Lost and Found

Disclaimer: I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

Lost and Found
Source: Bethany House

Growing up in my own fishbowl, I really felt like eyes were always on me. What I didn’t think about is that I wasn’t alone. Other PK’s (Preacher’s Kids) were most likely feeling the same things I was. Reading Lost and Found, I got to hear the story of Sarah Jakes, daughter of Bishop T.D. Jakes. (If you don’t know, he is a high profile minister and author…one my dad often mentions.)

As a teen mom, Sarah felt shunned by the people who you’d think would love her most. She fell out of her relationship with God and into a tumultuous series of ups and downs with her college flame.

While it was clear throughout the memoir that she wasn’t always tight with the Lord, He was still keeping her in the fold. In her darkest moments, he was there, paving the way for the successful life full of love and good that she has today.

In one night, I read the entire book. It’s likely because I identified with the story. Feeling under a microscope. Being in an abusive relationship. Becoming a single mother. Not realizing that God was there the whole time, and then landing smack dab in His welcoming arms to a life of blessings. He was just waiting for me to make the move, just like he was waiting for Sarah.

And you.

It was inspirational to read Sarah’s words and remember that even in our darkest moments, He is there.

If you are interested in reading Sarah’s story, Lost and Found, is available through Bethany House with a suggested retail price of $24.99.

From BethanyHouse.com:

Don’t let your past keep you from a full future.

Like every girl, Sarah Jakes dreamed of a life full of love, laughter, and happy endings. But her dreams changed dramatically when she became pregnant at age thirteen, a reality only compounded by the fact that her father, Bishop T.D. Jakes, was one of the most influential megachurch pastors in the nation. As a teen mom and a high-profile preacher’s kid, her road was lonely. She was shunned at school, gossiped about at church. And a few years later, when a fairy-tale marriage ended in a spiral of hurt and rejection, she could have let her pain dictate her future.

Instead, she found herself surrounded by a God she’d given up on, crashing headlong with Him into a destiny she’d never dreamed of. Sarah’s captivating story, unflinchingly honest and deeply vulnerable, is a vivid reminder that God can turn even the deepest pain into His perfection.

More than a memoir, Lost and Found offers hope and encouragement. Perhaps you, like Sarah, find yourself wandering the detours of life. Regardless of how lost you feel, you, too, can be found.

Pilgrimage

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book below from Bethany House. All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

In the almost diary-style text of Pilgrimage,  Lynn Austin (Christian Fiction author) chronicles her journey through Israel. This journey came at a time in her life and faith that she felt dry and mindless. As she journeyed, she hoped to renew the abundance she expected Christians to feel in their daily lives.

Pilgrimage
Source: BethanyHouse.com

I wasn’t even 4 pages in when I turned to Greg and told him that I want to do this very same thing. We realize it’s pretty much impossible right now with two ‘lil kids, but one day, we want to journey to Israel. Like Lynn, I’d like to step where Jesus has walked and experience the beauty of Israel. I want to go to where my faith is rooted, and to see the land where Greg’s is, too.

As Lynn toured Israel with her husband, she wrote about some tough lessons in faith (like discerning God’s calling and being “in the middle of things”). She chronicled the beauty of the land, the tears along the way, and the lessons brought to light. Her words were honest, but bring hope for those who have felt what she did when she first embarked on the journey.

It was hard for me not to be a ‘lil bit jealous, but I rejoice in knowing that even though Greg and I have a mixed-faith, we both will find meaning in a trek to the Holy Land one day. We’ll start planning now, even if it’s years and years away. And I am sure, like it was for Lynn and her husband, it will come at a good time.

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If you’d like to read this book, visit the Bethany House website: http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/pilgrimage/344800

It is available in paperback and e-book, retailing for $14.99.

Letting Go

Disclosure: I received this book in exchange for a review. All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

In Sandie Freed’s “Letting Go of your Limitations”, readers will find ways to experience God’s transforming power in their lives. She takes a look at 11 limitations we put on ourselves and helps readers find ways to let go of those.

Source: Chosen from bakerpublishinggroup.com

Each chapter looks at a specific limitation such as “pride”, “disappointments”, or “pressure to achieve results” with a Scripture story and reflective activity.

When I first picked up the book, I was a bit surprised that the first chapter was Letting Go of “Religion” – this is a book about God, after all. Reading it, I realized Freed was looking to help her readers become free of the vision of oppressive/persecuting/hypocritical religion. Both Greg and I have struggled with organized religion at points in our lives, so to read that we were not alone in our struggle was refreshing. The important thing is to hunger for God and let his blessings into our lives. The rest will come as we move with Him (and if I am interpreting my feelings right, lead to finding the right faith community to help build up that journey with God).

The reason you decide to pick up this book and read it will likely be different than mine. You may read one of the eleven chapters and it really speak to you when none of the others do. This is exactly why I believe Sandie wrote this book. If you feel like it is time to let go of your limitations, you can pick up a copy of this book from Chosen: http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/letting-go-of-your-limitations/344900 (Available via paperback and e-book for $13.99.)

“God is in the restoration business. His desire is to restore us, heal up the brokenhearted and demonstrate Kingdom power as never before.”–Dr. Sandie Freed

The Secret Keeper

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Beverly Lewis’ The Secret Keeper from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

The Secret Keeper
Source: Bethany House

 

Beverly Lewis is one of those authors who never fails to disappoint me. Put one of her books in my hands and you won’t hear a peep from me until I am done (later that day/night). In her newest book in the “Home to Hickory Hollow” series, The Secret Keeper, Lewis definitely delivers.

This is the story of Jennifer Burns, a “seeker”. Jenny is ready to trade in her life in Connecticut for one in Hickory Hollow’s Amish community. She knows the journey to become Amish will not be easy, but feels it’s one that she was meant to take.

Rebecca Lapp and her husband Samuel become the “mentor” family as Jenny begins her life as an Amish woman. Interestingly enough, they are the parents of a familiar Beverly Lewis character, Katie, who decided to leave the Amish faith/community.

But of course, there is a secret that Jenny discovers while she’s living with Rebecca, one that could cause a shunning if discovered. Jenny struggles with the secret as she falls deeper in love with the Amish life (and an Amish man). At one point, she is faced with a decision – to go back to her life in “every day”, hectic, modernized America or stay in Hickory Hollow where she can be Plain and happy.

I was engaged the entire story and as usual, fell in love with Lewis’ writing and characters. The Secret Keeper definitely is a book to read if you enjoy Lewis’ work or similar book styles.

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You can pick up a copy on Bethany House’s website. Starting price is $14.99 and it is available in e-book, paperback, large print, and hard copy.

What Your Dreams Are Telling You

Disclaimer: Chosen Books sent me a copy of What Your Dreams Are Telling You in exchange for an honest review. All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

One of the things I’ve sort of hated to do since I was a kid was dream. I know. That sounds awful. Why wouldn’t one want to dream? Well, typically, when I dream, it usually has a way of coming true. I rarely dream, so when I do, I take heed. You see, I believe I’ve been blessed with a spiritual gift, visions (most of you know it as deja vu). Sometimes it can be painfully scary to dream, but it’s something I’ve been working through my entire life.

Source: Chosen Books

So, when I signed up to review Cindy McGill and David Sluka’s book, What Your Dreams Are Telling You, I prepared myself to hear what had to be said about dreams. Now, the book isn’t a “I dreamed about this, what does it mean” specific guide. No, it’s a guide to making the most of the time you spend sleeping and being open to the messages you are given in your sleep. The authors note that dreams have a way of giving you advice you might need or opening your eyes to a new opportunity (or idea).

The book will talk about:

— how to get the most out of your dreams
— historical and present-day examples of life-changing dreams
— common dream themes and what they mean
— 3 steps to discover the genuine message from your dreams
— a quick-reference guide to common dream symbols
— how to reawaken your dream life

This is a book that I didn’t jump into head first (reading front to back) but instead moving through the book by referencing certain sections at a time. I was less interested in the common themes section (because my dreams aren’t so much themed as specific) and more interested in discovering the genuine messages from my dreams. Since my dreams are so specific, my lessons from the book were more general (and that’s okay by me); however, for people who have dreams that they are trying to piece together, I think this is a great resource.

You can find out more about the book and the authors on Chosen’s website. It retails for $13.99 in paperback and e-book format.

“The Miner’s Lady”

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “The Miner’s Lady” in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Oh, how I wish I had days to sit and read books like I did today. Isn’t this just a glorious moment?

The Miner's Lady

Sure, it helps that my vacation days allow for this, and the fact that I get to review books like this are quite the added bonus.

Anyways, to my thoughts on The Miner’s Lady by Tracie Peterson. Set in the 1890’s mine town of Ely, Minnesota, the book follows the lives of two sisters and two brothers from feuding families as they try to end the feud. A historical romance, I am pretty sure you have a good idea where this one is going. Little sister Panetta falls in love with little brother Calarco and their big sister and big brother try to stop the romance due to the feud.

Isabella and Orlando do not care about the silly feud (which began generations ago in their homeland of Italy), and continue to pursue a marriage, even if it means eloping and then telling their fathers about the new family connection. Several events happen that only draw the couple closer together, making them willing to risk being disowned.

Love and faith in God are interlaced throughout the story as the romance grows and the feud softens, just like the lace that Chantal (big sister Panetta) and her mother create.

While a somewhat predictable happy ending is eminent, this story is not free of adventure, risk, and moments where you’ll suck your breath in, hoping for the best. I was able to read it in three hours (sadly, not all of it in the hammock), and was glad I didn’t have the need to put it down.

To make a long story short, I definitely recommend this book for anyone who likes historical romance with a Christian twist.

Book Review: Tempted, Tested, True

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Tempted, Tested, True in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Life sure does throw us some interesting challenges, doesn’t it? Many of these challenges are temptations. For me, the temptation has always been two major things – spending money (although I am seriously frugal) and worrying too much about what everyone else thinks (I see that as a temptation to conform to society). These temptations can rob our souls of the things that God has in store for us, as is discussed in Arnie Cole and Michael Ross’ book Tempted, Tested, True. 

Tempted Tested True
Source: Bethany House

I chose to review this book because I know that temptations can run us down. Having that knowledge, I wanted to learn more about ways to overcome these challenges and lead a life that’s full and true. The book used real-life stories to provide a process to overcome temptations; however, upon reading the contents, I wasn’t sure my temptations would be covered. Once I took to reading the book, there were several lessons I could learn from each chapter, including the one about struggles that men face).

Admittedly, the book was not the easiest read for me, but it does break the temptations and process down into sections. It would definitely be a good choice if you had a group that wanted to study overcoming temptations as there are sections for discussion and personal reflection. There are even online resources at http://temptedbook.com/, including an 8-week devotional.

Each chapter investigates a temptation (or set of temptations) that the authors researched and applied biblical lessons to. If alcohol, gossip, anxiety, or even the past has a hold of you, there’s an answer to discover in this book. In the appendix, you’ll even find a chart to jot down times you are tempted or when your spirit is interrupted. While the answer you are searching for may not be immediate, I think this book will start you on the right path.

I think I may re-visit the book a little further in my faith journey, perhaps with other followers, and truly get to the messages God wants me to hear regarding overcoming temptation.

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Tempted, Tested, True is published by Bethany House and retails for $14.99.

Book Review: A Woman’s Guide to Hearing God’s Voice

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of “A Woman’s Guide to Hearing God’s Voice” in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

As a child (a child of a pastor), I always wondered how I’d hear God’s voice. I fully expected a big, booming noise to rain down from Heaven, telling me that everything was going to be okay. My parents couldn’t really explain it to me, but throughout the years I’ve learned to listen and hear it.

Leighann McCoy explores this discovery in her book, “A Woman’s Guide to Hearing God’s Voice”. You see, He’s always speaking — it’s just that we need to learn to listen. McCoy presents chapters on times in her life that she and her family have learned to listen to God’s voice and weaves it into biblical teachings. Discussion questions and applications to real life are included. You know, sometimes God is in the thick — are we ready to hear?

God's Voice
Source: Bethany House

Because McCoy is a cancer survivor and had a daughter with an unplanned pregnancy, I really connected with the stories within. It took me to the times that God was speaking to me – through the loss of Wendy and through the blessing of having Arianna (and in turn, Greg happening to be there at the hospital when I gave birth). These were truly dark times in my life, but LOUD AND CLEAR, God gave me reasons to go on. God is bigger than anything he lays before our path.

This book would be another great one for a Women’s Bible Study group, complete with activities and an event to plan in the Appendix. While it may not be easy to hear God’s voice, we have to believe it is there.

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A Woman’s Guide to Hearing God’s Voice is published by Bethany House and retails for $13.99.

Book Review: Undeniably Yours

Disclaimer: I received a copy of “Undeniably Yours” in exchange for an honest review. All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

I’ve never been one to be jealous of those with wealth beyond measure — you’ve heard of “More Money, More Problems” I am sure — but I’ll admit I was a tad bit jealous of Becky Wade’s Undeniably Yours leading lady Meg Cole. Daughter of a a wealthy oil tycoon, Meg is left with 51% of her father’s company when he passes away. She is left with the task of cutting out the fat of the company and keeping things running smoothly. The problem? She wasn’t really interested in this

Undeniably Yours
Source: Bethany House

life path.

 

Upon returning to her home to manage the company, she decides to get rid of the thoroughbred farm that her father started on their land. She doesn’t expect to be challenged by the manager, Bo; however, he asks her to give him six months to prove the worth of the farm. She hesitates, but gives him what he wants. I could tell right from here that the two were going to fall madly in love and make beautiful memories riding horses, but I stuck with it. 

I stuck with it so much that I finished the book in one day — and I work a full time job.  You see, while Undeniably Yours is undeniably a romance novel story line, there were so many twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting. Take Meg having an abusive ex, for instance. Or, said ex having a son (and ex-girlfriend) who show up on Meg’s doorstep, eventually prompting Meg’s decisions about the company and her future of doing what makes her happiest. Enter my jealousy — she was able to compose her dream in a few months and get it off the ground and running with the man of her dreams’ help. 

Even when obstacles from the past threaten their relationship, Bo and Meg prove out that they truly are undeniably each other’s.

The charming cast of characters, intriguing plot, and well-written text will make you not want to put this book down. Definitely put it in a vacation bag!

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Undeniably Yours by Becky Wade is published by Bethany House and retails for $13.99.

Book Review: Firefly Island

Disclaimer: In exchange for the review below, I was sent a copy of a book. All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

I can’t help it, I am a sucker for a good love story. Even if they are mildly predictable, Christian-themed romance novels (especially those based in the South) are my go-to books. Firefly Island by Lisa Wingate was no different.

Firefly Island
Source: Bethany House

Typical girl meets guy in a sweet setting, they fall head over heels in love. When D.C. girl Mallory falls in love with Daniel on Capitol Hill, I am quite sure she doesn’t picture that within months she’ll be a stepmother, a “Pioneer Woman” living in Texas. Top it off with the mystery of her husband’s new boss and the acres of land they are living on.

My heartstrings were pulled as Mallory encountered the poverty-stricken areas nearby. It’s always humbling to consider that others may not have what we have, and gentle reminders that God loves all are sometimes just the thing we need.

Also, like me, Mallory becomes a blogger as she ventures through life in Texas, blogging about her stepson, recipes, and adventures de-varmitizing her new “home”.

As these stories go, Firefly Island is not free of mystery, adventure, and a turn of events that of course leads her to fall deeper in love with her husband. While I am sure she didn’t want to make Texas her forever home back in her Capitol Hill days, the final chapters of this book make her realize that sometimes God has a way to find exactly what we want…although it may not always be where we think we’ll find it.

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Firefly Island is published by Bethany House and retails for $14.99.