Tuesday, November 24, 2015

I'm Happy For You {Sort Of...Not Really}

I'm Happy For You {Sort Of...Not Really}: Finding Contentment In A Culture Of Comparison by Kay Wills Wyma is a much-needed breath of fresh air for our current culture that measures people's worth on the size of their house, the model of their car, how many likes their Facebook and Instagram posts get, and what clothes they wear. I notice that I've struggled with the problem of contentment and comparison much, much more since Facebook and social media was created: people frame their lives by snapshots of the best moments, the best meals, the best outfits, and more - but no one sees the reality behind the scenes and feels like they don't live up to the false standards. I'm Happy For You is a decisive attack on the culture of comparison. The book description reads:

"Is comparison living hijacking your life?

Do you find yourself measuring your value against your friend’s house, body, marriage, resume, paycheck, organic garden, or Pinterest-worthy holiday d├ęcor, and coming up lacking? Do your college roommate’s Instagram snapshots bear little resemblance to the scene at your house this morning?

Excessive comparison and competition sap our energy and steal our joy. Our friends become our audience and judges, and our kids become part of our brand. Add social media’s constant invitation to post and peruse, and it’s no wonder that we’re left exhausted, discontent, and lonely. Thankfully, there is another way!

With refreshing candor and humor, Kay Wyma shares her experiences with comparison living and offers readers the simple remedies that helped her and her family reboot their perspective and discover freedom, authenticity, and joy."

This book is divided into 12 chapters, covering keeping up appearances, our obsession with others, coming to terms with the inequalities of life, and more. Kay writes in an easy to read, interesting, and funny style. This is a pretty quick read, but there is a lot of truth to soak in. I feel like this should be required reading for everyone today - personally, I have had to step back from much of social media and I'm a much happier person as a result. Our focus needs to shift on being content with what we have rather than comparing what we have with everyone else we know. We can't find peace in God when we're constantly struggling with discontentment. Kay has a way of cutting to the chase and offering practical solutions and steps to true contentment. I highly recommend this book to everyone struggling in this area.

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

Monday, November 23, 2015


Reframe: From The God We've Made To God With Us is a short little book by Brian Hardin (an ordained minister, record producer, photographer, graphic designer, author, and the voice behind the Daily Audio Bible). It's divided into three sections: Rethink (Rethinking You, Rethinking the Box, Rethinking God), Reframe (Reframing Starvation, Reframing Nourishment), and Restart (Restarting Change, Restarting Everything). I'm always interested in reading books that will help me draw closer to and deepen my relationship with God, so I was intrigued by and wanted to read this book. I'd never heard of Brian Hardin or the Daily Audio Bible before, so this was totally new to me. The book description reads:

"Accomplished recording producer Brian Hardin experienced a mediocre Christian faith until one day, he purposed to read the Bible daily. His resolve led to the start of the Daily Audio Bible, which after eight years has had more than 55 million downloads and feeds hundreds of thousands of listeners each day.

In the process of reading the Bible to his growing audience every day without fail, he has made a true, real friend in Jesus. Not a “Hey God, I know You’re up there somewhere” type of relationship, but one that contains the emotions, dialogue, and intimate moments that we long for from our closest of comrades. Brian found it necessary to entirely reframe his perception of God into a relationship as real as any experienced here on earth.

Reframe challenges you to change your paradigm about your relationship and connection with God, because in truth, you are engineered so that life will not work without Him. Reframe invites you to reconsider life and what it might look like if you were ruined for anything else but a life-giving connection to the almighty God."

I liked this book, but it was definitely written in an interesting and different style. Brian Hardin writes in an expansive, flowery, extravagant style. It was a bit jarring and felt a bit over the top at first, but I got used to it as the book went on. However, I appreciated Brian's spirit and his eagerness to share what he's learned about having a living, vibrant relationship with God. I know for myself, and probably many others, my relationship with God can often (sadly) feel like a checklist: read X number of chapters in my Bible, read a chapter in my devotional book, pray for X minutes or through X list. I often feel like God wants more from me than a rote checklist, although I also believe that doing your best is better than giving up on having an active relationship with God. Reframe really gets to the heart of this issue and gave me a new desire and a new plan for revitalizing my relationship with God. I recommend this book to any Christian who is looking to deepen their walk with God and strengthen their faith.

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

The Entitlement Cure

The Entitlement Cure: Finding Success In Doing Hard Things The Right Way is Dr. John Townsend's latest book. I've read several of Cloud and Townsend's previous books, including Boundaries and Boundaries With Kids, and How People Grow, and loved them. I was super excited when I saw Dr. Townsend had come out with another book (this time on his own) and knew I'd want to read it right away. The book description reads:

"Today we live in a culture that says, 'Life should be easy and work well.' This attitude, called entitlement, influences our most important institutions: family, business, church, and government. Its devastating effects contribute to relational problems, work ethic issues, and emotional struggles. It comes down to this: People are not getting to where they want to go, because they don't know how to do life the hard way. Entitlement keeps them from tackling challenges and finding success. But whether readers are struggling with their own sense of entitlement or dealing with someone who acts entitled, The Entitlement Cure will equip them to turn away from a life of mediocrity to a life of engagement, satisfaction, and joy. Drawing from his experience as a counselor and leadership consultant, renowned psychologist and New York Times bestselling author Dr. John Townsend explores strategies for fighting entitlement, such as: Take a meaningful risk every week - Find ways to minimize regret - Grasp the value of keeping inconvenient commitments - Understand why saying 'I don t know' is the first step toward success. In a culture that encourages shortcuts and irresponsibility, The Entitlement Cure provides principles and skills to help you both navigate life with those around you who have an entitlement mindset and identify areas in your own life where you are stuck in 'easy way' living. Dr. Townsend will show you how to become successful, resolve obstacles in life, and help those around you. Ultimately, The Entitlement Cure provides practical tools for a life of success that works for anyone."

The Entitlement Cure is obviously an incredibly needed book for today. Society at large has bought into the attitude of entitlement in many areas of life - work, family, church, etc. Everyone feels like they're owed something and want life to just be easy. However, God's Word tells us that the life of a Christian is a paradox - to save our life we must lose it, we have to enter the narrow gate instead of the broad gate, and we are to praise God when we're persecuted and treated badly. God calls us to live a hard life, not an easy life - and ultimately, living the "hard life" leads to countless blessings and the favor of God on our lives. Dr. Townsend manages to boil this concept down into this very interesting and informative book. There are real-life examples and stories sprinkled throughout, which is part of what makes his books so interesting. I love reading practical examples of the concepts being discussed. This was a quick and easy read, but a book you'll want to savor and meditate on as you discover changes you need to make in your own life and personality. I highly recommend this book to every Christian.

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

Thursday, November 12, 2015

One More Step

One More Step: Finding Strength When You Feel Like Giving Up is Rachel Wojo's debut print book (she's previously published two e-books). I'd never heard of Rachel Wojo before, but her book sounded encouraging and I always love a book that's part memoir/part Christian living, so I decided to check it out. Nothing is worse than a self-help book written by someone who's never actually gone through any major trials before, so I was relieved to discover that Rachel was coming from a place of experience - she's lost her mother, had a deeply painful failed first marriage, and has a special needs daughter and all that goes along with that. The back cover reads:

"Overcoming obstacles—one step at a time.

Life often sends hard things our way: illness, financial struggles, broken relationships, and so many kinds of loss. Sometimes we can’t imagine a way forward.

How do we keep going when everything is going wrong?

Rachel Wojo has learned that hope rises to greet us when we find the strength to take One. More. Step.

Like you, Rachel has faced experiences that crushed her dreams of the perfect life: a failing marriage, a daughter’s heartbreaking diagnosis, and more. In this book she transparently shares her pain and empathizes with yours, then points you to the path of God’s Word, where you’ll find hope to carry you forward. One More Step gives you permission to ache freely—and helps you believe that life won’t always be this hard. No matter the circumstances you face, through these pages you’ll learn to…
· run to God’s Word when discouragement strikes
· replace feelings of despair with the truth of Scripture
· persevere through out-of-control circumstances and gain a more intimate relationship with Jesus

Rachel identifies the reasons you may tempted to quit and shows you where to find the courage to keep going, one step at a time.

You’re not alone. So don’t give up. God won’t let you down. That’s a promise."

One More Step is split into 16 chapters. Each chapter begins with a quote from a hymn, which I loved. They end with a Pillars of Truth To Lean On and a Stepping Stone. These are designed to bring you deeper into the theme of each chapter. There's also a discussion guide at the end of the book, a "Thoughts To Keep You Going" section that summarizes main thoughts of each chapter into bite-size quotes, and Hymns Behind One More Step, which gives you information about all the hymns in the book and a link to an online hymn book to accompany One More Step. I really enjoyed this book. It's perfect for anyone going through a trial or who has gone through trials in the past. It's a quick, easy read and Rachel's conversational tone and open, honest writing style made it feel like I was chatting with a friend. I highly recommend this to any Christian woman going through a trial.

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Rest Assured

Vicki Courtney quickly became one of my new favorite authors when I read her previous book, Move On: When Mercy Meets Your Mess last year. I so appreciated her conversational style, godly wisdom, deep yet simple insights, and her willingness to bare her own soul and life in a very honest and real way. Nothing bothers me more than a book where the author refuses to share their own personal struggles and issues. I don't want to read a book from an author who (pretends to be) perfect, but rather from someone I can relate to and isn't afraid to tell the truth. So when I saw Vicki's newest book, Rest Assured: A Recovery Plan for Weary Souls, I immediately knew I wanted to read it. The back cover reads:

"“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28)

Women are overcommitted, overconnected, overburdened, and overwhelmed. Their lives are full, but oddly, their souls are empty. They are aching for a bold challenge—one that will bring rest to their longing souls. Rest Assured is for the daring women who truly want to disrupt their current patterns and see lasting change.

Divided into two parts, Rest Assured offers not just an intervention:

-The Badge of Busyness
-The Exhausting Pursuit of Happiness
-Tethered Souls
-Worried Sick

But also a recovery plan:

-Prioritize the One Thing Needed: Time for God
-Create Room to Breathe: Time for Solitude
-Give Yourself a Break: Time for Leisure
-Pay It Forward: Time for Others

If the soul is weary, it’s time for an intervention. Rest Assured is not a quick fix, but rather a bold challenge that aids women in identifying the negative patterns that prevent them from experiencing rest in their souls. Most importantly, it will give them the tools needed to break the cycle.

A “Rest Stop” challenge is included at the end of each chapter for use in Bible studies and book clubs. Bonus material includes a 30-Day Restitution Plan and 100 Ways to Give It a Rest."

What woman isn't weary these days? I know I am. Between the pressure to have a beautifully decorated, spic and span clean, perfectly organized house; make Pinterest crafts and Betty Crocker (local, organic, from-scratch, GMO free) dinners every night; volunteer for every church activity; and of course, have magazine-model ready children to display at church on Sunday, women can often become burnt out, exhausted, envious, and worst of all, completely missing the point: man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at our hearts. This is a subject that has been niggling at my brain for awhile now. I feel like many women focus so much on outward appearances and outdoing all the other women at church that they are neglecting the "most needful" thing. Vicki's new book is a call to women to go back to sit at Jesus' feet and realize that, once we put God in His proper place, we will find rest for our weary souls and still manage to have time for the other busy things that crowd our lives. Vicki gently calls us to prioritize our lives according to God's will. I highly recommend this book to every Christian woman. This is also a great pick for a Bible study or book club.

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

Monday, November 9, 2015

Brave Enough

Brave Enough: Getting over our fears, flaws, and failures to live bold and free is Nicole Unice's latest book. The first thing that drew me to this book was its beautiful cover. It's extremely appealing and beautifully designed. The second thing that drew me to this book was its title and subject: Brave Enough. I tend to be the opposite of brave: I'm timid, shy, unassuming, and don't like to have attention drawn to myself. I'm always looking for ways to stretch myself a bit and get outside of the box, so I knew this would be a good book for me to read. The book description reads:

"Find the courage to be who you are―not who you wish you were.
Is fear holding you back from becoming your best self? Does it add stress to your day and keep you up at night? What could be different if you let go and started living brave today?

Bravery doesn’t have to mean cliff diving out of your comfort zone. Life is about being brave enough―for yourself, for God, for your tasks, and for your calling―right where He’s placed you. A brave-enough life is one lived fully and confidently, with your shoulders relaxed and free from the weight of responsibility and the burden of trying too hard.

Nicole Unice, author of She’s Got Issues, wants that life to become a reality for you. She challenges you to get real about where you are right now―the places where you feel too scared to change, too tired to endure, or too worried to let go. Through personal stories and practical application, Nicole will lead you on a journey to harness all of your misspent doubts, concerns, and fears―and discover what God is saying about who you can be. Don’t miss the companion Brave Enough DVD Group Experience (UPC 031809201381)!"

What I really appreciated about Unice's book is that she acknowledges that not every person has to be the risk taker, the skydiver, the person in front of the crowd giving a speech. However, she gently calls and enables us to be brave ENOUGH to do the job God has called us to do and to live the life God wants us to live. A lot of times I feel too scared to step out and do things that I believe God wants me to do, and I definitely need a push sometimes. She challenges us in several different areas: Brave-Enough Women Get in the Race, Brave-Enough Women Embrace Spiritual Survival Skills, Brave-Enough Women Love Grace, Brave-Enough Women Give Grace, Brave-Enough Women Don't Fear a Fight, Brave-Enough Women Explore Their Territory, Brave-Enough Women Know Their Limits, and Our Daily Brave. I gleaned a lot of great information from this book. I especially liked how she used many real life experiences throughout the book to drive home the points. I highly recommend this book to anyone who needs a dose of godly courage.

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

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Lights Out

Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath by Ted Koppel is an incredible expose into what will happen if (or more likely, when) a cyberattack takes out the electric grid of the United States. I've been interested in this subject and EMPs since reading Terri Blackstock's Restoration series, so when I saw Koppel's book on the power grid failing I immediately picked it up. I'm not a doomsday sayer or prepper by any means imaginable, but I feel like this is a true threat and problem that the United States needs to address and deal with, since it's such an easy way to cripple our country. The book description reads:

"In this tour de force of investigative reporting, Ted Koppel reveals that a major cyberattack on America’s power grid is not only possible but likely, that it would be devastating, and that the United States is shockingly unprepared.

Imagine a blackout lasting not days, but weeks or months. Tens of millions of people over several states are affected. For those without access to a generator, there is no running water, no sewage, no refrigeration or light. Food and medical supplies are dwindling. Devices we rely on have gone dark. Banks no longer function, looting is widespread, and law and order are being tested as never before.

It isn’t just a scenario. A well-designed attack on just one of the nation’s three electric power grids could cripple much of our infrastructure—and in the age of cyberwarfare, a laptop has become the only necessary weapon. Several nations hostile to the United States could launch such an assault at any time. In fact, as a former chief scientist of the NSA reveals, China and Russia have already penetrated the grid. And a cybersecurity advisor to President Obama believes that independent actors—from “hacktivists” to terrorists—have the capability as well. “It’s not a question of if,” says Centcom Commander General Lloyd Austin, “it’s a question of when.”

And yet, as Koppel makes clear, the federal government, while well prepared for natural disasters, has no plan for the aftermath of an attack on the power grid. The current Secretary of Homeland Security suggests keeping a battery-powered radio.

In the absence of a government plan, some individuals and communities have taken matters into their own hands. Among the nation’s estimated three million “preppers,” we meet one whose doomsday retreat includes a newly excavated three-acre lake, stocked with fish, and a Wyoming homesteader so self-sufficient that he crafted the thousands of adobe bricks in his house by hand. We also see the unrivaled disaster preparedness of the Mormon church, with its enormous storehouses, high-tech dairies, orchards, and proprietary trucking company – the fruits of a long tradition of anticipating the worst. But how, Koppel asks, will ordinary civilians survive?

With urgency and authority, one of our most renowned journalists examines a threat unique to our time and evaluates potential ways to prepare for a catastrophe that is all but inevitable."

An investigative book about this subject of course has the potential to be dry, but Ted Koppel manages to take the subject and present it in such a way that I felt like I was reading a futuristic or science fiction thriller. However (unfortunately) the threat is all too real and the points he makes are valid. I was glued to the pages and couldn't put it down. He delves into just about every aspect of how a cyberattack like this could happen, exactly what the consequences would be, and how unprepared America is for such an attack. I feel like his book is so important because it shines a spotlight on a weakness we have and hopefully it will make people sit up and take notice. I recommend this book to anyone who's interested in educating themselves about this topic.

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