Thursday, December 15, 2016

Without Rival by Lisa Bevere

Without Rival

There is a reason we look at others as rivals and limit ourselves to comparison and competition. We have an enemy assaulting our mind, will, and emotions in the hope that we’ll turn on ourselves and each other. It’s a cycle that isolates us from intimate connections, creates confusion about our identity, and limits our purpose.

In Without Rival, bestselling author Lisa Bevere shares how a revelation of God’s love breaks these limits. You’ll learn how to stop seeing others as rivals and make the deep connections with your Creator you long for–connections that hold the promise of true identity and intimacy.

(excerpt from back of book)

Without Rival is my first introduction to Lisa's work and it was certainly an introduction. Tackling the topic of rivalry is not an easy one but Lisa presents a well rounded approach to the topic that feels full of openness and common sense wisdom. Lisa's personality seemed to leap out off the pages,  allowing me, a relative newbie to her work, to more easily enter her work and assisted me in looking through her eyes. Lisa's passion for women and their ability to live vibrantly within God's calling on their life shows on each page. 

I personally enjoyed the variety of ways  and the thoroughness which Lisa brought to her book. Whether it was looking at gender issues, self image, our understanding of God, or even the value of rivalry Lisa laid out intriguing lessons and arguments regarding her views on the role  these aspects should vs. how they do play out in everyday life. Her layout, especially in the first half of the book was also helpful as the  chapters felt more connected and strengthened by one another.

While there are  areas where are theology diverges(mostly in the final chapters), Without Rival sticks close to scripture for much  of its inspiration allowing the majority of the book to appeal beyond denomination preference.

4 out of 5 stars

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

God Made You Nose to Toes by Leslie Parrott

Help little ones understand that God created each part of their bodies so they can enjoy life and everything in it. In this delightful padded cover board book by well-known author and family therapist Leslie Parrott, children can follow along with Toucan––with a great big nose––as he helps them learn God loves each one of them completely.
(excerpt from back of book)

Alright, after lots of heavy reading it's so refreshing to jump back into children's books again and refreshing definitely describes this new offering from author Leslie Parrott.
I adore this book and know my kids will too.

The book itself is a solid board book construction which is perfect for any family with a chewy toddler (please tell me the eating books stage is quick, right?)and filled to the brim with beautifully coloured and vibrant images that are sure to drawn the attention of any little one.

The story itself was wonderful to read out loud with an easy rhyme following a young boy and his toucan friend as they explore their senses and their body from "nose to toes". I really enjoyed how the format is familiar (I've lost count how many times 'head, shoulders, knees, and toes gets sung in a day) but takes it a step further by  connecting these parts with their purpose and the ultimate message that they are good gifts from God.

As  a mom to two littles, I can easily see this book holding their interest until they enter the school system if not a little further.

5 out of 5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. 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.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Out of the Spin Cycle by Jen Hatmaker

Out of the Spin Cycle

Alright, first things first, this blog is primarily focus on reviewing books and that's just what we're going to do.

Out of the Spin Cycle is a re-release, first published in 2010, Jen's presents 40 easy to read devotionals aimed at helping moms find peace in the midst of the chaos that life with children can be. Each chapter starts of with an analogy or story, moves  into a brief lesson, asks 1-2 questions, and ends with a recommended response.  The format is quick, easy, and at times surprisingly thought provoking. 

As a  former native speaker of sarcasm, there were times when I felt a little uncomfortable with the tone of Jen's stories. however, I was able to temper this by noting Jen's own honesty about her  weakness for sarcasm and her gratefulness for her editors  keeping her accountable in this area. It was also reassuring  to  realize that the sarcasm never traveled beyond the analogy without a clear noting of it's sarcastic undertones. When it came to teaching and scripture Jen was all business.

This really shows in the quality of the  teaching. I so wish personal timelines had allowed me to read a chapter a day to get the full effect of this book but time wasn't exactly on my side for that. However, as I read through I was struck by Jen's passion for women, especially  moms, who  are tired/stressed/and looking for Jesus. 

4 out of 5 stars
"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Prayer Saturated Family by Cheryl Sacks

Image result for The Prayer Saturated Family by Cheryl Sacks

With a fresh, flexible, real-world approach, bestselling author Cheryl Sacks shows how you can integrate prayer into your daily family life, including how to:
· Get everyone on board and involved
· Experience a fresh sense of God’s promise and purpose for your family
· Overcome spiritual opposition coming against your household
· Shift the spiritual atmosphere in your home to one of greater peace and joy
· Make an investment in your children’s faith that will last a lifetime
(Excerpt from back of book)

Prayer is one of those weird topics within the church. It's foundational, everyone has heard of it, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of teaching on the topic in my experience and most people are afraid to ask questions. This is why I love books like this. Cheryl takes readers through different styles of prayer, ways to incorporate prayer into families at all stages of life, and easy to follow "how-to's" she has encountered over her own life  and research.

I really appreciated the care Cheryl takes to go through the highs and lows of families in each of their  glorious stages from no children to empty nesters and everywhere in between. The  31  day guide at the end of the book gives a wide variety of topics and suggestions to help families practically expand their own understanding of prayer and how to become more intentional about incorporating prayer into areas that may not be naturally apparent in our busy lives.
As I said, I love useful  how-to's  and this book provides  them :)

On the flip side, I would recommend this for people who have been in the church for  some  time  and already possess a more balanced view on the role of prayer for one main reason. Cheryl's writing, at times, slips into a very "health & wealth"/  "name it &claim it" mentality that  can be dangerous. Without acknowledging that, sometimes, even prayers for what we perceive to be good things can receive an answer of no or not yet, we run the risk of turning prayer into a one way request line for a Santa Claus God. I think she  tempered this somewhat with her incorporation of worship but for someone new to faith an explicit statement that prayers are not wishes and sometimes the answer isn't what we want would have been nice to see stately more strongly and clearly.

3.5 out of 5 stars

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."