Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A Passionate Hope by Jill Eileen Smith - REVIEWED

About the Book:
Can one woman's prayers change the world?

Hannah and her husband, Elkanah, share a deep and abiding love for each other, for their God, and for His tabernacle at Shiloh. Greatly disturbed by the corruption of the priests, they long for restoration and pray for a deliverer. But nothing changes as the years pass. Years that also reveal Hannah to be barren.

Pressured by his family to take another wife, Elkanah marries Peninnah, who quickly begins to bear children. Disgraced and taunted by her husband's new wife, Hannah turns again to prayers that seem doomed to go unanswered. Do her devotion and kindness in the face of Peninnah's cruelty count for nothing? Will God remain silent and indifferent to her pleas?

Travel back to the dusty streets of Shiloh with an expert guide as Jill Eileen Smith brings to life a beloved story of hope, patience, and deliverance that shows that even the most broken of relationships can be restored.

My Thoughts:
“…God uses us in different ways to accomplish His will.”  (p. 357)

If, at any point in the future, I am feeling useless, unimportant or not needed, I’m going to pick up this book and be reminded of God’s mercy and grace!  I’ve said this about books over my years of blogging, but I am adamant when I say, this book has been a divine God appointment in my life, for such a time as this!!  I’ve struggled to find time to read this book, and grew frustrated when it seemed I was delayed, yet again.  Now,  I understand why God wanted me to read the final chapters of this book today – He knew I needed to hear the perspective from women of the Bible who waited and longed for things that seemed out of their reach.

God’s reach is NEVER limited – PRAISE HIM!!!  Hannah’s faith wavered in the face of her husband’s second wife’s fertility.  Being barren was a burden that Hannah carried for years!  Yet, even before she conceived her first born son, Samuel, she’d already given him to God.  The author does a masterful job at displaying all of the difficult and complex emotions that Hannah experienced along her life journey.  I almost felt she’d be practicing for the day she would leave Samson at the temple all of those years that she had daily placed her trust in God for children that it seemed she would never have.  Hers was a daily faith that withstood years of testing!

By the time I reached the end of this novel, my heart was simply aching with emotion!  I had cried and laughed, been angry and afraid…my emotions had run the gamut!  I can honestly say that this book left me full, challenged and strengthened in my own faith journey.  Empty nesting, watching adult children struggle, so many things going on in my own personal journey – and then I collide with Hannah’s steadfast faith, and my hope is renewed!  This is a masterfully told, beautiful story of God’s AMAZING GRACE for us all!!  Rejoicing that this book was in my life today!!

About the Author:
Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling and award-winning author of the Wives of King David, the Wives of the Patriarchs, the Loves of King Solomon, and the Daughters of the Promised Land series. Her research into the lives of biblical women has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan. Learn more at www.jilleileensmith.com.

Monday, February 26, 2018

HIStory in 30 Days by Carol O. Schryber - REVIEWED

About the Book:
One story.

One plot.

One hero.

Some may think Jesus Christ isn’t mentioned in the Bible until the New Testament. Is that a correct notion? Definitely not. Is Jesus referenced in the Old Testament? Absolutely! He is there from the very beginning. Every foretelling about the lineage, birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ the Savior can be traced and is fulfilled in the sixty-six books of the Bible.

From beginning to end, the Bible is his story—one story, one plot, one hero. In HIStory in 30 Days: Genesis to Revelation with Daily Devotionals, author Carole Schryber provides thirty daily readings with devotionals and prayers. Written in an engaging, fast-paced, accessible style, you follow along as HIStory unfolds and learn what part you’re meant to play in it.

My Thoughts:
Carol Shryber’s book, HIStory in 30 Days, is absolutely the most succinct introduction to the Bible I’ve ever encountered!  This book literally covers Genesis through Revelation in 30 days of personal devotions.  The synopsis portion includes far more detail than you’d expect in such a brief volume, and the details are both historically accurate and theologically sound.  The Biblical synopsis is followed by personal testimony and application from the author’s own faith journey, and then by a brief heart-felt prayer.

So, what makes this so special, you may ask?  The author’s personal testimony of how God used HIStory to win her heart and bring her to faith in Christ.  She was a lawyer with a family of young children before she and her husband even began attending church, and it was the timeliness of her own children’s blossoming faith that began to draw her into her own personal relationship with Christ.  The transparency with which she shares her own steps toward faith make this small volume a powerful ministry tool!  This would be a perfect book to share with new believers who come from a non-church background!  With a newly blossoming seed of faith being watered by the truth of God’s Word as Shryber presents it, I believe that many will become hungry to know more and more about their Savior!

This is truly a powerful volume of devotions, and will refresh and renew the faith of believers who have walked with God for years.  For those who use the excuse of “not enough time” - the book eliminates the excuse!  These devotions are brief, but powerful!  I am happy to recommend this book to everyone!

About the Author:
Carole Schryber was a New York attorney, who gave up the practice of law to devote herself to studying and teaching Scripture. She has used her research and analytical skills from the study of law for inductive Bible study. For the past fifteen years she has been a Christian teacher, speaker and writer, as well as the Associate Teaching Director of Community Bible Study in McLean, Virginia, which serves more than four hundred women weekly. Carole has three grown children and resides in the Washington DC area with her husband, John.

Friday, February 16, 2018

They Were Single Too by David M Hoffeditz - REVEIWED

About the Book:
Singleness is not a sin that needs to be redeemed. Yet for many single Christians, the way the church regards them often feels condemning. Living between these truths can be a painful, frustrating experience.

By examining eight individuals from Scripture who were single at some point in their adult lives--Paul, Anna, Martha, Jeremiah, Ruth, Joseph, Nehemiah, and John the Baptist--Hoffeditz guides readers through common struggles singles face, such as loneliness and disappointment.

Hoffeditz isn't offering a self-help guide, a twelve-step program to recovery, or philosophical musings. They Were Single Too spells out concrete steps for a healthy, God-approved attitude toward unmarried life and how one can truly serve God without a spouse. Brief chapters with questions for reflection allow for either individual or group study.

Long used as a resource for singles ministries, this revised edition updates the language of this timeless biblical study and makes it more attractive for today's reader.

My Thoughts:
David Hoffeditz’ book, They Were Single Too, comes to me at a very different time than any other in my life.  Unlike the author, who was single when he penned the book ten years ago and is now married, I was married for 23 years and am now single.  The truths of this book apply no matter which direction you come to singleness.  Truthfully, this book has been encouraging, challenging and immensely comforting to me.  I’ve recommended it to all of my single friends!  Why?

Well, the opening words speak volumes!  “While neither marriage no singleness is permanent, we accept our present marital status as a God-given gift.” That succinctly describes the longing of my heart, to accept where God has placed me and serve Him without being distracted by wanting things to be different than they are.  The author dives deep into the lives of those who were single – Paul, Anna, Martha, Joseph, John the Baptist – and unexpected looks at Ruth, and her season of singleness and Jeremiah and Nehemiah.   I was fascinated by the truths that he unearthed in each of their lives!

Each chapter ends with thoughtful questions to consider, and, because of this, the book becomes ideal for either individual study or – better yet – a small group guide for singles!  I’m super excited to consider this for a group during the next semester of small groups at my local church!  As I’ve already said, I’ve been encouraged, challenged and comforted throughout my time between its pages! I’ve underlined and made notes and am thrilled to recommend this to anyone who finds themselves wondering what God’s intentions are for their season of singleness! 

About the Author:
David M. Hoffeditz (PhD, University of Aberdeen) has taught beginning and intermediate Greek at the collegiate level and currently serves on the pastoral staff of a church in Springfield, Ohio.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

To Be Where You Are by Jan Karon - REVIEWED

About the Book:
After twelve years of wrestling with the conflicts of retirement, Father Tim Kavanagh realizes he doesn’t need a steady job to prove himself. Then he’s given one. As for what it proves, heaven only knows.

Millions of Karon fans will be thrilled that it’s life as usual in the wildly popular Mitford series: A beloved town character lands a front-page obituary, but who was it, exactly, who died? And what about the former mayor, born the year Lindbergh landed in Paris, who’s still running for office? All this, of course, is but a feather on the wind compared to Muse editor J.C. Hogan’s desperate attempts to find a cure for his marital woes. Will it be high-def TV or his pork chop marinade?

In fiction, as in real life, there are no guarantees.

Twenty minutes from Mitford at Meadowgate Farm, newlyweds Dooley and Lace Kavanagh face a crisis that devastates their bank account and impacts their family vet practice.

But there is still a lot to celebrate, as their adopted son, Jack, looks forward to the most important day of his life—with great cooking, country music, and lots of people who love him. Happily, it will also be a day when the terrible wound in Dooley’s biological family begins to heal because of a game—let’s just call it a miracle—that breaks all the rules.

In To Be Where You Are, Jan Karon weaves together the richly comic and compelling lives of two Kavanagh families, and a cast of characters that readers around the world now love like kin.

My Thoughts:
I have read every word of every Mitford book Jan Karon has ever written, and I must say To Be Where You Are carries my heart to new and spiritually challenging places - all the while being comforted by the presence of fictional friends who seem as real to me sometimes as my friends walking through life with me in flesh and blood.

I can barely believe that this dear author has celebrated her eight decade and is able to produce another beloved novel filled with all the people I've come to love.  She has allowed her characters to age right along with her, and that adds reality and depth to the story.  Father Tim and Cynthia, Louella, Avis, JC....they're all here and they all face unique challenges in this novel.

I won't share spoilers, but you will laugh and you will cry as you read about life in Mitford.  Honestly, I selfishly hope Jan Karon writes more novels still!!  She certainly left folks in positions to share some significant life experiences with all of us!  I know in my heart that this precious lady will do whatever the Lord asks her to do, so I will wait and see what happens next!

I will always be reading and rereading the Mitford novels...always.  These characters provide inspiration in so many ways as they live their lives with transparent grace!  Bless you Jan Karon! Bless you!!

About the Author:
Jan Karon is the author of the bestselling series of nine Mitford novels featuring Father Timothy Kavanagh, an Episcopal priest, and the fictional village of Mitford. Set in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Karon's Mitford books include At Home in Mitford; A Light in the Window; These High, Green Hills; Out to Canaan; A New Song; A Common Life: The Wedding Story; In This Mountain; Shepherd's Abiding; and Light from Heaven. The Father Tim Novels include "Home to Holly Springs" and last fall's release of "In the Company of Others," set in County Sligo, Ireland. There are over 40 million Mitford and Father Tim novels, childrens books, and CDs in print.