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Book Reviews

Book Review | Girl Talk

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Girl Talk: 52 Weekly Devotions
by Lois Walfrid Johnson

Written for tween and early teen girls, Girl Talk offers weekly devotions about the situations middle school girls face like embarrassing moments, mean girls, and transitioning into a young woman.  Each entry begins with a brief Scripture, includes a story the girls can relate to, offers 7 days of questions/prayer journal prompts, etc. and concludes with a prayer.girl-talk

In addition to working as a devotional for girls to use on their own, it could be used by moms and daughters together to talk through the scenarios in the readings or even used with small groups for tween girls.

My personal preference at this point with my daughter would probably be to read less made-up stories about girls and dig a little deeper into Scripture, but the book is a good fit for those who want something more topical and perhaps focused on life application and keeping an open dialogue with girls about the problems they face and how the Bible helps us handle them.

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.”

Disclaimer:   Heather King is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

Book Review | Love, Henri

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Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life
by Henri Nouwen

Over the summer, I read a book by Henri Nouwen for the first time, Turn My Mourning Into Dancing.  I highlighted so much of it, almost every page was a rainbow of quotes and ideas I wanted to remember.  So, I was truly interested in getting to know more about this priest, chaplain, teacher and author by reading this collection of over 100 of his personal letters called: Love, Henri.love-henri

The letters serve as the most intimate of biographies as he corresponded with vulnerability and honesty.  He wrote letters of encouragement to missionaries, pastors, writers, married couples, those considering the priesthood, and even senators.  He even responded to a negative reviewer here and there.

As a passionate Catholic, he wrote often about themes like icons and the saints, which didn’t always connect with me.  Still, so much of what he wrote was universally poignant and powerful.  You can truly get a sense of his deep struggles and how he drew on his faith for strength and help.  His most common advice for those who asked him questions was to take time for prayer, focus on prayer, get away for prayer, make prayer a priority.  This is surely something most of us can learn from.

This book is beautifully put together.  Each letter is introduced with a brief comment about the context for what he wrote, perhaps an event in his life or a comment about the person he is writing to.  I learned a great deal about his life in particular and about growing in faith more generally through this collection of letters.

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.”

Disclaimer:   Heather King is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

Book Review | 31 Verses to Write On Your Heart

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31 Verses to Write on Your Heart
by Liz Curtis Higgs

Liz Curtis Higgs has been one of my favorite authors and Bible study teachers for years, especially with her Bad Girls of the Bible series and The Girl’s Still Got It. Her newest book is classic Liz.  In 31 Verses to Write On Your Heart, she breaks down 31 of our most favorite Bible verses, often examining individual words in order to teach us what the verses mean.  Each chapter is extremely brief, probably the length of reading a blog post, which makes this book a particularly good fit to read one-chapter-a-day, giving you time to really let the lessons soak in.verses

To her great credit, Liz chooses extremely well-known and well-loved verses and gives both context for them (something we occasionally lack when we quote these particular Scriptures) and fresh perspective (something quite remarkable given that most of us have read these verses many times).  I particularly love how she draws from many translations to give nuance and clarity to particular words or phrases in Scripture.

Each chapter ends with a brief and lovely prayer, as well as some helps to memorize the Bible verse in the form of a memory tip, the verse typed out in the NIV version, and then space for you to look it up and write it in a different translation.  She also gathers all the memory tips up and re-lists them at the back of the book and includes a study guide with two questions per chapter to help you go deeper or for use with a small group.

31 Verses to Write On Your Heart is for new believers and long-term Christians alike and would make a lovely gift to encourage someone.  It would also help to anyone wanting to develop the discipline of Scripture memory!

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.”

Disclaimer:   Heather King is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

Book Review | Unreasonable Hope

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In Unreasonable Hope, Chad Veach shares his own family’s personal story of choosing hope and continually looking forward to God’s goodness despite tough circumstances.  When he and his wife learned that their precious first-born daughter had lissencephaly (or “smooth brain”) and would not develop mentally beyond about 3 months, they had to find ways to continue to hope in God. unreasonable hope

Much of the book reads like a memoir as he shares about the pregnancy, birth, diagnosis and continual care of their daughter Georgie.  As he tells his story, he reminds the reader to build a community, to refuse bitterness, to remember what God has already done, to share testimony of God’s goodness, and to pray with faith.  He manages to walk that very difficult balance-beam of believing God can do anything and knowing that sometimes He chooses not to heal or perform a miracle.

Veach divides the book up into four parts:  The Struggle, The Remedy, The Rest, The Better, and each of these sections includes a final chapter that focuses on the practical.  He tells his story and offers encouragement for a few chapters and then he gives you several points on what these lessons might look like when lived out in your own circumstances and your own life. I loved that he did this because it helped the book move beyond just “someone else’s story” and nudged the reader into application and personal growth.

At the end of the book, he reminds us that 1 Corinthians 13 says, “And now abides faith, hope, and love…”  We talk a lot about faith.  We focus a lot on love.  But sometimes we forget the necessity of hope, and yet hope is what  helps us rest in God’s love, trust Him for the future, and not give up when things go horribly wrong.

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.”

Book Review | Moments and Days

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Moments & Days: How Our Holy Celebrations Shape our Faith
by Michelle Van Loon

Michelle Van Loon writes about time and holy celebrations from a unique perspective in her book, Moments & Days.  She shares throughout the book from her experiences growing up in a Jewish family, finding faith in Christ and worshiping in Messianic congregations, serving in mainstream evangelical churches and then transitioning to a more liturgical style of worship.   In her faith journey, she found that longing for “holy days” that draw our attention to the significance of time and how to “experience eternity in the everyday.”moments and days

In Moments & Days, she begins by sharing about the Jewish feasts, their Scriptural background, and ways that they are celebrated.  She then offers some practical ways we could choose to recognize these special days in our own lives and families.

Her chapter on the Sabbath included some of my favorite insights in the book.  Many Christian authors have taken on the subject of Sabbath rest in recent years, but Michelle notes that mostly the message is one of “self-care:” We need rest because God designed us that way, so find ways to rest.  But  for the Jewish people, Sabbath wasn’t just an “afternoon off” to add a little sanity to an otherwise hectic week.  It was about being set apart and oriented toward God.  We don’t just keep the Sabbath; we keep the Sabbath “holy.”

In the second half of her book, Michelle walks through the liturgical holy days within the Christian tradition, from Advent and Christmas to the Holy Week of Easter and the “ordinary time” in the months before the Advent season begins again.  She balances with grace the ways different families and individuals choose to worship.

The whole book, actually, is balanced with a great deal of grace.  Michelle includes a discussion of that question: “Which is better?  Do we have to celebrate the Jewish holy days or follow the Christian calendar?”  Her answer is—either one.  Seek God and go for it!  With a look back at history and tradition, she offers both as a positive way to make time count and our lives focused on our journey with Him.

Included in the book are some of her family recipes for celebrating holy days and also a side-by-side calendar comparison to show how the Jewish feasts and Christian calendar differ.

This is a helpful and easy-to-read tool for those wanting an overview of sacred days and how to celebrate.  For more information about any one holiday, Michelle refers you to other sources that would provide more details and practical tips.  Her book sparks interest in the reader and encourages further study.

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.”

Disclaimer:   Heather King is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com