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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Brave Art of Motherhood by Rachel Martin

Three books have spoken deeply to my heart this year. One line in Bob Goff's Everybody Always keeps coming up to me. "What if we weren't afraid anymore?" I have lingered in Dr. Barry C. Black's Nothing to Fear. The Brave Art of Motherhood has been the third installment in my semester of God turning my heart upside down. It's not that I haven't been brave. I have done plenty of things that take gumption. The thing is that I have done those things through fear and they have caused so much pain to release.  I picture myself packaging up presents, leaving them on doorsteps, and running. Maybe no one will know it was me. I want to be brave enough to bear my pain for the healing of others and greater glory of God. 

This book grabbed my attention because of three words that I pray for regularly. Brave. Art. Motherhood. I come form the tribe of "I'm not equipped for this." Somehow, with no formal training, I am here. I have realized that desperation can very often lead to depth. I have realized how unequipped I am to mother and create. That has led my heart to try things and ask God for things that the equipped person would not ask for. It requires something extra. Creative engineering requires you to say that you are not like other people. You don't fit in. You are going a different way. Putting yourself out there like that feels painful. 



God has prompted some complete changes in everything I am doing. He has been moving my heart to do new things in new ways. I move when he says to move. My trouble has come in the form of being stuck. The voices in my head and the voices out of my head tell me all of the reasons that I cannot do it. I can't see my way to the next step or I get lost in helping others and I cannot see my way back to the thing I desired to do. Then this.



Often in motherhood, my mind is always spinning and I can't think. Rachel didn't just write a book telling you not to be stuck anymore. She wrote a book telling you how to bravely hunt down your dreams and make them your reality. It's comprehensive and directional. Keep following the steps. Here are the steps. You can live again. You can quit blaming others for your failure. You can live out the life you are desperate to live. You can quit hiding and enjoy your life. I can't recommend it enough.




Rachel's story is powerful. Her trauma is relatable. Her help is needed. If you need help with any area of your life, I urge you to get it. If it is a business, a health change, debt relief, or simply not being afraid to jump in the pool, you'll find courage in the pages. 

What do you want to be brave enough to do? This is your how to.



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This book was graciously provided by Waterbrook Publishers for review.

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Life Giving Leader by Tyler Reagin



The Life-Giving Leader: Learning to Lead from Your Truest SelfThe Life-Giving Leader: Learning to Lead from Your Truest Self by Tyler Reagin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of those books that makes you pause and think about the type of person you want to be as well as what is needed from a leader. So often, we see churches being run like businesses. They plow people down to get where they want to go and then blame those other people for the issue. This book challenges that whole mentality. Tyler reminds us that we aren’t here to build our church. We are here to serve and build up people. One of the great goals of leadership is humility. Vulnerability with others is where true connection and life change occurs. I enjoyed reading this and was moved by several ideas in the book. I passed it on to my 11 year old who has tremendous leadership qualities that need to be used for God’s glory. She got a lot out of it and it has opened up some great dialogue for us.

With all of that said, there were a few points of the book that seemed like they needed a good edit. The thoughts were a little scattered. One reviewer I read said that the book gave no real steps to achieving these leadership goals. I could see that. For me, as I read, I made the words a prayer. There were some practical points about humility, vulnerability, and building others up. All in all, it’s a helpful and needed book.

Tyler is the president of Catalyst. I can see how his extroverted style would be a great asset there!

*I loved seeing that Tyler was in the youth group of our favorite Archbishop, Foley Beach.


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**This book was graciously given by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for review.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Daily Question For You and Your Child

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It's launch day for this great little book! We received this a few weeks ago. It is supposed to be you and one child, but we decided for all five of us to do it. This has been tons of fun. I thought that some of the questions were silly at first, but then I realized how interesting it would be to see your answers about simple things evolve over the years. I have also learned things about my children...things I wouldn't think to ask. One question was a talent they wished they had and one was something they wished they could learn to cook by themselves. We are doing the things. I'm even learning more about my husband. We do this at a meal time each day. All the girls look forward to answering the daily question.

We also had to write a story about a talking grapefruit together one day. We each wrote a line. It was pretty humorous.

"Once there was a talking grapefruit. It's name was Grapey Raisin. He worked in a politician's office. He had a dog named Fruity and a unicorn named Tooty. He married an eggplant named Tabatha and they opened a bistro in New York City." 



Friday, August 24, 2018

A Spoonful of Grace by Annette Hubbell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
My girls and I have been reading through this devotional. I wanted to share it with you because it would be a great devotional for the busy back to school time. I was pleasantly surprised with the depth and insight Annette packed into each day's snippet. Each day holds a scripture segment, a prayer, and some thoughts to ponder. She addresses many things our kids need to hear. It is a good reminder to focus first on the word of God and what he desires for us each day.

Description:

We have been reading it at breakfast. Check it out on Amazon.





Thursday, August 09, 2018

The Eternal Current by Aaron Niequist


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have been following The Practice Tribe at Willow Creek for quite some time. I found it fascinating that a church that is your typical contemporary church would invite a liturgical service into their midst. Aaron Niequist said that his heart grew weary of four rocks songs and a hymn on Sunday mornings. He was tired of the pep rally and yearned for his heart to be pastored.

Tucked in the pages of this book are ancient practices that makes us better worshippers. They invite us to give our whole selves to God and let him rake us over and rebuild us. Worship is meant to become a prayerful, intentional space.

I have hundreds of highlighted notes from this book. I loved so much of me. It challenged me. One of the things Aaron said that stuck with me is that many of us have a wealth of knowledge about the river, but few of us have ever swam in it. “Contemplation becomes an attentiveness of spirit that shifts the seeker from an ordinary reality to the Kingdom of God.”

I want to write a note about it from every single page. If you are looking to deepen your faith and think more widely about what God is doing with his kingdom around you, read it.

*I was a little hesitant to read this when I saw that Aaron had been on staff with Rob Bell, but I read on anyway. It was lovely discovering with him.




Wednesday, August 08, 2018

A Light So Lovely by Sarah Arthur


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I remember reading A Wrinkle in Time decades ago. I couldn’t tell you every detail about it. I have had a curiosity about Madeleine L’Engle that has not been indulged. When I saw this biography by Sarah Arthur, I immediately wanted to read it. The picture she put together of the depth and complexity of this woman has spoken volumes to me.

Sarah not only delivered a good biography, she wrote rich words about things of faith. I have read many of Madeleine’s critics call her New Age. I just couldn’t see it. In these pages, I found out that Madeleine was a devout Anglican. She loved scripture and sacrament. Sarah’s detailing of Madeleine’s daily spiritual life made me feel the nearness of the Lord. I didn’t want it to end. It was one of those books that make you ache to put away.

You can dive into the complexity of her personality and see the truth of her relationships. Her flaws are examined with grace. The lovely thing to see here is how she plumbed the depths of mercy through joy and pain. Madeleine truly was “an apologist for joy.”


This book has been graciously given by Zondervan Publishing for review.



Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Less Than Perfect by Ann Spangler

Less Than Perfect comes out today, friends. At first glance I wondered what I might learn from these stories. We have heard them time and time again. Knowing that God has given Ann a unique way of seeing and timeless wisdom, I trusted that I would learn something. I have not been disappointed. 

For some reason, many of us were taught the Bible more as a book of morals. Truly, I think God wrote down the hall of faith to remind us that he accomplished the miraculous with a group of ragamuffins. It is much more about him than them. That is what we see here in Ann's book. These people aren't a bunch of faithful dynamos. They are simply another reminder that God can use anyone for anything.


Ann has done a wonderful job of writing out these tales in a story form with a cultural context. I have had several little "aha" moments while reading. Some of the things I read I have heard explained  before, but they clicked into my understanding as I read them here. I highly recommend this book. Take a deep breath and learn something new from these ancient words.





Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Hope of Nations is Power Packed



My rating: 4 of 5 stars
John's words in Hope of Nations resound with much of what Christian culture is feeling these days. We know that we are living in a Post-Truth society full of anger towards Christianity. Some of it is warranted because people claiming to be Christian committed terrible atrocities against other human beings. Some of it is because people reject God and turn to the lustful inclinations of the flesh. What we see in this book is the history of how nations that had been blessed by God spiraled down and became evil nations. You can see the histories of Hitler, Stalin, etc. took the reigns and how they turned and entire people to commit terrible atrocities by slowly corrupting their ideas.

Honestly. the first half of the book feels like a punch in the gut. You can easily see how society is turning against us and seemingly wants to punish us. John explains that we are going to have to find new ways to sustain ourselves and our institutions. The enemy is at the gate.

The second half of the book is greatly encouraging. It spells out all of ways we can respond to what history teaches us might happen. We must cling to truth. We must know truth. We are going to need to be creative and support each other in every way possible. We can diligently search scripture for answers. God has given us a strategy: "Live good lives among pagans." Dignify people. Be an ambassador to foreign tribes. Listen. Love your neighbor.

I highly recommend it. This book was graciously given by Zondervan Publishers for review.


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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

I LOVED Life Giving Parent!

 The Lifegiving Parent: Giving Your Child a Life Worth Living for ChristThe Lifegiving Parent: Giving Your Child a Life Worth Living for Christ by Clay Clarkson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am not sure how to write a review for one of the best parenting books I have ever read. Every single page was inspiring. I have continually read tons of books on parenting to gather skills that I did not learn and instill virtue in my own heart. Sally and Clay have written something I will read again and again. I have already purchased the study book so that I can work my way back through it. Read it. If you see Sally out and about, ask her if she will come live with me.

This book will help you realize the time you have with your kids is precious and how to number the days you have with them. You will be equipped to nurture your child's spirit, guard their heart, renew their mind, and shape their will/character. In the process, yours will be shaped and formed as well. It is full of what is good, true, and beautiful.

My favorite line:

"Only you-parents alive in Christ because of the Holy Spirit within you-have the ability and power of the Spirit to make your home a Christian home. Engagement with Christian culture does not define a Christian home; engagement with the living Christ does."

This book was graciously given by Tyndale House for review.


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Friday, June 08, 2018

The Spirit-led Heart by Suzanne Eller


The Spirit-Led Heart: Living a Life of Love and Faith Without BordersThe Spirit-Led Heart: Living a Life of Love and Faith Without Borders by Suzanne Eller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I came across this book on a prayer prompt page I follow. It gives you one idea to pray for each day. Their May calendar was based on things in this book. When I saw it come into my queue for review, I was excited! Y'all. I loved it.

I cannot tell you how many times I screen-shotted something and sent it to a friend, highlighted things, or wrote words from this book down in a journal. It's good. It's full of wisdom. It's solid. It reminds us that a Spirit-led heart is defined by truth. This is not some weird book about the Holy Spirit. This is Bible-based goodness.

I have something highlighted on 81 out of 201 pages. That's a lot of love.

Suzanne tackles and gives light to many things we are looking for answers for. She gives light to confusing things in a beautiful, simple way that gives them great clarity. Mostly, she reminds us that we are invited beyond the veil to ask for what we need and to enjoy God.


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*This book was graciously provided by Bethany House Publishers for review.




New from Bestselling Proverbs 31 Author Suzanne Eller!
Without realizing it, we've gotten lost in our own little lives. We've settled for "good enough" and days that run together in an unmemorable blur. We long for something to shake us up, but we're exhausted by the thought of it too.

In her warm, vulnerable style, bestselling Proverbs 31 author Suzanne Eller shows how living and loving without limits has nothing to do with your own efforts--and it has everything to do with God's Holy Spirit. Unpacking the promises and teachings Jesus shared with the disciples about the Holy Spirit, Suzanne shows how you can stop settling and start trulyliving. When you learn to unwrap the gift of his presence, you'll find the world-changing, foundation-shaking, soul-stirring life of passion and purpose God is waiting to give you.




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Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Better Mom by Ruth Schwenk



The Better Mom: Growing in Grace between Perfection and the MessThe Better Mom: Growing in Grace between Perfection and the Mess by Ruth Schwenk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a good book. It helped me breathe a deep breath in the chaos of mothering young children. It helped me clearly see that children are like a payment we can receive joyfully—and one we must handle wisely. No matter the struggles we face, our children are a reward.

“In God’s hands, our kids can grow up to fulfill God’s purpose of piercing the darkness of the world in which they live—they are like weapons of truth, life, and light in a broken hurting world.”

This book is akin to having an exceptional mentor. It hits on the topics Christian moms truly care about. We want to know how to care deeply for our children and keep alive ourselves. Ruth reminds us that God used suffering and pressure to help Paul learn to rely on God’s strength. God used hardship to teach him to focus on building up an eternal kingdom. This is what we yearn for in our own hearts and those of our children. She calls it the blessing of our own weakness.

This is a great read for navigating the mess of motherhood with grace. It will bless you and remind you that, like it says in Psalm 127, your children are arrows and a reward. May you be blessed in your mothering.

This book was graciously provided by Zondervan Publishers for review.


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42 Seconds by Carl Medearis


42 Seconds: The Jesus Model for Everyday Interactions42 Seconds: The Jesus Model for Everyday Interactions by Carl Medearis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The thought that Jesus’ interactions were so short and intentional is fascinating. The average length of his talking with someone in scripture is 42 seconds. He didn’t give a bunch of long theological speeches to convince people to come to his kingdom. He simply saw into what was going on with people and spoke to their needs.

Carl did a great job writing a simple guide on how to have simple conversations that draw people to Christ. He encourages us to be normal. That something a lot of us over eager evangelists have trouble doing. We are so focused on our agenda that we miss the people we are talking to. This book is an invitation to take notice.

{As a side note that has nothing to do with the book, I immediately thought of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy when I saw this. The super smart computer told them the answer to everything was 42. Maybe they were on to something.} :)

This book was graciously provided by NavPress for review.


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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Better Together by Rusty George


Better Together: Discover the Power of CommunityBetter Together: Discover the Power of Community by Rusty George
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As I read through Better Together, I thought that I should tell everyone longing for community and everyone in a community group to read it. It’s a cut above the cookie cutter idea of community. It’s a call to vulnerability and admitting we do need someone.

The pages dive into the “we” of scripture and the Jewish culture.

“I remember when WE crossed the Red Sea, when WE were fed by manna, when We heard that Jesus was the Messiah, when wE found out Jesus was alive...” It dismantles the western ideal of me and my experience. It reminds us to take joy in the success of others.

“Our problem is not the monster, the clown, or even the haunted house. Our problem is that we have failed to lock arms, circle up, and walk bravely into the darkness.”

This book is full of beauty and reminders of real men like CS Lewis and fictional men like Frodo who found healing in community and went on to heal others in community.

It’s grand. Read it. Be encouraged to love again.

This book was graciously provided by Bethany House Publishers for review.






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