Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Crucible of Doubt {Deseret Book Review}

Faith is the first principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So what happens when a person has doubts?

Questioning is not the problem, according to authors Terryl and Fiona Givens. “After all,” they write, “the Restoration unfolded because a young man asked questions.” The difficulty arises when questions are based on flawed assumptions or incorrect perceptions, which can “point us in the wrong direction, misdirect our attention, or constrain the answers we are capable of hearing.” 

This insightful book offers a careful, intelligent look at doubt—at some of its common sources, the challenges it presents, and the opportunities it may open up in a person’s quest for faith. Whether you struggle with your own doubts or mostly want to understand loved ones who question, you will appreciate this candid discussion. You’ll come away feeling more certain than ever of the Lord’s love for all of His children.
In The Crucible of Doubt authors Terryl and Fiona Givens address the idea that having questions, or having gospel principles that you are "stuck" on (and maybe don't agree with), isn't the issue.  Having questions is ok!  I love the idea that questions and questioning is a good thing.  If it weren't for the prophet Joseph Smith asking questions that day in the sacred grove we would never be where we are today.  The authors address the fact that it is not a matter of questions.  It is a matter of making a decision about the gospel based on misperceptions and bad information.  You don't want that!  Ask questions!  Get answers!  It's important to do this so that you will have made a decision based on sound information.

Now.  I'm sorry but reviewing this book was a tough one for me!  I really wanted to love it.  Maybe it is my noisy children that are playing in the background when I try to read?  Maybe I just have to much busy-ness in my mind right now?  Maybe it is my lack of literary knowledge, but I had a hard time getting what I really needed out of this book.  The authors are very good with words but some of the sentences left me scratching my head and reading and rereading.  Some sentences are so long and have way too many big words.  Take this sample sentence for example:
In the midst of his perplexity, of his obstinate questions, uncertainties, misgivings, and shadowy recollections that almost, but don't quite, pierce the veil, that he finds the promise, the agitations, the catalyst that spurs him from complacency to insight, from generic pleasures to revelatory illumination, from being a thing acted upon to being an actor in the shaping of his own spiritual identity.
Huh?  Now, it's not that I can't actually figure out what the authors are saying, because I totally can.  Really!  What I am saying is that...I can't read a book like this without concentrating really, really hard.  I'm so sorry to admit that I didn't even finish it.  I kept glazing over, losing my place, and putting it down.  Perhaps, one day, when I am not so distracted by little ones, I will pull this out and try again.  I know it has a great message and I wish that I could've enjoyed it just a little bit more without feeling like it was way over my head.  :(

The Crucible of Doubt is available through Deseret Book as a Bookshelf eBook, audio and hardback.

Disclaimer:  I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my own.  Thank you DeseretBook!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

John Bytheway - How Do I Know if I Know? {Deseret Book Review}

It's spiritual gut-check time! The mission age has been lowered, and now more than ever, young people are asking themselves important questions:
  • How do I know if I really have a testimony?
  • Am I ready to serve a mission?
  • What does the Spirit feel like?
John Bytheway suggests that we "F.E.E.L." the truthfulness of the gospel through our feelings, our experiences, the many evidences we encounter, and our logical conclusions about how a loving God interacts with His children on the earth. Like gradually turning up a dimmer switch, understanding all the ways we F.E.E.L. our testimony will help it grow brighter. 
As you read, you may discover that your testimony is stronger than you thought, and you'll also become more excited and motivated to let your light shine!

It's been no secret that I love John Bytheway.  When it comes to church books and audios I think I have read/listened to more of his materials than any other author.  He is definitely one of my favorites.  He has a humorous style but is serious about teaching gospel principles.  When an opportunity presented to review his newest book How Do I know if I Know, I pounced on it!  Amazingly this book comes on the heels of my study of Faith in my Young Women's' Personal Progress and has given me a lot more food for thought!  

In this book John Bytheway tells us to not think of our testimonies as a basic light switch.  It's not just "on" or "off" but rather imagine your testimony as a dimmer switch with different levels of belief and unbelief....

Our goal, he says, is to take where we are at right now on the dimmer switch and work on our testimony and slowly our light will brighten.  Sometimes we will be surprised at how much we DO know, when we were thinking all along that we didn't!  We can better understand where we are on the switch by examining our FEELings.  Feel if it is right, Experience, examine Evidences, and use Logic.   He examines each portion of FEEL in detail using quotes from scriptures and church leaders and through real life examples, Bytheway brings a reality to the question "how do I know?" and takes the reader on a path to answers that will bring the reader peace and security.
If you want more light on the subject there are QR codes at the end of each chapter that links you to videos to deepen your understanding of the topic and an extensive notes section that encourages you to take your research even further.

John Bytheway does it right every single time.  I have loved every Bytheway book I've read and you will enjoy this too.  This is a great book to give a young adult who is preparing for a mission, a new convert, or even a seasoned church member who would like to deepen their testimony.  It is a small size that would fit neatly into someone's Christmas stocking!

Disclaimer:  I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my very own.  Thank you Deseret Book!

Monday, September 22, 2014

St. Louis - Jefferson Expansion Memorial {Field Trip!}

Maggie had another doctor appointment in St. Louis last week (things are going great by the way) and while we were there we decided to make a quick trip over the Jefferson Expansion Memorial to see the Gateway Arch.  

Kayley was pretty excited, she couldn't remember our last visit there...I believe she was 3 so I guess that makes sense.  She really wanted to go up to the top so, we bought some tickets and decided to go for it!  You ride in a tiny little "pod" all the way to the top that clicks and clacks.  It takes 4 minutes to go up, 3 to come back down.  I'm not going to lie, it is a little scary.  If you are even a little bit claustrophobic then this is NOT for you. 

The pod is tiny! 

There was a window and you could see a winding staircase out there the whole time we were going up.  That was a lot of stairs!

The top is a lot smaller than you would think and it has tiny little slit windows where you can look down.  

The view...

630 feet!  

Headed back down...

When we got to the bottom we had a quick snack and enjoyed the museum.  The girls eared their Junior Ranger badge!  That is a fun perk of going to a National Park!  

We had a great time and made a fun field trip out of it.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Bible Bands {Book Review}

Rainbow looms are really popular right now and with my daughter it is no exception!  I can’t walk through the house without seeing little rubber bands here and a little rubber band there…  She has had a lot of fun doing these simple projects using a small kit that we picked up at a local store.  Rubber band jewelry is fun to make and fun to wear.  I even wore one of Kayley’s creations yesterday! 

Imagine our delight when I was given a chance to review this new book published by Cedar Fort!  BibleBands by Katreina Eden is a colorful, step-by-step book to help you create your own faith-based rubber band jewelry!  There are 13 loom designs included that show you how to make flowers, “mustard seeds”, baptism of water and holy ghost, flowers/rosettes, CTR logo and more!  Patterns include bracelets, earrings, necklaces and even a hair accessory!  How fun to be able to wear small and simple reminders of Gods love in a very popular loom band design!

The book is so user friendly and easy to follow.  The color pictures and step-by-step directions really simplify the process of creating the bands.  The first designs are simple basic patterns and extensions, then they gradually get more intricate and difficult.  They are super cute!

What did we really think of this book?

First of all, it is awesome.  We have so much of this rubber band jewelry floating around the house that Kayley could start her own business.  She even “priced” some of them and asked me to list it on Facebook to see if anyone would buy them.  Quite an entrepreneur!  The designs are really unique and the instructions are really easy to follow.  My daughter is 8 and was able to do a lot of the bands independently.  What really threw us was that some of the looms are “4 across” and we didn’t have a loom of that type.  I tried looking at Walmart and Hobby Lobby and didn’t have any luck finding that type of loom so there were a few bracelets that we didn’t get to try yet.  I’m still on the lookout for a “4 across” loom so if you know where to purchase one inexpensively please let me know!

Good job to Katreina Eden on this book!  I really think this book, with a simple loom band kit, would make a great gift for any little girl!  We really had a lot of fun with it!

Disclaimer:  I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my very own.  Thank you Cedar Fort and Katreina Eden!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Believe {Deseret Book Review}

Thanks to Deseret Book, I had an opportunity to preview a new movie that comes out on September 12th called Believe.  I'm excited that I get to tell you a little bit about it!

In this movie, a little boy named Georgie, loves to play football.  (We Americans know it as soccer!).  He is obsessed!  It is all he wants to do but his mother has other plans.  After the death of Georgie’s father she wants so much more for her son and she pushes to get him into a prestigious all-boys grammar school.  His grades aren't quite high enough but the headmaster reluctantly agrees to tutor the boy since it is required that they accept a handful of “working class” children each year. 

While at an interview at the school Georgie spies a flyer on the wall for the local football tournament.  Knowing that he and his friends could have a chance to win if they entered, he devises a way to get the entry fee by stealing an older gentleman’s wallet!  This older gentleman, chases Georgie down and finds him playing football in the alley with his friends.  Intrigued by the rag tag group of kids who have a dream of winning a football tournament, he agrees to not call the police…if the boys will let him coach their football team and help them make it to the city tournament.  The boys agree and begin training with Matt, who mysteriously knows an awful lot about football…Will they win?

Inspired by true events, this funny and touching tale follows Sir Matt Busby, legendary Manchester United soccer manager, who comes out of retirement to transform a young group of scallywags into a dream team. 

So, what did I really think of this movie?
The first 30 minutes or so included a lot of flashbacks that left me a little confused at first.  I wasn’t really sure who Matt was until well into the movie.  I’m glad I stuck it out though because once we got about half way through the movie I was worried about the boys and whether or not they would win this football tournament!

There are a couple of “not very nice words” spoken by the kids.  At one point Georgie calls his mother a “lying cow” and one of his friends says “bloody hell.”  (Very British!)  

I also thought the sets were fascinating.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that this grammar school is where they filmed Hogwarts scenes from Harry Potter!  

Overall it is a feel-good movie that moved a little slow in the beginning but by the end left you biting your nails! 

Believe opens in select theaters on September 12th!

Find out more info here:

Film’s Facebook page:
Official Website with theater locations:
Disclaimer:  I was able to watch Believe free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions here are my own.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Treasury of Bible Stories {FlyBy Reviews & Giveaway!}

We love storybooks that rhyme!  Some of our favorite books are Dr. Suess because of the rhyming and rhythm of reading them.  I think things that rhyme are easier to remember and simple to memorize too!  Of course we also have enjoyed many Bible storybooks...  I have to admit that when I initially saw this book I groaned to myself and thought, "Ugh, not another Bible storybook!"  We were getting a bit burned out from the sameness of Bible storybooks for preschoolers.  BUT!  It was with great surprise that we read this new book, Treasury of Bible Stories - Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times by Kelly Pulley and LOVED it!  I mean, really loved it!  This is not your average Bible storybook.  It rhymes the whole way through!  I don't know how Kelly Pulley did it, writing poems like this must be such a labor of love. 

Anyway, here is a little snippet to give you a feel for the book:

Then Moses went to see the king,
his brother went there, too,
with God's instructions what to say
and also what to do.

They told the king, "Our god has said,
'now let My people go.'"
The king said, "I don't know your God.
Go tell Him I said, 'No!'"

This quickly became Maggie's (age 4) favorite book.  
She asks for it every night and could be found toting it around the house looking at the pictures!  It does a great job of holding her interest and her recall is pretty good too!  I really think that things that rhyme and have rhythm really help kids learn!

Speaking of pictures.  I thought they were so adorable.  Maggie liked them too.  Kayley (age 8) thought their bulging eyes were somewhat concerning.  She said she thought it made them "look totally crazy."  LOL.  I don't know, I still think they are awfully cute.

You can check out the book trailer here:

Now the fun part!  Thank you to FlyBy I get to giveaway 1 copy of this cute book to a reader of Swinging On Small Hinges! Enter using the Giveaway Tools below!

You can also purchase this book through Christian Book Distribution for $14.99 (price subject to change without notice).

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.
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