Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Review: "Nothing to Prove" by Jennie Allen

Nothing to Prove: Why We Can Stop Trying So HardJennie Allen's newest book, "Nothing to Prove", offers encouragement to the reader who struggles with trying so hard, with wondering if they are truly enough for their families, their churches, and their communities. The book is divided into two sections. The first one identifies the problem of our striving. The second section discusses the solution--trusting in what Jesus has already done for us. She covers topics such as fear, loneliness, risk, and shame. At the end of each chapter in the second section, there is an "Experience Guide" with questions for reflection and practical application.

While there wasn't a whole lot of new information for me in this book, I did appreciate the reminders of God's enoughness throughout the book. I really enjoyed her thoughts and reflections contained in the chapter about fear. This would be a great book to go through in a small group.

(I’ve received this complimentary book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

Friday, January 27, 2017

A Review: "Chasing Slow" by Erin Loechner

I first became acquainted with Erin Loechner through her occasional co-hosting on "The Simple Show" podcast. After hearing her several times, I was intrigued to read her first book "Chasing Slow:  Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path". Erin shares her story of the early years of her marriage, some heavy trials they went through, motherhood, and her explosion on the blog scene. Woven throughout, she shares how her priorities and perspective shifted as she began to pursue a call to slower, more focused living.

Her story meanders through various stages of her life. Told in poetry-like prose, she shares personally and freely about tough situations and tough questions. While there are no easy answers to things she asks, these questions are a springboard to causing the reader to reflect on their own lives and what changes we can make. This is a beautiful book and I truly enjoyed reading it. However, at times it felt like it meandered a little too much and it became a little hard to follow at times. Despite that, it was still a wonderful book that I would definitely recommend.

(I’ve received this complimentary book through the BookLook program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Review: "Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life" by Henri J.M. Nouwen

Love, Henri: Letters on Love, Hope, Faith, and VocationUpon his death in 1996, Henri Nouwen left behind a vast collection of personal letters. Archivist Gabrielle Earnshaw spent many years identifying, sorting, and cataloguing these letters and eventually collected thousands of letters from the original recipients. She compiled these letters into this first volume released in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of his death. Spanning 23 years and covering a wide range of topics, these letters are introduced with a brief description to put them into context. The book is divided into three sections, each covering a certain period of time. It is an intensely personal look into the life of Henri Nouwen and an absolute treasure to have a collection such as this.

I do not typically write in my books, but I made an exception for this one. There were so many beautiful thoughts and passages that I want to remember and be able to come back to over and over again. While I don't agree with everything that he shares, his wisdom is profound and his love and concern for each person he writes to is obvious. This is not a book meant to be read through quickly; rather, it's one that is meant to be savored and pondered over slowly. It's an absolutely beautiful book that I will certainly re-read.

(I’ve received this complimentary book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

Friday, December 16, 2016

A Review: "Waves of Mercy" by Lynn Austin

Waves of MercyWhen asked by her son, Geesje de Jonge begins to write her memoirs for her town's Semi-Centennial celebration. She sifts through pieces of the past, starting with emigrating to Michigan from the Netherlands fifty years earlier. Reliving her memories of the regrets, hardships, grief, and joys of the past helps her to see just how God has proven to be with her time and again, as well as giving her a unique way to help out a young woman from a nearby hotel who is struggling with similar issues to Geesje's from years ago.

I have loved Lynn Austin's books for years and found with this latest novel that she is still a stellar writer. Her ability to weave together a complex story and intertwine the lives of seemingly unconnected people is incredible. I appreciated the depth of the characters and the details of the stories. The overarching themes of choosing to love in marriage and of never being left alone by God shine through this novel. I got to the end of it wishing for more--always a sign of a truly well-written book.

(I’ve received this complimentary book from Bethany House Publishers through the Book Blogger program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Review: "Falling Free" by Shannan Martin

Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always WantedShannan Martin, a blogger from Indiana, poignantly shares the story of her family's journey from comfort and the American Dream to living on "the wrong side of the tracks" in her first book, "Falling Free." The Martin family lived on a quiet, idealistic farm with their three children, but one day, they began to sense God calling them to leave it behind and pursue a greater adventure. They eventually sold their farm and moved to a city neighborhood that, at first glance, didn't offer much for their family. But through their obedience, they began to experience a life like no other, one that only God could create for them.

Martin writes beautifully and shares her family's story and experiences in a way that tugs on your heart strings. She challenges the reader to expand our horizons and see the different ways that God may be calling us to step outside our comfort and security zones in order to make a tangible difference among the least. It's a wonderful story, filled with many thought-provoking and eye-opening statements. I highly recommend this amazing book!

(I’ve received this complimentary book through the BookLook program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Review: "Rhythms of Rest" by Shelly Miller

Cover ArtSabbath. A word that calls forth many ideas and misconceptions. In this book, "Rhythms of Rest," Shelly Miller addresses the topic of Sabbath. She seeks to dispel the myths around Sabbath and invites the reader to take steps to integrate Sabbath into a regular weekly routine.With busyness and productivity pushing people to their limits, learning to bring rest into our schedules helps give us space to ultimately enjoy life.

Miller writes beautifully--prose with the soul of poetry. Even reading the book invites the reader to slowly savor it, to linger over the chapters, paragraphs, and phrases. She takes the time to unpack what Sabbath truly is and what it isn't. She shares how Sabbath looks in her life, as well as the lives of those who are part of her "Sabbath Society." I truly appreciated how thought-provoking this book is. It challenged me to see how I can start integrating Sabbath in my life, even in small increments to begin with. This is a truly lovely book that I will return to for fresh encouragement on bringing rest into my life.

(I’ve received this complimentary book from Bethany House Publishers through the Book Blogger program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)




Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Review: "A Mile Wide" by Brandon Hatmaker

A Mile Wide: Trading a Shallow Religion for a Deeper FaithI've been a fan of Brandon's wife, Jen Hatmaker, for a while now. It seemed natural to pick his book after reading and enjoying several of hers. His book, "A Mile Wide:  Trading a Shallow Religion for a Deeper Faith," did not disappoint. He helps the believer walk through that desire for "something more" that we all feel at some point or another, that longing for depth that we can't seem to find no matter how hard we try. With so many churches and individuals talking about authenticity, it seems like depth would be easier to find. But, alas...it's not as easy as it seems! Hatmaker shares plenty of Scriptural insights and practical ideas for developing and nurturing the authenticity and depth that so many of us long for.

My favorite chapter was Chapter 5, "A Better Community." This chapter is loaded with ideas and reflections on how to bring greater depth to your church and small group. With my husband and I about to start a small group at church, this chapter helped spark some thoughts on how to bring our group closer together and find ways to get involved with service projects to help us grow in our faith. This was a great book that was thought-provoking and challenging.

(I’ve received this complimentary book through the BookLook program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)