Monday, July 2, 2018

When Through Deep Waters by Rachelle Dekker



When Through Deep Waters is Rachelle Dekker's fourth book, the first three a dystopian trilogy. I was excited to see what other stories she had for us. Fortunately, this one does not disappoint.

Alicen has suffered a tragic loss and is trying to find her way through the grief. She lands in the family vacation home of her childhood friend. The idyllic location reminds her of all the hope she had for her life as a child and forces her to deal with many different disappointments in her life including the life and death of her beloved grandmother.

Here's what I love about the book, one, it's an old-school Frank Peretti style spiritual warfare book in that Alicen is an ordinary person that is struggling with spiritual forces. Two, it's a fiction book that made me want to get out my journal and explore some thoughts that bubbled up about myself! Third, God wins in the end and it doesn't look like the normal everyone desires. Fourth, straight up scripture usage that doesn't come from a character reading the Bible aloud.

I would highly recommend this if you're interested in spiritual warfare or even looking to explore your own inner conversation.

A copy of this book was given to me by Tyndale House Publisher for the purpose of review. I'm never required to give a good review, but always thankful when I can.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Good News for a Change by Matt Mikalatos




Let's go ahead and start off with the fact that I'm biased. There has yet to be a Matt Mikalatos book that I've read that I've not enjoyed. I'm thankful to say that this one did not make me cry. You can reference previous reviews if you don't know what I'm talking about.



Good News for a Change is a pretty quick read if you don't do the homework. My suggestion would be a quick and then a slow read because there's a ton of information and how to apply it in these pages. Mikalatos systematically goes through most objections on the part of not only the evangelist by also the evangelized. Throughout though, it's made clear that God can and has used a wide variety of ways to reach people, including those ways that may seem outdated or harsh.

The main emphasis in the book about sharing the good news is making it heard in the language of the hearer. By the end of the book, you should not only be aware of how to share the good news in someone's native tongue or dialect, but comfortable in doing so. When I say native tongue, I'm not referring to completely foreign languages, though the same can be applied. I'm referring to using the words and lingo that others are most comfortable with.

So much of language is built upon a common word base, but I can testify to the fact that even between regions in the United States, there can be a huge language barrier. Since Joel is from the Pacific Northwest, I'm from the South and we live in the Midwest, we notice it quite a bit. To give you an example, what do you get when you order tea in a restaurant? Is it hot, cold, sweet? How to learn those nuances can be part of sharing the good news with people.

Mikalatos does a great job of showing how simple it can be to share the gospel with others, using examples such as Bronies, Aethist, and door to door salesmen. After reading the book, I feel more confident and encouraged to share the good news with others. I'm on the lookout for those in the darkness. I'm also looking forward to going back and re-reading this one and taking the time to work through the reflection questions and exercises at the end of the chapter.


I'm never required to give a good review but I'm always thankful when I can. NavPress has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Hidden Side by Heidi Chiavaroli




The Hidden Side by Heidi Chiavaroli is two stories wrapped into one. There is the historic tale of Mercy Howard during the Revolutionary War and the modern story of Natalie Abbott and her family. Both are set in New York 240 years apart.

Mercy's story, which is in a library book that Natalie's son has checked out for a project, becomes a common bond for Natalie and her daughter. All three women are struggling with pain and heartache that ultimately draws them closer to God.

I don't want to give away the "unspeakable act" that's referred to on the back cover of the story. But I will say that the situation and darkness that surrounds it is not glossed over by Chiavaroli. It was difficult to process all the emotions that the characters went through, though it did not make the book any less enjoyable.

Overall, the book asked the question of where is God when we can't feel or see God's presence in our lives. How long can we continue on our own strength to make it through each day? The answer discovered here is that we have to let go of ourselves and who we believe ourselves to be in order to accept how God sees us. We have to be in community and to rely on God and those he places in our lives. God is watching over us even in our darkest moments.

I would recommend this book, though if you struggle with depression, as I sometimes do, take it in small doses on sunny days and not some dark lonely night, though in the darkness you might just find the true light.

A copy of this book was provided to me by Tyndale House Publishing for the purpose of review. I'm never required to give a positive review but I'm always thankful when I can!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Lent aka Spring Training

If you've been paying attention, you'll have noticed that there's less and less of me on social media. I started small with changing my password on my Facebook account so that I couldn't check it. And that quickly escalated to a downloading of my account and deletion. Like, never getting it back, it's gone, if you want one, you'll have to start over deletion. And then I just switched my time to checking my Instagram, which used to be in check until Facebook went away. And then lent started and I put all of my Instagram accounts on temporary disable. And they're probably going to stay that way until I get beyond the point of turning to my phone to see if it has anything for me in terms of entertainment and validation. Hopefully, that will be take about 40 days, give or take a few Sundays.

So, I'm hoping to use this lent period to get myself all prepped for what can be in my life. I really want to serve God with all my heart, my soul, my mind, and my body. I have a hard time with all of those at once. And there's no time like to present in regards to figuring out how to get closer to that goal.

Here are some of the things I hope to do this lent to encourage that. One, prayer in a more directed way for my husband. Currently, I'm using Power of a Praying Wife. It's been awhile since I've picked it up, but it's been very fruitful so far. Two, I'm reading through the bible this year and I try to write down each day one verse that jumps out at me from that reading. Three, increasing actual physical activity. I got some resistance bands for my birthday, I'm going to learn how to use them and maybe dust off the rebounder to get myself ready for some springtime/summer running. Four, I'm going to just be who I am instead of striving for more of what I think I should be.

Let me talk about that a bit more. My whole life I've struggled with pursuing what others see that I'm good at. For instance, French, chemistry, public speaking, writing, baking. Any number of things. I hear praise and immediately wonder if that's something I should pursue with my time and energy. And sometimes I do and I like the results but more often than not, I just end up getting down on myself for not being able to do what I KNOW I should be doing and what I would LIKE to do. So, this lent season, I'm going to be a housewife, stay at home mom, homeschooling lady. I'm going to clean my house once a week, sneak time in to research the book I'm working on in my mind and blogging about it when it becomes more than thought, and I'm going to be me. I'm going to meal plan, mom night out, journal, talk with friends, write some notes to people, check in when folks bubble up, be a deacon at church, walk my dog, and enjoy MY life. No one else gets this perspective on life and God that I get, it's unique to me. I'm going to take some time to enjoy the view.

What about you? What are you up to this lent?

Monday, February 12, 2018

Do You See What I See?



This week, I did not get to any fictional writing, but I did polish a sermon and preach it. I will preface this by saying, I have not listened to the entire audio, but I'm sharing it anyway. If you would like a copy of the transcript, just send me an email! 

It's entitled, Do You See What I See? and is based on the scriptures from Mark 9:2-9 and 2 Kings 2:1-11



Monday, February 5, 2018

I love a good serial

Back in high school, we read Dickens, who is famous for his serial stories. I just cannot get enough of the concept. In our high school paper, a friend and I wrote one about I think a pepperoni pizza. We would have a small installment in each paper. When I was writing for NaNoWrimo, I generally share as I'm going along. And that's what I've decided to do again this year as I start writing my next novel. Completely unedited, just whatever ends up in the word processor at the end of the week. And today was my first day sitting down to write and I thought it fitting to share with you what's the start of a new story.

Hopefully, you will notice some similarities between Krystyana's story and Christian's story in Pilgrim's Progress. I can't guarantee consistent writing, but when I have something to share I will on Mondays.


Krystyana had been coming to this library every week since she could remember. Her mother would bring her as a young girl, as a teen should would find escape in the quiet shelves of non-fiction, even as an adult it was where she felt most comfortable. She cherished the first time she was able to bring each of her children with her. The library was where she was most herself. It didn’t make any sense to her then when she found this book that made her question everything she had ever known about herself.
She didn’t know how she had never seen it before, the cover looked well worn and the pages as if they had been read several times through. She had been through every book on every shelf and here was a new one. It didn’t have the checkout card that told her it belonged to the library, so someone must have left it here. She wasn’t sure if she should take it with her but a not fell out as she thumbed through. Picking it up, she read the clear script that said “This book is yours, Krystyana. I have been waiting for you to be ready to read these words for a long time. Now that the time has come, I trust that you will know what to do with this treasure.”
She looked around to see if anyone was watching her but it was just the regulars, browsing the internet, flipping through this week’s magazines, and having conversations with the librarian. She shoved the note back into the pages and carefully slid the book into her bag. It felt as if she had discovered some great prize her in the midst of all these stories she had come to know and love. She knew with just the few words she had read that this book was somehow different.

When she finally got home, after the kids were asleep and her husband had gone out to have a drink and talk with his friends, she lit a candle, turned on her reading lamp and tucked in to the book from the library. She was an avid reader, able to gulp works of fiction in just one sitting, but this, this book required her to take small bites but each one filled her mind with more and more thoughts about her life. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Make Your Voice Heard in Heaven by Barry C. Black



What feels like a lifetime ago, Joel and I had the pleasure of meeting Barry C. Black at a conference in Montreat. If you're a part of a small congregation in the PC(USA) I would highly recommend checking out Wee Kirk (http://www.montreat.org/wee-kirk/), it was a huge blessing to our family during our time in small church ministry. Anyway, back to Barry C. Black, he's the Chaplain of the United States Senate. This little jewel of a book on prayer was born out of his recent speech for the 2017 National Prayer Breakfast.

Make Your Voice Heard is a practical application of Biblical truth. Each chapter is grounded in scripture and the easy application of those verses. The book starts with a new look at the Lord's Prayer/Our Father. Black does an excellent job of marrying the traditional prayer with the ACTS prayer. He explains easy ways to take this prayer that most of us know and how to expand it to create a genuine and intense time of prayer with God.

The rest of the book goes through several different areas of prayer including how to pray when God is silent, times of temptation, and celebration. Each section is short enough to be read in one sitting and has a point by point recap at the end of the chapter. It would be an excellent book to guide your personal prayer times as well as to be read with a group.

It's quite astonishing to think about how much Black was able to squeeze into 145 pages. I look forward to re-reading this guide on prayer and putting them into practice this year.

A copy of this book was given to me by Tyndale Publishing house for the purpose of review. I'm never required to give a positive review but I'm always thankful when I can.