kiddos when she saw a book giveaway. Since no one took it, I decided to read it. 

I both loved and didn’t love it. I loved the English culture represented and have even taken to brewing black tea and adding milk around 3:00 because their afternoon tea habit is so charming.  It would be amazing to add some little cakes to go with it, but my diet is already out of control so having to take a pass on that. 

When Sarah was in high school we got to travel to London with the local Christian school and we were in Paddington station so this was fun as well as I could actually picture this place where Paddington found his family.

Also they way he comes from “darkest Peru” and carries his suitcase and entire belongings every where he goes is just too cute. However, I started to cringe each chapter wondering what kind of mess he was going to make.

It’s probably why I changed my major from early childhood education to Family and Consumer Sciences and why I was a better adult Sunday school teacher than working in the small tots area. 

I feel the same low level anxiety when I have to read a Curious George book to one of the littles. I just want everyone to do the right thing and not cause problems.


Suffice to say, messes mess with me and I don’t feel comfortable in chaos. Paddington manages to create one misadventure after another and it was kind of exhausting at times. But really, looking back, it was all innocent fun that seemed to work things out better than before this curious bear from Darkest Peru added his spice to the mix.

Also, reading about how Michael Bond came up with the idea of the books is a great story. He just started writing from his imagination about a stuffed bear he and his wife had in their flat and it grew from there.

Paddington, it turns out, is well loved all around the world. When Michael Bond would travel for book promotions and had a stuffed Paddington going along with all his other wares, so many children and adults would recognize this character and would invariably share how much they loved this crazy bear. 

You can’t help but smile and want another cup of tea with milk and maybe a marmalade sandwich. I definitely will read some more of this series. It was light and fun and I need this in my life.


The second book in the stack was purchased at our Women’s Retreat this fall. One of our speakers was Sarah Lew Tierney . Sarah turned out to be a gifted speaker and we all enjoyed her teaching so much, but as she was finishing and sharing where we could find her on the internet, she also told us she had some copies of a book she helped write with Joshua Sherif. 

Joshua came to America as an immigrant from Egypt. His mother had fled from their father as she was a secret Christian and in danger. Joshua eventually accepted Christ and became a pastor. He pastored a smaller church in the central Illinois area and then was called to do a church plant in the Chicago area.  

His book, The Stranger at our Shore How Immigrants and Refugees Strengthen the Church, is his plea for us to overcome the hurdles that might be keeping us from building relationships with immigrants, refugees and people who are different from us. 

His words are compelling, convicting and challenging. He reminds us constantly that in heaven every tribe and nation will be represented so the church here needs to mirror that heavenly gathering.

I loved this book.

He urges us as Christians and as church bodies to not view people as “projects” but to build relationships with all different kinds of people. He talks about the importance of prayer and starting somewhere. Actually, he suggests if we do not know any immigrants, people of a different religious background, someone who is not of the same culture as we grew up in – we can start with a prayer for God to help us build a bigger and more diverse circle of friends. 

His perspective on fear, feelings of inadequacy, preconceived notions and how these interfere with us realizing that we don’t have to be experts and completely learn a culture before we reach out to someone who is different. He said as a young boy sometimes people made mistakes or were awkward, but the fact that he and his family were loved and cared for made a huge impact on him.

I highly recommend this book. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Stranger-Our-Shore-Immigrants-Strengthen/dp/0802424880


The last book Forged in Faith by Rod Gragg was a gift from a friend. It was a very good book about the role of faith in the early exploration and colonization of America and then the development of the movement for independence from England. Many of the governors of colonies were also pastors. 

Having said that, the thing that stood out to me was that not all the leaders were believing Christians, yet the ones who weren’t still respected for the most part the faith of others. Faith did play a role in the formation of this country, but it wasn’t a perfect and unified faith effort.

There were many differences in the way these founding figures worshipped and lived out their faith. There were conflicts and disagreements and often leaders struggled between what they personally believed and what was best for the greater good of a diverse group of people trying to be united under one flag. Much like all of us and our leaders today, there were inconsistencies and imperfections. Human nature blended with a desire to follow God is a pattern we see repeated throughout all of. human history.

I just finished the book on John Adams, as I reviewed last month, and I found some differing pieces of information. Given that the Adams book was written from actual correspondence from John, Abigail and other key figures like Jefferson and Samuel Adams, I would lean toward that book as more true to fact. Not that this book was inaccurate, just that it left out certain aspects of the relationships and personalities of that time. 

The strained relationships between the two Adams and John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were portrayed a bit differently in this book and a lot of the relational tensions I read about in the John Adams book were not talked about here.

I was impressed by the many times the colonial people were called to times of fasting and prayer and that the leaders that carried us into the Revolution fasted and prayed themselves. 

It was also notable that the colonies that wanted to let grace and love be the “ruling” factor of the government, eventually discovered they had to make laws since not everyone wanted to play nice. 

It was a good book and I do recommend reading it. I think you would see that many of the conflicts we see today in our government are not really that different from the way it was from the beginning. As I read this one and the one about John Adams, I realized how little I know and understand about this country and how our government came about.

I would say I need to read a wide range of books regarding the subject and have much to learn before I add to conversations and debates about this country and it’s system of government.

So there are my books for January – what did you read?

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