Friday, August 26, 2016

With All Due Respect

I was really interested in reading With All Due Respect: 40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship With Your Teens & Tweens by Nina Roesner and Debbie Hitchcock because I have a just-turned 14 year old who has always been a difficult child and is now a difficult teenager. I have tried many different tactics, but I hadn't tried this one yet. The concept intrigued me and I liked the way it was broken up into a 40 day challenge. I love it when there's a clear cut plan laid out that I can follow step by step, broken down into specific actions. The book description reads:

"With All Due Respect is a handbook for parents navigating the difficulties of the tween and teen years. Roesner and Hitchcock help parents identify what successful relationships look like and give easy-to-follow lessons in enforcing rules, communicating lovingly, resetting relationships, overcoming fears and exhaustion, and handling rebellion. Each day features a story every mom can relate to, down-to-earth questions to think about, and a prayer to launch an action plan. As a result, the reader gains new skills and perspective, greater strength, and an ability to live out faith daily as never before. With All Due Respect is for all parents seeking not only to connect more deeply with and positively impact their teens and tweens, but also to grow more deeply in faith through the process."

One of my pet peeves about parenting books is that they're often written by people who haven't had a truly challenging child before, or who still just have babies. When I picked this book up, I wondered if the authors had ever dealt with a very difficult teenager, or if they had kids who already behaved great! I was super reassured to read the intro from Debbie. She has a LOT of experience with a difficult teenager - so much, in fact, that she had to put her in residential treatment in order to heal the family and get the child the help they needed. As soon as I read that, I was immediately reassured that this was going to be a powerful and impactful book. Each of the 40 chapters includes a Scripture passage, the dare, illustrations and stories, practical advice, "The Bottom Line" summing up the point of the chapter, a "What About You?" section with questions for journaling or reflection, and closes with a prayer to pray to help you with that day's dare. This is truly a wonderful and very needed book. I am starting the dare today, and hoping that in 40 days I will see a big change. I highly, highly recommend this to every parent with a teenager. I haven't yet read The Respect Dare (for women with regards to their marriage relationship), but I'll definitely be picking that up ASAP now that I've read With All Due Respect.

I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Friday, August 19, 2016

You Are Not Alone

You Are Not Alone: Hope for Hurting Parents of Troubled Kids by Dena Yohe is a much-needed book in this day and age. So many teenagers are self-harming, engaging in destructive behaviors, being bullied, and more. This book is unique in that it is written not as a how-to guide to fix your child, but as a book from one hurting parent to another, commiserating, sharing coping strategies, resources, and most importantly the knowledge that you are not alone in this struggle. The book description reads:

"“I can’t tell you how to keep your child from making mistakes. But I can equip you with facts, tools, and resources. I can show you that you can survive this nightmare. I can encourage you that one day—somehow—you can thrive again.”
—Dena Yohe, You Are Not Alone

You would go to the ends of the earth for your child. So, if your teenager or young adult is in the midst of crisis due to self-injury, mental illness, depression, bullying, or destructive choices, you probably feel broken, powerless, and isolated.

Dena Yohe wants you to know you are not alone. You are not a bad parent. And you are going to be okay.

Dena has been where you are. In You Are Not Alone, she speaks from experience as she offers healthy ways to maintain your other relationships, suggestions for responding to friends who don’t understand, and ideas for keeping up your emotional and spiritual well-being when your world feels as if it’s crashing down.

It is possible to find purpose in your pain, joy beyond your fear, and hope for every tomorrow.

Includes prayers, exercises, websites, and other helpful resources."

I don't have a child currently in this situation, but I do have a teenager who doesn't always make the best choices, and who I have some concerns about. I am a young mom and most of my friends my age have children who are much younger than mine and don't have teenagers yet. I often feel alone in my concerns of having a teenager showing some signs of rebellion and moms who haven't experienced having a teenager just have no idea what it's like and tend to have very unrealistic expectations of what it will be like and how they will handle it. So I was very excited to read this new book by Dena Yohe. I felt like someone finally understood what it's like to be the parent of a teenager who has some issues (and really, don't they all?). This is a small book, under 200 pages, and a very easy read. I sat down and read it in an afternoon because I just couldn't put it down. Dena writes in a knowledgeable, yet down to earth tone that reads like you're chatting with a good friend over a cup of coffee. I was encouraged by this book, and most of all, felt validated and most importantly, understood. Dena also includes many resources, prayers, and Scriptures to turn to. I highly recommend this book to any parent of a teenager, even if they're not necessarily in a specific crisis yet. I can't say enough good things about You Are Not Alone!

I received a copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Different Kind Of Happiness

The subject of happiness is a really hot topic in Christian circles right now. I've recently read several Christian books on happiness and they each bring a different perspective to biblical happiness. I was really intrigued by the description I read for A Different Kind Of Happiness: Discovering The Joy That Comes From Sacrificial Love by Dr. Larry Crabb and couldn't wait to read it. The description, which reads:

"How to Love When You Don't Feel Like Loving

Everywhere we look, we see evidence that love is in short supply. Terrorists and political corruption, school shootings and troubled marriages, impatient online sniping and character assassination--all point to the fact that we do not know how to love one another as Jesus commanded and modeled. We put our own interests and happiness first, despite the fact that the greatest happiness comes through sacrificial love.

In this book, Dr. Larry Crabb shows readers how to understand the deep and perfect love we are shown by our Creator and Redeemer, and how to pour that love into other people. This love is about more than being nice and serving others. It's about relating to others in such a way that they feel heard, seen, and valued. This love sacrifices and suffers and keeps loving, even when doing so is costly. This kind of love, says Crabb, is the kind worth fighting for in all of our relationships, and A Different Kind of Happiness shows how to make it a reality."

hits on many major contemporary issues: terrorists, politics, school shootings, divorce, cyberbullying - it touches on all the current hot button topics. However, I felt like the description was a bit misleading. The (lengthy) introduction was really promising. I was very interesting and Dr. Crabb's introduction to the book was very engaging and promising. However, I felt like after the first few chapters the book kind of fell apart. I was expecting more of a concisely written how-to/self-help book. Rather, A Different Kind Of Happiness was more of a contemplative book, asking lots of questions and leaving you with much to ponder. This wasn't necessarily a bad thing, just not exactly what I was expecting. I had an extremely difficult time getting through this book and I couldn't put my finger on exactly why. I think it was because it was so densely written. Often, I had to go back and read a page or paragraph several times in order to digest it. I usually read books very quickly, but this was a different kind of book. I recommend this book for every Christian who is looking to deeply ponder happiness and joy from the Christian viewpoint.

I received a copy of this book from Baker Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Jesus Talked To Me Today

Jesus Talked to me Today: True Stories of Children's Encounters with Angels, Miracles, and God is a compilation of 41 short (2-4 page) stories. Based on the title, I was expecting the stories to be more by children, but they were all written by adults recalling memories they had from childhood or when they were teenagers, or stories related to them by other children. Some of the stories were very unclear as to who the story happened to or how the author knew about it, so that was a bit confusing. The book is written in a Chicken Soup For The Soul style, so if you like that series you will probably enjoy this book. The book description reads:

"A Heartwarming Story Collection of Children's Encounters with God, Angels, and Miracles

Children have a special place in Jesus' heart. He said they are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and their angels continually see the face of God. Perhaps that's why children seem to be more receptive to supernatural experiences than adults.

This new collection reveals how God works in the lives of these precious little ones. It contains the touching true stories of children who have heard Jesus speak, encountered angels, and experienced miracles. We could all use more childlike faith, and these stories "from the mouths of babes" will encourage readers to be open to hear from the Lord in a fresh, sweet, and pure way."

While this book wasn't quite what I expected, it was a cute little book. I enjoyed most of the stories. The stories are short and easy to digest, so it was easy to pick the book up and read one or two stories and then put it back down and save it for later. This book might be a good resource for pastors, Sunday School teachers, and other people in the ministry to use as illustrations and examples in sermons and lessons. Some of the stories were a bit dubious, but others were quite touching. I recommend this book especially to people who enjoy the Chicken Soup For The Soul series and ministry leaders.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Friday, August 12, 2016

When Death Draws Near

When Death Draws Near is the third book in Carrie Stuart Parks' Gwen Mercey series. The first two books are A Cry From The Dust and The Bones Will Speak. I haven't read the first two books in the series yet, but I decided to pick up When Death Draws Near because the description was so compelling. The book description reads:

"Gwen Marcey takes death in stride. Until she’s faced with her own mortality.

Forensic artist Gwen Marcey is between jobs when she accepts temporary work in Pikeville, Kentucky—a small town facing big-city crime. But before Gwen can finish her first drawing of the serial rapist who is on the loose, the latest witness vanishes. Just like all the others.

Gwen suspects a connection between the rapist and the “accidental” deaths that are happening around town, but the local sheriff has little interest in her theories. When her digitally-obsessed teenage daughter joins her, Gwen turns her attention to a second assignment: going undercover in a serpent-handling church. She could get a handsome reward for uncovering illegal activity—a reward she desperately needs, as it seems her breast cancer has returned. But snakes aren’t the only ones ready to kill. Can Gwen uncover the truth—and convince anyone to believe her—before she becomes a victim herself?

In a thrilling race against time, When Death Draws Near plunges us into cold-case murders, shady politics, and a den of venomous suspects."

I absolutely loved this book, and I'll definitely be picking up the first two books in the series now. I loved Gwen's character - she's very complex, and the story line is full of twists, turns, surprises, and deep issues and stories. This definitely isn't your typical crime procedural novel, with a couple twists and turns but a predictable ending. This is a thrill ride of a book that kept me guessing and turning the pages till the end. I loved the unique aspect of the setting (Gwen going undercover in a serpent-handling church). It was extremely unique without being weird, which can be a hard balance to strike. I highly recommend When Death Draws Near to anyone who enjoys a suspense/thriller novel, and can't wait to read the rest of the series.

I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Really Bad Girls Of The Bible

I've always loved Liz Curtis Higgs' books, and I was excited that her publisher was issuing a reprint of Really Bad Girls of the Bible: More Lessons from Less-Than-Perfect Women with a new Bible Study and Discussion Questions included. In this version of the Bad Girls series, Liz discusses eight "really bad girls" from the Bible and what we can learn from them, including the Medium of En Dor, Jael, The Adulteress, Athaliah, Bathsheba, Herodias, Tamar the Widow, and The Bleeding Woman. The book description reads:

"Discover the Truth About
God’s Sovereignty
from the Bible’s Really Bad Girls.

Eight of the Bible’s most notorious females strut across the pages of Really Bad Girls of the Bible with troubles that still hit home in the twenty-first century.
The Medium of En Dor crossed over to the dark side. Jael stood up to a ruthless enemy. The Adulteress was caught between a rock and a hard place. Athaliah made a bid for power that ended badly. Bathsheba captured the wandering eye of a king. Herodias made a cruel request of her husband. Tamar exchanged her widow’s weeds for a harlot’s garb. And the Bleeding Woman had a serious health issue only a great physician could handle.
“Higgs does such a remarkable job telling their stories that many of the Good Book's ‘bad girls’ become downright sympathetic.… Higgs is a refreshingly astute biblical commentator…(and) ably points readers to ‘good girl’ tips they can apply from the Bible’s cautionary tales.”
—Publishers Weekly
Really Bad Girls of the Bible shines a spotlight on God’s sovereignty, demonstrating one life-changing truth: God rules the lives of those He loves with mercy, compassion, and hope.

Includes Discussion Questions and a Study Guide

A Novel Approach to Bible Study"

Like all of Liz's books, I loved this one. I don't have a perfect past, and I always appreciate writers who don't, either (in the introduction of the book, Liz gives us a peek into her "bad" past). I like learning from the less-than-perfect women of the Bible, because I can often relate to them. Each chapter starts off with a modern, fictional account of the biblical version and then delves into the biblical account with Scriptures shared and applications drawn from the story. A rich Bible study guide for groups or individual use is included for each chapter. I enjoyed going through the questions and getting further depth from the book. Liz's writing is open, honest, and extremely practical. I highly recommend this book to every Christian woman.

I received a copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Come To The Family Table

I chose the book Come To The Family Table: Slowing Down to Enjoy Food, Each Other, and Jesus by Ted and Amy Cunningham because I love to cook (and eat!) and I'm always looking for books about food, faith, and family. This is a title published under Tyndale's NavPress imprint, which is the publishing arm of the Navigators. I liked the idea of making mealtimes intentional and a bonding and teaching time, rather than just a hurried "shovel down the food and run". I've had more mealtimes in my home than I care to admit where meals are rushed, the children are bickering, or the table is silent. I was hoping this book would give some tips and tools for making mealtimes better. The back cover says:

"No more rushed meals and relationships

Passing the casserole should be more than just eating so we can get up and move on. When we pass the food among those we love, we share laughter, allow transparency, and extend grace. The family table is where parents model Christ's love, grandparents provide wisdom, children experience a sense of belonging, and friends enjoy hospitality.

Inspired by the slow food movement, Come to the Family Table provides your family with intentional strategies to engage one another relationally as you walk with Christ. The Cunninghams will help you prioritize mealtime with reflections and practical advice, family devotions, recipes, and game ideas. It's time to craft a vibrant experience around your family table."

Come To The Family Table is divided into two parts: The Family Table Is For Us (focusing on your own family and family table) and The Family Table Is For Others (focusing on hospitality). Each section has five chapters. Each chapter includes a discussion of the subject, ideas and suggestions on the topic, a devotional to read as a family, and a recipe to try. I did like this book, but it wasn't quite what I expected. I enjoyed reading all of the "family table" stories, the encouragement to cook better food, spend quality time and discussion together at the table, and to slow down and enjoy food and laughter together with your family. I also liked the idea that the family table is where we learn about and discuss Jesus and work out our faith together as a family. However, there were a couple things I didn't like about this book. In particular, chapter three is basically a manifesto about how God gave us wine and drinking wine is totally fine and not sinful, which I completely disagree with. The tone is pushy and disdainful of Christians who have a different view on alcohol. The verse that came to mind while reading this chapter was Romans 14:21 "It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak." This portion of the book really rubbed me the wrong way. However, setting that portion of the book aside, I did enjoy it, but wanted to put a caution in there about this section. I recommend this book to anyone who is a Christian and a foodie, or just wants to improve the quality of their dinner table.

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.