Monday, March 20, 2017

Book Review: Long Days of Small Things



Motherhood can be demanding. I have 5 small children, and though motherhood is a joy, it can also be very difficult. In her book, Catherine McNiel strives to encourage moms so that they are able to recognize and savor the sacred amidst the mundane parts of life. 

I was so excited about this book! The subject matter is exciting, the title is perfect, the picture on the front is beautiful! But when I opened it and began to read, I was disappointed. Instead of the deep spiritual book I had been hoping for, this book is more shallow. It is more a coffee table book to pick up and browse when you have a few spare minutes. The tidbits of advice are good: pray, love people, read the Bible, etc. But the heart of the message seemed to be based more on "works of righteousness" than on truly resting in Christ to bring about transformation. If I keep trying to "do better" in my own strength, I fail every time. I just wish she had spent less time on what I "ought" to be doing, and more time on what Christ has already done for me. 


To learn more about the author, click HERE.



I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers for this review.

Book Review: Life After



A terrorist bombing on a train leaves 22 dead and one survivor. A year after the attack, Autumn is still haunted by survivor's guilt as she scrambles to remember the details of the days surrounding the attack. A widower with two children is haunted by his own grief and guilt. When he and Autumn are suddenly thrown together, they must work through their unique issues as they begin to heal. 

This is a fascinating study of survivor's guilt! The story line is interesting, with a few surprise twists and turns. The characters are nuanced and realistic. As the plot thickens, you may find yourself laughing and crying along with the characters. I cannot think of anything negative about this book, and don't want to say much more, lest I give away too much information! Such a great read!


To learn more about the author, click HERE.





I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Book Review: Treasures in Dark Places




I was excited to read this book, hoping to learn more about the ministry of rescuing girls from being trafficked in India. However, I was surprised to learn that this book is more about the author's testimony than about her ministry. Her story is interesting and well written, if a bit more charismatic than I am comfortable with. She tells of how God pursued her and taught her through visions and dreams. Though I do believe God still speaks in these ways, I am hesitant to give God credit for everything I dream. Sometimes they are just myself speaking. 

My favorite part of the book came at the conclusion, when the author finally dedicated a few paragraphs to the importance of her ministry. A story was told of a 7 year old who was tricked into going to a brothel to work, her family having been convinced she was going to a nice boarding school. After a year of surviving as a sex slave, she climbed her 4 story building and jumped off to end her life.  I will leave you with an excerpt so you may better pray. 

Thousands of little girls across north India languish in similar anger, waiting for someone to help them. India has been termed the "poisonous hub" of sex trafficking in Asia.  The Ganges River area alone sees over 25,000 children trafficked annually. One researcher dubbed it the "touchstone of our success or failure in completing the task of world evangelization" with Christians numbering less than 2 percent of burgeoning three hundred million people. 

To learn more about author Leanna Cinquanta and her ministry, click HERE



I received this book from Chosen Books for this review.

Futility

I keep thinking that the things I do have some impact on God's work in my life.

But that's wrong.

No matter what I do, God is still God. He will continue His work, whether I am "good" or "bad."

I cook dinner most nights. Sometimes the 2 year old throws a hissy fit in the hallway next to me. I just continue to work on dinner. Sometimes the 2 year old has dumped the plastic plates and cups out of the cabinet. I just step over the mess and continue to work on dinner. Sometimes the 2 year old is clinging to my legs and singing. I just limp around and continue to work on dinner. I am at work no matter what he does.

In fact the things that I do are quite like the things my son does. They are quite futile.

Here's a definition for you:

fu·tile


ˈfyo͞odl,ˈfyo͞odīl/
adjective
adjective: futile
  1. incapable of producing any useful result; pointless.

    "a futile attempt to keep fans from mounting the stage"

    synonyms:fruitlessvainpointlessuselessineffectualineffectiveinefficacious, to no effect, of no use, in vain, to no avail, unavailing
    unsuccessfulfailed, thwarted; 
    archaicbootless

    "they piled on thousands of sandbags in a futile attempt to hold back the river"
    antonyms:useful

My actions are often futile. And that's REALLY frustrating! But no matter how hard I strive to "do better," my actions remain futile.

Look, I'm not making this up!

"For the creation was subjected to futility--not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it--in the hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of corruption into the glorious freedom of God's children." (Romans 8:20-21)

It's right there in the Bible. Your works are futile. Why do you keep trying so hard??

Paul became exasperated with the Galatians for trying too hard: "You foolish Galatians! Who has hypnotized you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was vividly portrayed as crucified? I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:1-3)

Listen to me for a moment:

WORKING HARDER DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BETTER CHRISTIAN.

Jesus invites us into a place of rest: "Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

Besides that, He likes to use our weaknesses for His glory. Did you hear that? He takes all your sins and struggles and problems and uses them for His glory!

"Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us." (2 Corinthians 4:7)

He shines through the cracks in our lives. So cheer up, and don't be afraid of your futility!

But what if we stumble? What if we mess up? What if we say or do the wrong thing?

Well, we probably will. We're doing that already, aren't we? But if we stop trying to proceed in OUR strength and begin to rest in HIM, we will find ourselves stumbling much less. Try it.

What do I mean by rest in Him? Just remember that He loves you. Remember that He loves you when you're being very good, and He loves you when you're being very bad. His grace isn't dependent upon your doing better. He just loves you. Rest in that knowledge. Let it free you to relax in His arms. When you relax and take your eyes off of yourself and your problems, you are free to focus on Him. And as you keep your eyes on Him, He transforms you.

"We all, with unveiled faces, are reflecting the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:17)

Embrace your futility. It reminds you that you are not God.

(and for further study, check out Romans 8)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Book Review: The Mark of the King



In 1719, midwife Julianne is accused of murder when her client dies in childbirth. Julienne becomes a branded prisoner, is forced to marry another convict, and is shipped off to Louisiana colony. Her hope rests in God and in her search to find her brother, who went to Louisiana colony as a soldier years before.

The Mark of the King is a stunning book. The based-in-fact details are often gritty, yet give a fascinating picture of what life was like in France and the Americas in the early 1700s. Author Jocelyn Green quotes historical documents throughout the book, lending credence to the story line. Adventure, love, social class in France, Native American relations, historical hurricanes, faith... this was a book I couldn't put down!

To learn more about the author, click HERE



I received this book from Bethany House for this review.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Book Review: Nothing to Prove


As I read this book, I kept my eye out for a quote to share. Unfortunately, I ended up wanting to quote most of the book, so here I have a book review without a quote.

The first part of the book is called "Our desert of striving," and author Jennie Allen talks about how we continually strive to be "enough." The sad truth though is that we CANNOT achieve the things we pursue. We are not enough, nor can we be.

This would be a hopeless situation, but for God... The second part of the book is called "God's streams of enoughness." Here are the chapter titles for this section:

No Longer Thirsty
No Longer Lonely
No Longer Tired
No Longer Passive
No Longer Afraid
No Longer Ashamed
No Longer Empty

/This book is an excellent read for anyone who is tired of the endless cycle of trying and failing, trying and failing. Our modern Christianity keeps telling us to WORK HARDER and if you're a good enough Christian God will give you the strength to "arrive." But there's a better way.

We don't have to try harder, We don't have to work to be enough. Christ is already enough for all that we need, and that's such a refreshing message for any season of our lives.

To learn more about the author, click HERE.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Book Review: Where Does Love Hide?


"Where does love hide? Behind the door until... I unpack groceries. Do whatever you can to help. Deuteronomy 22:3" 





Your children go through different rooms of the house, to the yard and to the park to discover where love hides in this colorful lift a flap book. My children modeled the book for me, some of them more enthusiastically than the others. 

I'm conflicted about this book. It's definitely bright and colorful, with pretty illustrations. I love the art! And the flaps are fun to lift to see what's underneath them. And the messages are good, with scripture references included. However, I found it to be a bit confusing. What do they mean by "Where does love hide"? The author tries to explain difficult concepts simply, but I'm not sure the question "where does love hide" explains the concepts very well. A child might think that love is hiding behind the door until I unpack groceries... then what, where does the love go when I unpack groceries? Is it gone? The wording is just confusing to me. But overall it's a fun book with a good message. 


To learn more about the author, click HERE



I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers for this review.