Category Archives: Reviews

A fair and honest opinion about someone else’s work.

Book Review: Thin Places by Mary DeMuth

Mary DeMuth says thin places are where the mundane meet other-worldly, where we get a glimpse of eternity. Her memoir, Thin Places, is the opportunity to see how God intersected the story of her life to bring redemption to rape, abandonment and fear. It is the profound grace of sharing painful realities and yet finding hope on the other side.

Mary E. DeMuth is an author, speaker and mentor. In over 30 books and with five translations, she seeks to bring truth and transparency to difficult places. Her work with authors is legendary and purposeful in bringing art to the surface.

Mary’s words touch the raw places of my heart, where the deepest fears lie. Am I loveable? Am I worthy to be given attention? Does God see me? The result of wrestling with God is where we learn God is enough. He is there for us. He allows the difficult so that we will lean on Him and find grace enough to share with all who will listen.

Mary gives examples of ways others spoke redemption over her life by kind observations and affirmations. It makes me wonder how often I spread praise, and if it is enough to lift someone else out of their despair? She says the kindness of others created opportunity to glimpse the lavish kindness of God. We really never know the full impact for good we can make on another life. And Thin Places provides motivation to try harder!

If you’ve ever struggled with the need for approval, jealousy or being critical of yourself, you’ll resonate with this book. Mary’s writing compels you to take a look at pain and release it so that you can find contentment in God alone. Is He enough? Will He understand me? Will He be okay with my messy heart? “Yes,” Mary says, “because He redeems my messes. Cleans them up. Polishes them until they shine so bright the reflection of Jesus smiles back.”

Dig into this book and find a holy anticipation welling up within you. Mary says, “I get to the end of myself more often now. Before, I found this perturbing, but now understand it to be God’s severe mercy. He loves me enough to show me how silly my lists are, how futile my self-flagellation is. He shows up in my need, my weakness – His paradoxical way of wooing me to His way of thinking. My way does not produce life in me. But when I acknowledge my need for Jesus, when I dare to let Him be my conscience, I experience… freedom all over again.”

Yes, freedom is God’s design for our thin places!

Sally

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book plus a book bundle from Zondervan in exchange for my thoughts and opinions of Breaking Busy.

SenseSational Christmas!

It’s been fun highlighting the five senses this week. Today, we’ll look at the fifth: the sense of touch. In what way can you add your personal touch to Christmas? Make an extra effort to send cards? Add a distinct flourish to packages? Even attention to details on a gift card can make someone feel special because their name has been emphasized.
What makes you feel cherished? Chances are, sharing that gift with someone else will bless them too. I grew up in a home where we held hands around the table as we prayed for God’s blessing on the food. We passed that gift of touch on to my family, even though it was a stretch for teenagers. Now, I’m reaping that contact with my grandchildren and I’m soaking it up!
Be generous with your hugs. We all need connection.
Terry Willits pulls it all together by saying, “The God of all Comforts came to this earth as a child and experienced for himself loving human touch. Christmas is about giving. Touch is about giving, too. And touch is a precious gift to give in our homes at Christmas. Just as Mary gave Jesus her tender touch, we can share loving touches to make our homes a place of comfort this holiday.”
Let the touches you add to your home say, “You are welcome here!”
Sally
Originally published at Sally’s Words
Leave a comment: In what ways do you add the sense of touch to your day?

Related Posts:
Do You Hear What I Hear?
The Tastes of Christmas 
How’s your Sense of Smell? 
The Five Senses of Christmas 
Looking for Christmas

Do You Hear What I Hear?

What are the sounds that sing of Christmas for you? The choir practicing? The bell-ringer standing at The Salvation Army bucket? A favorite carol?

One of my favorite albums is Amy Grant’s: A Christmas Album. And I love the day after Thanksgiving, when our radio station plays non-stop Christmas music! However, in Simply SenseSational Christmas, Terry Willits says “At least one night this Christmas season, when the kids are in bed, turn off the television and enjoy the precious sound of silence. Take in the beautiful silence of a snowfall or a quiet, starry night. Sit on the sofa and talk with a loved one, or read a book in front of a crackling fire with no more sound than the turning of a page.”
I have to admit that the silence of Christmas is just as precious as the music. I love that time of the evening when everyone else is asleep and I can sit in front of the tree with all the rest of the lights off. The popping of the firelight casts images across the ornaments and settles me into a reflective mood. Yes, there are wonderful resolutions made in those quiet moments. Maybe that’s why God chose a silent night so long ago to announce the birth of His Son!
Lord, fine-tune my hearing, that I might be receptive when you speak. Amen
Sally
Originally published at Sally’s Words
Leave a comment: What are your favorite sounds at Christmas?


Related Posts:
The Tastes of Christmas
How’s your Sense of Smell?
The Five Senses of Christmas 
Looking for Christmas

The Tastes of Christmas

When you look at Christmas treasures and smell the beautiful aromas, your mouth begins to water!  Aren’t you ready for some of those family recipes that are especially pulled out at Christmas?  Two of our must-haves for the holidays are my Mom’s homemade Eggnog, and Monster Cookies with red and green peanut M&M’s. Our taste buds add to the fun of the season!

Terry Willits reminds us that we need to be sure to serve up healthy but simple meals during this season of sweet temptations.  Our immunities need an extra boost when we’re sampling all of that extra sugar.  

Aren’t you glad the Lord gave us taste buds?  We have the ability to experience flavors because we have 10,000 taste receptors in our mouths!

The Bible also tells us to taste and see that the Lord is good.   Make time to read His Word. Get to know the Author. Sit down at His Banquet Table prepared for you. The Bible is filled with good morsels to chew and ingest.

Did you know that people get a taste of what’s inside of you when you speak?  What rolls off of your tongue?  Do your words build up or tear others down?  Look for ways to soften stress in someone else’s life by encouraging them today!

Here’s another Christmas decorating tip from Terry Willits:  “A wooden bowl filled with a variety of nuts invites anyone to sit down and crack open a healthy holiday snack.  For function as well as a festive look, have a nutcracker soldier stand guard beside the bowl.”

Here’s my favorite recipe for Hot Cocoa:

 

Hot Cocoa Mix

Instructions for a hot mug of deliciousness: Stir 4 tablespoons mix into one cup hot water to make one serving. Add a dash of mini marshmallows.

1 c powdered sugar

½ c unsweetened cocoa powder

1 c non-dairy cream powder (French Vanilla is incredible!)

¼ tsp salt

2 ¾ c instant nonfat milk powder

Whisk all together in 4 c container with a tight-fitting lid. Label with instructions for individual servings.

 

Happy Sampling!

Sally

Originally published at Sally’s Words 

Leave a comment: How do you taste God’s goodness?

Related Posts:

How’s your Sense of Smell? 

The Five Senses of Christmas

Looking for Christmas

How’s Your Sense of Smell?

Terry Willits says “Smell is the most influential sense we possess.  God wired up our noses to our brains so that the slightest smell can affect us.  Fragrances stir our emotions and affect our behavior.  The smell of peppermint perks us up and enhances concentration; the scent of pine or cedar soothes and calms.  The more pleasant our environment smells the more pleasant we are – reason enough to make our homes smell heavenly this holiday season!”

I’ve been thinking about the smells I love to have coming from the kitchen…warm cookies, fresh rolls baking, a turkey roasting.  I guess anything from the oven can create an enticing smell in the house!  What about when you’re not baking?  Flavored teas, coffees and hot chocolates can do the trick.  And French Vanilla creamer adds a touch of the sublime. Candles also come in many aromas, and pinecones thrown in the fireplace give off a woodsy bouquet.

Yesterday I hunted all over the office for the source of someone’s snack left behind.  I finally realized it was the vanilla-scented candle that I had gotten out with the Christmas decorations!  It wasn’t lit, but still crated an incredible smell that filled the whole room.

Today, when the kids got home from school, they popped some popcorn.  Wow – does that ever smell good!  It’s amazing how little it takes to alert the nose.  But it gives great benefits to the brain as those fragrances register!  Go ahead and look around the house for items you can use to tickle the nose.  You probably have some on hand right now!

Join us tomorrow when we taste (hint! hint!) Day 3 of The Five Senses of Christmas!

Sally

Originally published at Sally’s Words 

Leave a comment: What smells remind you of Christmas?

Related Posts:

The Five Senses of Christmas

Looking for Christmas

The Five Senses of Christmas

Boxes of Christmas decorations come down from the attic and create havoc in my home. But the treasures that emerge overrule my dismay. Joy of joys, the kids are eager to help, and I am letting go of dictating where things must go. Their excitement at being involved is a greater gem!
One of my favorite jewels to unpack is a book by Terry Willits: Simply SenseSational Christmas. It provides candy for the eyes as you saunter through the pages.  Today, for Day One of Five, I want to highlight what she says about the Sights of Christmas.
Terry says “Beauty attracts. Making our homes visually appealing for Christmas will hopefully draw others in so relationships can grow.”
The idea that your home is a place for relationships is a motivator to make it charming! As people feel cherished, they will relax and connect. But Terry warns against making it complicated. Keep it simple! Here are four areas she suggests to highlight: the front door, the mantel, the Christmas tree, and the table and chandelier where you will serve your holiday meals.

It perks me up to dress up the house! Setting up various nativities, greenery and candles builds anticipation and entices me to make more time for hospitality. Did you know that people enjoy being invited into your home? It gives them a chance to see you in your natural element. At the holidays, it lets them observe your favorite traditions and feel included in your life.
So bring out the twinkling lights, the colors of Christmas and the treasures in your attic. It’s time to prepare our hearts and homes to celebrate the birth of our King!
Sally
Originally published at Sally’s Words

Leave a comment: What are your favorite Christmas decorations?

Book Review: Becoming Women of Worth: Stories & Recipes for the Holidays

The delightful stories in Becoming Women of Worth: Stories of Sugar & Spice and Recipes for the Holidays remind us to come into the kitchen and set a spell. We’ll swap stories of cooking and child-rearing and catch up awhile. Enchanting tales of recipe fails and culinary successes inspire the baker in all of us to craft some tastes to treat our tribe. And woven in-between are memories of loved ones, long since gone, but not before leaving their mark on our lives.

Kristen Clark has compiled a treasure trove of recipes and stories that sweeten a walk down memory lane. I am elated to be included in Becoming Women of Worth: Stories of Sugar & Spice and Recipes for the Holidays, with my contribution of “Lessons From My Bread Basket.” Working with Kristen as an editor was gratifying, and I am proud to be part of the finished product from 18 authors, including Dorothy Hill, Dorothy Johnson, Laurie Smith, Shawn Kay Sidwell, Beth Lynn Clegg, Karey Christensen, Cindy Hansberry, Jere Pfister, Linda Burklin, Janis Bell, Brenda Fiola, Leslie Fink, Terri Lacher, Hannah Williams, Peggy Redelfs, and Tasha Wilks. Recipes include bread, pie, cakes, puddings, and more.

Becoming Women of Worth: Stories of Sugar & Spice and Recipes for the Holidays would make a lovely gift for a seasoned cook or a budding baker; a great way to show your appreciation at any occasion!

Sally

Disclaimer: I have not been compensated to write this review, nor do I receive proceeds from the sale of this book.

Book Review: Isaiah’s Daughter

A rags to riches story, Isaiah’s Daughter is a captivating look at real people who are a part of Israel’s history. Mesu Andrews creates a compelling story that is intricate and rich in characterization and dialogue. The principals are complex and endearing. Scenes are descriptive and memorable. I am in awe of the research done to create a narrative that is so irresistible.

Mesu Andrews was an active woman with a busy to-do list, until a debilitating illness cancelled her calendar. At that point, she found consolation in God’s Word and an unquenchable thirst for the stories recorded there. Her interpretation is fresh and insightful. Read my review of her book, Miriam, here.

I see the prophet Isaiah as a pillar of wisdom and insight, yet Isaiah’s Daughter helps me to view him as a mere mortal who relied on the Lord. Even he must have had doubts, as voiced on page 36, “Yahweh, I will trust You when I have more questions than answers.”

The author uses the power of storytelling to illustrate truths that are also relevant for our day. On page 53, Isaiah told his class that God had revealed the coming Messiah, as well as an attack by Syria. When he gave them a chance to respond to why God would do both, Eliakim said, “Could it be the same reason my abba swats me with a stick? When I disobey, Abba swats me, and it hurts. But he hugs me after and says he disciplined me because he loves me. Maybe God will send His presence to comfort at a time when His discipline is most severe.”

On page 118, Prince Hezekiah asks, “What benefit is prophecy when we can’t understand it?”

Isaiah responds, “Prophecy – even when we don’t fully understand it – is given so we can watch God’s sovereignty and power unfold. He offers clues to identify His activity in the world around us. For those who are alert to His activity, we find great reward in discovering His love and faithfulness. For those who ignore God’s involvement in this world, there awaits disaster and regret when His meaning is revealed.”

If ever there was a time we needed those words, it’s now. We’re watching world events unfold at an incredible rate. Jesus has promised His return. We are to watch for the clues and obey to the end.

Do you struggle with knowing God’s will for you? When Ishma desires to know God’s will, Isaiah reminds her God’s “plan for you in this moment is to be faithful where you are.”

Do you struggle with dark days? Yaira says she experienced joy more deeply because she had known sadness.

Through the actions of King Ahaz, we come to understand the consequences of our choices – good or bad.

Through the frustration of Isaiah, we learn how to pray for those who don’t seek God.

Through the eyes of Hephzibah, we see the importance of creating homes for our husbands that are a safe refuge away from the criticisms of the world.

Through a miscarriage, we find sisterhood in the way the harem cares for their queen.

Why read Isaiah’s Daughter? It gives a glimpse into the hopes and dreams of people who struggled to follow God, just like we do, in the midst of unexplainable turmoil. Isaiah’s Daughter is an incredible love story of a woman and a man in the annals of history. Yet, more importantly, it is the love story of God and His chosen people. It will encourage and bolster your faith as you wrestle alongside their battles!

Sally

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

Book Review & a Giveaway: Talking to Jesus

Do you ever wonder if your prayers are heard? Talking to Jesus, through the fictional depiction of real people in the Bible, assures you of the God who hears. In fact, the author’s goal is that “you’ll read your Bible with a slight shift in your mindset and find yourself talking face-to-face with Jesus anytime, anywhere about anything and everything.”

Jeannie Blackmer is the author of Talking to Jesus, as well as MomSense, Boy-sterous Living and Where Women Walked. Her work with Guideposts and MOPS International has given Jeannie a unique window into the world of people and the power of their stories.

Jeannie uses stories to escort us throughout the dusty roads of Jerusalem. Her imagery navigates conversations and introduces us to the characters like we’ve never seen them before. Jeannie’s use of fictional techniques makes the stories come alive.

At a time when people are desperate to know if God is who He says He is, Talking to Jesus brings a fresh perspective on how to reach out to Him. Indeed, it was out of desperation that Jeannie sought the Lord; she searched the New Testament for ways to pray for her own children and found comfort in the prayers of other parents recorded there. She says, “We reach a point when we realize if our children are going to follow Jesus, it won’t be because of anything we have done but simply because Jesus is who he says he is.”

Talking to Jesus comes with questions for introspection. The personal application has a sweet and endearing way of bringing you to the feet of Jesus, making prayer as easy as drawing your next breath.

Through stories, the author tackles issues of desperation, doubting, compassion, forgiveness, and desires.

Through reflection, the reader grapples with questions of significance, meaningful work, and a clash of expectations and circumstances.

This book is different than other books on prayer because of the way it presents the power of story to communicate Scripture. The author’s imagination fuels details and breathes life into the words on the page. It holds treasure to add to your daily routine!

I am giving away a copy to one reader in the continental United States. Leave a comment on my blog (at the top of this post, under the title) about a person in Scripture who inspires you to pray, and you will be entered into the drawing to be held on Friday, December 1.

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 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.”
BlogAbout Blogger Network

Book Review & a Giveaway: The Shadow

The Shadow unveils an obsession, a budding romance, and a marriage on the rocks.

Meagan is a young woman fighting for the lives of those caught in the trafficking industry. What she doesn’t know is, soon, she will be fighting for her own life.

Cole is a Marine fighting for his sister’s life. Guilt propels him. PTSD haunts him. And his secrets shroud him.

Steve is on a mission to prove himself. He’s a hot-shot FBI agent looking to move up the ladder. But something keeps getting in his way.

Kimberly Rae has created a powerful story around the mechanisms of the drug market, pornography and human trafficking. The result is action packed, terrifying and eye-opening. She has authored 20 books and has been published over 200 times and in five languages. Her work brings awareness, yet weaves a narrative that is hard to put aside.

Rahab’s Rope, the organization woven into the story, is a real place in Gainesville, Georgia, combating human trafficking and intersecting lives with hope. For more info go to Rahab’s Rope.

When people step into the battle to help each other, lives are changed, one person, one story, one thread at a time. I am proud to be a part of this giveaway, because it brings information to light about one of the biggest problems in our generation. I am giving away a signed copy of The Shadow to one reader in the continental United States. Leave a comment on my blog (at the top of this post, under the title) about a way you have become aware of human trafficking, and you will be entered into the drawing to be held on Thursday, November 16.

Join the conversation!

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.”
BlogAbout Blogger Network