Book Review & a Giveaway:  Hope Prevails

Have you dealt with depression? I have. And that’s why I was excited about getting my hands on this book. But Hope Prevails is so much more than a how-to about tackling the darkness of soul. It also takes a look at the lies we believe, the way we compare ourselves to others, and how worry says “I can‘t trust God to take care of me.”

The author, Dr. Michelle Bengtson is a board certified clinical neuropsychologist with more than 20 years of experience in the diagnosis and treatment of medical and mental disorders. However, Dr. Michelle says her greatest shock came when she tried the same treatment suggestions for her own depression that she typically offered her patients – and they didn’t work. She learned there was another element that needed to be addressed, and that was the spiritual side of depression.

Dr. Michelle asks, “How would you like to be free not only from depression but also from the fear of depression, the shadow of depression?”

To the normal person, this might not seem like an important question. But to someone who struggles with depression, the shadow is a part of daily life. To break free of that shadow would mean you, too, can have a good day when the sun is shining. You won’t look at others and wonder why you’re different. 

Did you know depression is a silent epidemic? Dr. Michelle says 1 in 4 adults suffer, 1 in 8 teens suffer, and 1 in 33 children suffer from this malady. She offers free resources on her website for those seeking to help a loved one and her book is a handbook to the many layers of depression and finding the steps out of it.

We live in a culture that glorifies busyness. Yet, Dr. Michelle says stress, whether good or bad, can contribute to depression. She includes a prescription, prayer, and praise songs at the end of each chapter to guide a time of reflection. Through personal examples, the author doesn’t diminish despair, but shows how she wrestled with it and pushed through it. Dr. Michelle equates depression with Scripture’s reference to a spirit of heaviness. She reminds us that David, too, experienced the pit of depression. Yet he called out to God and found hope in the One who heals our broken and wounded places.

I wish I could get a copy of Hope Prevails into the hands of everyone I know, because the principles go beyond dealing with depression, to learning how to live a victorious life. The next best thing I can do is offer a giveaway!

I am giving away an autographed copy from the author, courtesy of Revell Publishers, to one reader in the continental United States. Leave a comment on my blog (at the top of this post, under the title) and respond to this question, “Have you had any tough times that you are now thankful for?” You will be entered into the drawing to be held five days from today, August 15. I can’t wait to hear your stories!


P.S. Each person who leaves a comment will also receive a free pdf, “What God Says About You,” from Dr. Michelle Bengtson, in Hope Prevails!

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.”

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Retreat Debrief

The letdown took longer this time. You know that feeling of “I wish it wasn’t over yet, but I’m relieved.”? Usually that emotional plunge happens right after the retreat, when I’m so tired I could drop. But this particular year, it waited for a full week to hit.

What do you do, to ease back into your daily routine after an emotionally-charged, high-energy event? Anticlimax is really not so unusual. Elijah had a big showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, but when confronted by one woman, he ran. (See 1 Kings 18:16-19:4) What happened to that powerful man of God? Didn’t he just beat out 850 false prophets? Didn’t he pray until God ended a drought?

Take a look at how Elijah made it back to the land of the living.

5 Steps for Self-care

1)      Sleep. Elijah was tired! He laid down under the shade of a tree and fell asleep. When you lead others, you will also need opportunity for rest. Set aside time to regroup.

2)      Eat. Elijah was hungry! He needed nourishment. Have you ever noticed food isn’t as appealing when you’re up against a deadline? Your mind is on the details instead of the tastes. Take time to nourish your body with lots of pure water and fresh fruits. Good nutrition will rejuvenate your mental capacity and your physical stability.

3)      Acknowledge need. The angel of the Lord knew the journey was too much for Elijah. When we plow through life, we have to pay attention to lulls in energy. They are reminders to take care of ourselves or we won’t be able to minister to anyone. Ask for prayer. Let friends know you’re having a dark day and need their intercession. They’ll surround you with love and care.

4)      Seek the Lord. Elijah went to Horeb, the mountain of God. He felt alone in his zealous activities for God. Yet the Lord revealed Himself and His servants to Elijah in a generous response to Elijah’s despondency. Do you feel alone in your work for the Lord? Is it time for one-on-one with Him in order to gain a new perspective?

5)      Enlist help. Elijah got an assistant. Let others be a part of the planning and execution of your retreat. It gives them ownership and provides you with someone to share the joys and burdens.

Are you heading for burn-out? Take a cue from Elijah and tend to your needs. You’ll gain strength required for the next project!


You can find more articles like this one here.

Book Review: Real Artists Don’t Starve #dontstarvebook

Real Artists Don’t Starve is a new release from author of national bestseller, The Art of Work. Jeff Goins says, “Becoming a Thriving Artist is not just about making a living; it’s about setting your work up for success.”

Jeff establishes that model for success by laying out 12 Rules of the New Renaissance. He proposes the shift from Starving Artists to Thriving Artists has to be set in the context of three major themes: mind-set, market, and money.

Jeff Goins is no stranger to the art arena. He has traveled as a musician and built an online business using the power of words. He is the author of four books and a former Communications Director for a nonprofit.

Real Artists Don’t Starve will challenge the way you look at your art. And Jeff illustrates the Rules of the New Renaissance with the stories of people from all walks of life… George Lucas, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and the rest of the Inklings, Michelangelo, Steve Jobs, Adrian Cardenas, John Grisham, Jim Henson, Michael Caine, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jeff Bezos, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Cirque du Soleil, Alan Bean, Walt Disney, and so many more.

Real Artists Don’t Starve tackles interesting questions about industry standards for the art world. Who determines the value of an artist’s work? What is the difference between an original and a copycat? Is a network necessary? Should a creative only focus on a single craft?

Jeff says we’re on the verge of a New Renaissance, and provides tools to position you in the path. He advocates that we have to leave the familiar, and through a series of gradual changes, become a truer version of who we are meant to be.

I highly recommend this book. It is for CEO’s, entrepreneurs, and everyone who has a gift to offer the world. It challenges the status quo of settling for someone else’s standard, and, instead proposes, “What’s out there, however scary it may be, is almost certainly better than staying where we are now.”

Steve Hanselman, Jeff’s agent, says this book is not about being creative but about being a creative person. How could your creativity effect your work environment?

Are you stuck in the mindset of the Starving Artist? Isn’t it time to bring fresh insight to the value you offer the world? Be encouraged. Because of new opportunities and skills developed, curiosity and multiple disciplines, your best work lays ahead of you!


 Disclosure of Material: I received this book free from the publisher for the Real Artists Don’t Starve Launch Team. 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.”

 Right now, Jeff Goins is offering THREE amazing bonuses worth over $200 when you pre-order his new book, Real Artists Don’t Starve. I am participating as an affiliate in his Launch Team because I resonate with his work. This offer is only available until June 6th, so act quickly.

Get it here ===>

When you click the link above and pre-order his book, Jeff is giving you THREE amazing bonuses worth over $200.

Here are the bonuses:

Bonus #1: The Real Artists Don’t Starve Online Course ($100)

In this 12-part video course, Jeff teaches how to make a living off your art, elaborating on the principles in the book and sharing his own knowledge and experience.

Bonus #2: All the Expert Interview Transcripts

Learn from the hundreds of experts and Thriving Artists Jeff interviewed during the research of this book.

Bonus #3: Exclusive Community Access

Get special access to a private Facebook group where Jeff will answer your questions regularly and you can connect with others reading the book.

You want those bonuses, don’t you? Sign up now and take your gift to the next level!

How I’m Planning to Adjust My Budget As I Enter the Workforce

Do you have a student who is graduating? Maybe this insight will be of benefit! ~ Sally

Guest Post by Lauren Davidson, a 20-something Millennial building a career

As a soon-to-be college graduate, the idea of earning my first paycheck is both exciting and daunting. It means freedom — and responsibility. While I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to do more things, to have more cash flow, and to not rely on my parents for money, it is a major transition in my life, moving forward in search of my calling. I am moving into my adult life — and I need a budget to match.

The idea of budgeting may seem outdated, especially to those of us who grew up in the age of the internet and apps for everything. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be hard or old-fashioned. Apps like Mint and LearnVest make it easy to figure out how much money you have coming into your accounts — and how much you’re spending. I’m setting up Mint on my phone before graduation, to start the process of learning how to budget — setting myself up for success before I even begin work.

Once I know how much money I’ll have coming in each month, the real fun can begin. It will be time to figure out how much I could spend. First, the necessities: housing, utilities, student loans and other unavoidable expenses. I put together a list of everything that I absolutely have to pay, starting with my student loans. I already figured out if I had private or federal student loans, and whether I have a grace period for these loans (the 6-month period of time between graduation and when you start paying the loans). Although I do have a grace period on some of my loans, I will go ahead and make interest payments on those loans during that time — doing this can substantially cut down on the total amount owed overall. This is a good move, since student loans are my largest form of debt right now. Did you know that the average graduate borrower leaves college with upwards of $28,000 in student debt?

Knowing how much of my budget will be devoted to necessities, I’ll have a better understanding of how much money is left each month. I’ll allocate money for other necessities like groceries and entertainment, and then devote a chunk of money towards savings and retirement. The key for me is to automate both my savings and retirement, which is a painless way to make sure that I am putting away enough to meet my savings and retirement goals. I have learned that the key to a successful retirement is to start saving early — and to put away as much as I can afford each month. By figuring out my budget early on and setting up my account to automatically deposit money each month, I’m making the choice early on to prioritize my retirement savings.

I also took the time to figure out my big picture goals. It can be difficult to know where you want to be in a few years, financially speaking, when you’re just trying to get started in your career. By sitting down and coming up with a list of what I want to achieve, I’ll be able to set up a game plan for success. For me, the most important thing is to pay off my student loans, so I’ll craft my budget around finding extra money each month to put towards my monthly payments.

Learning how to budget fresh out of college can be challenging — but it is very doable with a little planning and preparation.

Guest Post by Lauren Davidson, a Senior at the University of Pennsylvania, double majoring in Communications and English.

Vision for Africa!

What would life be like if you had blurry vision all of the time? It would be normal for you, because you never knew it could be any different. Suppose someone gave you a pair of glasses, and you could see for the first time? Would you be excited? You bet your eyesight, you would!

In 10 short months, our Uganda Mission Team will leave for Africa with a medical professional to lead Eye Clinics. There, we will measure for visual acuity and fit patients with prescriptions for sight. In a five step process, our team will evaluate different levels of eye health.

It reminds me of the story in Mark 8:22-25 where Jesus healed a blind man in stages. My NIV footnotes say this two-step process is indicative of our blindness: “Many persons with normal eyesight are spiritually blind.”

What has blinded me to Truth? Ego, pride, an independent spirit? I’m praying for new eyes to see the hand of God at work.

Did you know young adults in Third World Countries struggle with cataracts because of the intensity of the sun?

Would you do two things for us?

~ Pray for the Team traveling to Uganda March 3-16, 2018.

~ Collect glasses, readers & sunglasses & mail them to Busti Church of God 996 Forest Ave Ext. Jamestown NY 14701 before November 1 so that we have time to label the glasses with prescription strength.

Thank you for partnering with us!

To Uganda or Bust!!


Book Review: God’s Easter Miracles

Author, Lee Ann Mancini and Illustrator, Dan Sharp have done it again, in creating adorable caricatures that are relatable and entertaining. In God’s Easter Miracles, sea creatures in vibrant colors tell a story in the saga of the Sea Kids.

Easter has come to the coralhood. The Sea Kids are looking forward to the egg hunt after church. One Sea Kid, Paul, is sad because he didn’t find an egg marked for the special prize. Jimmy has a dilemma when he is asked to share one of his eggs. All of the Sea Kids face a crisis when Brian’s brother is in a boating accident. How will they respond?

God’s Easter Miracles provides a story arc, problem solving for children, learning practical ways to care for others, and what it means to be a follower of Jesus. It even has a hidden symbol that adds a puzzle to solve. I am delighted to recommend this gem to parents, grands, and all who love children. It tackles tough topics like autism, trauma, and the way God answers prayers, with sensitivity and compassion. And it opens the door for conversations with the little ones in your life, as you read about Jimmy the seahorse, Lenny the manatee, and all of the Sea Kids at Beneath the Sea Play Park. This is a book that extends beyond a holiday, to year-round faith-building fun!


Disclosure of Material: I received this book free from the publisher through the 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: A Wife’s Secret to Happiness #wifestylin

In A Wife’s Secret to Happiness, author Jen Weaver says God longs to give eleven specific blessings to your life and marriage. She explores those gifts by sometimes tackling controversial issues in our culture today… submission, respect, interdependence and busyness, among others. I guarantee this book will make you squirm. Even as I celebrate my 30th anniversary this year, I find multiple areas in A Wife’s Secret to Happiness that challenge me to keep growing as a wife.

Jen Weaver is a millennial who is reaching out to her generation with a genuine love for Jesus and His Word. She’s a wife and mom working to flesh out the principles of God’s love in the context of her marriage, and she does so with refreshing transparency.

All girls walk down the aisle toward marital bliss, but few find the happily ever after. Jen proposes that we are looking instead, for unity, provision, safety, intimacy and partnership.

“Submission is divine empowerment that culture has confused and the enemy has contorted to mean oppression.” Jen uses the story of Naaman to illustrate her point. Naaman had leprosy and was told by the man of God to go and wash in the waters of the River Jordan. But Naaman was a person of influence who felt he was above following orders. When he submitted to the directions, he received the healing. Jen uses Naaman’s story, and others like him, to help us understand the blessings we receive when we do things God’s way. And really, that is the whole point, that following God’s plan is the way we find self-worth and confidence, instead of expecting our husbands to define who we are.

“Your man is part of God’s generosity in your life- the human heart to love you like Christ loves the church. Even if he falters, he is still part of God’s provision. Your man is not the ultimate provider. God is.”  Do you see how this is a heart issue? We’ve been chasing happiness instead of chasing God. He wants to meet our needs. He wants a relationship with each of us!

Jen says we are warriors, “doing mighty things in our families and marriages.” Just as Queen Esther filled a unique position and function as King Xerxes’ wife. She didn’t “usurp her husband’s authority or throw his stupidity in his face. She seeks the Lord and proves her character is of great worth.”

Jen brings up hard issues, and they’re hard to implement. But she also raises an important question. What does it mean to honor my husband?

Buy this book and explore the nuances in your own relationship with your husband. Look at the quizzes and online bonus tools. You just may be inspired to get a renewed perspective on your marriage, too!

I am giving away a copy of A Wife’s Secret to Happiness, courtesy of Leafwood 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 the ways you honor your marriage, and you will be entered into the drawing to be held on Saturday morning, March 25.

Join the #wifestylin movement!


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.”

Snow Day

For the first time in 22 years of living in western New York, the Governor declared a State of Emergency before a storm actually hit. All of the weather maps show a major snow event colliding with an air mass coming from the opposite direction.

A trip to get groceries is due.

The gas tank needs to be filled up.

It feels good to be prepared.

Yet the storm didn’t come as predicted for our area. And people scoffed. “We’re hardy New Yorkers,” we said. “We can take a few feet of snow.”

In 2,000 years of proclaiming the message of Christ’s birth, repeatedly the warning has been sounded, “Get ready. Christ is coming again.”

But the storm hasn’t hit yet, and so people are doing business as usual. “We’re strong,” we say. “We’re gonna live forever.”

What’s in my pantry?

Is there salvation?


Devotion to God’s Word?

Have I filled up my gas tank with God’s presence in my life?

It feels good to be prepared, yet, what about my neighbor?

Does the gal in the checkout line know the message of Jesus?

How about the boy who put gas in my car yesterday?

We weren’t put on this earth to go our jolly own way. It reminds me of Mordecai’s words to his niece, Queen Esther, “Maybe you have been positioned in this place, for such a time as this.”

We were born into this generation for a reason. There are people next to us every day who yearn to know the purpose of life. Jesus said He came to bring fullness. If we don’t tell them about Jesus, then who will? They need to know there is a Resurrection Day coming, when we will give an account for our lives. And the One who is coming, is the One who loves us most.

If we put so much effort into preparing for a snow storm, wouldn’t we do so much more for an even greater day, The Day that will determine where we spend eternity?


Book Review: 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart

Liz Curtis Higgs brings a bouquet of verses to the table and delicately places them on a banquet of lace. Her words soothe and cajole. Her illustrations reaffirm. As she serves up 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart, she also offers up sage wisdom: “When you spend time in God’s Word, life starts making sense. The broken places inside you begin to heal. Darkness and discouragement give way to hope.”

Beloved author and speaker Liz Curtis Higgs has learned the beauty of that advice. A seasoned student of the Bible, Liz has authored more than 30 books with 4.6 million copies in print.

When used as a daily devotional in collaboration with the Study Guide tucked into the back, this little treasure will unlock God’s Word in a new way and stimulate your thirst to dig further. Incorporating over 30 translations of the Bible, Liz dissects each verse in order to glean the rich fullness packed therein. She also references the Hebrew and Greek words, in order to mine out the original intent.

One example that shone for me, was the chapter based on Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Liz talks about the meticulous process a blacksmith follows to sharpen an iron blade. A metal file is drawn across the blade to create a sharp edge. The blade is rubbed against an oiled whetstone to smooth away the rough edge. Then heavy sandpaper blends the edge with the rest of the surface. What does that have to do with people? When we care about each other, we use words to open gently, polish and smooth over old wounds. We sharpen each other’s faith “with a timely word.”

31 Verses to Write on Your Heart is a delightful tool to put to work month after month. From 31 passages to 31 tips for absorbing them into your life, 31 Verses will equip you to carry God’s Word with you wherever you go!


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


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!