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Friday, February 24, 2017

Watch

Watch by Rick James "dives deep into the New Testament's teachings on spiritual wakefulness, calling Christ-followers to defy the darkness and remain awake as they await Christ's return. Because being awake--continually in prayer, watchful for God's will, expectant of open doors, cautious of sin, desiring to serve, eager to repent, continuously giving thanks, willing to witness, embracing of humility, overflowing with kindness, persevering in obedience--changes everything."

This was a book I was looking forward to reading as I have noticed all around the world how Christians seem half asleep. To me, that means being politically correct, to being "luke warm", which is where Revelation 3:16 talks about being luke warm as worse than being cold. At least by being hot or cold you know what your beliefs are and stand by them.

So I wanted to like this book before I even began, but was sorely disappointed by the first few chapters. The writing was too rambling for me, James veered off in so many directions within one chapter that it was hard to keep up. He stuck anecdotes, paragraphs from books, and life experiences that didn't seem to align properly with that the topic at hand was. I started to feel it was too academic, getting too deep and educational where a simple explanation would have sufficed. I got lost - fast.

I ended up skimming the rest of the book. Where it gets hard is how to rate it. There were many, many good topics discussed (how we often we mistake the voice of God with our own voice, how evil truly does prowl around to tempt and destroy us in subtle, almost unnoticeable ways, etc.) but I felt I had to wade through a lot of unnecessary words/thoughts/quotes/etc. to glean those snippets of wisdom. I think a really good edit would have trimmed this book down into a more direct and readable book.

This book was given to me by Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my honest review.     
 

Monday, February 20, 2017

What Falls From the Sky

What Falls From the Sky by Esther Emery is a
"fiercely honest, piercingly poetic account of a year without Internet - 365 days away from the good, the bad, and the ugly of our digital lives - in one woman’s desperate attempt at a reset."

This book was a little different than I thought it would be but a whole lot better as well. 

Esther Emery gives us a peek into her head space while she learns to reconnect with herself and with God while disconnecting from the internet. She shows us that those moments of silence that we often fill with scrolling are actually very important moments that need to BE, not be filled. By allowing herself that free space in her head she was able to find a connection with God again, reconnect with her inner self, learn some new hobbies (bread baking, playing music), and find a new type of relationship with her spouse and children.

It seems so simplistic, something we already know, right? And it's true - I think deep down we know there is just as much bad in the internet as there is good. From needing to find validation in complete strangers to letting people we don't even like into our online space, we are living in a virtual world while neglecting the real world around us. 

What drew me to the book in the first place is that I had already come to that conclusion last year. While I didn't disconnect completely from the internet I have shaken it up to the point that I would be completely okay with disconnecting from the internet all together. 

What I took away from this book is that when Emery was at her most lost (dealing with a huge personal struggle) she was able to be found by connecting to what really matters - and disconnecting from what doesn't. It's a reminder we all can use!

This book was give to me by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.    
 

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Sisters of Sugarcreek

Many lives were changed the day a fire burned down Faith Community Church, devastating the small town of Sugarcreek, Ohio.Now a young Amish widow, Lydia Gruber faces an uncertain future. Her husband, a craftsman and volunteer firefighter, always took care of everything, keeping her isolated from others in their community. Without anyone or any skills, how will she survive?With the death of her beloved aunt Rose in the fire, single mom Jessica Holtz inherits Rose's Knit One Quilt Too cottage.
 

The Sisters of SugarCreek by Cathy Ligget is a sweet story about an Amish widow and a young niece as they gather up their lives after losing loved ones in a church fire. Liggett interweaves the Amish with the English so that it's neither a traditional Amish story nor a traditional Christian story. Unlike either of those books, which tend to be a bit too preachy or a little too forced, this one flows nicely and though can be a bit cliched at times it was interesting to the very end.

I read it in a weekend and thought it was just the type of book I needed on a dreary cold day!

This book was given to me by Tyndale Publishing in exchange for my honest review.
 

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Spectacle of Glory

After nearly 50 years of living as a quadriplegic, and dealing with chronic pain on a daily basis, Joni has learned firsthand the importance of glorifying God through the toughest of situations. Through this devotional, Joni will help you discover how to put God’s glory on display—how to say no to complaining and say yes to daily following God down even the most difficult paths. 

A Spectacle of Glory by Joni Eareckson Tada helps us to explore the purpose of why God created us (to glorify Him) and how to do so, even when it is the toughest choice. 

I read once that people aren't able to see the goodness of God through us until His joy is truly in us. That made me pause for several moments because as much as we, as Christians, may proclaim to love and serve Him, we have to truly know Him deep in our hearts. That involves lots of prayer, devotion, and doing the hardest thing of all - picking up our cross and following Him daily. This devotion shows us how to be a stage for His goodness.

While I've scanned ahead slightly so I could honestly review this, I've studied the nine days into the month that we are and am enjoying Tada's insight. For example, today's devotion is about rough edges.

Know anyone with "rough edges"? Maybe that describes you. Perhaps you've been told that you sometimes come across a little harsh, a little impatient. Today's Scripture (Philippians 4:5) has good advice for us all. "Let your gentleness be evident to all." The Greek word gentleness implies an appropriate response to the people in your life. It speaks of moderation in choice of words and tone of voice, with a healthy dose of patience.

    How do we manage such a thing? The answer is in the very next phrase: "The Lord is near." In other words, He's listening to every conversation. He's sitting with your family at supper. He's in the car when you are on the phone. He is near. And that's why we should be gentle in our words and actions. Think before you speak. Consider before you hit send. Jesus holds us accountable for our words and the intentions behind them. 

A short but powerful devotion to start off the day. One that will hopefully lead you to watch your words more carefully that day and realize that Jesus is near and only we are accountable for our words and actions. Each devotion leaves me pondering the words for that day and I look forward to learning how God's light can shine through me every day.

This book was given to me by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Grace for the Moment

You all know how much I love my devotionals. I feel that you need to spend time with God and His word daily in order to have  a relationship with Him. 

When my copy of Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado arrived I immediately knew I had to review it before Christmas as it would make a wonderful gift for any Christian in your life, especially the easy-to-read comfort-size print edition which I received, which has a leather flex cover and a ribbon marker - it is absolutely beautiful! I was looking for a gift for my Bible Study Advent Prayer partner and knew this devotional would fit them perfectly.

This is literally a book of daily inspiration, perfect to keep on your bed stand to read before rising each morning or before your head hits the pillow each night. Lucado has a way of making you think about a Bible verse truly turn it into a life lesson.

This book was given to me by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. 
 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The City Baker's Guide

I've rarely listened to books on audio, I can actually count on one hand the amount of books I have. But when I mistakenly ordered this as an audio book instead of a hardcover I decided to go ahead and "read" it that way. The City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller is right up my alley, with a main character who is a pastry chef who messes up at her job in Boston so moves to an idyllic town in Vermont.

This is a great story for those who love chick-lit, baking, and a book with wonderful descriptions; you feel like you can taste the desserts and really visualize the town and characters. I love a story that you can "see" while reading (or hearing!).  

A delicious story all around!

This book was given to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.
 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

All the Pretty Things

We are all products of our environment, so I love hearing people's life stories and digesting what shaped them into who they are. Some rise above their situation and some follow in the footsteps of their parents. Each story is as original as the person. All the Pretty Things by Edit Wadsworth is the story of a child born into extreme poverty in the Appalachian Mountains, with an alcoholic father. You can see right from the very beginning that Wadsworth's father was a product of his family, who all struggled with poverty, addiction, and criminal behavior.

It was heartbreaking to see how even when her father let her down Edie still idolized him. It made me mad at him for putting himself first always, but showed Edie's own compassion and how she was able to separate her dad from his addiction. 

Wadsworth took a different path and rose above her circumstances and was one of the first in her line of relatives to finish high school. She then went on to become a doctor. 


The book was fascinating but I felt it begin to rush over things towards the middle and left several big holes. I know part of the issue is that Wadsworth omitted some names and parts of the story to protect the people she loves, but that left very stale descriptions of her first marriage and her motherhood journey. I learned very little about her first husband or why their marriage was doomed from the start. I didn't have any idea of where the kids were as she studied and graduated medical school or while she practically lived at the hospital during her days as a medical student. It took a lot away from the story and I found myself distracted.

In the end Wadsworth tells us how she found God. On page 134 she writes: "the painful parts of our lives are often the very things that God will use as gifts to bless and change us and the people we meet" which basically boils down to what this book is about. Our pain often has a purpose and it's up to us to figure out how to use our pain for good.

This book was given to me by Tyndale Publishing in exchange for my honest review.
 

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