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This Is Awkward: How Life's Uncomfortable Moments Open the Door to Intimacy and Connection
This Is Awkward: How Life's Uncomfortable Moments Open the Door to Intimacy and Connection
by Sammy Rhodes
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.89
61 used & new from $8.30

4.0 out of 5 stars Awkward, funny, and encouraging!, April 25, 2016
I really enjoy authors who spread a little humour throughout the pages of their books.. the kind of humour that really does make me chuckle and say "Oh, that is so true! I can relate!" Sammy Rhodes, a campus minister, IS funny. His book This Is Awkward - How Life's Uncomfortable Moments Open the Door to Intimacy and Connection - is honest and yes, even a little awkward. He lets the reader see his own insecurities, which does make reading it feel a little awkward, but I think in a good way.
Awkward can mean different things, and Rhodes explains it as "the gap between what we should be and what we actually are. Life is awkward because it doesn't go the way that it should go. People are awkward because they don't do and say and think what they should do and say and think. All of us are awkward because all of us experience this gap in some way." We tend to want to hide our awkwardness (shame), which makes it even more awkward when it shows up. But it is both necessary and freeing to talk about this; this is where we can find connection with others and God.

Awkward (and sometimes heavy) topics covered in this book include: parent wounds, divorce, porn, depression, marriage expectations, true friendship vs online fame, introversion, and Jesus' love for us (right theology).

I appreciated Sammy Rhode's transparency about his own life experiences as he wrote this book, including his insecurities about writing a book, journal type entries dispersed throughout.

This book is relevant for any age, but its target audience is probably primarily young adults. I am going to offer it to my kids and hopefully they will find it worth the read, too.

I received this book for free from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

Married And Still Loving It: The Joys and Challenges of the Second Half
Married And Still Loving It: The Joys and Challenges of the Second Half
by Gary Chapman
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.87
68 used & new from $4.81

5.0 out of 5 stars Hopeful and Practical, April 4, 2016
"A good marriage is a gift. It is grace: undeserved, unmerited favour. It should humble us every day."

Married and Still Loving It by Gary Chapman and Harold Myra is a book written to encourage those in the second half of life, married for a good number of years, to navigate the challenges and celebrate the joys of being together for so many years. With the realities of aging: health limitations (for our parents, ourselves, and even possibly our children), money worries, the future for our children, and more--there will be challenges. In a time where being married for a lifetime is becoming an oddity, it's great to read a book that is both honest and hopeful--yes, a lifelong happy marriage is attainable.

Actually, I think this book would be a great gift to those who have only been married a few years. Once the 'honeymoon' phase is over, can a couple stay happily married through the good, the bad, and the ugly? The real life examples in this book show couples at any stage of marriage how to accomplish this.

If I was going to put the advice in a nutshell, it would be along the lines of being a servant to your spouse (not a doormat, but a servant). For details on what this looks like practically, read the book. This book is full of excellent examples of navigating very difficult circumstances.

I heartily recommend this book, especially if both spouses read it discuss it, and work together to make the necessary changes. Otherwise, it might just become another good read.

A good marriage is a gift, but it does take work to make it that way.

I received this book free from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, Moody!

Breaking Busy: How to Find Peace and Purpose in a World of Crazy
Breaking Busy: How to Find Peace and Purpose in a World of Crazy
by Alli Worthington
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.31
72 used & new from $6.49

4.0 out of 5 stars My list of 'how I spend my time' is nothing like hers, but still I figured I could glean ..., February 17, 2016
Author, speaker, blogger, wife, mom of five boys, and the executive director of Propel Women, Alli Worthington probably has something to say about breaking busy--how to find peace & purpose in a world of crazy!

My list of 'how I spend my time' is nothing like hers, but still I figured I could glean some helpful hints here. Even in my relatively quiet life, I could learn a thing or two about peace and purpose.
Breaking Busy contains practical advice on how to get one's life back under control, how to find out what really gives you purpose, help with decision making, how to determine best ways to communicate with others (there are so many options these days!), how to fight the tyranny of the urgent, and much more.

The section on determining time wasters was one of my favorite parts of this book. Social media alone can sap hours of your day, leaving you asking 'what did I really accomplish? ' Do you really know how many hours of your day are frittered away without you even realizing it? Worthington suggests keeping a time diary. She offers several free downloadable resources at her website. Once you have that information, follow her advice to make some changes, if necessary.

I'm not a huge social media person, but I was a little shocked at how much time I spend looking at my phone or being distracted on my computer. Ouch.

There is really nothing earth shattering here in this book, but it's honest, upbeat, positive, encouraging, and will even make you chuckle. It will encourage you to pursue God's best in a world that sends other messages! And it's a quick read. Recommended to share with someone who might need a little balance and direction in her life.

Thanks to BookLookBloggers for this free book sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

Farewell, Four Waters: One Aid Workers Sudden Escape from Afghanistan. A Novel Based on True Events
Farewell, Four Waters: One Aid Workers Sudden Escape from Afghanistan. A Novel Based on True Events
by Kate McCord
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.09
65 used & new from $4.72

5.0 out of 5 stars So worth the read!, February 1, 2016
"Kidnapping was Marie's worst fear. She didn't know treachery was more deadly."

Book recommendation coming up. Farewell Four Waters by Kate McCord (a protective pseudonym), is full of intrigue and emotion. Although security prohibits the telling of her exact story, this novel is drawn from events gathered across Afghanistan over several years.

Marie is an aid worker living in a small town in Afghanistan. Her mission is to set up literacy classes for women. This riveting story begins with Day 14 and then counts down the days leading to this brave woman's necessary escape from Afghanistan, a place she deeply loved and considered home.

This story is full of many details and excellent descriptions of life in this country - for both Christian aid workers in NGOs and for the Afghan people. I felt as if I were there every step of the way. Marie, a believer in the "Honorable Jesus Messiah", has a passion for bettering the lives of women in Afghanistan, and with deep respect for their customs and beliefs, she befriends them through loving deeds and conversations.

I especially appreciated her honest struggles related to the events and circumstances she experienced. She incorporated conversation with God through journaling and prayers, not hiding her frustrations and how hard it was to make sense of things at times. Where was Jesus in the middle of all of it? I also loved learning about this land and culture and what life is like for foreign aid workers.

This book drew me in and it never let up until I finished the last page. It is well worth the read!

NIV, Bible for Women, eBook: Fresh Insights for Thriving in Today's World
NIV, Bible for Women, eBook: Fresh Insights for Thriving in Today's World
Offered by HarperCollins Publishing
Price: $4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Readable and Relevant!, October 17, 2015
How does one write a review of the Bible? In this case, I am going to focus on what makes this recently published hardcover copy of NIV Bible For Women unique.

First of all, the cover. It's very attractive in both the color and the print style. I'd call it a robin's egg blue - soft, clean, and peaceful - which makes it a great color for a Bible jacket.

The subtitle for this version is "Fresh Insights For Thriving in Today's World', and it includes 260 relevant devotionals (one for each weekday) tied to particular passages throughout the Bible. Each comes with a reflection and prayer.

As well, there are 52 "Myths" that our culture might have us believe is true, and these are described, explored, and exposed. All stories are actual events that have taken place in the writers' lives, and they are honest and relatable, especially for women. Quotes by well know authors are also included. These topics would be great conversation starters over a cup of coffee with girlfriends, too!

If you read Christian women's blogs or are an avid reader of Christian nonfiction, you might be familiar with some of the writers featured in this Bible- Annie F. Downs, Shauna Niequist, Katie Davis, Laura Ortberg Turner, Tsh Oxenreider, and Margaret Feinberg, and Sarah Bessey, and many more (all with biographies at the back of the Bible). Topics range from social justice, social media addiction, economic inequality to prayer, relationships, faith & doubt, career, calling, and so much more. Definitely something for women in their 20's and up.

A few little quibbles with the NIV Bible For Women would be the font size. It's a little small for aging eyes! And not very dark. As well, the pages are thin, but then, I think most Bibles are printed on thin paper. I also might have preferred the Myths as an appendix, so they'd be easier to skim through. They have been strategically placed, along with the devotionals, throughout the Bible, with directions to the 'next' one.

If you are looking for a new updated copy of your New International Version Bible, or you are looking for a readable version of the Bible, this one would be great! It's full of encouragement to dig into the Bible to hear God's voice and grow deeper in your relationship with Him, and the extras remind us how relevant the Bible really is for us today!

I received this free Bible in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, BookLookBloggers!

Seeing in the Dark: Finding God's Light in the Most Unexpected Places
Seeing in the Dark: Finding God's Light in the Most Unexpected Places
by Nancy Ortberg
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.12
55 used & new from $6.89

4.0 out of 5 stars Words of hope, August 15, 2015
Someone once said that faith is not a personal possession until you have suffered. That person understood that the very nature of faith requires the grit and courage to be in the dark so you can eventually see in the dark. Then faith becomes faith.

This is just one of the many of the underlined and starred exerpts in the book Seeing In The Dark by Nancy Ortberg. This book is her long awaited sequel to Looking for God, which I have not read, but hope to in the future.

If you've ever gone through a rough patch in life, and you wonder what God is up to and how on earth things will ever change, this book will be an encouragement to you to sit and wait until you can 'see in the dark'. Until you have done this, says Ortberg, you will not "hear the whisper or see the flicker".

It's where we actually are, not where we want to be or hope to be, that God works. His kingdom becomes real to us exactly where we are.

And Ortberg reminds me that although God sometimes makes His presence known in strong and unmistakable ways, other times it's in the quiet, little things. Some random 'coincidence', words of encouragement from a friend, being inspired by a beautiful sight that reminds me of how big God is, or a word read at just the right time.

There are a lot of jewels in this book, and it's definitely worth buying a hard copy, because no doubt you will want to underline some of those truths and reread this book or lend it to a friend.

I received this book free from Tyndale House in exchange for an honest review.

Winter in Full Bloom
Winter in Full Bloom

3.0 out of 5 stars Winter In Full Bloom, July 29, 2015
Once upon a time, I wrote a NaNoWriMo novel about identical twin sisters separated at birth. I'm telling you that only to say that when I saw this book available for review, it piqued my interest! I found the cover attractive, as well, and sometimes I do judge a book (initially) by its cover.

At a crossroads in her life, 39 year old empty nester and widow Lily Winter decides to head to Australia to search for her identical twin sister, who was raised by another family. With the help of a handsome, single stranger, she reunites with her sister Camille. But reunions aren't as easy as they seem. And everyone seems to have some sort of baggage to work through as they work towards a happy ending. Will Lily find love again? Will Camille and Lily be able to forgive and heal from a painful past? Will Marcus Averill deal with his own inner demons? Will Dragan change her name? ;) Winter In Full Bloom by Anita Higman answers these questions (except the last one) and more.

This book began somewhat slow, with many details and conversations that seemed unnecessary, and I contemplated not finishing it (I don't usually continue reading books that don't grab me in the first few chapters -- I am a little ADD that way). The characters and situations sometimes pushed the boundaries of realism. Several times I found myself asking, "Would people really say this? Would people really DO this? Would this REALLY happen?" I enjoy realistic contemporary fiction and I wasn't too sure this was going to be that. I pushed through, however, and honestly, it got somewhat better as the story moved along. There were some plot surprises, which helped to keep my interest.

Those who enjoy Hallmark movies would probably really enjoy this book (I am not a Hallmark movie buff). There are enough twists and turns later in the book to keep one interested and a hopeful ending is anticipated. Issues are faced, forgiveness is extended, and healing begins. How that all happens is why you want to read the book! If you enjoy contemporary Christian fiction, which includes a little romance and wraps up quite neatly, you will want to check this out.

This book was received free from Moody Publishers, in exchange for an honest review.

A Million Little Things
A Million Little Things
Price: $2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Light hearted love story, July 27, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Are you looking for a fun, quick summer read? Are you an eternal optimist and a hopeless romantic? You will enjoy this debut novel by S Larnder, which is humorous and sweet. A Million Little Things is the perfect title for this story about a woman who has never quite gotten over a high school crush. Enter THE 10 year high school reunion! Are sparks going to fly? What about the secrets kept? Will that ruin everything? Set in a small town in Western Canada (but close enough to the Big City!), this fun little novel will have you guessing real life locations, chuckling at jokes, and rooting for the main character. Do yourself a favor and spend a few hours escaping reality and enjoying this somewhat predictable but definitely enjoyable read.

The Good, the Bad, and the Grace of God: What Honesty and Pain Taught Us About Faith, Family, and Forgiveness
The Good, the Bad, and the Grace of God: What Honesty and Pain Taught Us About Faith, Family, and Forgiveness
by Susy Flory
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $11.98
134 used & new from $0.49

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Honest Read, July 3, 2015
I remember hearing about the Duck Dynasty TV Show a few years before I was even remotely interested in watching it. I thought it must be the dumbest show ever and left it at that. But a year or so ago when we had 6 months of free cable, hubby and I sat down regularly in the evening to watch a few episodes of this show. And surprisingly, it gave me what I needed... a good laugh. I mean, it's such a crazy show. Just watching that family interact and listening to some of the hilarious, silly conversations was just good medicine for one who often thinks too much about serious stuff. Who doesn't need a good belly laugh now and then?

When The Good, the Bad, and the Grace of God by the youngest Robertson son Jep and his wife Jessica, came available for review, I snapped it up. It was a quick, interesting read. It gave me some good insights into the Robertson family, and I have gained respect for this clan and their fierce loyalty to each other. As I began this book, I thought it might be very simplistic and 'surfacey' and I thought I'd have a difficult time empathizing with what I thought of as wealthy reality TV stars and their first world problems, but it really was a transparent and honest read, which included sharing some very difficult experiences. The Robertson's strong faith in the grace of God and the power of forgiveness shines through. This family is not a religious family as much as one which truly loves God and people and shows it by their actions.

It's worth the few hours it took to read this book. And you may become a Duck Dynasty fan after reading! I hear there's a new season starting!

Thanks to BookLookBloggers for this free book in exchange for an honest review.

The Anxious Christian: Can God Use Your Anxiety for Good?
The Anxious Christian: Can God Use Your Anxiety for Good?
by Rhett Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.65
32 used & new from $7.12

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Honest, Personal, and Encouraging, May 15, 2015
I heard an interview with Rhett Smith not long ago, and decided to review his book The Anxious Christian, sent to me free from Moody Publishers, in exchange for an honest review.

It was refreshing to read something that didn't come from the perspective of anxiety/worry being a sin, followed my admonitions to 'be anxious for nothing', and calmness would settle in. I wish it were that easy.

Being anxious about an event or life circumstance doesn't mean there is something wrong with one's faith. Rather, Smith believes that anxiety can be what causes us to lean into God and trust Him, thus being a catalyst for moving forward in life. Anxiety is a human condition, although some struggle more with it than others. Although the book did not explain the spectrum of anxiety, I do believe there is one. There is worry and then there is debilitating ANXIETY and a whole host of degrees of anxiety in between. At least, that's how I perceive it.

One can choose how to deal with anxiety. There is a) the hiding, pretending all is fine, but feeling shame and b) honesty and working through it. Anxiety is what can propel us to fight against living a 'safe life' in the comfortable ruts we have made, never daring to face our fears. But, as we know, the less we face our fears, the bigger they grow. And our lives can become stagnant, only a shadow of what they could be. It's a daily choice to walk through fear and 'grab life'. Some days are more successful than others!

One particular truth from this book jumped out at me, based on Jeremiah 18: 1-6 where God tells Jeremiah to go observe the potter working with the clay. Smith shared what his grandmother said to him when he was young. "Do you know that when a potter is working with the clay he never takes his hands off the clay as he is shaping it... and do you know the good Lord never takes His hands off of us?" That was a great reminder that God is ALWAYS with us through the tough times. We don't walk through them alone.

This book was encouraging, caring, and honest, a good reminder of the importance of working through anxieties. Included are end of chapter questions, activities and prayers, which would be especially helpful in a small group study.

The Anxious Christian is well worth the read and is a good introduction to the healthy Christian view of anxiety and how God can use it for good.

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