Friday, June 8, 2018

Courage for the Unknown Season - Navigating What's Next with Confidence and Hope, a book review

I was given a complimentary copy of Courage for the Unknown Season, Navigating What's Next with Confidence and Hope, written by Jan Silvious. I'd never read any of her other works before but knew she was a wonderful woman of God since I'd heard her name mentioned by other Christian authors. I was pleasantly surprised as I read her book.

Jan Silvious writes like I think and that made reading her book such a pleasure. Her use of descriptive wording gave me such lovely visual pictures of what she was sharing, it felt like I'd been given a special treasure.

In the first chapter of her book, Ms. Silvious explains how seasons in our lives come and go. She says, about changing seasons, "...when we find ourselves moving from a season we've loved into a season we're not so sure we'll like, it can be a challenge to find the strength, will, and just plain courage to keep going...Seasonal changes start early. Leaving the womb catapults us into a world of incredible challenges...So leaning into each season and learning its lesson is one of the gifts of living..."

Throughout the book, the author shares personal insights, suggestions, and helpful advice to aid the reader in understanding how to navigate each season of life that comes her way. I particularly enjoyed the chapter 6 - Letting Go and chapter 9 - Head toward Ninety.

Chapter six, Letting Go, dealt with a season of learning to let go of the way things once were and embracing the way things are now. This chapter helped me immensely especially since I'd been recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Ms. Silvious, toward the end of the chapter, says, "The beautiful transaction that takes place in this moment is the holy recognition that God knows your name. he knows where you are, and He knows that you want to hang on to what gave you comfort, to where you felt important, to what you loved. Seeing security in the way things were is our human way of grasping for comfort. Letting go of comfort and embracing the awkward newness of things as they are is an act of faith. it is living in the moment, trusting the God who occupies the moment." As I read the words she wrote, I felt she was a dear friend speaking directly to me.

In Chapter 9 - Head toward Ninety, the author talks about facing old age. She shares practical advice on staying physically healthy by eating right, exercising, preventing falls, etc.

Things I liked about the book:
I loved the way Jan Silvious writes! She has a wonderful way with words and is so matter of fact in her sharing. I love how she weaves her faith into each chapter with such grace and such care. I wasn't expecting the book to be so full of wonderful, practical information and feel it is a book I will refer back to often. I enjoyed the quotations she used at the beginning of each chapter, too.

Things I didn't like about the book:
There wasn't one thing I didn't like about the book. I loved every part of it!

I think this book would be a wonderful gift to anyone. It is so timely and so relevant, filled with such good advice at learning how to transition from one season of life to the next.

I would like to thank Tyndale House Publishers for giving me the opportunity to review this book. I was not encouraged to give a positive review but I am honored to do so.

Please, if you're looking for a life-changing book, get this one! Jan Silvious has used her own personal knowledge and godly wisdom to provide a reference that will help those who read it for years to come.

The Return, by Lacy Sturm - a book review

I was recently given a complimentary copy of the book, The Return, written by Lacy Sturm, by Baker Books. I'd heard about Lacy from my girls when they were in college. They enjoyed her music with the band, Fly Leaf, but I didn't know much about her other than what they shared, so I looked forward to reading more about her.

In her newest book, Lacy shares her thoughts on how we can bless God by returning our gifts to Him. She explains this is one of the most important ways we can show our love for Him. I'd never visited that concept before and found it intriguing.

I was impressed, as I read the book, at the rawness, openness, and the honesty of Ms. Sturm. In reading her journal entries, I felt like I'd snuck into one of my girls' bedrooms, opened their diaries and was secretly reading. Lacy shares her frustrations, her hopes, her joys, and uses her wonderful, descriptive writing abilities to draw the reader in.

Lacy says in her book, "I believe God has dreams beyond our imagination for each one of us. I want to share some of my journey of stewarding life with you. Perhaps it will help you step into the dream God has for you. He has hidden this abundant life like Easter eggs." And this question posed by Lacy, really made me stop and think - "What will it be like when we face our Creator in eternity and he asks what we have earned with the talents he gave us? What return will we have gained for the one who invested everything?"

God has given each of us specific gifts to honor and glorify him. Lacy says, "Without God's direction to know his purpose for the gifts he gives, I often make a mess of them. When I bring my gifts back to him, he is excited for me to discover the potential glory he has hidden in each one." When we can look at our lives that way, Ms. Sturm helps us understand there are no coincidences with God and each of us is created uniquely in His image for His glory.

What I liked about the book: Along with journal entries, Lacy has included Bible study prompts, family recipes, prayers, and ideas for random acts of kindness. The book is filled with beautifully written and thoughtful devotions, too.  I enjoyed the book very much and found it insightful, creative, and well written.

What I did not like about the book: There was only one chapter that bothered me - Chapter Five, The Gravity Cage: Returning My Body, Sexuality & Soul. There are several bothersome statements on page 78 of that chapter where Lacy uses the phrase "we are gods" and then again she says in another sentence, "...we are his little gods..." I had a problem with her choice of words. I understood her basic meaning, but the phrases were too New Age for me and might be misconstrued by those who are not grounded in their faith.

Overall, I think the book will appeal most to high school and college-aged students. They will enjoy Lacy's refreshing way of using her own personal testimony to help them understand the importance of being grateful to God and wanting to use the talents and gifts He gives to bring Him glory and honor.

I would like to thank Baker Books for giving me the opportunity to review The Return, by Lacy Sturm. I was in no way encouraged to leave a positive review for this book although it is my pleasure to do so.

Watch a video about why Lacy Sturm wrote her book here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

From Hell to Happiness: How to Heal When Your Loved One is Terminal by Christopher Cooper

Recently, I had the opportunity to review a copy of the soon to be released book, From Hell to Happiness: How to Heal When Your Loved One is Terminal, by Christoper Cooper. This book deals with the true life story of one woman's breast cancer journey and how it impacted not only her life but the lives of her loved ones.

The book begins with the author sharing how he and his wife, Jenny, met, fell in love, got married and began their family. Like most young couples, their lives were filled with both ups and downs. As this young couple worked on their marriage, they soon found they were expecting a child. Times were tough, but they made it work and soon, their days were filled with joy as their first son, Devin arrived.

Life seemed to go along great as both Jenny and Christopher worked at balancing their careers and family life but that was soon going to change. Not long after the birth of a second son, Kayden, Jenny discovered a lump in her breast. After having it checked, doctors determined it was cancer.

With a strong family history of breast cancer, Jenny wasn't surprised when she was given her diagnosis. At the young age of 31, she was however surprised to find this was a very rapidly growing, aggressive type of cancer.

As their world turned upside down, Christopher Cooper, found himself on an uncharted course. Quickly, he had to learn to navigate each obstacle placed in his way. From learning to help care for his terminally ill wife to juggling a career and caring for his two young children, the author faced his own difficulties.

In From Hell to Happiness, Cooper gives a very real, raw, and uncensored account of what it was like to experience breast cancer. His perspective is vastly different from most breast cancer stories in that it gives insight from a man's point of view.

In the book, the author shares about the various coping decisions he made which included going to a therapist, taking antidepressant medications, and even trying meditation. I was touched as he shared openly about his experiences. "The car," he says, was my safe place. It was also where I listened to music, which can make it easier to let your feelings come out. I didn't know much about grieving, but it helped me get through some really bad days."

The book is very well written and gives the reader an inside look at what life with cancer is really like. It includes photographs from very personal moments the author and his family shared before Jenny's death.

I would like to recommend this book to anyone looking to understand the trauma breast cancer inflicts upon not only the patient but also on the lives of their loved ones. The truths shared in Cooper's book will help others navigate their own journey through breast cancer, grief, and learning how to move into the world after cancer.

This book is being self-published and will soon be available on Amazon.com.


Saturday, May 19, 2018

Hope of Nations - by John S. Dickerson ( a book review)

When I was given a copy of the book Hope of Nations to review, I wasn't sure I wanted to read it. Leafing through the pages, I was reminded of my seminary days and those drab philosophical books that were required reading, but as I flipped through the pages, a statement on page 22 caught my eye. The author, John S. Dickerson, stated, "With all my heart, I believe that Christ's people are the greatest hope for this nation, for all the nations, and for every living, breathing person on the planet." That statement caused me to read the book in its entirety and I'm so glad I did.

Hope of the Nations is a book that is very relevant for today. In this chaotic world where every other headline screams of turmoil and calamity, it seems all hope is lost. In his book, Mr. Dickerson helps us see that while the world seems to be spinning out of control and basic Christian morals and values seem a thing of the past, all is not lost.

This book is full of truth and my personal belief is that it was divinely inspired. Without wanting to sound cliche, Mr. Dickerson has certainly hit the nail on the head as he describes a world where moral absolutes have all but vanished.

We are seeing evidence of a shift toward a Post-truth society. Christianity and the foundations of biblical truth it was built on stand on weak and wobbly knees in today's world where most are concerned, but for those who believe in, adhere to, and trust in the Lord, faith still stands strong even in the midst of a depraved world. John S. Dickerson helps us understand how this shift began and where it is going in the future.

The book focuses on our current generation and the state of the world today. As we read about those issues, it's easy to become hopeless and depressed but these are the ramifications of a society that has chosen to reject absolute truth.

Mr. Dickerson takes great care to include information about current trends which include the persecutions of Christians, the tendency toward open sexual depravity, and a total disregard for human life in general. As our world grows more accepting of immoral practices, the author points to five forces that are shaping our world events today. He surmises humans are sinning, Satan is scheming, ideologies are warring, western civilization is unraveling, and Christ and His people are prevailing. These forces, he writes, "are not written from journalistic observations but as scriptural truths."

As I continued to read the book, I was appalled to learn, in Chapter 3, about events that take place annually in the San Francisco Bay area. These events were used by the author to help give a glimpse into the unbridled depravity many of us are unaware of in today's world. He tells of public events hosting open nudity, public sex, and adults parading around in bondage gear. As a Christian for over 50 years, I had no idea such things existed, but as I read, I realized the reasons the author was sharing the information was to bring home his point about our society's loss of interest in doing what's right by God's standards.

When one of the spectators of this event said, when asked why he'd allowed his young daughter to accompany him dressed in bondage leather, he replied, "Every parent has to decide for themselves what is right for them." That seems to be the way our world looks at things today - it if feels good do it and you don't have to apologize to anyone for anything.

After Dickerson takes time to give the reader example after example of how and why our society is where it is today, he turns us to Chapter 3 of his book entitled, "How Will We Live?" In this section, John S. Dickerson helps us understand the importance of learning to view things in two ways - the things we can control and the things we can't control.

I enjoyed his use of biblical examples and Scripture as he prepared the reader to face an uncertain future with not only hope but joy in knowing the truth of God's perfect plan and His provision for those who love Him.

This book should be a must-read for every Christian pastor, seminary student, and Christ follower. There are so many important truths included in Hope of Nations that I'm afraid my review falls short of giving it the credit its due.

Any Christian in today's world realizes we have much to pray about as we consider the condition of our society. For those of us raised in Christian homes and with a firm foundation of faith, it grieves our hearts to realize if something doesn't change soon, the generations under us will have no idea how to face the days ahead.

Please consider making Hope of Nations an addition to your library. I know you'll be blessed as you read it. The author has written this book with great love and care, he's definitely done his homework, and he's included heart in his work.

I am happy to give this book a big thumb's up. The information I've gleaned from this book has given me courage and hope that even though the days ahead may get dark, I don't have to be afraid because Jesus is the hope of all nations.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Water at the Roots by Philip Britts (a book review)

When I received a copy of Water at the Roots by Philip Britts to review, I wasn't so sure I'd enjoy reading it. The title alone did not intrigue me and the subtitle, Poems, and Insights of a Visionary Farmer, didn't do much more to interest me in opening the front cover, but I am always up for a challenge and decided to be objective.

The book is about Philip Britts, a man born in 1917 in Devon, England. Mr. Britts was unique. He was not only a wonderful husband and father, but he was also a dedicated pastor and farmer. Throughout his life, Philip was a man of godly character.

When he was called up for the draft, he was adamant about not going. He did not believe in fighting and stood his ground as a pacifist. After explaining his position, his views were finally accepted and he was allowed to remain home safe from the frontlines of battle.

Mr. Britts joined the Bruderhof society, an organization formed in 1920 by German Christians. As a member of this religious group, Philip tried his best to follow the tenets of the Christian faith.

Britts died at the young age of thirty-one from the devastating effects of a tropical disease he contracted while in South America.

After his death, his wife began distributing some of his poetry to family and friends. Many of these writings had never been seen before and soon, others were realizing the deep heart and talent of this often quiet and very private man.

As I read the book, I discovered Philip Britts had a deep faith. Reading his poems felt like an intrusion into his deepest secrets, but I was thankful they had been shared. I've always loved poetry and often do my own writing.

Britts said, "Faith is like water at the roots, if we have faith, we can face the sun, we can turn the heat and the light into life-giving fruits, into love." He also said, "Faith is a gift like the rain, and like the rain it is something to be watched for and prayed for and waited for."  What profound words! As I mulled those statements over in my mind, I couldn't agree with Mr. Britts more. Our faith is the very essence of our being. Without it we would surely die.

Water at the Roots is a combination of Philip Britt's journal entries, his poetry, and bits of world history. I enjoyed how all of these three elements were interwoven to create an enjoyable and meaningful read. Water at the Roots blessed me as I read it and I'm sure it will do the same for you.

One of my favorite poems from the book is entitled, "Alone." Instead of trying to describe it for you, I'm going to include it here. I hope you'll be blessed as you read it.

Alone by Philip Britts

"When the night is cold and the winds complain, 
And the pine trees sigh for the coming rain, 
I will light a lonely watch-fire, nearby a lonely wood, 
And look up to see if the God I serve has seen and understood. 
I'll watch the wood-ash whitened by the licking yellow tongues, 
I'll watch the wood-smoke rising, sweet smoke that stings the lungs, 
See the leaping, laughing watch-fire throw shadows on the grass, 
See the rushes bend and tremble to let the shadows pass,
While my soul flies through the forest, back a trail of weary years, 
And the clouds, as if in pity, shed their tears. 
Oh, I do not want their pity for a trail that's closed behind, 
Though all the things on earth combine to play upon the mind. 
I must keep on riding forward to a goal I'll never find- 
What matter the eyes have seen so much that the soul is colour-blind."

I'd like to thank Plough Publishing for giving me the opportunity to review Water at the Roots. I was in now way encouraged to give a positive review of this book but it is my pleasure to do so. 

If you'd like to purchase your own copy of Water at the Roots, you may do so by visiting Plough's website here

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Whole: Restoring What Is Broken in Me, You, and The Entire World by Steve Wiens

This was my first time reading a book by author and pastor, Steve Wiens. I received a copy of the book for review from Tyndale House Publishers and was excited to have the opportunity to read something by a new author. Although this was Mr. Wiens second book, I had no idea what type writing style he enjoyed but found it to be pleasantly surprising.

The book is all about restoration. I enjoyed the way Mr. Wiens was able to weave beautiful analogies and personal experiences into a story of love and compassion from Christ. I also enjoyed the various word studies included in the book. I found it very helpful to have the original Hebrew, Greek, and German word meanings included in Steve's book. They helped me gain a better understanding of what he was trying to convey.

Mr. Wiens touched my heart with several of his statements. In the beginning of the book, he says, "When something shatters, the broken pieces find their way into hidden cracks and crevices. Then they end up inside of us, causing pain, especially to the most vulnerable. It's easy to walk past the fragments of brokenness. We're busy and overwhelmed. And maybe that particular piece of jagged glass hasn't hurt you. But it is hurting someone." There is profound truth in those statements.

Over and over again, I found myself relating to what Mr. Wiens was sharing. When he talked about the root word Racham, which is used to describe the action of someone showing deep affection, compassion or mercy for another, I was surprised to learn the root word also meant the same as the word womb. Since my oldest daughter is currently pregnant and dealing with the possibility of a premature birth, I completely understood what he was trying to say. In essence, when we show compassion for another, we're providing a womb, or safe place for them to be loved, fed, and grow.

Mr. Wiens' word pictures were so vivid and the in-depth studies he provided were excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and have highlighted so many passages in it. I'm sure I'll refer back to it many times in the future and I'll recommend it to others as well.

This book is filled with so much truth! I think it will probably speak differently to each person who reads it. If you're interested in learning more about the heart of God and how He longs to see us live our best life, I know you'll enjoy this book.

I'd like to thank Tyndale House Publishers for giving me the chance to review this remarkable book. I was not encouraged to provide a positive review however, it is my pleasure to do so.

To purchase your copy of this book, visit Amazon or Christianbook. 

The Way to God by Dwight L. Moody (Updated Edition)

Iconic pastor, Dwight L. Moody, never fails to disappoint in his books. When I received a copy of the updated edition of The Way to God, I was eager to start reading. I've read many of his books in the past and have always found his writing style to be very enjoyable and truth filled. Throughout The Way to God, Mr. Moody shares vital truths, personal stories, scripture references, and descriptive examples. As you read his books, you find yourself feeling like you're sitting across from an old friend having a serious conversation.

Mr. Moody conveys many points in this updated version of the Christian classic, The Way to God. Among one he wants the reader to grasp are:
-the depth of God's love
-the importance of repentance and what that truly means
-the gift of salvation and how to be assured of it
-living the Christian life
-loving others as Christ loves us

The book is a quick read with only 9 chapters. Each chapter contains a Scripture verse at the beginning of the chapter. Chapters included are:
Chapter 1: Love That Passes All Knowledge
Chapter 2: The Gateway into the Kingdom
Chapter 3: Two Groups of People
Chapter 4: Words of Counsel
Chapter 5: A Divine Savior
Chapter 6: Repentance and Restitution
Chapter 7: Assurance of Salvation
Chapter 8: Christ Is All
Chapter 9: Backsliding

While reading the book, I understood Mr. Moody's heartfelt sentiments. He wanted his readers to comprehend the depth of God's love for them but not only that, he wanted them to understand the process involved in coming to that understanding.

This book would appeal to those who already have a grasp of the Christian faith but would also be a useful help in reaching those who don't yet know Christ as their personal Savior.

I enjoyed this book very much and I am happy to give a positive review. I would like to thank Aneko Press for allowing me the opportunity to read and review The Way to God, Updated Edition.