All posts by Sally Ferguson

Hi! My name is Sally Ferguson and I have been a freelance writer since 1996. Over 100 devotionals have been published in Pathways to God (Warner Press). I’ve also written for Chautauqua Mirror, Just Between Us, Adult Span Curriculum and Thriving Family. Warner Press released my coloring book, What Will I Be When I Grow Up? January 2006. As a speaker, I enjoy connecting with women and seeing them find affirmation for the phase of life they face daily. I am passionate about helping women find encouragement from God’s Word, as well as supplying the tools to help them apply what they’ve learned there. I love organizing retreats and seeing relationships blossom when we take time away from our daily routine. Our Women’s Retreat just celebrated its 10th Anniversary! Parenting has its own set of challenges. My kids are grown but the nest keeps growing. Join me on the journey as we figure it out together!

Book Review: Teach Us to Want

Do you wonder if ambition is ungodly? Do you think you shouldn’t chase your dreams because they don’t feel “spiritual?” Jen Pollock Michel tackles questions of how to understand the desires that move us, in her book, Teach Us to Want.

Jen is gifted at unwrapping Scripture in understandable language. Her writings appear in Christianity Today, Beautiful Orthodoxy, The Gospel Coalition, Today in the Word and The American Bible Society. Jen asks, “Is it true that the hardest, least desirable choice is the most obviously holy? Is it true that personal desire must never be trusted?”

The process of finding answers to her own questions, leads us down a path of introspection and searching. She ponders the place of self-salvation and the one where we embrace God’s will.

How important is this topic? Life-changing. Because it is the difference between trusting God, or demanding control. Jen says, “Holy prayers of desire don’t simply aim to get something from God: they’re ambitious to get God in us.”

If you’re human, you can relate to this book. We’ve all experienced disappointment and dashed dreams. But Jen Pollock Michel offers something more: hope and the knowledge that the Lord has a good plan in store for us. She unpacks how the desires of our heart can impact the expression of our faith. And desire is a wanted characteristic, instead of taboo, because it unveils opportunities the Lord wants to use through our God-given gifts.

Read it and be blessed!

Sally

Book Review: In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day

Do you have a lion you’re facing, that project looming larger than life? What about a fear you just can’t tackle? In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day will help you stare down your obstacle with a bravery you just didn’t know was possible. And, yes, it is that good. Mark Batterson has lassoed a beast many of us face, as we seek the courage to dream big dreams with God.

Mark Batterson is the author of a dozen books, including The Circle Maker, and the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. His innovative look at the definition of success will cause you to rethink your view of God’s work in your life.
I promise this book will make you stop in your tracks. Batterson says when we fail to step out of our comfort zones, we rob God of the glory He wants to showcase in our lives. When there is no problem to be overcome, there will be no miracle experienced, because we’re not fully relying on the Lord to do the unexpected. He says we’re called to chase opportunities and take risks for God’s best.
Are there any irrational fears and misconceptions that keep you from God’s best for your life? It’s time to reframe them.
Are there difficult circumstances you’re asking God to get you out of? It’s time to ask Him what He wants you to get out of them.
Is uncertainty rocking your faith? It’s time for your faith to embrace uncertainty. Batterson contends risk taking is at the heart of righteousness.
I chose to read this book because of the tagline: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars. Are there times when you feel like me, an opportunity is scarier than the potential? This book helps with that! Batterson provides tips to develop the skills needed for the path. Get your own copy today and go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention!
Sally
FTC disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”

Book Review & a Christmas Giveaway! Listen, Love, Repeat

Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World intrigued me right off. In the Table of Contents, Karen Ehman hit all of my favorite buttons… “Living a Life of Welcome,” “How to Care for your Clan,” Recipes, Gift Tags and many more ways to express affection for the people in your life.

Karen Ehman is an author and speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries who has earned the right to be heard. Other works include Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing at All and Let. It. Go. How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith. Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World carries on her theme of making words count.

The principles Karen talks about are so counter-intuitive, they are a stark reminder in our selfie culture to put others first. Examples from the pages of history and the lives of those seeking to please God are peppered with stories from her own family and experiences. Here’s a sampling of thoughts:

Jesus lived on alert, noticing those “who needed a look, a word, or a touch from Him.” (pg 19)

Jesus “didn’t preach to everyone, heal everyone, comfort everyone, or even convert everyone. He simply showed up where God told Him to go and did what God told Him to do.” (pg 42)

“Kindness is contagious. Our loving actions might seem like they are only intended for one person. In truth, they are like a cannonball of kindness that splashes waves of love onto the hearts of all nearby.” (pg 63)

Hebrews 13:1 urges, ‘Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.’ The phrase keep on here in the original Greek is from the root word meneto, which means ‘to wait, stay, abide or remain.’ It is a verb – an action word. In a sense, it means to never stop showing up.” (pg 230)

Do you have some bristly people in your life? Get this book! Karen includes tips to help stay the course as you seek to sew goodwill into their lives!

Karen’s writing resonates with those who are tired of doing life “business as usual.” Her insights are a refreshing commentary on the way to find fulfillment in your day-to-day activities. I am so glad for her nudge to honor others by listening to their “heart drops” in an effort to encourage and lend a helping hand.

Are you curious yet? Get your own copy today (On sale right now for $2.99!). Or, you can enter the drawing! I am giving away a copy, courtesy of Zondervan Publishers, to one reader in the continental United States. Leave a comment on my blog (at the top of this post, under the title) about one of your favorite ways to “Scatter Kindness,” and you will be entered into the drawing to be held on Christmas Eve. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Sally

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through The BlogAbout Network book review program in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: A Servant Like Jesus

A Servant Like Jesus is a delightful book, and a wonderful introduction to a series that “builds a strong, foundational relationship with Jesus.” It models friendship, servanthood and compassion through a story with endearing characters. Charlie is shy, Willie & Tina have to learn how to share, and Bernie needs a friend when he gets hurt. The Sea Kids all respond differently to their first day of school. Some eager, some fearful, but all enter the unknown together. They learn an important lesson about helping others and how it also helps them overcome their own fears.

It’s easy to see why A Servant Like Jesus is winner of The Mom’s Choice Award, Illumination Book Awards, Readers’ Favorite Illustration Award, International Book Awards Finalist, IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award and President’s Book Awards Winner. The author, Lee Ann Mancini has found a way to help kids relate to Jesus. And illustrator, Dan Sharp brings images that leap off the page into your child’s imagination! The colors are welcoming. The illustrations are fun, playful, full of detail and include a treasure hunt in the sea.

Get your copy now at GLM Publishing, and save during the holiday season! Take 50% OFF when you use the code: SEAKIDS16. This is a book you’ll read again and again… I can’t wait to dive into it with my own grandchildren!

Sally

Disclosure of Material: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Review & a Giveaway: Bible Basics: A Baby Believer Counting Primer

bible-basics-cover

As a young mom, I was constantly on the lookout for books to read with my toddlers that would affirm faith. Now, as a gra’ma, it’s as important as ever, to bring Biblical truths to my grands. Bible Basics: A Baby Believer Counting Primer fills that need! It introduces concepts that are fundamental to understanding who God is, while giving the child room to grow into that understanding.

hitchen-and-blanchard-bible-basics

Author Danielle Hitchen (left), a mother and talk radio producer, and the illustrator, Jessica Blanchard (right), a mother and an award-winning graphic artist have created a visually appealing, mentally stimulating work that will act as a springboard for questions, conversations and prayer time.

Many of my fondest memories of my children’s nursery days are those surrounding reading time together. It started with pointing at objects in pictures, moved to counting and number recognition and then to their own successes at efforts to read. Some of the words in Bible Basics will be a mouthful to start with, like “Commandments” and “Beatitudes,” but all communication is learned with repetition, and the model of a loving adult who presents it.

In this season of giving, Bible Basics: A Baby Believer Counting Primer is the perfect gift for every little reader on your list!

bible-basics-board-book

I am giving away a copy, courtesy of Catechesis Books, to one reader in the continental United States. Leave a comment on my blog about the little readers in your family, and you will be entered into the drawing, to be held one week from today, December 5.

Sally

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through The Blog About Network book review program in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: Saffire by Sigmund Brouwer

saffire

The year was 1909, and “I was living in the prime of human advancement… There had been Kitty Hawk only six years earlier, and the Model T… there was not much left for humans to achieve.”

James Holt is standing at the precipice of all time, the digging of the Panama Canal. As events unfold involving the mysterious girl Saffire, Holt finds himself torn between his assignment from President Teddy Roosevelt and his desire to protect the young woman.

Sigmund Brouwer has taken a history lesson and turned it into a compelling story of people and the times in which they lived. The plot twists are a testament to his ability to create a page turner; Brouwer even saves a mystery for the last page of the author’s notes!

Brouwer contrasts the backdrop of Holt’s ranch in the Dakotas with the humid landscape of Panama. In his description of each, the reader gets a view of two worlds and a look at the cultures that shape them. Brouwer also throws in gems such as these:

“Each person travels his own journey to or away from God. My own belief came at a price that I was still not sure I would have paid if given a choice: the death of my wife, who in leaving this world had shown me the joy that comes with faith and how it strengthens us to endure all circumstances.” p. 258

“I smiled sadly, thinking of the woman I had loved and now mourned. Or maybe the sadness came because for the first time since her death, there was a woman that I wanted to love. I could not escape a sense that love for someone else might lead to the death of my memory of the woman I mourned.” p. 281

“’Saffire.’ I softened my tone. ‘You can’t be responsible for the bad things other people choose to do.’” p. 303

Some things we learn from personal experience, and sometimes we’re spared, and learn from others. That’s the bonus of reading a seasoned author like Sigmund Brouwer. Gain a new appreciation for the marvels of manmade wonders, like the building of the Panama Canal, and the people who masterminded the advance of the modern world!

Sally

FTC disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”

Book Review: The Romance of Redemption

the-romance-of-redemption

Do you struggle with knowing your identity? Take a turn in the pages of Warren Austin Gage’s insightful book, The Romance of Redemption, and you will come away with confidence in who the Lord created you to be.

Warren Austin Gage’s other works include The Story of Joseph and Judah, The Gospel of Genesis, Milestones to Emmaus and There is No Greater Love. His storytelling draws you into the culture and background, enabling you to walk the dusty roads alongside the principal characters.

The tagline for The Romance of Redemption is, “Your Story as the Bride of Christ.” Maybe you would wonder at the assumption that he would know your story, but Gage masterfully weaves that proposition throughout. He uses narratives of women from the Bible who were virtuous examples, and ones who weren’t, to explain the significance of events in Scripture and to create a visual of the redemptive work of Christ.

One of my favorite chapters is the one surrounding Rahab’s escape and the door of safety. The scarlet rope hanging on her door was symbolic of the Passover blood that saved the homes of the Israelites in Egypt. And that blood is symbolic of the One who is the door to eternal life.

Isn’t God’s Word amazing? The themes of redemption began in the Garden of Eden and continued to the garden in Revelation. As Gage says, “The first Adam made a grave of his garden, but the last Adam has made a garden of his grave…”

Like me, have you ever doubted your faith and your standing before a holy God? This book brings reassurance in comparing the accounts of women in the Bible to our Savior, as He seeks His Bride; for He is the One who represents true love. The Romance of Redemption carries a needed message in tumultuous times, of the depth of His love for us and the length He went in order to show us that love. It’s a must-have for your reading list!

Sally

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: Rooted, The Hidden Places Where God Develops You by Banning Liebscher

 

Rooted

Is it possible to eliminate confusion, give affirmation and recognize God at work? Banning Liebscher says it is, and we can, in his book, Rooted. In fact, Liebscher says it’s his goal, and used the life of David to flesh out three different types of soil God used to root David’s deep trust in Him.

Banning Liebscher is the founding pastor of Jesus Culture Sacramento, and tells the story of the growth of a movement, but, more importantly, the growth of individuals who allow God’s Word to become rooted in their hearts.

I had to read the book twice, because

  • I wanted to make sure I didn’t misinterpret what was being said.
  • I wanted to soak in the truths laid out.

One such area I misunderstood, the statement was made that we are all made for greatness. The second time through, it clarified, greatness is expressed through humility, love and service to others. What a difference in thought! The first sounded like entitlement. The second? Like Jesus! And Jesus served. He didn’t act entitled, but led by serving.

Liebscher gives examples from his own experiences to illustrate how God developed his character in the hidden places; those times of digging into Scripture and prayer. And the book is a clarion call to both. As Christians, we are admonished to let God take His time to shape us, before we step out to lead others. He says, “The small things are preparation as you move toward what God has called you to do.”

Liebscher invites us to run hard after Jesus, so that we will finish strong. His book lays out tools for that race, and encouragement for the runners. I heartily recommend it to all who would “build their house, fulfill God’s vision, bear fruit, make an impact and step into who The Lord created us to be.”

Sally

Disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”

Leadership 101

I have an apple tree in my back yard that has never borne fruit. Year after year, we sought signs that something would come of our efforts to put it in good soil. But nothing revealed indicators of growth. How about you? Have you been feeling like there’s no fruit from your work?
Pastor Bill Hybels says leadership begins with yourself. When you are dormant, people won’t follow you. So, how will you push yourself? He suggests taking leaders to lunch and asking questions, exposing yourself to new ways of looking at things, and developing character.
If leadership begins at home, then it does matter what we do when no one’s watching. We are all managers of:
• Time
• Money
• Words
In Psalm 39, David said he would watch what he said around others. But he also affirmed in Psalm 40 he would tell of God’s goodness. He sought the Lord’s help to know when to speak and when to be silent. What would that look like for a leader? We have opportunities to speak truth into people’s lives. Will it be laced with criticism or kindness?
At The Global Leadership Summit, Leadership Coach John Maxwell challenged all to add value to people’s lives every day. He said we can learn from the way Jesus valued Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman and even children. It takes intentional living to see things from someone else’s perspective.
Let’s get back to the basics in our leadership habits. Find ways to stretch yourself and your team. Expose yourself to new ways of doing things every day. Ask questions. Listen. Put your house in order. Speak kindness into the hearts of others. Hold yourself accountable to a high standard of integrity.

apple tree from back yard
This year, however, something is different with my apple tree. The branches are heavy laden and getting ready for harvest. Maybe you’ve been waiting for the fruit of your labor that seems negligent in coming? Don’t give up. Keep building on the basics of love and faithfulness. Let integrity be your hallmark. When God’s timing is ripe, you will see a harvest of His faithfulness in your life and in your work.

Sally

In what ways is the Lord nudging you to stretch your leadership skills today?

Book Review: Breaking Up with Perfect

Breaking Up with Perfect

Do you ever feel like it’s time to break up with your tendencies toward perfection? Breaking Up with Perfect shows you how. It takes you through the belief systems that told you life had to look a certain way, to the skewed values that warped your view of life, to the actions that perpetuate selfishness, to that sweet place of freedom and fulfilling relationships. What do perfectionistic attitudes have to do with relationships? Everything. They rob friendships of the depth of caring needed to overcome obstacles in personality differences!

Amy Carroll says she wrote Breaking Up with Perfect out of her own battle with the Good Girl List. That list that makes you do everything possible to live up to an image you’ve concocted, but no one else expects. She contrasts it with her friend’s list: the Never Good Enough List. What follows is a heart-to-heart talk about the fatal flaws in each list and the devastating toll they take on a heart submitted to them.
Reading this book, I feel exposed. Amy describes me in so many ways, that I feel like she followed me around with a camera! If I ever noticed the horrible consequences of perfectionism, it was never so pronounced. So, why go through the pain of opening up your heart with all of its failures, flaws and all? Because it creates room for relationships; relationships that are encouraging, joy-giving and fill in the gaps of life.
This book provides questions to ask when relationships go awry, recipes for self-absorption and pride, and antidotes to materialism. It is a must-read for anyone who has ever yearned to move from hollowness to wholeness. Amy says, “I’m never getting back together with my do-er mentality.”
Isn’t it time to rest in knowing we don’t have to earn God’s favor? He is our Provider and wants us to trust Him for every bit of our day.
Get this book, for a journey from a difficult place, to a much better place! You’ll also want to check in with Amy’s blog, where Amy has a book club for Breaking Up With Perfect starting on August 1.
I am giving away a copy, courtesy of Howard Books, to one reader in the continental United States. Leave a comment on my blog (at the top of this post, under the title) about ways perfectionism blocks community, and you will be entered into the drawing, to be held one week from today, August 4.
Sally
P.S. Each person who leaves a comment will also receive a free pdf, “What Scripture Tells Us About God’s Love,” from Breaking Up With Perfect!
Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through The Blog Spot Network book review program in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”