All posts by Theodene Allen

Summer reading programs 2015

We are now in the middle of summer and I just realized I didn’t share about summer reading programs! Here in Hawaii, each state library is nearly done with their summer reading program. This year’s theme is Superheroes! It’s been a blast so far!

Each state library tracks the summer reading program participants separately. So, we have been going to the Mililani and Pearl City libraries. I have also managed to take my son to the summer reading program at Schofield Barracks, which has been fun, as well. Schofield Barracks theme is “Read to the Rhythm”. Both themes offer prizes for reading related to the theme, more or less. We will share what our prizes were when it’s all said and done, so check back in a couple weeks!

My 6 year old and I started the program in week 2, but have been attending every week since. We have gotten many prizes for reading about various adventures from “Where is the Green Sheep?” by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek to “Play with Your Food” by David G Detrick, Jr.

 I highly recommend both and everything in between and around these for young children! My son LOVED these!

Usually, he picks a book and we read it together (which really means I read the words and he describes the pictures). But he surprised me with “Where is the Green Sheep?” When he started reading! Here’s a clip of him reading to ME!

My child started kindergarten barely knowing his alphabet and now that it’s over, I’m in shock! A lot can happen in kindergarten! Wow! I was thrilled that soon he will be reading on his own for summer reading and I can focus on my own!

Two weeks left of summer reading! I wonder what other adventures we will go on?

Weeks TWO and THREE of book studies

Week two was last week. I’ll be honest, I had difficulty keeping up on just the Proverbs study with Good Morning Girls and the Psalm 119 study with Love God Greatly. The other two studies (with Proverbs 31 Ministries and Faith Gateway) I didn’t even start yet.

You see, it is quite difficult to read or even blog when I have a headache. And I don’t get your normal headaches that you know triggers like sinus, tension, or migraine. I get those, too. I have had a headache since April 13. It’s one long headache. My physician sent me to a neurologist, who ordered an MRI and eventually medicated me and I’ve even had a occipital nerve block, which seems to have worn off. This headache affects half my head and my eye feels tons of pressure, it’s called hemicranial continua. Anyway, it has hindered my ability to read and to blog.

I wanted to comment on something I’ve noticed thus far with the two studies I have been doing. With Good Morning Girls, Proverbs study, I got their study book. It is only a place to write a scripture study using S.O.A.K. method, which is Scripture, Observation, Application, and Keep in Prayer. This study book is just a blank space with no lines, which is challenging for me as my handwriting changes in size from page to page and tends to go up or downhill as i write. I also have the opportunity to choose which ever scripture in the chapter for the day that I want to use for my journal.

In the Love God Greatly study, there are blogs links emailed three times a week, none of which I’ve actually clicked on. I think i would be more likely to read it if it actually were emailed to me rather than give me a link to it. Another thing about Love God Greatly is that they give you a section of scripture to read and then a verse or two (sometimes three) to use for a S.O.A.P. journal. This is very similar to S.O.A.K. but P is for Prayer and everything else is the same. With this study, I was not provided a book so I used my own notebook. It feels much neater for me to write in a notebook with lines.

I am still very behind in my other book reading and book reviewing. Headaches and fatigue have been at the forefront of my life and it has been difficult to do anything other than the normal daily routines. Thank you for allowing me to express my thoughts on what I’ve been going through.

Please comment if you’ve ever been diagnosed with hemicranial continua and how you have dealt with it. I am really getting tired of being medicated myself. Hopefully, I can get some reading done this weekend! We shall see 😉

Week ONE of book studies

Week ONE is officially over. Was I successful at completing all the book studies I set out to do? Not 100%. But that’s okay. I was able to do the scripture studies with Love God Greatly (Psalm 119) and Good Morning Girls (Proverbs – I’m still missing a day, but I’ll get to it this morning!). The Anything book study with Faith Gateway, I haven’t even started page 1 yet, but I’m supposed to have completed chapters 1-3 this past week and this coming week 4-6. Oops! And I start the Mending Heart book study tomorrow.

In addition, I was able to get my son and me to three libraries for their summer reading program. He got prizes from each and loves being rewarded for his reading. It’s too bad no one does this throughout the rest of the year. Am I supposed to do this on my own?

I’m also trying to finish two other books for Worthy Publishing, First Look. Both, I’m behind and I’ve already notified the coordinator. With the headache I’ve had since April 13 (hemicranial continua) and the occipital nerve block procedure I got last week, I’ve been a little slower at reading and I get fatigued quickly. So, all my reading I’ve planned out for myself is extremely behind and that’s no fun. It’s hard to read when you’re head’s throbbing and an eye feels like it’s going to explode or when I’m sleeping!

There’s a book waiting in my email to review from a Twitter follower and yesterday I received another request to review a book. I am determined to get this all done in the next 30 days and hope I am able to.

I’m also planning to review books for Chicklit Club. They give me 3 months to review, so that’s doable, I hope.

Today is Father’s Day, so HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all the daddies and daddies-to-be out there! Please allow today to represent what should being a daddy is like every day.

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6 NKJV

The idea of these progress posts is to show my progress in my reading and reviewing as well as what else I’ve placed on my plate for reading. I hope it encourages you to pick up a book in a genre you love and get to reading, 10 minutes a day can go a long way. Keep that brain working!

The Kind-hearted Monster by Max Velhuijs

It’s been several weeks, maybe a month or so, since I read this very colorful book to my 6-year old son. He loved the main character, who happened to be a big, red monster. What little boy doesn’t love monster stories? Certainly, not mine!

As he studied the bright images on the pages, I read the story to him. It pleases my heart when I see the facial expressions he makes when he realizes what’s going on in a story, from surprise to happy to angry to excited. *The Kind-hearted Monster* is a book made up of two short stories.

In the first part, this kind-hearted monster frightens the people in the city. But, he talks to them and tells them that he’s not a mean monster. The city officials try to train him for battle, but he just doesn’t like it. Someone decides to build an electric plant that will use the monster’s fire as fuel for the power generated for the city at night. The people of the city are overjoyed!

Then in the second part of the book, a bunch of robbers tries to steal the monster. Now, how does a bunch of robbers steal a huge monster that appears bigger than a bus? They feed him bread laced with sleeping powder! 

This is a story I wouldn’t mind reading to my son over and over again. My child seemed to like the second part of the book with he robbers much more than the first. There’s just something interesting about robbers and their unconventional plans.

Fabulous choice of books for my ever amused son! I hope your kiddos love it, too!

In over my head

They say when you take too much food at a buffet that your eyes are bigger than your stomach. That was me as a child, taking everything that looked yummy and piling it on, knowing I could only eat a third of less of what I was taking.

What do they say when you have bigger plans than you think you can handle? Something like taking a bite that’s more than you can chew, or something like that. Well, I have vowed, to myself, to do various Christian Bible studies, FOUR to be exact. 

I am doing a book study with Faith Gateway, Anything by Jennie Allen; an online Bible study through Psalm 119 with Love God Greatly; another book study with Proverbs 31 Ministries, The Mended Heart by Suzanne Eller; and Women Living Well going through the Book of Proverbs. Some begin Monday the 15th and others Monday the 22nd. My goal is to blog at least once or twice a week to share about my progress through each! I think I’ve definitely taken too big a bite.

This is to top off my previous commitments to review at least one book a week, likely more, and blog my thoughts. And the rest of the hectic daily life craziness. So, stick with me on my summer madness and I hope you can keep up!

Reviewing IA: Initiate by John Darryl Winston

Occasionally I am requested to review a book via Twitter and I am so blessed to be asked to read a book! It’s my lifetime goal to be paid to read and review books, among other things. Thank you, John Darryl Winston for the opportunity!

Before starting this book, IA: Initiate, I did not read any summaries of what this story would be about and I had no clue what genre or any background about the book. Heading straight into reading, I was pleasantly surprised.

Little did I know that I would love the characters and the adventures they went through. The story starts off on the first day of school and the anxieties that go with it, along with some unexpected circumstances. The main character, 13-year old Naz, shares his protection over his younger sister as they approach various situations from going to school to helping out in the community.

Naz is resourceful and shows signs of supernatural abilities when helping the small business community in hopes to prevent people from switching to the big businesses as well as other parts of the story. This turns out to be a way for Naz to earn money and sometimes food for himself and his sister.

While going through emotional issues and discussing these with his psychologist, Naz and his sister have a long talk about their past. Soon Naz starts realizing that they both remember things from years ago but don’t know where those situations happened.

It’s amazing how the story left me hopeful and nervous, anxious and scared. So many emotions in one book and it leaves me eager to read the next in the series. There is a next, right, Mr Winston?

According to Winston’s website, there is an IA Series. Y’all should check it out:

 Empire’s End by Jerry B. Jenkins

He arrives on a huge black stallion after more than a days journey at full speed, bareback riding, and no stops for food or water to a place he has no clue where he’s at and to a man who says had a dream that a man would arrive by horse with nothing to eat or drink and needs to take in. This mysterious man on horseback says his name is Paul of Damascus. If you have any familiarity with the New Testament of the Bible, you might know him better as Saul of Tarsus. Yes, the Saul who later used the name Paul, the man who persecuted those of The Way and later sees Jesus of Nazareth, who tells Saul to stop killing His people and Saul finds himself blind for a few days due to the bright light of seeing God.   

Getting back to Empire’s End, the man who now calls himself Paul of Damascus finds himself in a home where there’s a rabbi, a recent widow and her little boy. He comes to learn that this widow’s late husband’s name is Stephanos. Paul has a dream that this family learns he is the one who murdered Stephanos, the one the people of The Way say is the first martyr, Stephen. Paul does not dare suggest this information, but continues to seek a relationship with God every morning in a solitary place. Paul soon takes on responsibility in this encampment and lets his majestic horse return to wherever God will send it. He is stranded with this people, but willing to remain because of this relationship he builds while learning more about God. During his moments with God, he is asked to become a slave to Christ, which means no income but continually working for the Lord. Paul is willing, but how does he continue to live with this family knowing he might be the reason Stephanos died?

Jerry B Jenkins has an amazing way of sharing what life may have been like during a time in scriptures and placing more personality and details into daily loving during a time period. The author’s name might be familiar as he is one of the writers for the Left Behind series. Empire’s End places the reader into the possible life of Saul of Tarsus and what he may have went through after he sees Jesus. It is based off of the New Testament scriptures, but places the reader to getting to know the man a little more deeply. Captivating and easy reading, there’s a constant energy throughout the book that keeps the reader wanting more. A book that’s hard to put down once started, I find the book to be excellently written and I appreciate the possibilities of what Paul may have gone through after he learns more about the God he previously persecuted.

Help My Unbelief by Barnabas Piper

Much easier to read than I initially thought it would be, Help My Unbelief by Barnabas Piper is a well written, well thought out book which digs into the whole meaning behind the statement said by the father who asks Jesus to heal his son. Why can’t we ask the same of God in this day and age, two thousand years after Jesus died and rose again?

And when He came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them. Immediately, when they saw Him, all the people were greatly amazed, and running to Him, greeted Him. And He asked the scribes, “What are you discussing with them?” Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.” He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.” Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” ~Mark‬ ‭9‬:‭14-24‬ NKJV

First, we must believe that Jesus is who He says He is. This is a belief that is more than the knowledge that He can; it is a belief you feel deep down in your soul. There are many people out there who simply believe and understand the words that are in the Holy Bible that sits before them. But do you *really* believe?

Barnabas Piper explores this surface level belief in his book, Help My Unbelief. He shares his personal experiences where he thought he believed, but really needed God to help his own unbelief. He explains that growing up in the church, with well-known Pastor John Piper as his father, placed him in an environment where scripture was everywhere. But it was after he married and had children that he began to realize that something was missing. This is when Barnabas Piper realized that his belief was primarily based off knowing the scripture, not necessarily what was in his heart.

Second, Help My Unbelief also focuses on how we must not just read our bible, but “consume” it. It is not just suggestions on how to live, but actually live it inside and out. Take a step back and think about your own life and how you live it. Are you doubting the power of God?

It is quite common for Americans to seek help from God only when times are hard and struggles are difficult. Why is that? Then, when things don’t go the way we want them to, it’s God’s fault. We need to trust that God has the perfect plan, He is perfect and creates perfection. Why do we doubt His power and plans?

Have you asked God to help your unbelief?

How fast can you read, comprehend all that is written?

It amazes me that every day I get swarms of emails containing free ebooks. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever foresee receiving so many freebies in one day than these days. I love reading. It’s what I enjoy doing in my down time. 

But there’s no possible way for me to read as many books as I receive each day. I’m working full time, married, and gave a 6 year old (who enjoys being read to as well). I don’t read fast enough to keep up on the books I have in my Kindle Cloud! 

Lately I’ve been doing a little personal review on books I do finish. Sometimes it’s a kids book while other times it’s a book I’ve read that’s geared for older readers. But keeping up with my growing Kindle Cloud is physically impossible! 

I’m curious if there’s a way to get paid to read books and if qualify to do just that. Or even be able to read faster and still comprehend everything. I have a speed reading app, but I haven’t used it in a while. Maybe I should dedicate some time to practice?

What do you do to accomplish more reading and still comprehend?

Jake’s Gigantic List by Ken Spillman

Make a list, check it twice; that’s what Santa Claus does. Make a list, check off what you’ve accomplished; that’s what I do. Make a list of all the things you want to do in this lifetime; a bucket list. Make a list of all the things you want for your birthday; that’s what Jake does in this story: Jake’s Gigantic List by Ken Spillman.

In this fantastic Jake series, Jake goes through many obstacles and tasks. In Jake’s Gigantic List by Ken Spillman, Jake’s father suggests he make a list of all the things he wants for his birthday because it’s hard to get someone a gift when they already have everything. Jake disagrees that he has everything and proves it by making a gigantic list of what he wishes he could get for his birthday. He even reads part of his list to his book-loving aunt.


Little does he realize that his aunt is a clever lady. She tells him she can take him somewhere that has “dragons, dinosaurs, and piranahs….” Jake is very excited his aunt can take him to all this excitement only to find that she drives him to the local mall. His aunt must be crazy if she thinks all those things are in the mall! Jake’s clever aunt takes him into the bookstore with a bunch of books to sort through. Will Jake get what he wants for his birthday?

My 6 year old son loves it when I read to him. He especially loves it when I read to him and it’s an exciting book of adventure. Without realizing Jake’s aunt was taking him to a bookstore, my son thought she was taking him to somewhere else likely as exciting as where Jake thought he was going. Although my son loves books with lots of color, he was okay with the black and white sketches in Jake’s Gigantic List by Ken Spillman.

A few weeks ago, I read to my son another book in the Jake series, Jake’s Monster Mess. He looks forward to reading any adventure Jake takes, so I’m on the lookout for the other fantastic books in this series that I can get my hands on.