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

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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!

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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!

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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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Book Review | Unreasonable Hope

Unreasonable Hope: Finding Faith in the God Who Brings Purpose to Your Pain
by Chad Veach

In Unreasonable Hope, Chad Veach shares his own family’s personal story of choosing hope and continually looking forward to God’s goodness despite tough circumstances.  When he and his wife learned that their precious first-born daughter had lissencephaly (or “smooth brain”) and would not develop mentally beyond about 3 months, they had to find ways to continue to hope in God. unreasonable-hope

Much of the book reads like a memoir as he shares about the pregnancy, birth, diagnosis and continual care of their daughter Georgie.  As he tells his story, he reminds the reader to build a community, to refuse bitterness, to remember what God has already done, to share testimony of God’s goodness, and to pray with faith.  He manages to walk that very difficult balance-beam of believing God can do anything and knowing that sometimes He chooses not to heal or perform a miracle.

Veach divides the book up into four parts:  The Struggle, The Remedy, The Rest, The Better, and each of these sections includes a final chapter that focuses on the practical.  He tells his story and offers encouragement for a few chapters and then he gives you several points on what these lessons might look like when lived out in your own circumstances and your own life. I loved that he did this because it helped the book move beyond just “someone else’s story” and nudged the reader into application and personal growth.

At the end of the book, he reminds us that 1 Corinthians 13 says, “And now abides faith, hope, and love…”  We talk a lot about faith.  We focus a lot on love.  But sometimes we forget the necessity of hope, and yet hope is what  helps us rest in God’s love, trust Him for the future, and not give up when things go horribly wrong.

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 | Moments and Days

Moments & Days: How Our Holy Celebrations Shape our Faith
by Michelle Van Loon

Michelle Van Loon writes about time and holy celebrations from a unique perspective in her book, Moments & Days.   She shares throughout the book from her experiences growing up in a Jewish family, finding faith in Christ and worshiping in Messianic congregations, serving in mainstream evangelical churches and then transitioning to a more liturgical style of worship.   In her faith journey, she found that longing for “holy days” that draw our attention to the significance of time and how to “experience eternity in the everyday.”moments and days

In Moments & Days, she begins by sharing about the Jewish feasts, their Scriptural background, and ways that they are celebrated.  She then offers some practical ways we could choose to recognize these special days in our own lives and families.

Her chapter on the Sabbath included some of my favorite insights in the book.  Many Christian authors have taken on the subject of Sabbath rest in recent years, but Michelle notes that mostly the message is one of “self-care:” We need rest because God designed us that way, so find ways to rest.  But  for the Jewish people, Sabbath wasn’t just an “afternoon off” to add a little sanity to an otherwise hectic week.  It was about being set apart and oriented toward God.  We don’t just keep the Sabbath; we keep the Sabbath “holy.”

In the second half of her book, Michelle walks through the liturgical holy days within the Christian tradition, from Advent and Christmas to the Holy Week of Easter and the “ordinary time” in the months before the Advent season begins again.  She balances with grace the ways different families and individuals choose to worship.

The whole book, actually, is balanced with a great deal of grace.  Michelle includes a discussion of that question: “Which is better?  Do we have to celebrate the Jewish holy days or follow the Christian calendar?”  Her answer is—either one.  Seek God and go for it!  With a look back at history and tradition, she offers both as a positive way to make time count and our lives focused on our journey with Him.

Included in the book are some of her family recipes for celebrating holy days and also a side-by-side calendar comparison to show how the Jewish feasts and Christian calendar differ.

This is a helpful and easy-to-read tool for those wanting an overview of sacred days and how to celebrate.  For more information about any one holiday, Michelle refers you to other sources that would provide more details and practical tips.  Her book sparks interest in the reader and encourages further study.

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 | A Woman of Strength and Purpose

A Woman of Strength and Purpose
by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias

Cynthia Tobias is well-known for her speaking and writing about learning styles, as well as parenting/teaching strong-willed children.  Her latest book, A Woman of Strength and Purpose, is written for those she calls “Strong Willed Women” or (SWW).  She includes a checklist in the book to see how you rate on the strong-will scale, but in general, she’s writing to women who are filled with passion and determination, who “meet the world head-on, undeterred by those who say something can’t be done.”woman of strength

Her book is a quick and easy read and focuses on tips for transforming a strong will into a passionate pursuit of Christ’s purposes.  She writes about living all out for God, relinquishing self-sufficiency, controlling our tongues, and leading with integrity.   Tobias also shares chapters on marriage and parenting to apply the lessons to relationships in the home.  The book concludes with discussion questions that could be used by individuals or small groups who want to dig deeper and more personally into the book content.

One of the issues Tobias writes about is how many strong-willed women have felt trapped by stereotypes and condescending restrictions, especially within ministry and the church.  They often don’t know of other strong-willed women who can mentor them or set an example for them.  Throughout the book, Tobias helps meet that need by providing profiles of real strong-willed Women and their journeys with Christ.  She also includes a chapter on mentoring a new generation of women who will follow God with abandon, with passion, and with determination.

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 | Find Your Brave

Find Your Brave
by Holly Wagner

Holly Wagner has experienced shaky times, including a magnitude 6.7 earthquake in Los Angeles in 1994 that caused devastation in her community.  She writes, “Figurative earthquakes can rock our lives with chaos and fear. And the aftershocks can feel just as devastating.”  In her book, Find Your Brave, Holly talks about how to find courage during the shaky times, the dark seasons, and the difficult circumstances in life.find your brave

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book for me were her insights on the apostle Paul’s journey to Rome in Acts 27 as he traveled in a  storm-tossed vessel that ship-wrecked of the coast of Malta.  Each chapter covers a brief portion of Paul’s trip and experiences and then offers wisdom for our own journeys, such as using support lines to brace ourselves, knowing what to throw overboard, and setting our sights on hope.  While I’ve read this biblical account quite a few times, this was the first time I’d read a close study on this portion of Scripture and how we could apply it.

Holly also does something uniquely powerful; she includes a chapter on what happens when you’ve caused your own storm.  We tend to think about and talk about the storms of life as circumstances that happen to us.  But she’s right: there are times we cause our own storms just as the sailors did in Acts 27 by ignoring Paul’s advice about when to travel.  And yet, there is grace and redemption.  Even when our own poor choices or lack of discipline causes our troubles, God can restore and heal and bring beauty.

The book also includes a collection of scriptures to speak over your situation and a few discussion questions for personal reflection or mall groups at the back.  Every Christian will encounter storms in life, but these lessons from Acts can equip us for the future or help us right now in the tempests we face.

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 | Unashamed

Unashamed
by Christine Caine

The first time I heard Christine Caine speak, I was stunned by this powerhouse of a preacher, and her voice in her new book, Unashamed, is just as powerful as ever.  This book tells her very personal journey of overcoming the prison of shame that could have held her back both in relationships and ministry.unashamed

When most people talk about overcoming shame, they focus on the shame of what we’ve done and maybe a little on shame of what’s been done to us.  Christine Caine’s story goes even beyond that. She does talk about overcoming the shame of being a sexual abuse victim as a child.  But she also talks about the shame of growing up in the marginalized Greek community in Australia, about finding out as an adult that she’d been adopted (info her adoptive parents kept secret because of their own shame over fertility issues), and she talks a great deal about overcoming the shame of being “different” as a woman.  She’s a leader, that’s for sure.  But growing up and even within the Christian community as an adult, she was taught that she had to be “less than” because she was a woman.  She shouldn’t lead or be too smart or too capable.  She just needed to get a man and have kids.  So when she talks about shame, it includes feeling shame over who we are and how God has made us!

With any Christine Caine book, she writes as she speaks.  It’s easy to read.  It packs a lot of punch. It’s not intense and in depth Bible study, but it’s challenging and inspiring and can bring a lot of freedom.  In Unashamed, she talks about choosing not to be a victim, finding freedom in the mercy of Jesus, controlling your thought life, and forgiving even when it’s so very hard to forgive.  Ultimately, her message returns to the freedom Christ gives us.  She says, “God is not only more powerful than anything you’ve done but also stronger than anything ever done to you…God is bigger than your mistakes, your inadequacies, your past, and your limitations.”

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