Thursday, September 26, 2019

A Review: "Breaking Anxiety's Grip" by Dr. Michelle Bengtson

Breaking Anxiety's Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God PromisesFamily. Marriage. Finances. Social media. The nightly news. The sources of anxiety are endless. Dr. Michelle Bengtson's newest book, "Breaking Anxiety's Grip:  How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises", is a wonderful deep-dive into the root causes of anxiety and the journey to true freedom.

I found this book to be very helpful and encouraging. Dr. Bengston did a wonderful job of sharing her anxious struggles and weaving Scripture throughout. She includes plenty of vignettes from others who share their stories and how they have overcome anxiety in their lives. With a heavy emphasis on the role of faith in finding freedom from anxiety, she encourages memorizing Scripture to truly immerse yourself in the words of truth from the Bible. At the end of each chapter, she includes some reflective questions that are great to go through on your own, but would be even better with a close friend or counselor. She also shares some songs that have been instrumental in her journey that may be beneficial for the reader.

This is a wonderful resource for people who suffer from anxiety, and will be a wonderful tool to use in conjunction with her first book, "Hope Prevails:  Insights from a Doctor's Personal Journey Through Depression", since anxiety and depression tend to go hand-in-hand. Highly recommended!

(I’ve received this complimentary book through the Revell 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.)

Sunday, June 30, 2019

A Review: "The Next Right Thing" by Emily P. Freeman

The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life DecisionsMaking decisions. For some people, it comes so easy. For others, decisions can be fraught with difficulty. "The Next Right Thing" by Emily P. Freeman is designed to help the reader through decision fatigue, overcoming the challenges of making decisions (big or small), and find the right next step to pursue. Each chapter is a beautiful call to slow down, engage with our own hearts and souls, and find the space we need to make that next decision with peace.

Each chapter includes a thought on particular topic related to making decisions and concludes with a prayer and a pathway to action. My personal favorite chapters included decluttering your soul, naming the unnamed narratives in life for what they truly are, and finding people who can speak truth into your life and help you find clarity. It was a wonderful book, full of fantastic practical advice. I look forward to applying it in my life when I am faced with my next big decision. But, until then, I can practice doing the next right thing in even the small ways of life.

(I’ve received this complimentary book through the Revell 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.)

Monday, April 29, 2019

A Review: "Here, Now" by Kate Merrick

Here, Now: Unearthing Peace and Presence in an Overconnected WorldI was first introduced to Kate Merrick on "The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey" podcast (episode 133--check it out). She shared about her first book, the death of her daughter, and going off (and staying off!) social media. Her story is compelling and beautiful. After that introduction and discovering her new book, "Here, Now" released, I was eager to jump in. This book is a deep dive into what it means to be fully present in your life as it is, not as you want it to be.

I loved the encouragement found in this book. She shares candidly and openly about what drove her to disconnect from all social media, to get rid of Internet access in her home, and simply streamline daily choices so you can fully experience the life and relationships that are directly in front of you. It is a very thought-provoking book, especially with regard to how many soul-sucking hours are spent on social media, cultivating online relationship while allowing real-life relationships to languish. I appreciated her insights about Sabbath and rest. It was a message I needed to hear as I have been contemplating for some time just how to create more online disconnect in my life and focus on my life, my family, and my community in real time.

(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.)

Saturday, March 2, 2019

A Review: "Placemaker" by Christie Purifoy

Placemaker: Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and PeaceI first encountered the words and work of Christie Purifoy when she did a podcast interview on "The Simple Show" (episode 32--go listen; it's a good one!). I was so captivated by her words that I checked out her book "Roots and Sky" from the library. It drew me in so quickly and thoroughly that I immediately ordered her book because it was one that I needed to own. She came through the pages as a kindred spirit, one who I could count as a friend even though she has no idea who I am! When I found out that she was releasing another book, I jumped at the chance to be on the launch team for her newest work, "Placemaker".

"Placemaker" beautifully shares the love that Christie has for home and trees. She shares the stories of the widely differing places that she has called home. She doesn't gloss over the challenges of many of those places, but she continually draws the reader back to the beauty and peace of each place. Woven throughout is the story of the trees that define each place. I loved the way that nature holds such a prominent place in this book.

As I read this book, my little corner of Minnesota was hit with a blizzard (culminating our snowiest February on record!). The month felt like it had sucked the soul and life out of everything, but this book helped me so much to see the beauty of my outdoors and to look forward to the promise of spring. I loved this book and can't recommend it highly enough!

(I’ve received this complimentary book as part of the launch team for Christie Purifoy's new release, "Placemaker". A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

Saturday, February 23, 2019

A Review: "I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening)" by Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers

I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening): A Guide to Grace-Filled Political ConversationsThe popular hosts of the podcast "Pantsuit Politics" recently released their first book, "I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening)". What a gift to our highly charged culture! With politics a taboo subject at many family gatherings and off-limits between people of different viewpoints, Sarah and Beth show us there is a better way. Coming from different political backgrounds themselves, they share how they chose to put aside partisanship and seek to truly understand how "the other side" thinks about the issues.

I have known of their podcast, but have never listened to it before. This book was a wonderful primer on how they interact with one another and discuss issues with plenty of nuance, depth, and true desire to learn from one another. Having these kinds of discussions are not only possible, but they are necessary and vital to improving our neighborhoods, communities, and ultimately our nation. Each chapter ends with "Continue the Conversation", practical reflection questions to help the reader apply the ideas and principles in the chapters to their own lives.

This book should be required reading for every citizen, every politician at every level, every registered voter and those planning to register. Moving political dialogue from shouting matches, insults, and stereotypes needs to be the goal. This book shows us that this really can happen. What a country we could become if everyone actually put this into practice!

"We need to bring our voices and perspectives to the table calmly, with respect for ourselves and one another, recognizing that we do not live alone. America has never been and will never be homogeneous. We are here to bump up again each other. We need to bring our faith and values not just to specific issues but to the process of engaging in civil discourse. We can share our perspectives on even the most controversial and personal topics. Doing so will de-escalate the rhetoric and open pathways for solutions, innovation, and a strong national identity." (p. 4-5)

(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.)

Saturday, February 16, 2019

A Review: "Girls' Club" by Sally, Sarah, and Joy Clarkson

Girls' Club: Cultivating Lasting Friendship in a Lonely WorldIn a society that has increasingly moved from in-person connection to online social media as a way to connect, we as a society have largely lost the true meaning and way of friendship. Despite our perceived connections, studies have shown that we are lonelier than ever. This new release from the Sally, Sarah, and Joy Clarkson is a breath of fresh air and encouragement for women everywhere. They encourage us by sharing their stories and experiences with cultivating community and investing in the women in our lives.

I truly appreciated the different perspectives that each woman brought to this book. Sally brings with her years of life and ministry experience. Sarah is a wife and new mom navigating life in England. Joy is a young, single PhD student studying in Scotland. They share about times of loneliness and how they overcame it, stepping out and choosing to initiate community and friendship even when it may have seemed hard, and choosing to cultivate characteristics in their own lives that will help them be a better friend. Loaded with wisdom, insight, and encouragement, this is a wonderful book to read through with a friend or a women's group.

"With this book, we wish to pass on a vision for the power that friendship between women can generate and also to sketch some practical wisdom for cultivating these relationships. If nothing else, we hope to set your imagination free and to paint a picture of what richness and delight  and depth friendship can hold." (p. xxv)

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

Monday, January 14, 2019

Quick Lit: What I've Been Reading Lately

I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for this month's quick lit, where I share short and sweet reviews of a few books I've read in the past month (or so). You can also find me over at Goodreads if you are interested in other books I've read or reviewed.

The Library BookThe Library Book by Susan Orlean. My husband and I recently visited Nashville, TN, and a stop at Parnassus Books was on the list of things to do. I treated myself to this book on our visit there after hearing so many amazing things about it. What an incredible book! The author takes the reader on a journey through the Los Angeles Public Library system, highlighting the devastating fire on April 28, 1986, that destroyed 400,000 books and damaged 700,000 others. She eloquently describes the impact of the fire and the aftermath, and seamlessly weaves in her love of books and libraries. While there is a true crime element present, the book reads like a love letter to readers, libraries, librarians, and books. An absolute gem!



The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death RowThe Sun Does Shine:  How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton. I first came across Hinton's story in the incredible book Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. I stumbled on this book one day while browsing in my library and knew I needed to read it. Hinton was arrested in 1985 and charged with murder. Being a poor black man in Alabama, justice was not served for him. He was sentenced to death, despite strong evidence against his having committed the crimes. For thirty years, he clung to his innocence as he waited on death row, with that innocence giving him hope and light in a very dark place. With the help of Bryan Stevenson and the work of Equal Justice Initiative, Hinton was finally set free in 2015. An incredibly powerful, riveting story. Highly recommended!


Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters MostToo Small to Ignore:  Why the Least of These Matters Most by Wess Stafford. Dr. Stafford, a former president of Compassion International, shares his heart and God's heart for children around the world in this moving book. He weaves his personal story with biblical truth and examples from around the world on the importance of children and really focusing in on ministry and care for children and their future. It is a wonderful read for anyone who sponsors a child through Compassion, anyone involved in children's or youth ministry, and anyone who is a parent.

A Review: "Breaking Anxiety's Grip" by Dr. Michelle Bengtson

Family. Marriage. Finances. Social media. The nightly news. The sources of anxiety are endless. Dr. Michelle Bengtson's newest book, &qu...