Book Review | The Remarkable Ordinary and Crazy, Holy Grace

The Remarkable Ordinary and Crazy, Holy Grace
by Frederick Buechner

I’ve become a curious thing, a fan of Frederick Buechner without having read many of his books. I’ve seen his quotes posted online or read other authors as they referred to him. It’s only been in the past year that I’ve jumped into reading his books myself and enjoying this invitation he offers to quiet contemplation and thoughtful consideration of life and faith and believing God even when we’re in pain. Zondervan’s newest releases of Buechner’s spiritual memoirs, The Remarkable Ordinary and Crazy, Holy Grace, are part of that discovery for me. 

Each of these books collects essays and lectures Buechner gave in the past, some of them never-before published and other just shared anew. In each of these books, Buechner shares a little about his life and how He saw God at work in it, even in his father’s suicide when Frederick was a boy, even in family tensions and the hushing up of the past, even with his daughter’s anorexia, his brother’s death, and his own depression. In all of these things, he reminds us to listen for God. He says, “We cannot live our lives constantly looking back, listening back, lest we be turned to pillars of longing and regret, but to live without listening at all is to live deaf to the fullness of the music. Sometimes we avoid listening for fear of what we may hear, sometimes for fear that we may hear nothing at all but the empty rattle of our own feet on the pavement…..but He says he is with us on our journeys. He says he has been with us since each of our journeys began. Listen for him. Listen to the sweet and bitter airs of your present and your past for the sound of him” ( A Crazy, Holy Grace). 

The Remarkable Ordinary is my favorite Buechner book so far, particularly his writings on story and Christ’s parables and how we can learn so much about God by slowing down and listening and looking in the most ordinary parts of our most ordinary days. He says, “joy is knowing that this is true from your stomach. Knowing that even though you see only through a glass darkly, even though lots of things happen—wars and peacemaking, hunger and homelessness—joy is knowing, even for a moment, that underneath everything are the everlasting arms.”

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Disclaimer: Heather King is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

Book Review: Women Who Move Mountains

Women Who Move Mountains
by Sue Detweiler

Part workbook, part regular book, part devotional, Sue Detweiler’s, Women Who Move Mountains, helps individuals and/or small groups study the power  of prayer in every aspect of life.  How can we pray with peace instead of anxiety, with humility  instead of pride?  She begins each section by answering these questions with examples from Scripture, her own life, or her experiences in ministry.  In some ways, these chapters are about refining our identity through prayer.  The titles reflect that (I am Chosen.  I am Healed.  I am Secure.)  Each subsequent chapter  continues with the same topic, but this time focuses on Bible study questions and activities.

At the end of the book, Sue also includes 1″21 Days to a Spiritual Breakthrough.”  This section could be used as a daily devotional  to  complement the themes in  the rest of the book.

An individual reading the book could, of course, simply read the book content and skip the workbook-style questions, or enjoy all of  it.   The book’s format works especially well for book clubs, Sunday School classes, and other small groups.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Disclaimer: Heather King is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

Book Review | As Kingfishers Catch Fire

As Kingfishers Catch Fire
by Eugene Peterson

Eugene Peterson has long been one of my all-time favorite writers for  both the beauty of his prose and the depth of his insight about Scripture.   His latest release, As Kingfishers Catch Fire, does not disappoint.

None of his books are “easy reads.”  They are best chewed over and savored.   As a collection of 49 sermons spanning decades of pastoral ministry, this book in particular lends itself to slow reading.  I typically read one chapter a day, sometimes even less.

The sermons are broken into sections and systematically walk you through Scripture:   Books of the law, poetry books, prophets, gospels, etc.   He shares fresh ideas and foundational theology, both.

For those longing for a deeper walk through the entirety of Scripture or for an awakening about the beauty and wisdom of God’s Word, this book is a powerful and beautiful choice.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Disclaimer: Heather King is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

Book Review | Kingdom Family Devotional

Kingdom Family Devotional
by Tony Evans and Jonathan Evans

Dr. Tony Evans and his son, Jonathan, have partnered to bring families the Kingdom Family Devotional, a year-long study of themes about spiritual growth.  The lessons are broken up into 52 topics (one topic for each week) with five readings per week.  This format offers a lot of flexibility so that families can either read together Monday through Friday or have two nights off each week on evenings when the schedule is especially crazy.

Topics in the devotional include Love, Faith, Self-Control, Family, Church, Worship, Money, Maturity, Fear, and Perseverance.  The lessons include a Bible verse to read, a fairly brief devotional thought, and sometimes some discussion points or object lessons/activities  that can be done with easily accessible items from around the house.  This is really important to  me as a busy mom with four kids.  I don’t want to have whole  lessons to prepare before nighttime devotions.  But if I can grab a simple object or two (like a glass of water, for  instance) than that works for me!

In reading through these devotions, I liked the wide range of ages who could participate.   It’s not a devotional  focused just on older teens or just  on younger kids.  It’s truly a devotional for families and even includes discussion questions that help improve the strength of your own family relationships.

 

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Disclaimer: Heather King is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

Devotionals and Storybook Bibles for Families

Easter is a great time to evaluate and refresh your family devotional time.  If you’re looking for the perfect devotional or storybook Bible to read with your kids, I have some ideas for you!

We’ve had our share of duds—devotionals that were too superficial and lacked any spiritual depth.  Some of the ones listed below our our favorite finds that stand out as digging deeper and providing a solid biblical foundation for our kids.  Other items on the list are ones that are on my “I want to do this next list” because they look so good!

Don’t worry about starting a 365-day devotional in the spring.  Either begin at the beginning and just keep going to the end.  Or, start on the actual date and wrap around through the new year until you’ve finished.

Feel free to browse and find the book that might be the best for your family. Any of these could make a great Easter gift for children or grandchildren, as well.

  • Our Daily Bread for Kids by Crystal Bowman and Teri McKinleyThis is my favorite elementary age devotional so far.  It covers so much more than the basic Sunday School stories.  Even my older children listen in and say, “I didn’t know that was in the Bible!”  Very attractive pictures.  Devotions are exactly the right length. My daughter loves the “Fun Facts” at the bottom of each entry.  I love the solid biblical content.ourdailybread
  • 90 Devotions for Kids (Adventures in Odyssey) by AIO TeamWe love Adventures in Odyssey (AIO) and every one of the AIO devotions makes my top 5 list of favorite family devotionals.  These especially work well for families who are familiar with Adventures in Odyssey, but really any family could read them and be blessed.  Great lessons and content!  Perfect for about second or third grade on up through at least 5th grade and perhaps even into the tween years (depending on your child).aio 90 devos
  • 90 Devotions for Kids in Matthew (Adventures in Odyssey) by AIO Teammatthew aio
  • Whit’s End Meal-Time Devotions (Adventures in Odyssey) by Crystal Bowman and Tricia Goyermealtime devos
  • Grace for the Moment: 365 Devotions for Kids by Max Lucado

Here’s one I want to do in the future!

grace for the moment kids

  • Experiencing God at Home by Richard and Tom Blackabyexperiencing god
  • Kingdom Family Devotional by Tony Evans and Jonathan Evans
    I love the format of this one with a theme for each week to go over as a family.  The readings are short and occasionally have very simple-to-prep object lessons to accompany the devotional.  It’s also accessible for a fairly wide range of kids, which is great for  a large family like mine
  • Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids by Sarah Young
    We haven’t done this one (it’s just not my preference to read devotionals written from God’s perspective as if He is the one speaking), but others have recommended it to us several times.  She also just released Jesus Today Devotions for Kids.jesus calling

FOR TODDLERS AND EARLY PRESCHOOLERS

  • My Good Night Bible by Susan LingoThese are the very first devotion books we used with my kids starting at late two-years-old and on through the early preschool years.  They are short and sweet and, unfortunately out of print.  But you can still buy used copies from sellers on Amazon!good night bible
  • My Good Night Prayers by Susan Lingogood night prayers

DEVOTIONAL FOR FAMILIES WITH OLDER CHILDREN (TWEENS AND TEENS):

one year

STORYBOOK BIBLES

  • The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-JonesEvery story in The Jesus Storybook Bible points to Jesus, creating one overarching message of salvation.  I read this to my youngest daughter when she was finishing up preschool.  I think that’s really too soon to fully appreciate the message of the book and think it’d be a good fit for younger elementary years instead.
    jesus storybook bible
  • My First Message by Eugene Petersonmy first message
  • The Beginner’s Bible
    beginners bible
  • The Action Bible 

    The Action Bible was a huge hit with one of my daughters who loves graphic novels.  She devoured this during her reading time.  It has solid biblical content with artwork and a style she loved.  She first received the Action Bible when she was 8 and that seemed like a good age, but it would likely appeal to any of the upper elementary grades.action bible

  • The Story for Children, a Storybook Bible 

    The Story is at times a good storybook Bible, although my kids weren’t always happy with the details or stories that were left out. I think my own children were just getting too old and were ready to read the Bible itself instead of the abbreviated version.story for children

EASTER DEVOTIONAL:

As our children get older, we’re moving away from storybook Bibles and devotionals and spending most of our time reading Scripture itself  as a family.  If you’d like to being reading the Bible aloud with your kids, here is a plan that takes you through the book of Mark in 30 days:

30 DAYS IN THE BOOK OF MARK

Originally published March 21, 2016

Book Review | The Women of Easter

The Women of Easter
Liz Curtis Higgs

I’ve read through Liz Curtis Higgs’s book, The Women of Christmas, twice because it’s one of my favorite studies of the Christmas events.  Now, she’s written The Women of Easter, a look at the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus through the eyes of Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany and Mary the Mother of Jesus.  I love this second book in the series just as much as the first one.Wreath of Snow_cvr.indd

Liz breaks down Scripture verse by verse and compares multiple translations, which I love.  Her Bible study style is both deeply spiritual and constantly practical because she always returns to life application.  She’s also full of grace, sharing her own testimony of life transformation  and identifying with women in different stages of life and a variety of circumstances.  She’s so “real” and her passion for God’s Word draws the reader in.

This is a wonderful book to use during the season of Lent in preparation for Easter.  I loved the brief quotes from hymns she used to begin each chapter.  The book works well for individual study and for small groups, with a study guide in the back for further discussion.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Disclaimer: Heather King is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

The perfect gift

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My youngest daughter scanned the book fair shelves with care, looking intently for one particular book in a whole wide sea of books.

She wasn’t shopping for herself, though.

Our kids draw names for Christmas every year and each one excitedly plans out what gifts to give to their “chosen” sibling.

So, my youngest girl was shopping for her oldest sister, and she was doing it with great intentionality.

A few days previously, we had all come looking through the book fair goodies to see what was there and what we might like.  That’s when she watched as her big sister, Victoria, made a huge pile of Christmas book requests.

Then, we took pictures of every single book Victoria asked for so we’d remember.

Now, here we were on present-buying day, with a seven-year-old looking for one book in particular from her sister’s epically long list.

She felt exultant when she found that perfect gift for her sister.

But I felt deeply sad.

Because her older sisters did not know and did not see how much attention she paid to the wishlist, how hard she looked for the right present, and how excited she was to finally find it so she could make her sister happy.

In fact, they didn’t trust her.

I’d heard them whispering with disappointment when they found out she was buying for one of them.

Finally, my older daughter confessed the day before that she just knew she’d get a rotten gift this year since her younger sister was picking it out.  Why couldn’t someone else be buying for her this year, someone who would pick a good gift?

These older sisters cruelly discounted her without giving her a chance.  They judged her gift without ever even opening it.

They did not believe any gift she could give them would be good.

Still, whether it’s deserved or not, on Christmas morning, a seven-year-old girl is going to give her oldest sister a wrapped gift that she picked out herself.  And it will be a good gift, a perfect gift. It will be a gift of grace.

I might even cry a little.

After all, we also have a way of doubting our own Good Giver at times.

James tells us:

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17 ESV

The book of Matthew also says:

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11 ESV

God gives us good and perfect gifts.  Not only that.  He doesn’t give begrudgingly or out of obligation. He loves to bless us.  It brings Him joy.

I don’t always feel that.  Sometimes I feel like I’m begging for scraps of blessing from beneath a heavenly table.  Don’t forget me, God!  I’m here, too!

God’s heart isn’t to ignore us or bless everyone around us and give us the leftovers of his favor and attention.

We just don’t always see or recognize or take the time to be grateful for the gifts He gives.

Christmas reminds us that God gives perfect gifts to His children, even if they are unexpected or packaged in disguise.

Jesus Christ, the “indescribable gift,” came in humble wrappings.  It wasn’t fancy packages, ribbons or bows that caught the attention of the shepherds or touched Mary’s heart (2 Corinthians 9:15).

It was God giving Himself.

And while many expected a Messiah to have worldly position and power, God’s plan overthrew expectations.  He came low.

Isn’t this the most precious part of this gift?  That Jesus came down to us, He came to be accessible and within reach.

He was the gift no one fully expected, but all of us truly needed.

Max Lucado wrote:

There was not a hint of one person who was afraid to draw near him. There were those who mocked him, were envious of him, and misunderstood him. There were those who revered him. But no one considered him too holy or too divine to touch. There was not one person who was reluctant to approach him for fear of being rejected (In the Manger)

Maybe we’re doubting God as a giver this year.  We wonder about His timing.  We wonder about His plans for us.

We may question His heart and struggle to feel loved.

But God gave us a Good Gift and God still gives us good gifts.

We can trust Him.

Book Review | 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart

31 Verses to Write on Your Heart
by Liz Curtis Higgs

Liz Curtis Higgs has been one of my favorite authors and Bible study teachers for years, especially with her Bad Girls of the Bible series and The Girl’s Still Got It. Her newest book is classic Liz.  In 31 Verses to Write On Your Heart, she breaks down 31 of our most favorite Bible verses, often examining individual words in order to teach us what the verses mean.  Each chapter is extremely brief, probably the length of reading a blog post, which makes this book a particularly good fit to read one-chapter-a-day, giving you time to really let the lessons soak in.verses

To her great credit, Liz chooses extremely well-known and well-loved verses and gives both context for them (something we occasionally lack when we quote these particular Scriptures) and fresh perspective (something quite remarkable given that most of us have read these verses many times).  I particularly love how she draws from many translations to give nuance and clarity to particular words or phrases in Scripture.

Each chapter ends with a brief and lovely prayer, as well as some helps to memorize the Bible verse in the form of a memory tip, the verse typed out in the NIV version, and then space for you to look it up and write it in a different translation.  She also gathers all the memory tips up and re-lists them at the back of the book and includes a study guide with two questions per chapter to help you go deeper or for use with a small group.

31 Verses to Write On Your Heart is for new believers and long-term Christians alike and would make a lovely gift to encourage someone.  It would also help to anyone wanting to develop the discipline of Scripture memory!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Disclaimer:   Heather King is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

 

The Picture of #AnywhereFaith

AnywhereFaith 1

A few weeks ago at the height of summer, I took my kids to a local water park for the day.

My older girls were slipping down water slides while my two-year-old son and I hung out in a splash area for little kids.

While we were there, I prayed for God’s help as I prepared for the October release of my new book,  Anywhere Faith: Overcome Fear, Insecurity, and Excuses and Say Yes to God. 

I asked God to give me a picture or story to share with others that described what it meant to have “Anywhere Faith.”

At the water park that day, my son, Andrew, found this one particular slide he just loved.  He would climb up the steps, wait in line, slide down, and then run around to get back in line and do it all over again.

But he wasn’t always waiting his turn.  If he thought one of the kids in front of him hesitated for even a split second, Andrew would nudge his way forward and slide right down.

His two-year-old brain was probably thinking: “if you’re not going to go down right now, I sure will!”

Since I want my son to learn about waiting, patience and taking turns, I stationed myself up on the slide platform to make sure he didn’t get in front of the other kids.

That’s when I saw the “Anywhere Faith picture” I’d been praying for.

A little girl, maybe two years old, had discovered the same slide as my son.  She was decked out in her little polka dot bathing suit with frills around her waist and her hair pulled into a tiny ponytail.

Her daddy walked with her up the steps and waited with her while the other kids slid down. Then, just as it was her turn to slide, he’d run back down the steps and around to the bottom so he could catch her.

In the meantime, she positioned herself on the slide, laying down on her belly, feet-first (so she couldn’t even see the bottom) and gripping the top of the water slide with all her might.

She hung there for a few seconds, waiting and waiting and waiting.  No way was she letting go before her daddy was at the bottom of the slide.

Then, she’d hear her daddy say, “Okay, Abby, come on down!”

That was her cue.  Immediately, she let go and splashed down to the bottom where he was waiting to catch her.

When I was a teenager, I discovered a poetic prayer written by the missionary, David Livingstone, that began like this:

Lord send me anywhere,
only go with me

I copied the prayer into the cover of my Bible and truly meant that with all my heart.  I’d go anywhere. anywhere-faith

Of course, God has certainly changed any plans I made as a 16-year-old girl.  He brought me to unexpected places of ministry and service for Him.

I definitely didn’t know as a teenager where my “Anywhere” was.

But I’m still just like the little girl who splashed down a water slide backwards because she knew her daddy called her to come and was there for her.

when God calls my name, I want to let go of anything holding me back and follow him anywhere he asks me to go.

David Livingstone knew He needed God’s presence in order to live in faith.  “Lord send me anywhere only go with me, ” he prayed

That little girl on a water slide knew she needed her dad’s presence so she could let go.

God’s presence is what we need, too, in order to have the faith to follow Him whether it’s around the world, across the street, or in our own homes.

When we remember that God never leaves us nor forsakes us, that He stays with us and walks us through the hardest seasons and the toughest days as well as the everyday and the mundane, we can have the faith to follow Him anywhere.

Sometimes there are things holding us back.

Maybe we’re not sure we heard His voice correctly.

Or we’re afraid of what others will think.

Or perhaps what God is asking us to do doesn’t fit in with our perfectly good 5-year-plan.

That’s okay.  Having Anywhere Faith means trusting God with the honest needs and struggles of our hearts.  We don’t have to pretend to have it all together.

Instead, we tell Him the truth:

“I’m scared.
I’m confused.
I’m worried.
I’m insecure.”

But we also tell Him this:

“I want to be where you are, God.  I’ll follow you anywhere because anywhere with you is better than any place I’d go on my own.”

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you (Psalm 56:3).

 

Anywhere Faith Book Launch Team Forming Now!

anywhere-faith-join-my-team

Well, my friends, our family finished off a great summer and then jumped right into a new school year and all the activities that come along with the start of fall.

But here’s what else is happening right now other than school, ballet lessons, karate classes, play rehearsals, church activities…oh and me sipping my hot tea and nibbling on chocolate at the end of a busy day!

My new book, Anywhere Faith: Overcome Fear, Insecurity and Excuses and Say Yes to God, releases on October 3, 2016!!

That’s less than a month away.  I can’t believe it!!!

I am so excited about sharing the message of this book with others:  Sometimes faith is messy and hard. We aren’t always sure we’ve heard God’s voice correctly, or we feel overwhelmed by the task and underwhelmed by our own abilities, or maybe we’re deep down afraid to follow God anywhere He calls us to go.  But wherever He leads us, He goes with us–and that’s enough.

Anywhere Faith studies the callings of men and women throughout Scripture to see what they said to God in the moment He asked them to follow Him.  It turns out we’re not the only ones feeling a bit afraid or insecure or uncertain!

Would you like to be part of a launch team for Anywhere Faith?

Today, we’re opening up a special opportunity for those who would like to be part of the Book Launch Team for Anywhere Faith.  Maybe that’s you!

If you love talking about books and are active on social media, I’d be so honored if you’d come alongside me and be part of sharing this book with others.

You don’t have to be a social media expert or an author, pastor or ministry leader!

A book launch team shares images on social media (like Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter), writes reviews of the book for Amazon, and more importantly than any of that, joins together in prayer for the book’s release.

You’ll be invited to a private Facebook group that will create a sweet community of women reading and posting about the book together. I’ll be jumping into the group and chatting along with you about my heart and hopes for the book.  I can’t wait to join with you and get to know you better!

Where do I sign up?

If being on this book launch team sounds like it’s the perfect fit for you, then great!  Here’s what you need to do:

You can click here to fill out the short form and join the team or click the button below.

Please be sure to join us by September 12th!!  We’ll start sharing with the group on Monday and I don’t want you to miss out!

launch-team-button

What if that’s not me?

Book Launch Teams aren’t for everyone, and that’s okay.  Your presence here on the blog, your sweet encouragements, and your prayers mean so much to me.  Thank you so much!

Anywhere Faith releases October 3, 2016 and you’ll be able to find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble.com, Christianbook.com, and more! I’ll be posting about other gifts, surprises, and thoughts from the book in the days ahead.

You’re also always welcome to join me on my Facebook author page so you don’t miss out on all the verses, devotionals, prayers and more that I share!

Thank you!

Many thanks to each of you who bless me everyday by visiting me here or sharing comments, or praying.  I’m truly grateful!

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