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A Review: "Waves of Mercy" by Lynn Austin

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When 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--…

A Review: "Falling Free" by Shannan Martin

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Shannan 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 wonderfu…

A Review: "Rhythms of Rest" by Shelly Miller

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Sabbath. 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 boo…

A Review: "A Mile Wide" by Brandon Hatmaker

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I'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 …

A Review: "Dirty Glory" by Pete Greig

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"Dirty Glory" by Pete Greig is the second book in the Red Moon Chronicles. With fifteen years experience working with 24-7 prayer, Greig shares many more stories and adventures from this movement. The stories meander all over the globe, with powerful testimonies of the work of God coming from all over. The book is broken down in five separate sections:  Presence, Prayer, Mission, Justice, and Joy. The chapters in each section share insights, Scriptures, and stories that pertain to each particular theme. My personal favorite was the section on Justice. It was such an encouragement to not just sit on the sidelines while others work for social justice, but to seek ways for practical involvement as well, even in my own little corner of the world.

This book stirred something in my soul, giving me a greater longing for the kind of prayer and passion that characterizes the lives of those deeply involved with 24-7 prayer. It's a compelling read that can sometimes leave the read…

A Review: "Uninvited" by Lysa Terkeurst

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The newest offering from Lysa Terkeurst, "Uninvited," looks at the issue of rejection and how it plays out in our daily lives.  Lysa shares openly and candidly about her experiences with rejection, both actual and preceived. So many people have internalized rejection from an early age and it still causes havoc years down the road. The roots of rejection can run deep and can hinder our relationship with our Creator. Rejection is a powerful tool used by Satan to hinder the good works that God wants to do in and through us.

I've been a fan of Lysa's work for a while, and this book was no exception. I deeply appreciated the Scriptures that she brings forth and the stories that she told from her own personal experience. I especially appreciated her encouragement to replace negative self-talk with truth and the reminder that we need to be grounded and rooted in the unchanging truth of who God is and who He says we are. This book is a true gift for all who ever struggle wit…

Quick Lit: What I've Been Reading Lately

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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. You can also find me over at Goodreads if you are interested in other books I've read or reviewed.


"Present Over Perfect" by Shauna Niequist. I have loved Niequist's writing from the beginning, and this latest collection of essays did not disappoint! She deals with how busyness was wrecking her life--physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Beautifully written and deeply personal, these essays resonated with me. I loved the themes found throughout and it left me thinking about ways I have allowed busyness to wreck my own life. Thought-provoking and wonderful.





"The Nightingale" by Kristin Hannah. This novel shares the story of two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, as they take two very different paths through World War II-stricken France. Vianne keeps up the home front and tries to survive with her daught…

A Review: "Hope Prevails" by Dr. Michelle Bengtson

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Dr. Michelle Bengston is a neuropsychologist who has worked with many clients suffering depression. When she went through her own personal experience with depression, she discovered some missing elements in the treatment of depression. This book, "Hope Prevails" is her story through depression and what she learned in the process.

I really enjoyed this book as a whole. Dr. Bengston did a wonderful job of sharing her story and weaving Scripture throughout. One of the primary focus of the book was to encourage the sufferer of depression to take captive every thought--learn to recognize the lies that we have believed and replace them with the truth. It's an excellent thought that everyone, not just those struggling with depression, can take more to heart. With a heavy emphasis on the role of faith in finding healing from depression, she encourages memorizing Scripture to truly immerse yourself in the words of truth from the Bible. At the end of each chapter, she includes so…

Quick Lit: What I've Been Reading Lately

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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. You can also find me over at Goodreads if you are interested in other books I've read or reviewed.

"Home is Where My People Are" by Sophie Hudson. This memoir takes the reader on a journey through Hudson's life, particularly focusing on how she discovered that home isn't necessarily a place but rather the people around you. Her honesty shines through as she shares her story in such a relatable way. I enjoyed much of this book, but I found the frequent parenthetical comments and bits that were in all caps to be a bit annoying and over the top.


"Before the Fall" by Noah Hawley. Sixteen minutes into a flight, a private plane crashes into the ocean. The only survivors are painter Scott Burroughs and four-year-old JJ Bateman. With much speculation as to what caused the crash, Scott finds himself strug…

Quick Lit: What I've Been Reading Lately

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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. You can also find me over at Goodreads if you are interested in other books I've read or reviewed.

"Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania" by Erik Larson. This book was an enthralling look at the events surround the sinking of the Lusitania. The narrative writing style made the history of it come alive. It gives a fascinating look at what life was like in a WWI submarine and provides plenty of stories about the different people on the ship, the submarine, and in the government. The end does leave the reader with plenty of questions regarding the sinking, most of which will probably never be answered. A highly engaging read. I definitely recommend this book!



"How To Train Your Dragon" by Cressida Cowell. Our family listened to this audio book while on vacation. It is different than the movie, so k…

A Review: "The Blessing of Humility" by Jerry Bridges

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In what turned out to be his final book, late author Jerry Bridges leads the reader on a journey through the Beatitudes in "The Blessing of Humility". In ten chapters, he explores each characteristic noted in the Beatitudes individually and discusses how it helps lead the believer into humility. He also includes chapters on how humility and the Gospel intersect, and gives the reader a very brief overview of humility in the New Testament.

I truly enjoyed and appreciated the layout and content of this book. Humility is a virtue that is discussed so little in churches and other Christian circles that this book stands out as a great resource. The depth with which Bridges writes helps the reader understand well each character trait in the Beatitudes. The discussion guide included at the back of the book is perfect for individuals and small groups who want to dive deeper into this topic. This was a fantastic, quick read with so much value and depth. Highly recommended!

(I’ve recei…

A Review: "Unashamed" by Christine Caine

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"Unashamed" is the newest, powerful book by author and speaker Christine Caine. Drawing on her own personal experience, the stories of others, and weaving Scripture throughout, Caine shares candidly about the effects of shame and the journey to overcome it. "Unashamed" helps the reader to identify areas of poisonous shame, toxic thoughts that hold us captive and distort our perspective about ourselves and about God. She shares about the consequences of allowing shame to remain hidden and continuing to give it a stronghold in our lives. She describes the path to freedom for herself and others, which gives incredible encouragement for others who are in various stages of that journey themselves.

My two favorite chapters were "God Moves In So We Can Move On" and "He Healed My Mind". These two chapters deal specifically with the healing that God brings when we bring our shame to Him and allow Him heal our hearts and minds. Retraining our minds is a l…

A Review: "Colors of Goodbye" by September Vaudrey

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May 31, 2008. The date that life forever changed for the Vaudrey family. Nineteen year old Katie left for her first day of her summer job and never made it. Her mother, September Vaudrey, captures the story of Katie's life, death, and the grief of the family so very poignantly in this book, "Colors of Goodbye".

This memoir is incredibly touching. September shares so freely the profound loss their family felt in the aftermath of Katie's death. She doesn't shy away from the difficult aspects, and is very candid in sharing how the different personalities in her family grieved in different ways. Her openness and honesty with the realities of grief captured me and drew me completely in to their family story.

Katie was a gifted artist. Her artwork is interspersed throughout the book, which gives it even greater meaning. This book is a beautiful tribute to their daughter. I feel privileged to have read this book and to have been allowed a glimpse into such a private tra…

A Review: "Forever My Little Boy" by Karen Kingsbury

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"Forever My Little Boy:  Loving Your Son for Now and for Always" by Karen Kingsbury is a sweet look at raising a boy. The bits of narrative are interspersed with Scripture verses and little prayers for your boy. Whimsical illustrations by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff depict the boy in the story growing up; the colorful pictures add a lot of character to the story.

With Mother's Day and Father's Day coming up, this would make a nice gift for any parent of a boy. It's a touching look at capturing moments in a boy's life as he grows up.

(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.)

A Review: "The Red Door Inn" by Liz Johnson

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"The Red Door Inn" by Liz Johnson is the first in the "Prince Edward Island Dreams" series. Marie Carrington flees to Prince Edward Island to escape a personal trauma. She encounters widower Jack Sloane on the boat and is invited to help him decorate his new bed and breakfast. Upon arriving, she meets Seth Sloane, his nephew, who moved to the island in order to help renovate the inn and forget about the fiancee who nearly ruined his life.

The trio work hard to establish this new bed and breakfast, while each works through personal pain from their pasts. At first, Seth cannot understand why his uncle brought in this young woman who seems to need more just a job and a roof over her head. Marie can't understand why Seth has a tendency toward gruffness and near animosity toward her. Only after they spend more time together and begin to reveal portions of their stories do they come to understand the layers underneath the initial appearances.

The theme of redemption …

A Review: "Lots of Knock-Knock Jokes for Kids" by Whee Winn

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After this book, "Lots of Knock-Knock Jokes for Kids" by Whee Winn, arrived at my house, I immediately opened the package and started testing a few jokes out on my kids. They both love knock-knock jokes and this book does the trick of infusing fresh life into their joke-telling repertoire. My oldest has enjoyed using this book to provide some easy entertainment while I'm getting dinner ready.

The book contains over 250 jokes and is laid out in several sections, with jokes sorted by name, place, holidays, or objects. This has been a fun addition in our house, especially for two boys who absolutely love knock-knock jokes!

(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.)

A Review: "The Life Giving Home" by Sally and Sarah Clarkson

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"The Life Giving Home:  Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming" by Sally and Sarah Clarkson is the story of the Clarkson family, how they created a home life for their family and all who enter their home that is welcoming, loving, and a haven of rest and peace. The Clarkson family truly embraced making their home a place that gives life and refuge to many, one that celebrates family, friendships, and faith.

The book is divided into two sections. The first one discusses thinking about home--what home means, what it could look like. The second section composes the vast majority of the book and is divided not by chapters, but by months. Each month revolves around a certain theme with some introductory thoughts and a section on what it looks like in practice in their own home life.

I truly enjoyed this book and all the ideas contained within, not just the practical ones, but also the whys of making home. Hospitality is not my strong suit, but this book gives me plenty of ide…

A Review: "Rest Assured" by Vicki Courtney

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"Rest Assured" by Vicki Courtney aims at helping women who are overcommitted, over-connected, and generally overwhelmed to slow down and find true rest for their souls. The book is divided into two sections. The first deals with enemies of rest; Courtney examines four specific areas (busyness, pursuit of happiness, tethered to technology, and worry) that bring women down distract them from incorporating rest into daily life. The second section deals with recovery. She includes four chapters that focus on four different ways to truly make rest part of life. Each chapter in this book includes discussion questions for small groups or for the reader to tackle on her own. The final four chapters also include a one-week dare where the reader takes one week to focus on living out the principles that were just read about (this is where a small group would really come in handy for the accountability aspect).

While there was nothing entirely new in this book, Courtney's writing is…

A Review: "Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage" by Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley

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"Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage:  12 Secrets for a Lifelong Romance" by Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley is the newest edition in the many offerings from Focus on the Family:  Focus on Marriage resources designed to help strengthen and nurture marriage relationships. With marriage under attack from so many influences, both outside and inside the relationship, it's vital for all married and engaged couples to focus on marriage, strengthening it to help you navigate all kinds of challenges. In this book, the Smalleys combine solid Biblical teaching and personal stories to bring the reader 12 secrets, 12 truths, 12 ways to help fortify your marriage and help it last a lifetime. These truths include help understanding communication, honoring one another, serving one another, and seeking God above all.

While at first glance, these 12 secrets seem fairly basic. However, the more I got into the book, the more I realized just how much better I can do. Even being married for nearly…