Saturday, February 25, 2012

Easy Growing -by Gayla Trail (Gardening book review)

Gayla Trail's newest book "Easy Growing: Organic Herbs and Edible Flowers from Small Spaces" is a pleasurable read, especially in the throes of Winter. I'll admit to being drawn to any good gardening book, but this one has a couple points in its favor to push it to the top of your "wish list." 
edible flowers and herbs, flowers in pots, gardening

First off, if you love edible flowers like I do, or just want to plant flowers that aren't poisonous to your children or pets, this book has great recommendations. It includes information on what to plant, how the different flowers (& herbs) taste and some recipes for how to use them. Besides all of this- I love that it's written from an American perspective since most books on edible flowers these days seem to come from Britain. Nothing against the Brits, but I want to know what grows well here (and I don't want to have to convert things from Metric.)

The second point in the books' favor relates to her rating system for projects. Approximately the first half of the book covers gardening basics. Chapters 4-7 include a variety of projects which are rated for difficulty. This is a boon to both beginner gardeners and experienced gardeners alike. Start with something simple.

Pictures throughout the book show what the plants should look like at maturity, and I am impressed that each recipe has an accompanying picture as well. Over all, the book is a good investment of your $20. This is not just another gardening book to fill your shelf, it's a beautiful handbook to use again and again.

You can learn more about Gayla Trail, and gardening, at her website:

p.s. this one I borrowed from our library!

REASONS for HOPE - by Carl Kerby (book review)

Inside the pages of “REASONS for HOPE: In the MOSAIC of Your Life” the reader is met with the embodiment of 1 Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” (NIV) 
Carl Kerby has allowed the reader to join him in looking at the broken pieces of his past life, and how God has worked a beautiful mosaic out of the rubble. The inscription just past the title page reads “To those who don’t have hope and need to be given it & to those who do have hope and need to share it.” What a fitting introduction to a book written to give hope to all of us through what God can accomplish in our messed up lives. The book is divided into three parts which each have subtitles of their own, but which I think of as 1. Why 2. The Past and 3. Now, How?
“Offering REASONS FOR HOPE in a Hopeless World” is the actual subtitle of part one. For those who have heard Carl speak, some of this will be review. In this section Carl shares some of the Biblical examples of physical things the nation of Israel used as reminders pointing them back to what God had done for them. (Such as Joshua chapter 4.) We are also reminded that Jesus wanted His disciples to be world changers and that to do this effectively we need to be able to “give basic answers for your faith.” Carl plainly states his reason for writing: “I want to both challenge you and encourage you. I’m a fellow pilgrim on this journey of faith.” Besides these exhortations, Carl answers many other ‘Why’ questions with to-the-point answers. My favorite answer is probably this from page 51 “When your heart is filled with gratitude for the salvation you’ve been given, it will spill out in love and compassion for others, so they too can know the “hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:8).
The second part of the book shares an intimate look back at the brokenness of Carl’s life before meeting Christ, and how God has reworked all of those pieces into a beautiful mosaic that points people to Christ. The chapters in this section entitled “From Wrestler’s Son to Professional Speaker” delve deep into Carl’s past. Even having known Carl for about a decade, I was surprised by some of what I read here. By not holding back, but truly sharing both his own mistakes, and the struggles he had dealing with the mistakes of others near him, Carl reminds us that no life it too messed up to be redeemed by Christ Jesus! It was truly humbling to see how Carl lays out his own life, the good, the bad, and the ugly, in hopes it will open the doors for others to see how great our God is. The Mosaic God has worked in Carl’s life is a beautiful thing that gives glory to God daily. 
In this section, the reader goes from despair to relief and finally joy as they travel with Carl down the road of his life in college, the Air Force, and finally working as an air-traffic controller at Chicago O’Hare and as a speaker for Answers in Genesis. There are stories that share how Carl met his wife, Masami,  Ken Ham (Answers in Genesis), and most importantly- Jesus! (Not in that order!) Using examples from his career as an air-traffic controller, Carl reminds us that “To have effective and accurate communication, I not only have to give instructions correctly, I also have to ensure that the receiver understands and complies with my instructions.” As someone who has flown through O’Hare, I’m glad to know they understand that communication is a two-way street! We are reminded in this section that our ‘bottom strip’- the most important things in our Spiritual life “is what we know from the Word of God.” Feelings can lead us astray, but God never changes. Some of the most memorable chapters  share how God’s plan for Carl’s life was very different from Carl’s earthly Father’s plan. Some made me cry, others made me laugh. Carl’s sense of humor shines through even the darker parts of his past as his honesty shows how God was at work long before Carl accepted Jesus as Savior.
In the third part of his book “Answering COMMON OBJECTIONS to the Christian Faith,” Carl shares some of the questions he is asked most often. He also shares answers! If you’ve ever heard Carl speak, or read any of his other books, you’ll know he never claims to have all the answers. Carl is honest in his faith and life. He does gently remind us that we don’t have to understand everything to be able to stand firm in our faith. Referencing Joshua chapter 24, Carl exhorts us to “Make a Choice, Christian. Choose this day whom you will follow, but as for me and my household, we’re standing on every word the Lord has given us, even if we don’t have full understanding.” If you’re honest with yourself, and God, chapter 14 will both challenge and encourage you.
Chapter 19 is a wonderful wrapping up, but not an ending, of the book. Here we encouraged to live out our own reasons for hope. In this chapter Carl uses his gift of encouragement to push Christians out of their comfort zone, and encourage non-believers to consider all that Christ has done for them. Real life can be hard, and Carl speaks words of encouragement to continue on. “Remember, you don’t have to be a brilliant thinker to minister to others and answer their questions about the Bible. The Lord is looking for obedience from us, not necessarily an advanced degree. Maybe you’ve heard this before: God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” Here we are reminded to be reflecting God’s priorities, to be investing in people’s lives and honoring the Lord. Carl’s final words will ring as true in years to come as they do today. “In the meantime, I hope you will be encouraged to use your own life stories and your own testimony, your mosaic, to share with others how God has taken the broken pieces of your life and made something beautiful and valuable. He continues to add to that mosaic each and every day. Watch for His hand in your life and always sanctify Him in your heart.”
This book is a clarion call to those with hope, and those who need hope- choose, and then life your life sharing your life’s hope with other people!

(All quotes from the original text-by permission from the author) [We purchased our own copy of the book- in support of Reasons for Hope ministry- find them online at: ]