Showing posts from March, 2019

Enfolded in God's Arms by Lisa Are Wulf

Many of us are broken in spirit somehow and need healing from God. Yet, many of us are not sure how to go about it or are afraid to ask for it. Enfolded in God's Arms by Lisa Are Wulf is a gentle, beautifully written devotional just for those who are wounded and in need of healing.

There are forty devotions in Enfolded in God's Arms. Each reflection has a short reading, a Bible verse, and a series of questions along with a prayer for each day. This devotional is great to use with a personal journal or you can write in the book in the space provided by the questions.

I like that God is shown to be tender-hearted and caring in this book. Enfolded In God's Arms is sort of a balm to my soul read, as well as a real source of encouragement each day. Taking time to thoughtfully answer the questions would truly help the reader to grow and learn more about God and themselves. The gentle words in Enfolded In God's Arms may provide just the sort of soul healing that you need. I…

Half Finished by Lauraine Snelling

Are you a crafter? If so, you may have a UFO or two are your house. . .No, I don't mean a flying saucer for extraterrestrial beings. I mean unfinished objects, or UFOs as they are referred to in Half Finished. Lauraine Snelling writes about small town life and a group of people gathering to finish their unfinished craft projects. . .and how their lives intersect in other ways.

Half Finished was a little slow for me to start with as I got to know the characters in this book. Then it picked up speed and I truly enjoyed the people and became interested in their lives. There is one woman in this book who experiences grieving for her spouse. I thought that was well-written as Snelling seemed to truly understand the steps and the challenges the character was facing. Other characters face different life challenges that were happier and those were well portrayed too. They also balanced the sad parts in the book with a happy story.

Of course Half Finished would be of interest to crafters a…

Placemaker by Christie Purifoy

Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover. Placemaker by Christie Purifoy is one of those books. Not only is the cover beautiful but the spirit-lifting prose inside is equally as beautiful.

Placemaker begins with the introduction as Purifoy talks about how her love of trees began. She then relates placemaking to various kinds of trees which the twelve chapters cover: Citrus Grove, Queen Palm, Silver Maple and ends with Arboretum. In each chapter she relates how she made places home and how the trees relate. I simply cannot do her beautiful prose justice in my review.

I truly enjoyed Placemaker. I felt like Purifoy's words took me away to beautiful places. I already have a love of trees and gardening--that is what really drew me to this book. But she helped me feel even more in love with the woods and the gardens where we live. She said that "she hopes her stories inspire you to set a table with care, pick up a hammer with courage, or plant a seed with hope." (Page 10) …

Breakthrough by Joyce Smith with Ginger Kolbaba

John Smith, 14 years old, fell through an icy Missouri lake on a winter morning. . .For more than 60 minutes he laid lifeless. However, his mom, Joyce, was not ready to give up on him. She prayed and cried out to God to save him. . .and he did.  Miraculously his heart started beating again.

However, that was just the beginning of John's recovery in Breakthrough. He still had a healing process to go through. Thanks to social media, millions of people prayed for John's complete healing, along with his family. God did answer those prayer and in the end he astounded the medical community with his recovery.

Breakthrough is written from the point-of-view of John's mom. I can't imagine watching my son go through this. It truly is encouraging to read her words. Near the end, she had to convince the medical people that true healing had taken place and had to advocate for John. I could see real strength in her coming through. I would think Breakthrough would be especially encou…

GraceFull by Dorena Willaimson

I live in a college community in the Midwest. We have a lot of cultures and background represented in our community--and we have a problem with homelessness. I like finding books that help address issues that I can talk to children about. GraceFull by Dorena Williamson is a great book to help children understand the tough subject of homelessness.

 Hope and Anna are friends at church. Anna's family is facing some challenges right now as her father lost his job. GraceFull briefly shares their story and talks about how we can help others facing similar struggles. This book also opens the door for more discussions at home or this book could be used in a group setting like a Sunday School class. The Parent Connection page in the page of the book makes sharing the book and learning through the story even easier as there is a correlating Bible verse and a series of questions to ask and think about together.

I enjoyed GraceFull. Williamson's books are so good at helping kids see past…

Courting Mr. Emerson by Melody Carlson

Courting Mr. Emerson by Melody Carlson is touted as contemporary romance but it isn't the typical contemporary romance novel. However, there are a lot of contemporary components to this book.

Mr. George Emerson is a buttoned-up English teacher who is in the process of retiring from teaching and struggles with change. He is also a confirmed bachelor.

Willow West is a fun-loving artist and grandmother who enjoys life. She also owns and operates her own art gallery.

When George and Willow meet, Willow finds George fairly stuffy and George finds Willow to be a bit wild. In spite of their differences, Willow encourages George to try new things but he also struggles with his attraction to her. He really wants to make new friends but it hurts too much to loose them so he doesn't seem to know what to do. Will George and Willow be able to work a relationship out?

I started off reading Courting Mr. Emerson and enjoying the story. It seemed like a light read, which I was in the mood for.…

This is how we pray by Adam Dressler

Prayer remains elusive to so many of us and I think many of us wonder if God is hearing us. Adam Dressler's new book, This is How We Pray, addresses so many struggles that Christians have with prayer.

This is How We Pray is divided into 15 chapters relating to prayer and God. Chapters address building a sort of friendship in praying with God, addressing the guilt that is often in our hearts, and how so many of us worry instead of praying, among other issues. The last chapter, Simple, offers practical steps to consider in making your prayer life better: Talk to Jesus like a friend, Listening to God, praying briefly but often and other truly practical ideas for bettering your prayer life.

This is How We Pray is written in such a way that I truly enjoyed reading it. Dressler made me think and yet I never felt like he was above me. This book felt like a breath of encouraging air to my prayer life. I have read several books on prayer and I think each one has been helpful, but I have to…

Psalms for Little Hearts written by Dandi Daly Mackall Illustrated by Cee Biscoe

Psalms for Little Hearts introduces children to the psalms and what they can mean to us as children of God. Dandi Daley Mackall writes modern psalms based on the Bible so children can understand them and relate to them understand that God's word is written for them.

There are 25 psalms in Psalms for Little Hearts targeting children ages 8 to 12. Although I think children as young as five would find value in this book with others reading it with them. All of the psalms are all labeled with what the message of each one is: God's Beautiful World, God Gives Me Joy (when I feel sad), God Fights for Me! (when they are the underdog), Give Thanks (teaching gratitude), and God Listens (for when hope is needed). These verses all rhyme and are ones that children could relate to. Then, at the end of each verse written by Mackall, she has a portion of the psalm from the New Living Translation of the Bible so readers can read the psalm she based her verses on.

The illustrations of Psalms fo…

Open Door Living: Easy ways to Share the Gift of Hospitality by Jen Schmidt

I don't know about you, but having people I don't know over for supper is always a bit intimidating to me. Jen Schmidt in her new book, Open-Door Living, hopes to make entertaining less stressful and more enjoyable.

Open-Door Living is a beautiful new book with pretty color photos, recipes, and lots of tips to make entertaining easier and more enjoyable. This gorgeous book has a ribbon marker to mark a recipe or pages of tips to check again. There are chapters on The Heart of Hospitality, Food and Feasting, Cleaning and Decluttering, Atmosphere and Ambience, and Conversation and Community.

Open-Door Living has full-color pictures, gorgeous illustrations and a lot of truly helpful tips and recipes. I especially like the pages with cleaning tips and conversation starters. There is a lot of good information in this small book. However, while it isn't a deal breaker for me, I wish this book had an index so I could quickly find a recipe again or the page of conversation tips. Al…

The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel

The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel is my first novel by this author--but I am looking forward to more of her books. This book is a beautiful weaving of the past and present as we read the story of three women's lives.

Sophia Barrett is a trained counselor who realizes she needs to face her own pain and past before she can continue to help other women.

Ginny Rose is a bookstore owner in England facing her own tough relationship challenges who also needs to help save her dying bookstore and rents a room to Sophia for the summer.

Sophia goes to England and lives above the bookstore hoping to spend time writing out her story to find healing during a break from her job. As she helps Ginny sort through books one day, she discovers a notebook with journal entries from Emily Fairfax, which sets the ladies on a search to solve a mystery.

I enjoyed reading The Secrets of Paper and Ink so much. Sophia's history does contain some abuse and honestly that abuse was similar to wh…

James: A Biblical Commentary by Joyce Meyer

James, A Biblical Commentary by Joyce Meyer is one of the nicest Biblical commentaries that I have used as a layperson.

This commentary on James is especially user friendly. In the introduction, Meyer tells about James--when it was written and some of the history behind this book and the man who wrote it. Joyce then goes on to break the book of James down into chapters and expound on each one. She also includes space to ask yourself questions and to reflect on what you have read.

Meyer's commentary on James is both beautiful on the outside and practical on the inside. The Biblical book of James is one of my favorites. I like her key reminder that we must have faith in God first and then we will do the good works that glorify Him. And that is the key, God is to get the glory and we are reminded that we don't and we need to have the faith to reflect Him to others. I truly appreciate Meyer's hard work to make this book so easy to understand and practical to use for the reader…

Ephesians: A Biblical Commentary by Joyce Meyer

Joyce Meyer's new Bible commentary on Ephesians is as gorgeous as her new commentary on James. These beautiful books are also quite helpful and practical to use.

Meyer starts out telling the reader about the writer of Ephesians, which is Paul, and the timeline in which it was written. I like Meyer's reminder that before we even start studying Ephesians we need to remember Paul's circumstances and the reminder that "no matter how difficult your life may be during certain seasons, remember to do all you can do to bless, help, and encourage others." If we would all remember this, I wonder how much better our world would be right now?

Meyer goes through the book of Ephesians slowly as a commentary should, but she also writes this book so one can easily understand it. I remember looking at some old commentaries years ago and feeling quite lost. Yet, with the Joyce Meyer Biblical Commentary, I think both new believers and those who have been in the faith for a long ti…

Remarkable Hope by Shauna Letellier

Are you struggling to feel hopeful? Feeling like God doesn't hear you?  Remarkable Hope by Shauna Letellier is a new book is full of Bible stories where people lost all hope--but God came in towards the end of the story and everything changed.

In Remarkable Hope, Letellier reminds readers of the stories of John the Baptist, the demon-possessed man, Jarius whose daughter was dying, Martha and Mary as Lazarus was dying, Peter walking on the water and more. In each of these stories, Letellier retells the Bible story so the reader feels like they are right there with them--feeling the hurt and disappointment of a story that isn't going like they wanted it to. Then God changes things in an instant, but not exactly when it was expected.

I enjoyed reading Remarkable Hope. The Bible stories were brought to life so well that I felt like I was living them along with the characters in the stories. She also shares stories of more modern day people that are encouraging. One of those stori…

How the Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim

How the Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim is my first book by this author--but I hope to read more.

This beautiful story begins when Ruth Neufeld's husband and father-in-law are killed in a bombing overseas. Ruth's mother-in-law invites her to travel to Wisconsin with her and her two daughters to bury their men within the Wisconsin Mennonite Community. Elam Albrecht, her husband's cousin, invites them to stay at his cranberry farm through the harvest.

Ruth's marriage was broken and not doing well before her husband died, but she doesn't feel like she can share those details with anyone. She finds both solace and healing in this new place--and perhaps new love with Elam. But will Ruth get the happy ending she hopes for?

How the Light Gets In
is one of the most intriguing novels that I have read lately. Petersheim kept me turning pages quickly and it kept me guessing until the end with some twists and turns. I read the book mostly within a span of two days, in spite …

Whispers and Wildflowers by Sarah Beth Marr

Sarah Beth Marr says in the introduction of Whispers and Wildflowers that hard work is a good thing and she doesn't recommend we go back to flip phones. However, in our busy world we could all use a retreat from our hard work and technology at times.Whispers and Wildflowers was written as a thirty-day retreat to enjoy day by day. Marr encourages the reader to slow down, savor Scripture and draw closer to God each of those days. However, she says to use the book however it works best for you.

In Whispers and Wildflowers, Each day's reading begins with a a selection to read and reflect on for each day. She then has a couple of pages dedicated to journaling called Garden Moments for Your Soul. Then the reading ends with a prayer--and there is extra space to write more to the prayer or to write more thoughts about the reading.

My husband and I love to garden. In fact, I used to garden with him for dates before we got married as he lived on an acreage and I in an apartment. With t…