Grieving God’s Way, Book Review

Grieving God’s Way: The Path to Lasting Hope and Healing
by Margaret Brownley

Margaret Brownley’s son died after a prolonged illness.  After three years of not writing a word, she wrote this lovely book, Grieving God’s Way: The Path to Lasting Hope and Healing, a 90-day devotional to help others facing grief and loss.grievinggodsway

It’s been seven years since my dad died and I haven’t experienced intense mourning since then.  And yet, this book ministered to me.  I found myself underlining beautiful quotes on each page and taking notes in my journal.

Her daily entries are short, perfect for those overwhelmed by emotion and unable to tackle long reading assignments.  She’s both highly practical and spiritually wise, giving encouragement and grace-filled challenges along the way, all from the perspective of someone who has been there herself.  Divided into four sections, the book addresses healing for the body, soul, heart and spirit.

I never expected to love this book as I much as I did.  I thought I’d read it quickly and then give it away, maybe to a hurting friend or the church library so others could enjoy it as a resource during their grief.  And yet, now I want to keep this copy for myself and buy copies for others.  As a resource for those suffering loss, it’s powerful.

But it’s also a great resource for friends, family members, and church leaders who are helping others through grief.  It’s the perfect opportunity to gain understanding, learn what to say and what not to say, what to do and what not to do.  Too often, we don’t really get it.  We say the wrong thing or fail to say anything at all.  We come on too strong or pull away too much.  We spew opinions about what grief should look like and how long it should last.  This book was a teaching tool for those of us who want to love others like Jesus and avoid the common pitfalls of clueless onlookers, observers of another’s sorrow.

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.”

Everything, Book Review

Everything: What You Give and What You Gain to Become Like Jesus
by Mary DeMuth

In her book, Everything, Mary DeMuth writes about letting God transform every part of our lives—our thinking, our hearts, and our hands.  We can give it all to Jesus and trust Him with the results.  It is, in essence, a book about living the greatest commandment: “Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”everything

Always vulnerable, always real, always honest, always practical, Mary DeMuth’s description of the Everything life can shake up our expectations.  It doesn’t mean ministry is always successful in the way we define success.  It doesn’t mean relationships are always smooth and peace always easy.  It doesn’t mean our plans always work or our past is always perfect.  It just means we trust God with every part of our lives and serve Him with whatever He’s given to us.

Mary herself talks frequently about how her imperfect childhood has been transformed by God’s grace and her time on the mission field of France, far more difficult than she had imagined, was a precious time of yielding everything to God.

Sometimes it was the unexpected twists that kept this book interesting and relevant for me.   Her thoughts about writing, for instance, were precious and often missed in our celebrity society: focusing on what God wants her to say rather than pushing and pushing and pushing for success, striving to be noticed and to build a platform.

My favorite portion of the book is actually her discussion of spiritual disciplines because she assumed you knew the basics like Bible reading, church attendance, and prayer, and wrote instead about truly unexpected but absolutely beautiful disciplines we often overlook: Rest, forgiveness, creativity, silence, gratitude and others.

In some ways, the book is about the lessons she has learned in disappointments, “failures,” and unexpected life events.  It’s about not fighting against God, but surrendering it all to Him.

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.”

365 Pocket Devotions, Book Review

365 Pocket Devotions: Inspiration and Renewal for Each New Day
by Chris Tiegreen

This little book, 365 Pocket Devotions: Inspiration and Renewal for Each New Day, is another treasure from Chris Tiegreen, author of various One Year devotionals.  I fell in love with Tiegreen’s book, The One Year Worship the King devotional a few years ago, and I’m so excited to have the opportunity to spend a year with his insights into Scripture again. pocketdevotions

The devotions in this pocket-sized book are shorter than most and aren’t necessarily the deepest of in-depth Bible studies.  Yet, I do find they often provide more insight and things to think about than many other devotions you could choose.  Often, he’ll look at a passage or concept in enough of a fresh way to stir me into deeper thought, deeper study, deeper prayer—and that’s the beauty of a well-written devotion.   It’s not utter fluff that leaves no impact.  It’s a stirring of the heart and mind to seek for more of God and His Word.

I love that the entries in this book are not firmly linked to the calendar.  Instead, they simply are marked as “Day 1….Day 2….etc.”  That means you can start any time you feel like it rather than waiting for January 1 to roll around.  It also means if you fall behind, there’s no need to catch up.  You just keep going where you are left off.  Days one through five in each week are regular devotions with extra short offerings on days six and seven (presumably when you might hit on a weekend day if you are reading Monday to Sunday).

Perfect for that first moment with God every morning or the last thing you read before sleeping at night, these pocket devotions could really fit in any time of the day, slip into a purse or car easily, and bring a little fresh inspiration into your Christian walk.

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.”

Confessions of a Wonder Woman Wannabe, Book Review

Confessions of a Wonder Woman Wannabe
by Jenny Lee Sulpizio

I never was into Wonder Woman as a kid and may not have went through a superhero crazy, but as a mom I definitely feel the pull, the push, the drive, the compulsion, the pressure or whatever that is to be SuperMom.  Yes, able to clean messes with a single swipe, keep her home immaculate, her meals delicious, her husband happy, her children super-successful, and herself looking amazing.  There’s really no end to the perfection we moms sometimes demand from ourselves.wonderwomanwannabe

That’s why Jenny Lee Sulpizio’s book, Confessions of a Wonder Woman Wannabe, can be such a treasure box of useful tips, tools, ideas, and resources for any busy mom with a young family.  She’s engaging, witty, and vulnerable as she shares her own mom-mistakes, mom-discoveries, and mom-expertise.

Sulpizio weaves reminders of God’s grace and His promises to help us while creating a practical resource or handbook for everything “Mom.” She includes chapters on everything from meal planning, grocery shopping, coupon clipping, house cleaning, taking care of your own health and beauty, how to pack emergency supplies in your car, and what to keep in your purse.

If you’re a natural organizer and planner, many of these tips and ideas will come naturally to you.  Perhaps you even subscribe to your favorite Mom-blogs with much of this information.  But Sulpizio has done a great job of compiling a ton of resources that could help any mom (naturally organized or not) be a better manager of home and family.

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.

Seven Men: And the Secret of their Greatness, Book Review

Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness
by Eric Metaxas

Eric Metaxas’s biographies of William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer were some of my favorite works in any genre.  I found them inspiring, full of information while still being readable, and actually theologically educational.  I learned so much about these men and their faith.  Even my eight-year-old daughter has become a fan of Metaxas because she loved his biography of Squanto for kids. So, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review his new book, Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness.7men

The introduction is compelling. As a woman and a mom with three daughters at that, I haven’t really given much thought to the crisis facing boys in our modern times, when ideals of chivalry, strength of convictions, and moral confidence are scoffed at, mocked, denied, and often ripped to pieces by the media and other cultural influences.  Metaxas’s goal, then, in writing this book was to address the question of ‘What is a man?’ by looking at seven men he believes represent a model of manhood.

As always for Metaxas, the writing style is readable and easy to follow. The stories he tells are engaging and interesting, and the biographies become more inspirational than just the cold, hard facts with Metaxas’s commentary and presentation.  He chose to write about: George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II, and Charles Colson.  Some of these biographies were more familiar to me than others.  In particular, I learned the most and was surprised the most by the biography on Pope John Paul II.

After reading the longer Metaxas biographies, I have to confess I was a bit disappointed by these extremely small, fast-paced, and superficial looks at the lives of seven incredibly complex and historic men.  I shouldn’t have been surprised.  It makes sense that he’d only be able to give a cursory overview of their lives in the amount of space available.

So, while I wouldn’t consider this book an adequate study on any of these individual men, as a brief introduction to these biographies, this book works.  As an exploration of the concept of manhood and an attempt to inspire us to value chivalry, self-sacrifice, and standing up for what is right, this book succeeds.  Perhaps more importantly, I’m now intrigued by the lives of the men I didn’t know much about and I can’t wait to read longer, in-depth biographies of their lives.

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.”

Weekend Walk, 05/19/2012—Go and Do Video Response!!

Sometimes you just have to do something different.

Like today.  Normally during our weekend posts I share with you a verse for the week and a weekend rerun, but I have some really exciting news and items to share with you, so I just couldn’t do the same old-same old this weekend!

Go and Do Video Response:

Not long ago, I posted a review of a challenging book by Jay Milbrandt called Go and Do: Daring to Change the World One Story at a TimeI hope you’ll read my whole review here since the book gave me a lot to think about and it may be something to add to your summer reading list.

Today, I received an email saying that the author was willing to answer any questions I and other reviewers might have about the book.

I felt a little crazy, but I typed up my question and hit the submit button on my email program before I could change my mind. I asked him how people like me, young moms on a tight budget who can’t hop a plane to Thailand, can respond to his challenge to “go and do.”

Within a few hours, I received an email back with a link to a video Jay Milbrandt had made in response to my question.

Wow!  Is there anything else to say?  How amazing that this author and the director of Pepperdine University’s Global Justice Program took time out of his busy schedule to answer my question!

You can click here or click on the video image on the blog to hear Milbrandt’s thoughtful and considerate response and if you do read my whole review, you’ll see his written comment to my post.

Summer Bible Study:

Last summer, we ran an online Bible study here at the blog and I loved it!  I’ve had several requests for another online study, but this year my small group is reading through the Bible together.  I don’t want to ask them to take a break from that in order to do a different study in this space.

However, I have a really exciting opportunity to share with you!  I’ve been serving as a small group leader for an online Bible study over at Women’s Bible Cafe and enjoying the opportunity to study God’s Word with women from around the world who may never meet face to face this side of heaven.

The Women’s Bible Cafe folks have just announced that they’ll be starting a summer study on June 26th of Kelly Minter’s book Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break.  It gets even better . . . Beth Moore kicked all this off by deciding to run an online study this summer of this very same book on her blog.

Do you know what that means?  If you participate in this study at Women’s Bible Cafe, you could be one of several thousand women all studying the very same book of the Bible at the very same time.  Now that’s a powerful way to study Scripture!

If you’d like to participate, you need to get a copy of the book (early because they sell out quickly when there are mass online studies) and head on over to the Women’s Bible Cafe page to register.  They’ll assign you a small group when the study begins and you’ll be on your way to spending a summer with Nehemiah.

Making a List and Checking It Twice:

Have you checked out my Bookshelf recently on the blog?  It’s up to date with some of the books, studies, devotionals and prayer guides I’ve been reading and thinking about recently.  Not only that, but I’ve posted 18 book reviews that could help you make some of your summer reading selections.

I’m making my own summer reading list, but before I make any plans I’d like to hear from you.  What are your best book recommendations?  I can’t wait to read them myself!  I’ll be collecting ideas from now until the end of May and then I’ll try to share the final list of ideas with everyone.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Weekend Walk, 09/17/2011

Hiding the Word:

In my personal devotionals this week, I read Psalm 23—“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”

The danger of familiarity is complacency.  We become insensitive to the wonder of Scriptures that we hear and read all the time.

But I was struck anew by this powerful thought in this oft-quoted verse—“I shall not want,” not because I have a shepherd.  No, it’s because of who my Shepherd is—The Lord.  I have the best, most compassionate and capable Shepherd of all. It is because of His character that I never need to fear or worry or fret over provision and safety.

In her book, Stumbling Into Grace, Lisa Harper talks about Luke 12:22-32, where Jesus instructs us not to worry about what we’ll eat or wear because He takes care of the birds and the lilies of the field.  He loves us ever so much more than them and will care for our every need, as well.

At the end of that passage, Jesus says,

But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.
Luke 12:31-32

Lisa Harper notes that Luke’s “use of the term little flock in verse 32 is so unique that this is the only place it can be found in the entire Bible” (p. 10).

Once again, it is the fact that we are such beloved sheep of such a Good Shepherd that calms my heart and gives me peace when I am afraid. And so, this is the verse I have chosen to meditate on this week.  I’ll write it on index cards, post it around my house, and remind myself all week long of how much my Shepherd loves me.

For more thoughts on the way we sheep can trust in our Shepherd, please check out my article: Living the Sheep’s Life: Choosing Grace Over the Law.

What verse are you meditating on this week?

Book Review:

Waiting on God and being persistent in prayer—not the two easiest disciplines of the Christian walk.  But, John I. Snyder addresses both in his book: Your 100 Day Prayer: The Transforming Power of Actively Waiting on GodEach day’s entry begins with a verse and thoughtful devotional and concludes with an opportunity to pray.  The goal is to take a specific prayer request to God every day for 100 days.

Snyder’s book not only gives you verses and prayer prompts, but his daily devotionals are well-thought out and challenging.  This is more than a fluffy feel-good devotional.  Instead, it is an impassioned look at God’s character and what it means to pray with persistence.  He deals with difficult topics, such as “When God Says No” and “The Silent Heaven,” with insight and wisdom.

The author himself says, “This sustained, stubborn, never-give-up spirit of prayer is not so much to persuade God to give us what we want, but rather to transform us in the process.” His book could help transform and enliven your prayer life, as well as spur you on to greater spiritual maturity as you engage in the daily disciplines of Bible reading and meditation, prayer and journaling.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

Weekend Walk: 08/20/2011

Hiding the Word:

Welcome to the weekend, my verse memorizing friends!  The other day I came across a devotional on Philippians 2:13, so I’m choosing that for my verse this week.  It’s going on index cards on my stove and bathroom mirror and it’s already copied into my journal.  The very act of writing it down three times helps me hide these words in my heart.

“for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
Philippians 2:13

In his Worship the King devotional,. Chris Tiegreen wrote:

The comforting part of this promise is that when we have deep internal desires to do something entirely consistent with the stated purpose and plan of God, those desires are probably God-given.  And when we are driven to act on those desires with a strategy and a worthwhile agenda, we are likely driven by God Himself . . . That means, of course, that He will see it through.  The sovereign God, who sees the future, doesn’t abandon projects midway through.  If He started His work in you, He’s committed to it.

Two Book Reviews for You!
Instead of a Weekend Rerun, this week I’m posting something different!

Stained Glass Hearts: Seeing Life from a Broken Perspective by Patsy Clairmont

If you’ve seen Patsy on stage at a Women of Faith conference, you couldn’t forget her.  She’s a bouncy spitfire who is essentially joy in human form.  And yet, she’s traveled a difficult personal journey, including years trapped in her home as an agoraphobic who was addicted to nicotine and sedatives.  Many days, she didn’t make it out of her bed and into clothes.

So, I was excited to read her perspective on how God forms beauty out of brokenness in her book Stained Glass Hearts.  That’s what He did for her. When God takes broken shards of glass, He can piece them together to reflect His grace, just as artists work to create stained glass art.

There were parts of this book that were so honest, vulnerable, and wise.  She writes: “At times, trusting God in the minutia of life is as difficult as trusting him for a walking-on-water miracle.”  She got that right!

I’m a lover of the arts and I do believe that art, poetry, books, museums, and songs feed parts of our spirit and allow us to connect with the heart of our Creator.  So, I enjoyed her concluding each chapter with suggestions of art to view or books to read and more.

Still, by the end of the book, I couldn’t say that I saw the underlining theme or overarching lesson.  She had whole chapters devoted to why books are important or music and, while I agree, I didn’t see their place in the big picture of brokenness.  The spiritual lessons were valuable, but mostly stayed in the comfortable realm of the superficial.  That made this a sweet book and an enjoyable read, but not a life-changing one.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
The Hour That Matters Most: The Surprising Power of the Family Meal
by Les & Leslie Parrot with Stephanie Allen and Tina Kuna
This year, for the first time ever, ballet runs through our family dinner time.  Not once a week, but twice a week.  What’s a mom to do?  Frantically rush through a fast food line and order up burgers and fries for the fam?  Les and Leslie Parrott with their coauthors offer a solution in this book.  They advocate strongly for the power of the family dinner hour and give practical tips on how to make that happen even for busy moms, working moms, families with multiple kids in various activities and families with teens.
The good news is there’s no guilt trip in this book for those whose dinners are served up out of the microwave and on TV trays in the living room. The authors write from the perspective of people who’ve been there and done that and have found the answer in the fix-and-freeze method.  They prepare 12 meals in advance once a month with a bunch of friends, which they can then pull out and reheat for the crazy busy nights that occur several times a week.
This book gives you a back-to-basics approach to eating dinner around the dinner table.  This is great for those who need a walk through kitchen utensils and conversation starters with your kids, but for those already making this family time happen, you’ll be encouraged more than educated.  There are also some recipes that I know I’d like to try out in the kitchen and any family could enjoy–even the long-term devotees of eating together as a family.
While they cover things such as why eating together matters, how to navigate the kitchen, table manners and other practical topics, the book really is less about dinner time and more about parenting.  The authors include chapters on how to talk to one another, how to laugh together, how to empathize with your kids, and how to avoid conflict at the table, etc.  So it’s still a helpful read even if you don’t struggle with getting everyone around the table at the same time for the evening meal.
I received this book free from the publisher, Tyndale House . I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
 
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2011 Heather King