Book Review: Living Life Undaunted

Book Review: Living Life Undaunted

Living Life Undaunted by Christine Caine is a daily devotional book based on the author’s bestselling book, “Undaunted” and her other inspirational writings.

The author takes us on a year long journey through the 4 sections in the book:

  • Broken
  • Loved
  • Empowered
  • Commissioned

In the first section of the book, we are led to confront our brokenness and trust God in the healing process. The second quarter reveals God’s unconditional love for us, and teaches us to be more like Him. In the third segment, you will find encouragement to be whole again and grow in faith. The final section of the book calls us to participate in God’s commission and make a difference in the world.

There are 365 devotions in all – one for each day of the year. Each devotion begins with a verse from the Bible, contains a few thoughts from the author, and ends with a couple of questions to help us reflect on the day’s passage.

I loved the author’s personal stories that were woven throughout the book. And there are several nuggets of wisdom that God has used to challenge and inspire me.

Here are some of them:

“God’s Word does not say that all things that happen to us are good, but it does say that God is able to work all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.”

“When there is a fight between my heart and my head, experience has taught me that the best thing to do is pick up my Bible and remind myself of what God says.”

“It is always dangerous when our gifts take us to a place where our character cannot keep us.”

I do not normally recommend devotional books because they tend to overshadow our daily habit of reading straight from the Bible. But I will recommend Living Life Undaunted as a great supplementary resource if you’re looking for bite-sized daily inspiration.

On a personal note, I have been deeply touched by the author’s personal testimony, and tremendously inspired by her story of healing. I’m eagerly looking forward to reading her other books!

Disclosure: I received a free Kindle version of this book from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are entirely my own.

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Book Review: The Nesting Place

Book Review: The Nesting Place

I must begin this review with a disclaimer that I am definitely not the decorator kind. I’ll take practical over pretty any day, and that applies to a variety of things in my life – ranging from clothing to home decor. So, the only reason I picked up this book was because (a) the author a popular blogger, and (b) I was bored of how our < 1000 sq.ft. rental apartment looked.

Now on to the review!

The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful by Myquillyn Smith was a surprising read for this non-creative, reluctant homemaker. The fact that the author had moved 13 times (to mostly rental homes) and still managed to make her living space look beautiful gave me some hope.

The book is filled with lovely color photos of the author’s home (which looks real & lived in… not like a museum, by the way). And the author’s advice to take risks with home decor (even in a rental home) was very liberating.

Here’s a quote from the book that I’ll be applying in more areas than just my home:

“At times, good enough and done is a smarter choice than perfect, and simply making a choice is often a sign of maturity, balance, and contentment.”

This is not just a home decorating book. It does not just have lovely pictures of the author’s home. It does not just give you practical ideas to make the most of what you have.

This book taught me contentment, allowing me to appreciate my dwelling place. And above all, it gave me hope that I too can make my home look beautiful, even with its imperfections.

I never put much effort into decorating our home because it was a rental. Coincidentally, while I was reading this book, my husband and I were also thinking of changing the look of our living room. We had a huge entertainment center right in the middle of our living room that housed our television, DVD player, music system, photo frames, books, medals, and a variety of knickknacks.

before-picture

The only problem was that it occupied a large central portion of our living room, and all the other furniture was ‘bowing down’ to the TV. My husband had this crazy idea to saw off a part of the shelving and push the rest of it to a corner of the room.

I usually don’t take much action on crazy ideas, but The Nesting Place kind of gave me the courage to try something new. I had another wild idea (to add to my husband’s)… I suggested we take the sawed off portion of the shelving, remove the glass dividers and lay it down horizontally in the kids’ room – to hold their books, blocks, puzzles and stationery.

So that’s what we did!

after-picture

The top half of the picture is our current entertainment center, pushed to a side of the living room. Our TV is no longer the center of attention. The couches (and the people sitting on them are). And there is more breathing space in the living room, making it appear much larger than it is.

The bottom half of the after picture, is the shelf laid down on it’s side in our kids’ room. All their stuff is now relegated to one corner of the room. Score!

So happy we took the risk and sawed up our entertainment center to make our living space look & feel better. Thank you Nester! 🙂

Disclosure: I received a free Kindle version of this book from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are entirely my own.

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The Wall Around Your Heart: Book Review

The Wall Around Your Heart

I have to admit… The Wall Around Your Heart: How Jesus Heals You When Others Hurt You by Mary DeMuth was not a very comfortable book to read. I knew it would make me acknowledge all the walls I had built up in my life, but I didn’t realize what a struggle breaking them down would be.

Too often when we get hurt, we spend months, if not years struggling with the bitterness. Although we may forgive the person who hurt us, the memories still linger, causing us to barricade ourselves from others. In this book, the author explains how we can be healed and made whole after painful relationships have taken a toll on us.

Using the Lord’s prayer as a guide, the author gives biblical and practical encouragement to turn a fortress heart into an open heart. The one thing that stood out for me in this book is this: the painful relationships I’ve endured in the past have molded my life in a way that nothing else possibly could.

I’ve asked God so many times why He let me endure certain difficult relationships… well, I now have the answer. He used those people, those hurts, those lessons, to mold me to be a better vessel for His glory.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“I would not be the Christ follower I am today without the painful people from my past. They were and are gifts. Messy, problematic gifts, but gifts nonetheless.”

“When we rehash, we rehearse, then relive the pain, which ends up poisoning us further.”

“I cannot fathom a God who dared to leave perfection, to come to this pain-paved world and heal those who eventually screamed for His death.”

“We ask for God’s will to be done, for Him to take divine note of the situation and act on our behalf for the sake of His name, not ours.”

“God often stretches you beyond your comfort to grow you.”

If you’ve been hurt by a loved one, someone you trusted and allowed into your life… you need to read this book. The past has no power over you unless you let it. Allow God to heal your wounds, and use your painful past to mold you towards a glorious future.

Disclosure: I received a free Kindle version of this book from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are entirely my own.

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Unglued: Book Review

Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst is one of the books I had wanted to read ever since it was launched. Let’s admit it, we’ve all come unglued (given in to our emotions) at various points in our lives. My problem was that my unglued moments were taking a toll on my family. I knew I needed to change, and this book had just the information I needed.

The book starts off with a positive phrase, Imperfect Progress. I love that term! That’s how any lasting life change can be made – by progressing, even though we fail at times. The author’s own experiences of coming unglued, her imperfect progress and lessons she learned in the process are very inspiring.

The author has identified four categories of unglued reactions – none of which are good:

      1. Exploders who shame themselves
      2. Exploders who blame others
      3. Stuffers who build barriers
      4. Stuffers who collect retaliation rocks

For each of our earthly relationships, we fall under one of the above categories. For example, with my husband, I might be a stuffer who collects retaliation rocks; with my kids, I might be an exploder who shames herself. Identifying which category I fell into helped me take note of what I was doing wrong, and take the first step to transform my reactions.

What I loved about the book is the abundance of Scripture. The author goes deeper into familiar verses, teaching us how God’s Word can reverse our tendency to become unglued. The book has several practical tips to help us remain emotionally stable, even in situations where we’re most likely to fly off the handle!

I don’t think I have highlighted this many passages in any other book/ebook (save my Bible)! Here are a few quotes from the book that encouraged me:

“Could I trust God and believe that He is working out something good even from things that seem no good?”

“I can face things that are out of my control and not act out of control. I am not a freak-out woman.”

“He (God) allows the unglued moments to make us aware of the chiseling that needs to be done… Let God chisel.”

“Do not check in with the screaming demands of the world before you exchange whispers with God.”

“Regardless of the stress I’m under, I am capable of displaying God’s gentleness because the Holy Spirit is in me.”

We all experience potholes as we journey through life, but we have the ability to choose how we respond. If your natural reaction is to stuff your emotions or take it out on those around you, this book has biblical wisdom and practical tips to help you overcome it. It sure has been a much needed resource for me!

Disclosure: I received a free Kindle version of this book from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are entirely my own.

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Women Living Well: Book Review

Women Living Well: Finding Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids, and Your Home by Courtney Joseph is one book that encompasses a variety of topics that every Christian woman wants to know more about. The premise behind the book is that if we want to be women living well, we need to drink from our Living Well.

I’ll admit that I couldn’t relate much when the author writes of how she lived out her faith even in her childhood. (I didn’t have a personal relationship with God until my mid-teens.) But the way she speaks of her mother – the dedication with which she had trained her daughters and lived out her faith, made me want to be a better mother for my sons.

If you’re a long time reader of the author’s blog, you’ll find portions of the book to be repetitive. But I sincerely didn’t mind, as I still took away a lot from the book.

One quote that hit me hard was related to marriage:

“I wonder: why is it noble to help men in the workplace, help orphans,
help widows, help your pastor, help the neighbors, or help your parents,
but degrading to help your husband – your groom,
your lover, and your best friend?”

OUCH!

I shared this quote with my husband, and his smug smile convinced me that he was silently applauding the author! 🙂

Onto the book’s structure itself… it is divided into 4 parts (consisting of 5 chapters each) titled:

      1. Your Walk with the King
      2. Your Marriage
      3. Your Parenting
      4. Your Homemaking

In each of these areas, the author humbly shares the mistakes she’s made, lessons she’s learned and practical tips to help us overcome our struggles.

If there was one quote that could sum up what I took away from this book, it’s this:

“It is in the secret discipline of private prayer and meditation on God’s Word
that our roots grow deep into the rich soil of holiness.”

When we quiet ourselves and spend quality time God, He equips us to be better wives, mothers and homemakers! I know this is common sense… but WOW… God wants to help us be better at what He’s called us to do! 🙂

If you are a woman looking for direction in your faith, marriage, parenting or homemaking, the biblical truths expanded in this book will definitely benefit you.

P.S: There was a Women Living Well Conference held a few months back, and you can view the complete sessions here. They are GOOD! 🙂

Disclosure: I received a free Kindle version of this book from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are entirely my own.

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Discipleship & Discipline: Course Review

Discipleship & Discipline: Practical Parenting Help for the Desperate Mom is an eCourse conducted by Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae.  Having already read the book Desperate that they wrote together, I knew they’d have valuable parenting tips to share.  And I was not disappointed!

Over the course of 4 webinars, Sally and Sarah Mae share a lot of lessons they’ve learnt while parenting their own children.  I love their emphasis on building relationships, acceptance and learning about the heart of our kids.  They also share a lot of great advice for parents with difficult children.

I have to admit that there are times in my life when I think I’ve messed up my boys for good – and they’re only 5 years old!  This course gives me hope that I can learn to be a better mother.  I know I’m not perfect, and never will be…  But by learning from those who’ve trod the same path before (and with God’s guidance, of course) I can be the best mother I could possible be for my kids.

There’s so much to take away from this course, that I don’t know where to begin.  But rather than letting the information overwhelm me, I’m determined to let God help me work on the main areas first – patience, heartfelt discipline and perseverance.  It’s too early to tell if there are any changes in our household, but I’m sure we’re on the right track.

Now on to the course itself… It is presented in just a single PDF document, but looks can be deceiving!  Inside this PDF you will find:

  • Daily devotions
  • Course outline for each of the 4 days
  • 4 videos that you can watch anytime

And as a bonus, you also get:

  • Core Lies ebook
  • The UnWired Mom ebook
  • My 24 Family Ways PDF packet

The regular price of the course is $17.99.  But you can find a discount coupon for $8 off the regular price here (valid till Friday, October 10).

Click here for more information about the Discipleship & Discipline Course

Disclosure: I received free access to the course to facilitate my review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are entirely my own.

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City On Fire: Book Review

I must admit… although I love Christian fiction, I don’t read as many novels now as I did in my teens and early twenties.  Nowadays, I seem to favor non-fiction books that encourage me in my faith, marriage, parenting or ministry.  So anyway, the only reason I chose to review this novel was because a few other books I wanted to review weren’t available yet.  Oh, but I am so glad I got to read it!  I read through the book in a week, which is quite uncommon for me in my current state of life :).

City On Fire: A Novel of Pompeii is a historical Christian fiction book written by Tracy Higley.  The story is set in first-century Italy and incorporates everything from gladiators and Roman politicians to Jews and early Christians.  My first impression of the book was that it reminded me of “Quo Vadis”, but of course, the two books cannot be compared.

The story revolves around a Jewish slave girl (Ariella) who pretends to be a gladiator in order to escape from an immoral master.  She ends up in the city of Pompeii where a wealthy politician (Cato) uncovers her identity and is determined to keep her safe from predators.

The author subtly weaves early Christians into the story-line and brings about their meaningful encounters with the lead characters.  I love the way Ariella, a Jew who’s lost faith in her God… and Cato an honest politician on a quest for justice, both understand the truth about Christ in their individual ways.

The author has obviously done a lot of research before writing this book which is evident in the minute details.  Although the immoral state of the people at that time has been described, it is rightly presented as the result of humans falling prey to evil forces that take advantage of their weaknesses.

I loved the book, although I wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers.  A few scenes that I connected with seemed to be right out of the book of Acts in the Bible.  The last few chapters especially are fast-paced and soul-stirring.  If you like historical fiction and the stories of early Christians, you’ll love this book.

Disclosure: I received a free Kindle version of this book from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are entirely my own.

The Passionate Mom: Book Review

The Passionate Mom: Dare To Parent In Today’s World is a parenting book written by Susan Merrill, Director of iMOM.  (iMOM was the very first parenting blog I ever followed and it changed my perspective of motherhood a great deal.)  Anyway, I’ve been following the blogs of the author and her husband for more than 2 years now and I was excited at the opportunity to review this book.

I love gleaning life lessons from the Bible, and the fact that “The Passionate Mom” is based on the book of Nehemiah, made it all the more interesting.  The author likens parenting to the way Nehemiah built the wall around Jerusalem.  Taking the reader verse-by-verse through the book of Nehemiah, she describes the qualities Nehemiah possessed that are essential for parenting our kids well.

“Nehemiah had what every mother needs to parent well in today’s world, and he provided a pattern for us to follow.” ~ Susan Merrill, The Passionate Mom

There are 10 essentials the author recommends that all parents develop:

      1. Perception
      2. Pondering
      3. Passion
      4. Prayer
      5. Patience
      6. Preparation
      7. Purpose
      8. Planning
      9. Problem Solving
      10. Perseverance

Each chapter refers to one of these topics as a brick in the wall we are building in our children’s lives.  And as bricks need mortar to hold them together, the author also includes in each chapter, qualities/traits we parents need to develop to keep the bricks in place.

The author discusses practical topics such as electronics and dating that are very relevant to parenting in this day and age.  However, I do believe this book would best be appreciated by parents of tweens and teens.  There was some valuable advice I took to heart as a mother of 5 year old boys, but I’m sure the wealth of information in this book will be very handy when my boys are older.

Altogether, a good read – practical and very helpful!

Disclosure: I received a free Kindle version of this book from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are entirely my own.

Intentional Parenting: Book Review

Intentional Parenting

Intentional Parenting: Autopilot is for planes is a parenting book written by Sissy Goff, David Thomas, and Melissa Trevathan – counselors at Daystar Counseling Ministries.  The book aims to help parents be more intentional in the way they connect with their kids.

Each author has written four chapters and it’s easy to notice the different style of each writer.  Each chapter in the book explores a particular characteristic of parents in detail – for example, Patience, Balance, Consistency, etc.  The authors have written based on their own experience as counselors, so we get a good dose of the children’s perspective as well.

There was a lot of reference to another book “Love and Logic”, which might leave readers who haven’t read it clueless.  On the whole, the book seemed a little too much like a to-do list for parents and it overwhelmed me a bit.  The authors do mention however, that it’s essential that parents look to God to guide them in being intentional parents.

The real life stories and views of both the parents and children make this book a good read.  Whether you are parenting a toddler or a teen, there is something in this book for you.  If you are having trouble with your kids right now, I encourage you to pick up this book.  Chances are the authors have dealt with the problem you are currently facing and their experience will definitely help you in some way.

Disclosure: I received a free Kindle version of this book from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are entirely my own.

Draw the Circle: Book Review

Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge by Mark Batterson is based on the principles outlined in his previous book The Circle Maker. I haven’t read The Circle Maker, but I was still able to grasp the concept of praying circles and how it enriches our prayer lives.

The idea behind the book is that when you receive a promise from God, you diligently circle it in prayer until it is answered. The author derives this from the story of Honi. (I had no idea who Honi was, so I had to do a bit of research. Apparently, he is a character from the Talmud, who drew a circle in the ground around him and wouldn’t budge until God sent rain.)

I didn’t quite like the idea of holding God ransom until He answers a prayer, but the author repeatedly writes that it is not so. We are to keep in continuous prayer only those things for which we have received a definite word from God. It could be a verse from the Bible, or a specific promise God has given us – something we know for sure is the will of God.

The idea of circles could be physical – like walking around a building or a town where you want God to move. A biblical example of this is the Israelites walking around Jerico. They obeyed God and walked in circles around the city until God gave it to them. We could also draw a spiritual circle – for example, praying for a loved one’s salvation. It is God’s will that none should perish; when we continue to pray for a loved one’s salvation, we know it is in the will of God and He will answer it in due time.

The book has 40 short, easy to read chapters – corresponding to the 40 day challenge. Each chapter deals with a particular aspect of prayer, and includes a real life story of someone who applied it in their prayer lives and received a miracle. The book is sprinkled with dozens of one-liners that deliver quite a punch. Here are a few of them:

“The true purpose of prayer is to get into God’s presence so He can outline His agenda to us.”

“When you pray to God regularly, irregular things happen on a regular basis.”

“The plans of God are only revealed in the presence of God.”

“Prayer is the difference between the best you can do and the best God can do.”

“The God who gives the vision is the same God who makes provision.”

If you have been praying long for something, and you’re still waiting for your miracle, take heart. I’m still waiting on God for quite a few requests of my own. If you know that what you are praying for is within the will of God, do not give up. We may not understand now why there is a delay, but God will answer in His time. Continue to persevere in prayer!

Disclosure: I received a free Kindle version of this book from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are entirely my own.