Posted in Books, REVIEW

Book Review: The First Gardener by Denise Hildreth Jones


really enjoyed this book!  If you are looking for a good summer-time fiction novel to read, I recommend The First Gardener by Denise Hildreth Jones!   It’s a real life story of life . . .  and death, forgiveness, depression and broken dreams.  The story line is that of the Governor of Tennessee, Gary London, and his wife, Mackenzie and their dear little daughter, Maddie, who was very loved and long waited for after going through many years of infertility.   But tragedy hits the family, actually several times that sends them tail-spinning into finding their new normal and recovery.

Another major person in The First Gardener, is the governor’s gardener, whose tender heart reaches out to the family through his gift of flowers and their meanings.  I loved this what he said, in his Southern accent, as he grieved with them:

Maybe this what the last thirty years been for.  Maybe this why I gone through ever’thing I gone through, see ever’thing I see, hear ever’thing I hear. ‘Cause this family need me.  ‘Cause there be some way I can make a difference, even if it’s only prayin’ for an ornery ol’ woman.

The First Gardener is a book of tender faith in God, even through the deep valleys and even through the times when He does not seem to be in that dark valley and the questions of why are very real.  Though the ending of this book was somewhat predictable, I loved the hope it shared, and sure would love to read a sequel to it!

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of  The First Gardener in exchange for my personal, honest review.

Posted in Books, REVIEW

Guest Blog Post: Stephen Vosloo, Senior Designer of the Mosaic Bible (Tyndale House Publishers)

Bible2(It is a privileged to share below a guest post from Mr. Stephen Vosloo, the Senior Designer of the Holy Bible: Mosaic NLT.  On Friday, I posted my review of this Bible along with the announcement of a giveaway gift certificate for a copy of the Mosaic Bible.  To join in on the drawing, please leave a comment OR a question for either Mr. Vosloo or for Mr. Keith Williams, the editor. )

Guest Blogger:
Mr. Stephen Vosloo

An overarching theme for Mosaic is marrying the ancient heritage and rich diversity of our Christian experience with contemporary writings and thoughts. These concepts were consolidated into the idea of “ancient-future.” While not a new concept, it was a gutsy direction to pursue for a Bible project and spoke so eloquently to the vision that our authors and acquisitions teams had.

This ancient-future concept had to be expressed visually, and that’s where I came into the process. As a senior graphic designer at Tyndale, I was excited to help shape the visual identity of Mosaic from the early concept stage all the way through the final product. It’s my privilege today to be able to share a glimpse at what happened behind the scenes as we created Mosaic, and I thank you for this opportunity.

Mosaic was a huge project from the beginning. When you are staring down the barrel of a project that you know may take the better part of two years to complete, it can be a daunting task. Fortunately, I had a lot of help thanks to our fabulous design team at Tyndale. There is a beautiful synergy that happens when you throw a bunch of creatives in a room and ask them to take an idea to the next level. And while I was the primary designer for the devotional section of Mosaic, I received tons of valuable insights from my fellow designers that helped shape the final product.

Tools of the Trade
Tools of the Trade

Where did I start? I began by raiding our Bible libraries for inspiration on lettering, layout, and color. I also looked at a ton of  books and art that dated from the mid-18th century to the present. The research is always the most exciting part for me. That’s where I gather the creative resources, such as images, typography, writings, etc., for the creative “stew,” mashing them together into my subconscious and letting them “marinate” with each other. It’s critical to allow enough time for this process because these bits of inspiration will form into visual ideas that express what we want to say about the product. Research is the heartbeat of the creative phase, and it is from here that we move into the actual design phase.

Conceptually, we were breaking new ground in the marketplace, and it was important to create a look for Mosaic that would allow people to quickly understand how this product was different—and why that made it effective. So all the elements, from the small graphic icons, typography, and imagery to the paper weight and color, have been carefully chosen to reinforce the “ancient-future” concept and to ensure balance between aesthetics and functional integrity. One of the most effective ways we achieved this was using white (or negative) space as a key element in the design. This is not common in a Bible because space is a premium due to the length of the scripture text itself. But I couldn’t be happier that we made it a priority to integrate open areas into the design. The white space allows for meditation and reflective writing on the pages right along-side the content. It’s a vital part of encouraging people to engage with the writings, meditations, and prayers at a deeper level.

There were hundreds of other small decisions we made along the way where we weighed cost, time, aesthetics, function, and form that I won’t bore you with. They, in turn, all play into the final product that you end up holding in your hand. It’s our prayer at Tyndale that it will minister to your spiritual needs and meet you where you are at in your journey with God.

Search out a copy of this wonderful product and immerse yourself in all of its richness. You won’t be disappointed.

Stephen Vosloo
Senior Designer
Tyndale House Publishers

I’ve also attached a some of images from the [Tyndale] office. They aren’t directly related to Mosaic, but may serve as some visual interest to go along with the behind-the-scenes theme. [click to enlarge]

A Designer's Sanctuary
A Designer's Sanctuary
Designs in Progress
Designs in Progress
Creative Fuel
Creative Fuel

Posted in Books, Faith, Family

Book Reviews: What is the Bible? & Who Made the World? (Little Blessings Series)


few months ago I had the privilege of reviewing, Questions from Little Hearts, by Kathleen Bostrom.  I loved the book back then, and my youngest four children still love it, picking it up often to read.  I love the short stories that helps me be a good mom reading to them.

What delight that there are now two new books in this Little Blessings series: What Is the Bible? and Who Made the World?, both also by Kathleen Bostrom.  I’ve hardly been able to read them for myself to review as my little ones love the adorable, whimsical pictures which is the artwork  of Elena Kucharik, creator of Care Bears.  This mom loves the wholesome, Biblical stories that can be taught to my children with such ease and understanding.  The kids catch on right away to the endearing poetry that they catch on to quickly, and soon, remember it, to help finish the sentences after being read through a few times.

book2What Is the Bible? asks such questions as Who wrote the Bible? and Is it all true? The book starts out with child-like questions, with easy-to-understand answers filling the rest of the book.

The Bible is special –
indeed, have you heard?
The Bible is also called
God’s Holy Word.

This 80 paged book  is newly  published by Tyndale House Publishers and geared for children ages 3-6.  The last eight pages are “Bible References” geared toward parents to go further in depth with Scripture references go through with their children in understanding the concepts throughout the book.

bookWho Made the World? begins at the beginning of time, asking questions such as Who made the World? and What was the first thing You made and the last?

How many days did it take me?
Just six!
I did not need magic
or use any tricks.

This book just came out in August 2009, is also 80 pages and  published by Tyndale House Publishers is geared for children ages 3-6 and also includes  seven pages for parents called  “Bible References” to go further in depth with Scripture verses to go through with their children in understanding the concepts throughout the book.