Book Review

This is the joy of every longing heart

download (4)Liz Curtis Higgs is a super author and speaker, and best of all an encourager. Who doesn’t love a girl who write books called Bad Girls of the Bible and Really Bad Girls of the Bible. 

Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna.

Faith.

 

Elizabeth advanced in years, received the promise of a son, John the Baptist, who would pave the way for Jesus.

Mary, so young, unmarried, accepted her role as the mother of Jesus.

Anna, a prophetess, worshipped her God day and night in the temple.

 

Place yourself in any one of their spots. Would we stand with such faith and trust?

I am more the cowardly lion, spitting and sputtering in my fears. Oh, just let me see how it ends… then maybe. Only if everyone still loves me afterwards. Only if it doesn’t hurt too much. Only if it doesn’t take up too much time. Only if I am assured it is what you say it really is. Only if the cost is small.

savesGabriel said to Mary that her son would be called Jesus. God Saves.

So simple. So striking. God Saves.

He does.

And he did it through an unlikely lineage, through broken people, but people willing to lay it all down.

joyHe saves us.

Remember that this day. He saves.

He saves us and he saves through us.

He gives us life and hope.

 

Read Chapter One for free here.

Leave a comment and win a hard-cover copy of the book.

What does your heart long for this Christmas season? 

Raising Boys

boys

Raising Boys by Design. What the Bible and Brain Science Reveal About What Your Sons Needs to Thrive. 

Gregory Jantz is a certified psychologist, author of more than twenty books and a practicing counselor. You can see more of his books here. Michael Gurian is a counselor and the author of Wonder Boys. 

 

My son likes to climb on furniture and bang against walls. If he has a friend problem on the playground at school, he shrugs his shoulders and keeps running. He doesn’t always love a hug anymore and if he sees me at school he looks all silly at the floor.

Boy and girls process emotion differently. (You don’t say!) That is maybe why spouse arguments are so frustrating?

I loved the chapter about protecting and supporting your son’s emotional life.

boys What stood out in this book? 

* Encouragement for boys to channel their energy into ” expressing the compassion their community needs.”

*The book explains how boys develop and learn differently from girls.

*The book provides practical application questions and a next step section at the end of each chapter. These features make applying the knowledge of the book into your daily life easy.

*Ideas to help your son do well in school.

*Ideas for healthy use of technology and video games.

*Ways to help guide them in their faith, specific to their needs as males.

 

What do you feel are challenges in raising boys? 

Leave a comment and be entered to win a copy of the book!

 

Our God is Bigger.

download

Is that a gutsy title for a book or what?

Sarah Bessy writes about the intersections of a spirit-filled life. Read more about her here. She’s a Canadian, a Mom of three, and completely in love with Jesus.

Sarah-1-300x199

In her books she invites us to revisit the Bible’s view of women.

Does the title scares you? I’ll be honest, I almost didn’t agree to review it, but you need not worry.

Sarah Bessey makes her case- not as a fire-breathing debater- but as a woman utterly captivated by Jesus, who will stop at nothing to follow him.”  – Carolyn Custis James, author of Half the Church

 

Sarah Bessey words are hospitality. She invites readers to think and join her conversation. Such a difficult topic steeped in generations of debate is made homey and warm in her writing.  Her story is proclaimed. The story of woman in the Bible is told.

She reminds us that God is on the move. And she asks us to join him ‘our not-safe-but-good God. ‘

All our debates she presents are only wasting our time. “These are small, small arguments about a small, small God.”  When really our God is bigger than that. He designed all of us to participate fully in his redemptive plans.

1 Peter 2:9 speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you- from nothing to something from rejected to accepted.

I liked this book because its foundation is a love for Jesus, his people, and the furthering of his Kingdom. I am a witness to many woman gifted in positions of ministry leadership. I second Sarah’s call to:

Rest in your God-breathed worth. Stop holding your breath, hiding your gifts, ducking your head, dulling your roar, distracting your soul, stilling your hands, quieting your voice, and satiating your hunger with the lesser things of this world.

That call looks different for all of us. If the gifts were given, dare we believe we are not to use them fully?

What thoughts does this book and review bring up for you?

How has this topic effected your  life? 

JesusFem_Quote4

 

now he has us

download (4)

When I was young, I gravitated to the devotional self-help books in my public library. I grew up in the asparagus capitol of the world… so selection was small. I made the best of it, reading the whole shelf and taking careful notes. More than anything, I wanted to be perfect. I didn’t want anyone to ever be mad at me, and those books I thought would make that happen.

Fast forward to my thirty-four year old self. I don’t think I’ve read a real live devotional in years and years. My Bible yes, but devotional no. I start them and then leave ’em dusty and unused on my bookshelf.  I over dosed on devotionals and my not- measuring up status.

Then I read Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. My not so-perfect self felt the weight of hope again.

 

What devotionals have been your saving grace over the years? 

Comment and win the hard cover copy of Take Flight! 

 

Robin Jones Gunn, bestselling author, wrote the Sisterchick Series and the Christy Miller Series. You can read the complete list of her books at her website here.

Take Flight includes fourteen devotions about grace to be all God intended us to be. Scripture, quotes, photographs, and encouragement to act interweave into the message.  This volume does what devotionals do well, challenges.

The pages encourage in a gentle and loving way like meeting a friend for tea on a cool morning.

That to me  is a welcome way to ‘do’ a devotional.

EPHESIANS

My Hope is Found

My-Hope-Is-Found-682x1024The last book in The Cadence of Grace series by Joanne Bischof debuts this week!

You can read about the first two books here: Be Still My Soul and Though My Heart is Torn. 

Cadence-of-Grace-image2-1024x870My Hope is Found continues the story of Gideon and Lonnie.

I love the theme of forgiveness and redemption that covers their journey.

This is a book for those that have felt

There’s no hope,” she breathed.

 

The characters have to decide if God can be enough.

 

Gideon finds change through God’s love. The book is about a man that longed for the kind of faith that changes.

One of my favorite lines of this book is when Gideon prays ‘he could always remember the path that had led him there.’

This is such a poignant reminder that our mistakes, our struggles, all the hard grow us into the people God created us to be.

 

Gossip is something Lonnie has to face in this book. I love in the study discussion where it explained how she learned to take gossip for what it is- empty words. Even if one can turn the other check to gossip, it still has deep effects on a life. We can remember through this book, how our words effect hope.

 

This is a beautiful conclusion to Joanne’s debut series. God uses Joanne’s words to give hope, and I can’t wait to see what he will do through her next. Visit her at her website, her Facebook page, and newsletter.

Cadence-of-Grace-1-1024x691What has helped you find hope? How has faith changed you? 

Leave a comment and be entered to win a copy! 

Hopelifter

_225_350_Book.931.cover

Hopelifter: Creative Ways to Spread Hope When Life Hurts. 

Kathe Wunneberg is the founder of Hopelifters Unlimited.

 

This book is about showing up when things are hard.

And showing up is really everything.

 

Have you ever wanted to run away from the visiting line at the funeral home? Pretend that you didn’t hear what happened and not send the note or make the phone call? Have you ever wanted to just wish away the pain?

The beauty of offering hope, is that it can be in silence. Often, it is just showing up.

It can mean everything to someone who is hurting.

 

The author has known great loss and pain. She has also walked alongside those who have known the same.

Along with encouragement from her own life, she and forty-four contributors offer their stories of hope lifting.

 

Encouragement, stories of showing up, ideas, and hope. Hope.

heal

How have you given or received hope? Has someone ever shown up for you? 

Leave a comment and win a copy of the book! 

Preemptive Love

download (1)

Preemptive Love  By: Jeremy Courtney

 

Jeremy and Jessica Courtney are the co-founders of Preemptive Love Coalition.

We live and work in Iraq providing lifesaving heart surgeries to Iraqi children and training to local doctors and nurses.

The organization has a deep list of coalition partners, friends, and supporters.

 

Their mission: To eradicate the backlog of Iraqi children waiting in line for lifesaving heart surgery in pursuit of peace between communities at odds.

 

When I was first asked to review this book, I looked at the back cover.

love

Amen.

 

This is the story of a family saving the lives of children and peacemaking in a country torn by war.

A quote from Jeremy,

I no longer accept the zero-sum worldview that says we cannot simultaneously be on the side of the Democrats and Republicans; American, Israelis, and Iranians;  Jews and Palestinians; Sunnis and Shias; Arabs, Kurds, and Turks. I choose them all. I don’t lean left or right. I lean in. I lean forward, because that’s where love lives.”

 

What  I love about this story:

  • A look into a culture and a people that we know not much of.
  • Tenacity to make a difference against all odds.
  • Pure honesty about the heavy cost of making a difference.
  • Preemptive love is who God is.

Live for something bigger. Live for meaning.

Leave a comment and win a hard-cover copy of the book! What does preemptive love mean to you? 

Made to Last

New_Made to Last2

Today we welcome the funny, talented, and kind debut author Melissa Tagg! This girl will make you laugh, she’s real, and she works at a non-profit. I know, it doesn’t get better than that! Well, except that she writes thoughtful, funny romantic fiction.

 

You work at a non-profit, can you share about that and what role that work plays in your fiction? 

Sure! I work at a Christian homeless ministry in Des Moines. We’re actually the largest, privately-funded provider of programs and services for those who are homeless and hungry in Iowa. I’m the grant-writer and communications coordinator—which means in addition to writing grants, I also work with our newsletters, direct mail appeals, eblasts, social media, videos, etc.

I really feel strongly that caring for our hurting neighbors is something God feels strongly about. In the Old Testament, you see Him telling people not to harvest the edges of their fields—to leave that grain for the poor. In Matthew 25, Jesus says whatever we do “for the least of these,” we do for him. In James we’re told true religion is caring for the widows and orphans. We all have a role to play in helping the hurting among us.

More than anything, my role at Hope Ministries has taught me about compassion, hurting when others are hurting, learning to see people through Christ’s eyes. Those are lessons I know I’ll continue learning for the rest of my life…so those themes definitely show up in my fiction. My first book, for instance, includes a shelter for orphans with special medical needs. My second book includes an adult with Down syndrome who finds herself homeless for a short time. In both books, the main characters step up to the plate to help out. I would love to inspire people to do the same.

 

Made to Last is a romantic comedy, in movies what is your favorite romantic comedy? In life, what things make you laugh?

Oh boy, that movie question is like asking someone to walk into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory and pick out just one thing to eat.  I LOVE classic romantic comedies like It Happened One Night, His Girl Friday, Bringing Up Baby, really anything with Cary Grant or Katherine Hepburn. I’m on record call The Philadelphia Story the best rom-com of all time, so if I had to pick one, it might be that.

I’m not a huge fan of too many current rom-coms, but I did adore Dan in Real Life. It was such a perfect picture of family life, and who knew Steve Carell could be so heart-tugging?

As for what makes me laugh in real life: Without question, my family. They are a hilarious bunch.

 

An element of Made to Last includes being real vs. the person we hope for people to see. Why do you feel its important as woman of faith to be transparent about who we are including our struggles?

It’s funny because about halfway through writing Made to Last, it suddenly hit me: God had me writing this story for…me. I tend to be very tempted to find my worth in accomplishments or goals achieved—like how my character, Miranda, finds her value in her career success. But often it’s when those things are stripped away that we figure out who we really are—loved by an amazing God.

And here’s the thing: If I really, truly believe that I’m created, valued and cherished by a loving God, then why would I want to present any other picture of myself to the world around me than that person…the person He made me to be? For me, that’s what it comes down to. If I’m spending time and effort trying to display some other persona, then that says something about where I’m finding my worth.

But when I’m secure in who I am in Christ, then it’s easier to be transparent. Not necessarily easy—especially when it comes to my struggles—but easier. And we’re so much freer to really make a difference in the lives of the people around us when we’re not so busy trying to be people we aren’t.

Thank you SO much for having me on your blog, Lisa!

Tagg6Melissa Tagg is a former newspaper reporter and total Iowa girl. In addition to her work as a grant writer and communications coordinator at Iowa’s largest homeless ministry, she also serves as the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy. Melissa blogs regularly at Melissa Tagg  and loves connecting with readers on Facebook , Twitter (@Melissa_Tagg), Youtube and Goodreads.

Leave a comment and be entered to win a copy of Made to Last!

How do you feel about keeping it real? Why is it so hard?

Healing our Hearts

_240_360_Book.932.coverWounded by God’s People. 

This should be an oxymoron, but that is not reality. We are fallible.

 

I don’t know if I know any one who has not been wounded. It’s devastating and painful. I know the sleepless nights and the spaces of tears and not knowing where to turn, feeling lost and hopeless.

Wise Anne Graham Lotz offers us hope through the story of Hagar, Abraham’s Egyptian slave who bore him Ismael.

She offers us hope that God sees and loves the wounded…

here is the kicker. He sees and loves the wounders too.

 

Um… no. That is not how it works. But, yes it is.

If we seek complete healing this is how it works. Hard lesson? Yes. I struggle with this, I want the apology and justice. Do we always receive that? No.

The daughter of Billy Graham and a woman in ministry, Anne has sustained hurt. With honestly, she shares the moments when she inflicted hurt too.

wounders

She [Hagar] had to stop her sobbing, stop fighting her wounders- mentally, emotionally, and spiritually- and just be still.

 

It is then that we realize, God is still there. He never left us.

We realize that often wounders, have been wounded too, this should open space for forgiveness.

 

I also love her example of Jesus . “He demonstrates that one way to overcome emotional pain is to focus on the needs of others- to reach out and help someone else who may also be suffering.”

In the messy aftermath of being wounded, About Proximity was born. That is the honest truth.

 

The prayer she shared in the book is now my prayer, I share it with you.

lotzThis book is simply an important read for our hearts.

Leave a comment to win a hard-covered copy of the book! What do you need to let go of this day? 

{This book is from BookSneeze, where I review a title in order to give away the book to you!}

Burning Sky

download (1)

Burning Sky is the first novel of author Lori Benton. You can read the first two chapters at Lori’s website.  You can follow her on facebook and pinterest, including a great Burning Sky board!

 

I am so excited to give this novel away! It was stunning.

Willa Obenchain was abducted by Mohawk Indians at age fourteen. Burning Sky was her given Mohawk name.

I remember the borders of our land, though I have been gone from them nearly half the moons of my life.

The character of Willa blew me away. She stands strong throughout the book, almost majestic in nature. Her resolve is inspiring, her hurts achingly exposed, but moved through with grace. Willa is a literary character that will remain ingrained in my mind, one I will want to share as an example to other women.

burning skyThe setting of the New York frontier is beautiful in its own right. There is a connection between the story line and nature.

 

Willa is caught between two worlds, her Mohawk past and the white world she was born into. Her Mohawk brother Tames-His-Horse and an injured Scotsman Neil MacGregor guide her journey.  In the wake of the Revolutionary War, people distrust Indians and this places Willa in great danger when she takes in two orphaned Indian children.

Willa fights to save the land of her missing parents. The story circles action and mystery with surprising tenderness. I appreciate the themes of hope, courage, and the rights of all peoples. This is proximity.

 

Win a copy of Burning Sky by leaving a comment.

Have you ever felt torn between two worlds?