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Showing posts from 2017

Lots of mess with a little moxie

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If you're a Christian woman and you haven't heard of Jen Hatmaker, you might be living under a rock. Her previous books (7, Interrupted, For The Love, etc) have been bestsellers, accompanied by rave reviews and scores of Christian women following Jen on social media and attending conferences where she speaks. My first exposure to Jen Hatmaker was when her book Interrupted came out several years ago. I read it when it came out and mostly loved it. I loved her honesty, her heart for the poor, her heart for being the hands and feet of Jesus in real and practical ways to the church and to the community at large. However, since then she seems to have slipped further and further away from the traditional Gospel of Jesus and closer and closer to what some might term "emergent" theology, capped off with her public announcement that she believes same sex marriages are holy and that God blesses them. I decided to give her newest book, Of Mess And Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out …

A Letter From Lancaster County

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I'll be honest: I'm not necessarily a huge fan of Amish fiction. Oftentimes it tends to be idealized, unrealistic, or contrived. However, I decided to check out Kate Lloyd's new book, A Letter From Lancaster County (the first in her new Lancaster Discoveries series) because it seemed so unique. The main characters are not Amish (although one is Mennonite), but many of the supporting cast are Amish and it is set in the heart of Amish country, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The back cover says:

"Two Sisters Get a Second Chance at Life and Love

Angela
Her mother's untimely death, a struggling marriage, a strained relationship with her sister, Rose, and regrets over what might have been haunt her. Despite being a wife and mother, she feels she has little to show for her life.

Rose
Still single, she longs for a husband and children. But Angela has all that and still isn't happy. Rose wants to be closer to her older sister, but she and Angela couldn't be more di…

Get Out Of That Pit

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I was super excited to get the chance to read and review the 10th anniversary reprint edition of Beth Moore's Get of That Pit: Straight Talk About God's Deliverance. I hope you're sitting down, because what I'm about to say might shock you: I've never read a Beth Moore book before. I know, crazy, right? I've read about a million books, but I've never picked up one of hers before, although I've certainly heard of her and know that she has a large Bible study ministry and following. Get Out of That Pit seemed like a good place to start, since it's one of her most popular books, having sold 750,000 copies. The back cover says:

"From her first breath of fresh air beyond the pit, it has never been enough for Beth Moore to be free.

This best-selling author and Bible teacher who has opened the riches of Scripture to millions longs for you to be free as well—to know the Love and Presence that are better than life and the power of God’s Word that defie…

Here And Gone

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I couldn't wait to read Here And Gone by Haylen Beck. Haylen Beck is the pen name for established author Stuart Neville. I haven't read his books under his real name, but am definitely going to check them out now! Here And Gone is being touted as the best thriller of the summer and "one of the best debuts of the year" (Harlan Coben). The description says:

"Here and Gone is a gripping, wonderfully tense suspense thriller about a mother's desperate fight to recover her stolen children from corrupt authorities.

It begins with a woman fleeing through Arizona with her kids in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. When she's pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff, things soon go awry and she is taken into custody. Only when she gets to the station, her kids are gone. And then the cops start saying they never saw any kids with her, that if they're gone than she must have done something with them...

Meanwhile, halfway across the country a man hear…

His Guilt

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His Guilt is the second book in Shelley Shepard Gray's Amish of Hart County series, the first being Her Secret (which is also read and reviewed - loved it!). I was so excited to read the next book because I loved the first one so much (it looks like there will be at least two more in this series, can't wait!). This book shifts focus to Mark Fisher and Waneta Cain. The back cover says:

"New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray delivers the next novel in her Amish of Hart County series—a suspenseful tale of an Amish man who will risk all to protect the woman he loves.

Mark Fisher has returned home to Hart County, determined to put the past behind him. Two years ago, after being wrongly accused of assault, he left the Amish community, though never forgot his home. When the one person who had helped him through his rough times asks for help, Mark returns. But it is pretty Waneta Cain who makes him want to stay...

Neeta is one of the few people in …

A Fierce Love

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A Fierce Love: One Woman's Courageous Journey to Save Her Marriage by Shauna Shanks is an incredible picture of God's love, redemption, and plan for marriage. The book description says:

"Love is easy to give when you are getting it back. Are we still called to God’s plan of how to love when we are getting none in return? Shauna Shanks’s brave journey through obedience reveals the outcome of when we dare to follow God’s ludicrous outline for love as described in 1 Corinthians 13.

Wrecked with news of her husband’s affair and his request for a divorce, Shauna finds herself urgently faced with a decision. Does she give up and divorce her husband and move on, or does she try to fight for her marriage? The former choice seems to contradict God’s plan for how to love, such as “love never gives up,” “love is patient,” and “love is kind.”

Taking God at His word and assuming the love chapter was really meant to be followed literally word by word, she not only finds herself fallin…

Hiding From The Kids In My Prayer Closet

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I was instantly attracted to Jessica Kastner's first book, Hiding From The Kids In My Prayer Closet: Finding Grace and Laughter When Motherhood Gets Real because of the hilarious title and cover. I love the mental image of hiding in the closet (or the bathroom - hey, the door locks and it keeps them out longer!) from the kids. I may or may not have done this once (or fifty) times before. I have four kids all approximately two years apart, and while I'm finally out of the infant/toddler/preschool trenches, I can assure you that it never really gets any easier, the problems just change. Hiding From The Kids is divided into seven sections: This Is What Happens When You Stay Home, This Is What Happens If You Attempt Escape, This Is What Happens When They Outgrow Their Pull-Ups, This Is What Happens When You've Given Up Perfection, This Is What They'll Expose You To, This Is Why We Have 'Em, and Enough Of This Foolishness ... Bring On The Takeaways!. The back cover say…

Almost There

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Almost There: Searching for Home in a Life on the Move by Bekah DiFelice is a book about longing - longing to fit in, belong, feel at home. I moved away from my hometown when I got married at 18, and have now lived in my "new" town for 15 years, but I still don't necessarily feel completely "at home" here. So I thought I'd pick up Bekah's new book and see if it spoke to me. The book description says:

"Recipient of Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review!
On the move . . . again? Wondering when you will “arrive”?

Sometimes God leads people out of familiar territory so he can tell them who they are. That moment you depart, you experience reinvention, renewal, and freedom. You get a redo on the adjectives associated with your name.

Almost There is for those on the move and those who feel restless right where they are. It’s for those who struggle with not belonging, with feeling unsettled, with believing that home is out of their reach, at least for the mo…

Just Look Up

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I'd previously read and enjoyed Courtney Walsh's novel Paper Hearts, so I was excited to read her newest book, Just Look Up. The book description didn't immediately pull me in, but the cover was so pretty that I decided to pick it up - and I'm so glad I did! The back cover says:

"After tirelessly climbing the ranks of her Chicago-based interior design firm, Lane Kelley is about to land her dream promotion when devastating news about her brother draws her back home―a quaint tourist town full of memories she’d just as soon forget. With her cell phone and laptop always within reach, Lane aims to check on her brother while staying focused on work―something her eclectic family doesn’t understand.

Ryan Brooks never expected to settle down in Harbor Pointe, Michigan, but after his final tour of duty, it was the only place that felt like home. Now knee-deep in a renovation project that could boost tourism for the struggling town, he is thrilled to see Lane, the girl he s…

Pray About Everything

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Pray About Everything: Cultivating God-Dependency by Paul Tautges promises to be a manual or handbook for the Christian on prayer. My go-to prayer handbook has always been John R. Rice's Prayer: Asking and Receiving, but I love reading new books about prayer. The description says:

"Believers need to learn how to pray about everything, but so many unanswered questions hinder our progress.

What does it mean to pray in Jesus' name?

How do I pray for my non-Christian friends?

When does the Holy Spirit pray for me?

In this book, a seasoned pastor and counselor answers these questions--and many more--by effectively instructing us with biblical principles, examples, and commands. By doing so, he encourages us to develop a life of prayer. Pastors, elders, and small group leaders will also find this book an indispensable help to cultivating an atmosphere of God-dependency in their local church.

Pray About Everything delivers an urgent call for believers to commit themselves to re…

He Calls You Beautiful

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I've always been interested in the elusive Song of Solomon/Song of Songs. We don't necessarily hear tons of preaching and teaching on it, except sometimes in marriage classes or couples retreats. I was excited to do an entire Bible study on Song of Solomon with Dee Brestin's new book, He Calls You Beautiful: Hearing the Voice of Jesus in the Song of Songs. The back cover says:

"I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.…
—from the Song of Songs

Did you know that God loves you with a passion—and He wrote a love song to help you experience that love in a personal way?

Tucked away in the pages of Scripture is one of the most fascinating and most misunderstood books of the Bible: the Song of Songs. Although the Song of Songs details a passionate, earthly love story, it is intended to illuminate the best love story, the intense love God has for us, His beloved.


In He Calls You Beautiful, Bible teacher Dee Brestin explores this love song from God to reveal transformative tr…

Under A Desert Sky

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Lynne Hartke's new book, Under A Desert Sky: Redefining Hope, Beauty, and Faith in the Hardest Places draws on her experiences with cancer and death to paint a picture of trusting God through the desert times. The back cover says:

"There comes a time in life when we find ourselves in the desert place of burning questions. Why? Why me? But even as we shake our fist heavenward, the heart whispers another question. Who? Who are you, God? It is a question of relationship, a question we all murmur in the hardest places.

Against the backdrop of the Sonoran Desert, Lynne Hartke asks her own hard questions as cancer arrives like a thief with one goal: to take it all. Hair. The contents of a stomach. A marriage. A life. As her days become a blur of doctors' appointments, treatments, and surgeries, she wrestles with a tumble of tangled emotions, a shaken faith, and self-doubt. Cancer is now not only threatening her own life, but, in a surprising twist, the lives of both her parent…

Friends, Partners & Lovers

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I've been married for 15 years, and I'm always looking for good marriage books to read. I decided to read Friends, Partners & Lovers: What It Takes To Make Your Marriage Work by Kevin A. Thompson because it seemed fresh and interesting. The back cover says:

"Great marriages don't just happen--they're made, intentionally, day by day. Yet most of us enter the covenant of marriage thinking that the role of spouse will be easy, natural, effortless. Rarely is this true. In fact, the number one cause of divorce isn't adultery or finances or disagreements. It's apathy--a lack of intentional emotional, physical, and mental investment in the relationship.

With engaging stories and clear, simple language, pastor Kevin A. Thompson explains the three critical roles of a spouse--friend, partner, and lover--and shows how to nurture those roles in order to keep a marriage healthy and strong. Using solid biblical principles, he helps couples understand how to grow t…

Sacred Privilege

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Even though I'm not a pastor's wife, I wanted to read Kay Warren's new book, Sacred Privilege: Your Life and Ministry as a Pastor's Wife. Rick and Kay Warren have been so influential in Christian circles, and I've never read a book by Kay before. This was a unique opportunity to get a peek behind the curtain and see what life is like as such a prominent pastor's wife. The back cover says:

"Life as a pastor's wife offers meaningful opportunities to play a significant part in God's work, to witness and participate in the beauty of changed lives. Yet it also carries the potential for deep wounds and great conflict that can drain the joy out of service. Is it worth it? Oh, yes, says Kay Warren, wife of Pastor Rick Warren and cofounder of Saddleback Church. It is more than worth the risk--it's a sacred privilege.

Drawing on more than forty years in ministry in every possible size church, Kay provides encouraging principles and life lessons, along w…

Hello Stars

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Hello Stars by Alena and Wynter Pitts is a Faithgirlz/Lena in the Spotlight book. It is the first book of the Lena in the Spotlight series, and book two, Day Dreams and Movie Screens, is coming out in September 2017. Alena and Wynter are a mother/daughter writing team which makes this series unique. The back cover says:

"Lena Daniels never thought she’d get the chance star in a movie. Headstrong and determined, she has her life planned out to the minute. But when her best friends, Savannah and Emma, tell her about an audition, she knows there’s nothing else in the world she’d rather do. And now that she’s gotten her wish, Lena finds that being in the spotlight is harder than it sounds. She got everything she never wanted! Her face turns up everywhere she goes, and everything in her life is flipped upside down. Lena wonders if this is a dream come true or a horrible nightmare. Even a visit from her best friends during filming turns into a disaster.

With her little sisters—Ansley,…

Stepping On Cheerios

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Stepping on Cheerios: Finding God in the Chaos and Clutter of Life is Betsy Singleton Snyder's memoir of being an older mom of a toddler and then triplets in just 2/12 years, plus being married to an older man who happens to have been in the senate, and dealing with heart failure after the birth of her triplets. Oh, and she was a pastor, too. The back cover says:

"Being a mother isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s hard to experience a personal connection with God and community when you are caught up in the chaos of just “doing family”.

Independent and self-sufficient, author Betsy Singleton Snyder lived a full and busy life as a pastor, missionary, and wife to a husband who served in the U.S. House of Representatives. She had her first child at age 44, then at 47, she found out she was carrying triplets. Suddenly finding herself overwhelmed is an understatement.

Stepping on Cheerios is a collection of funny, warm, and charming tales from the frontlines of parenthood, written for wom…

The Separatists

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I couldn't wait to read the third and final novel in Lis Wiehl's The Newsmakers Trilogy. I loved the first and second books (The Newsmakers and The Candidate) and was eagerly looking forward to the conclusion, The Separatists. The plot sounded intriguing and like it was ripped straight from the headlines. The back cover says:

"From New York Times bestselling author Lis Wiehl comes the final book in her Newsmakers series. Journalist and newscaster Erica Sparks is only planning to report on an explosive story—until she gets caught in the middle of it.

After getting the green light from her network to launch an investigative news show, Erica flies to Bismarck, North Dakota, to investigate Take Back Our Homeland, the largest secessionist group. What she finds is profoundly disturbing – a growing threat to the future of our union.

Back home, her husband Greg is drinking more and talking less—and taking an unusual interest in the glamorous author Leslie Burke Wilson. Erica’s t…

On Edge

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I have struggled with anxiety since I was a small child (from my earliest memories), so I couldn't wait to read Andrea Petersen's new book, On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety. The back cover says:

"A celebrated science and health reporter offers a wry, bracingly honest account of living with anxiety.

A racing heart. Difficulty breathing. Overwhelming dread. Andrea Petersen was first diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at the age of twenty, but she later realized that she had been experiencing panic attacks since childhood. With time her symptoms multiplied. She agonized over every odd physical sensation. She developed fears of driving on highways, going to movie theaters, even licking envelopes. Although having a name for her condition was an enormous relief, it was only the beginning of a journey to understand and master it—one that took her from psychiatrists’ offices to yoga retreats to the Appalachian Trail.

Woven into Petersen’s personal story is a fascinating look a…

Israel - God's Heart

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I've always wanted to go to Israel but don't know if I'll ever get to, so I jumped on the chance to read a copy of Israel - God's Heart: Landscapes and Legacy of Israel by Ron Gafni and Kathleen Barrett. It's advertised as a coffee table photography book with narratives and Scriptures complementing the photographs throughout, subtitled "A captivating pictorial of the Holy Land and a scriptural journey through God's redemption story". The back cover says:

"Many of us only dream of traveling to the Holy Land. Very few, like Israel's top aerial photographer, Ron Gafni, soar above the craggy mountain ranges of Masada, the salty Dead Sea, and the iconic locations where Jesus walked. Israel - God's Heart - Landscapes and Legacy, beautifully captures the ancient landscapes of this great nation, as well as presents the legacy of God's Redemption plan for the world.

As you slowly turn the pages, you will find unexpected vantage points, such a…

Swipe Right

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Swipe Right: The Life-and-Death Power of Sex and Romance is Levi Lusko's answer to the modern culture's view of sex, relationships, and romance. Playing off of the Tinder app's "swipe right/swipe left" feature, Levi uses modern terminology and illustrations to bring to live God's ancient, but always relevant, plan for sex, romance, dating, and marriage. The back cover says:

"God wants you to have amazing sex

There is nothing more powerful on earth than the forces of love, sex, and romance. In fact, relationships are a matter of life-and-death importance.

So how you can train today for the relationship you want tomorrow? In Swipe Right, Levi Lusko shares with raw honesty from his own life experiences and God’s Word how to regret-proof your marriage bed and your deathbed
resist settling for instant pleasure by discovering what your heart really longs for
learn how to avoid and treat sexual scars by careful living today
turn the clumsy “sex talk” with your…

Driver Confessional

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I was interested in reading David Winters' new book, Driver Confessional, because I really enjoy Christian thrillers and the plot and premise seemed very unique. Driver Confessional is the first book in The Driver Series. The back cover says:

"Driver Confessional tells the story of Antonio, a ride-share driver who winds through the streets of Washington, D.C. in search of his next fare to support his young family and pay law school expenses. His easy manner and Italian good looks lead passengers to disclose a bit more than they intended. On a particularly dark evening, his sedan pulls up in front of a posh Washington restaurant.

On her way to a midnight meeting in a Senate office building, a mysterious woman and her confession plunge Antonio and his police detective brother into international espionage, the Russian mob and corporate excess. Clues add up to danger and car chases pile up on ethical dilemmas."

This book was a real page turner. I stayed up late to finish i…

The Good Book

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I was interested in reading The Good Book by Deron Spoo because I'm always looking for a good teaching devotional resource. The Good Book is almost a discipleship-type resource - it takes you through 40 important chapters of the Bibles and covers the biggest topics and ideas of the Bible. The corresponding chapter of the Bible is included with the chapter expounding it. The chapter of the Bible is provided in the author's favorite translation (Christian Standard Bible), but you can grab your Bible and read it in your own translation if you prefer, which is what I did. The book description says:

"The Good Book offers a user-friendly guide to the Bible's biggest ideas. A chapter from the Bible accompanies each chapter of the book, which helps readers understand the context and content of the Scripture passages in a way that can open the whole Bible.

Designed as a forty-day journey through forty key chapters of the Bible, The Good Book will appeal to those who already l…

Shattered

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I was so excited to read Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes' new book, Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign. I followed the stunning 2016 election closely, and couldn't believe the daily twists and turns. I couldn't wait to get an inside look at Hillary Clinton's campaign. The media kept telling us she would win and never predicted the upset of the century, and I thought this book might give some more insight into the Clinton campaign and how and why it failed so badly. The back cover says:

"#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

It was never supposed to be this close. And of course she was supposed to win. How Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election to Donald Trump is the riveting story of a sure thing gone off the rails. For every Comey revelation or hindsight acknowledgment about the electorate, no explanation of defeat can begin with anything other than the core problem of Hillary's campaign--the candidate herself.

Through deep access to insiders fro…

Invitation

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Invitation: Harbingers Cycle One is an interesting new take on the Christian fiction genre. The book contains four "episodes", each written by a different author - Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky - from a different character's point of view - Brenda, The Professor, Andi, and Tank. Each "episode" is a bite-size piece of the story that can be read in one or two sittings. The back cover says:

"Four Strangers with Gifts They Don't Understand.
A World Falling into Darkness.
This is Harbingers.

You're invited on a journey of suspense and the supernatural as four of your favorite bestselling authors team up for a unique series.

From the minds of Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky, Invitation compiles the first four episodes of Harbingers, each following a different character.

BRENDA--the street-hustling tattoo artist who sees images of the future
THE PROFESSOR--the atheist ex-priest ruled by logic
ANDI--…

The Divide

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It's been exactly a year (almost to the day!) since I reviewed the first book in Jolina Petersheim's new series, The Alliance. Finally, after a year, the conclusion to the series is here! It's called The Divide, and it picks up four months after we left Leora's story in The Alliance. I had mixed feelings about The Alliance, mainly because the weird, quirky characters. However, Jolina has definitely dialed down the quirkiness in the second book. Not a single mention is made of Leora's extremely poor vision and thick glasses (kind of strange, really, come to think of it), her sister Anna isn't much of a big presence and neither is her grandmother. This book's focus is mostly on Leora, Moses, and Jabil. The back cover says:

"In this gripping conclusion to The Alliance, nearly six months have passed since Leora Ebersole's Old Order Mennonite community fled to the mountains for refuge after an attack destroyed the power grid and altered life as they kn…

The Mediterranean Love Plan

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I was excited to read The Mediterranean Love Plan: 7 Secrets to Lifelong Passion in Marriage by Stephen and Misty Arterburn (with Becky Johnson) because I've always been fascinated with the exotic romantic locations of the Mediterranean: the food, the sights, the passion. This book promises to bring secrets from around the world into your home and marriage right here in America. The back cover says:

"The Mediterranean Love Plan unveils the “7 Secrets of Passion” from some of the most romantic countries in the world: Italy, France, Spain, Greece and Israel.

Most couples marry in a flurry of passion, but soon find themselves wondering “How do we keep love interesting, fun and romantic? How do we keep the spark growing for decades?”

Steve and Misty Arterburn offer unique, ground-breaking answers to these age-old questions.

Romance is much more than a date night out or a week away. A passionate, long-lasting love requires two people who are sensually in love with life and e…

Can I Just Hide In Bed 'Til Jesus Comes Back?

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I'll admit - I wanted to read Can I Just Hide In Bed 'Til Jesus Comes Back?: Facing Life With Courage, Not Comforters by Martha Bolton and Christin Ditchfield mainly because of the cute cover (I mean, just look at it!) and the fun title. I often just want to hide in my bed with junk food, books, and Netflix and retreat from the world and responsibilities. However, I know that hiding in bed really isn't the answer to life's problems. I figured I'd pick up this book and see what Martha and Christin have to say about facing life head on. The back cover says:

"Depression, fear, a sense of unworthiness, and unfulfilled dreams can make women retreat to their beds—figuratively and literally—and refuse to face life. Yet most of the time, hiding in bed makes matters worse. Who needs emotional bedsores? Authors Martha Bolton and Christin Ditchfield gently show women how to climb out from under their emotional bedcovers, face their fears and doubts, and step into the li…

Brave Is The New Beautiful

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I was interested in reading Lee Wolfe Blum's new book, Brave Is The New Beautiful, because I'm not a very brave person. In fact, I could be described as timid, shy, meek, or basically any word you can think of that is the opposite of brave! I'm always looking for ways to step out and become a bit more brave and bold. The book description says:

"In a culture that bombards women with "thinspiration" messages and pressure to "do it all" while wearing the mask of perfection, women are left feeling alone and overwhelmed. How can they stop comparing themselves to others? How can they live out who they really are?

Lee Wolfe Blum offers stories from everyday women who have answered these questions with their lives—and found true beauty in the process. In Brave Is the New Beautiful, Blum weaves reflections from her own journey with inspirational stories from everyday women who chose to take off their masks and live authentically. Through call-to-action que…

Forensic Faith

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Forensic Faith: A Cold-Case Detective Helps You Rethink and Share Your Christian Beliefs by J. Warner Wallace is a comprehensive guide to sharing and defending your Christian faith. I was interested in reading this book because I often encounter people who are antagonistic toward my faith and sometimes have trouble articulating my beliefs in a clear manner. It's also difficult to overcome certain rote objections or fights by rabid atheists. The book description says:

"Forensic Faith will help readers: • understand why they have a duty to defend the truth • develop a training strategy to master the evidence for Christianity • learn how to employ the techniques of a detective to discover new insights from God’s Word • become better communicators by learning the skills of professional case makers With real-life detective stories, fascinating strategies, and biblical insights, Wallace teaches readers cold-case investigative disciplines they can apply to their Christian faith. Fo…