Wednesday, December 21, 2016

of stillness and storm by Michele Phoenix - REVIEWED

About the Book:
It took Lauren and her husband ten years to achieve their dream—reaching primitive tribes in remote regions of Nepal. But while Sam treks into the Himalayas for weeks at a time, finding passion and purpose in his work among the needy, Lauren and Ryan stay behind, their daily reality more taxing than inspiring. For them, what started as a calling begins to feel like the family’s undoing. 
At the peak of her isolation and disillusion, a friend from Lauren’s past enters her life again. But as her communication with Aidan intensifies, so does the tension of coping with the present while reengaging with the past. It’s thirteen-year-old Ryan who most keenly bears the brunt of her distraction.
Intimate and bold, Of Stillness and Storm weaves profound dilemmas into a tale of troubled love and honorable intentions gone awry.
My Thoughts:
Reminders that I wasn’t dead from a man who would be soon.”  (p. 242)

This was a difficult read for me.  An all-to-familiar battleground for me.  Although I could tell from the back cover that this was a book dealing with familial issues, I never imagined it would feel like someone had stepped into my life and written about it.  The context for this story is different from my own, but the author boldly addresses issues many families battle today – the introduction of relationships within the context of social media – and how quickly things can go sideways. 

The author deals specifically with this issue within the context of a missionary family, but this is an issue that families face in all walks of life! It is a matter of putting relationships in a healthy and right order in our lives, and when we allow any type of work interfere with the family God has blessed us with and begin to substitute that with other things (people or work), well, this story gives us a plausible scenario of consequences.
This is a vividly told, well-developed story line!  The story itself, well, it’s painfully familiar to me personally, and I can vouch for its reality and plausibility.  This is a much needed reminder of God’s place in our lives and in the lives of our families.  Choices always have consequences.  Bravo!  I highly recommend this book!

About the Author:
Michele Phoenix
Born in France to a Canadian father and an American mother, Michèle Phoenix is a consultant, writer and speaker with a heart for Third Culture Kids. She taught for 20 years at Black Forest Academy (Germany) before launching her own advocacy venture under Global Outreach Mission. Michèle travels globally to consult and teach on topics related to this unique people group. She loves good conversations, mischievous students, Marvel movies and paths to healing. Learn more at Twitter: @frenchphoenix

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Miscarried Joy by Tanika Fitzgerald - REVIEWED

About the book:  

Miscarried Joy: Moving Beyond Incredible Pain to Extraordinary Faith (Nyreepress Publishing, October 2016)

Faith over fear. Patience over frustration. Pain with a purpose.

In Miscarried Joy, Tanika transparently shares her deeply personal and disappointing experiences of losing her babies due to miscarriage. There were times when she felt God was the cause of her pain. However, her journey through the lives of Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth and Naomi, revealed quite the opposite---God had allowed her pain for a much greater purpose. Each of these women had something in common: they learned to surrender their will and trust God's plan beyond the pain. They were pushed to a posture of prayer that led them from questioning God to have total confidence in Him. Tanika discovered that this season of waiting didn't show up simply to challenge her, but to change her.

With biblical depth, heart-filled transparency and a voice of passion, you will:

-Understand God's heart in the midst of incredible pain
-Discover the importance of trusting God's plan over your own
-Arm yourself with the strength to let go of bitterness and comparison to appreciate the beauty of your story
-Learn and implement spiritual principles and strategies to walk boldly in faith
-Embrace God's delay and birth contentment in your season of waiting
What have you miscarried? What purpose have you had difficulty conceiving? Is it a calling you fear stepping into? A vision that has not yet come to pass? Miscarried Joy has something for anyone who needs help pushing through incredible pain to conquer discouragement, walk in faith and birth their purpose. God's delay in your life could be a set up for your greatest calling to be fulfilled.

Purchase you copy HERE!

My Thoughts:
“It’s the Word of God that washes out every impurity, negative thought, ungodly emotion, fear, anxiety and anything else that keeps you from living life as God has purposed you to live.”  (p.57)

I have experienced the loss of a miscarriage.  It was my first pregnancy.  That was 24 years ago.  Now, with 21 and 23 year-old sons, I was drawn to this book, because I wanted to know what someone else had to say about this experience.  No one said anything to me when I experienced this.  No one.  It was a subject that was forgotten, because, after all, I had moved on and had other children.  But, at the time I walked through loss, there were no words from others to encourage me to keep my eyes focused on Christ.

Tankia Fitzgerald writes about her experiences from both personal and biblical points of view.  I cannot begin to tell you how powerful the truths are in this book!  I’ve experienced other losses in my life, and this book gave me fresh perspective on that loss – even though the context was that of a lost pregnancy.  Tanika is speaking truth from God’s Word, and it is healing, encouraging and strengthening if you apply it to other areas of loss.

If you, or someone you know, has experienced a miscarried joy, share this book with them.  It will be the best and most loving gift you can give them!  Healing from loss takes time, and sometimes you just want someone to acknowledge that you are grieving and give you time to heal.  Be patient with others.  Love them through their loss.  God’s Word has the answers and strength and guidance everyone needs to walk their journey. 

I HIGHLY recommend this book!!

About the Author:
Tanika Fitzgerald is a lover of Christ, a wife to her husband, Maurice, a loving daughter and sister. She is passionate about equipping women to grow spiritually, live balanced lives and helping them to be ARMED for victory in every area of life. Tanika has been called to minister to others through her passion and gift of writing to inspire women all over the globe. She is also the visionary behind ARMED Magazine---a publication created to "Spiritually Equip for you Victory in Battle." Her inspirational writing has been featured in numerous publications including Hope for Women MagazineBlack and Married with Kids, and more. Tanika has also interviewed powerful voices in the Christian community, including Lady Serita Jakes, Sheryl Brady, Charles Jenkins, Earnest Pugh, and more! Tanika is a woman who is passionate about her relationship with Jesus Christ, family, giving to others, laughter, having fun, and enjoying every moment that life brings!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Lucifer's Harvest by Mel Starr - REVEIWED

About the Book:
King Charles of France has announced that he is confiscating Aquitaine, and Prince Edward has sent for knights and men-at-arms from England to assist him in opposing the French king. Lord Gilbert Talbot is required to provide five knights, twelve squires, and twenty archers and men-at-arms, and he wishes his surgeon--Hugh de Singleton--to travel with the party, leaving Hugh's wife Kate to oversee the castle in their absence.

It won't be an easy journey. Among the party will be Sir Simon Trillowe, Kate's former suitor, who had once set fire to Hugh's house. After a brawl on the streets of Oxford, Sir Simon had nearly lost an ear; Hugh had sewn it back on, but when it healed crooked, Simon blamed Hugh for the disfigurement.

Finding himself in the company of his old nemesis, Hugh resolves not to turn his back on the knight--but it is Sir Simon who should not have turned his back. 

My Thoughts:
Proving a man guilty of a felony is difficult enough.  Proving innocence can be even more onerous.”       (p. 56)

Hugh de Singleton surely has his work cut out for him in Mel Starr’s latest medieval mystery!  I have been a huge fan of Starr’s work and his created surgeon’s work since I read the genesis of this series!  The ONLY thing I could even begin to find fault with at this point is the length of Lucifer’s Harvest  - a mere 160 pages!  My venerable surgeon gets in quite the quagmire in this brief tale, so maybe the shorter length preserves his life for more adventures – at least I hope so!

I never cease to be amazed at the ancient science that provides all that is needed for Master Singleton to discover the answers he so desperately needs to find in this story.  He is in a totally foreign place when he is all but forced to solve a murder.  Believe you me, a LOT is riding on the answers he must find! You will be alarmed at how quickly this end of this novella approaches!

If you love a well-told murder mystery – medieval style – you will adore this entire series just as I do! Once again, I HIGHLY recommend Mel Starr’s novels!

About the Author:
Mel Starr was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. After graduating with a MA in history from Western Michigan University in 1970, he taught history in Michigan public schools for thirty-nine years--thirty-five of those in Portage, MI, where he chaired the social studies department of Portage Northern High School. Mel retired in 2003. He and his wife, Susan, have two daughters and seven grandchildren.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Pray A to Z by Amelia Rhodes - REVIEWED

About the Book:
Pray A to Z: Practical Guide to Pray for Your Community (Worthy, November 2016)

Change the world one prayer at a time.

How would our community change if instead of absently saying, "I'll pray for you," we actually did pray---deeply, intensely, and purposefully?

Pray A to Z: A Practical Guide to Praying for Your Community will help you topically organize your prayer requests and lay the burdens of your community at the feet of our Heavenly Father.

With compassion and encouragement, Amelia Rhodes offers Bible verses and prayer prompts, organized topically for every letter of the alphabet. There are five topics per letter---three prayers of petition asking God to work in a certain area of need, and two more prayers of praise to reflect gratitude for God's presence in the daily issues and relationships of life. Through petition and praise, your specific, focused communion with God will lighten your heart as you place the heaviness of those prayer requests where they belong---on His strong shoulders.

Whether you are praying for a friend's adoption journey, a neighbor's bankruptcy, or a family member's cancer, this book will give you Bible verses, prayer prompts, and prayer starts to guide you through praying for even the most difficult issues that affect the people you know and love. Perfect for either individual or group prayer, Pray A to Z will help you experience the peace that comes from communicating with God.

Purchase you copy HERE!

My Thoughts:

This book has been one of those "right on time" books in my life.  It seemed every time I picked it up I could find a prayer that helped me see my way past a situation and through to the truth of God's word.  I really can hardly believe how MANY subjects this powerful book covers!  There is a scripture verse to ponder and imprint upon your heart.  There is a central thought to consider, and then the author beautifully and intimately talks with The Father.  You can pray the words she's written, but you can also use this as a template for prayers of your own.  This would be a great book for a new believer, and can help strengthen the prayer life of a long time believer.  I am happy to recommend this book to everyone!

About the Author:

Amelia Rhodes is a speaker and author of Isn't It Time for a Coffee Break: Doing Life Together in an All-About-Me Kind of World. Amelia's writing has also been featured in four Chicken Soup for the Soul titles, devotionals for the OneHope blog Undeterred and the international devotional Upper Room. Amelia has a growing speaking ministry and speaks regularly to women's groups on topics of spiritual growth, friendship, and community, offering practical tools for living our faith in the everyday. She lives in Lowell, Michigan.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

When There is no Miracle by Robert L. Wise (revised and expanded) - REVIEWED

About the Book:
Times of profound darkness don't always require miracles to find the light

Sooner or later, dark days obscure everyone's lives. Heartbreak is impartial. Tragedies, global or personal, strike every day, and people discover they have been swept out to sea by waves of destruction, anxiety, and catastrophe. How can Christians who believe in divine intervention understand the times when the lights go out and no miracle of deliverance appears?

Robert Wise has more than a passing relationship with tragedy. He has not only lost loved ones; he has been on the front lines of the mayhem that seems to increase every year. Wise was the first clergyman on the scene following the Murrah Building bombing in Oklahoma City. He ministered to frightened people after 9/11. He has encountered countless people experiencing tragedy, all of them asking the same question: Why do the innocent suffer?

When There Is No Miracle imparts the lessons Wise has learned in the midst of his own questioning. Each chapter encourages those who struggle, and demonstrates unexpected positive benefits of pain and suffering. Wise shares the experiences of those he has met in his ministry who faced times that seemed to be devoid of God's involvement. Yet, as Wise shows here, God is always behind the scenes, working for the ultimate good, even when we can't understand how. In this succinct volume, Christians can find new hope, learn to reconcile their faith with times of emptiness, and discover a new depth of meaning in the crucifixion of Christ.

My Thoughts:
When your wants are strained through the fabric of God’s larger truths, then what is real will emerge.”  (p. 120)

This is my first time reading Robert Wise’s book, and, while I understand it is revised and expanded, I can’t imagine in being any more powerful and life-transforming in the way it challenges believers to look at difficult life circumstances – outright tragedy – through the eyes of our Heavenly Father.  His vision for our life and life-purposes isn’t clouded by sin, emotion or human limitations.  His vision is found in the truths of His Word. 

God shares many Biblical examples of the truths He wants us to live out of as believers  - followers of Christ.  He loves us more than we can dare to fathom!  Wise shares both biblical and real-time examples of very difficult life situations.  From sudden loss to chronic illness and through a variety of other situations Wise asks the same questions that are universal when life’s struggles threaten to overwhelm.  The truth Wise shares is both challenging and comforting.

I think the most touching moments for me are the conversations he frames with Jesus at the end of each chapter.  I found myself reading those over and over as though I was literally present in the conversation.  I am taking my time with this book.  It has caused me to look at some of my own circumstances differently, and challenged me to let go and move past some situations that have kept me from all that God has called me to.

I am happy and pleased to recommend this book to all believers!  We have all experienced times where there was no miracle-----when, in fact, the absence of the miracle was, in fact, the miracle!  Grab a copy today and share one with a friend!  It is an amazing book!

About the Author:
Robert L. Wise is an archbishop in the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches and director of the Office of Ecumenical Relations. He has been awarded the title of Apostolic Representative for Christian Unity by Pope Francis. In addition to his work in ecumenism, Wise is the author of thirty-four books and many articles published in several languages. Wise also publishes under the pseudonyms Spencer E. Moses and Ed Moses.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Speckles and His New Home by Erich Rose Illustrated by Rose Anderson - REVIEWED

About the Book:
After moving into a new house with his family, Speckles is worried about being bored during the day while they are gone. The nearby forest is a great opportunity for exploration, but he finds himself alone and scared as it begins to get dark. Will he find his way back home?

My Thoughts:
We can have an adventure together.”

When Speckles' owner Ben talks about an adventure, it is only after Speckles experiences a few unexpected adventures of his own.  Erich Rose’s book is a tale that any dog owner will recognize!  Moving is as traumatic for animals as it is for humans.  Rose’s story chronicles Speckles’ perspective of a new home.  Changes ranging from space to sound become unsettling, and when Speckles finds himself alone, he resorts to a trick from his old home.  This trick leads the dog into a situation much more unsettling than his new home!

Children – especially those with pets of their own – will adore this book!  The pictures are whimsical and detailed and will allow the child to explore Speckles’ world as their caregiver reads of his adventures in his new home!  If there has been a move recently, this book becomes even more endearing!  I imagine that this story will open the door to many conversations between a parent and child as the family settles into a new home.

I was privileged to meet both the author and illustrator at the University bookstore in Auburn, and I look forward to following his career as an author.

About the Author:
Erich Rose enjoys telling stories to his sons and taking them on adventures. He decided that he would like to share these stories with others. Speckles and His New Home is the first. Erich lives in Opelika, Alabama, with his wife, Rebekah, and their three sons.