More than Meets the Eye, by Carrie Daws

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Deployment changed him, and she doesn’t know if she can live with it.

After her husband returns from a deployment to Saudi Arabia, Lori Braxton begins noticing little differences in his behavior. He’s withdrawn, moody, and can’t sleep. Could it be the stress of military life after the 9/11 attack on New York? Maybe it’s the new assignment in Montana or the financial problems he ignores. Perhaps it’s forces she can’t see and doesn’t know how to fight, or maybe she’s a bigger part of the problem than she wants to admit.

What is God doing? Is He even paying attention?
Lori tries to attend church and do what God asks, but the truth is she doesn’t really hear Him speak. Between money strains, pregnancy hormones, and young ones underfoot, Lori spirals into depression.

What good could God possibly bring from the mess surrounding her?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: God rewrote Carrie’s dreams to include being an author. With a background in devotions, a mentor encouraged her to try fiction. The writing monster that she barely keeps contained was born. Since then, she’s completed several inspirational fictions and encouraging nonfiction for military spouses.

Connect with Carrie at:
Author Website: http://carriedaws.com/my-books/fiction/home-front-heroines-book-1/
Author FB page link is https://www.facebook.com/CarrieDaws?ref=hl
Twitter page link is https://twitter.com/CarrieDaws

SERIES: Homefront Heroines, Book #1

PARENTAL RATING: PG

MY THOUGHTS:  My experiences with the military are limited compared to some others, so I am no expert in what families go through long-term. However, I feel like the author captured so many of the struggles common to military families. From deployments to medical care to stressors unique to wives who live on base, she realistically portrayed life for this unique group of people.

One thing I enjoyed about this book that made it stand out was the way the author moved through the timeline. Sometimes a story is too detailed, and I get lost in the mundane. Since this was a novella, the reader is not dragged through useless pages of details that don't really apply to the main point. I never felt bored or like I wanted to skip through.

I would definitely recommend this book for military wives, especially those whose husbands are dealing with PTSD or the normal stress associated with the lifestyle they have chosen.

DISCLOSURE: I received a free copy of this book to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of The CWA Review Crew.

Enfolded in God's Arms, by Lisa Are Wulf

spiritual-healing-christian-devotional-godBOOK DESCRIPTIONEmbrace your inner healing! Let God's tender love enfold you and restore the wounded places of your soul with this award-winning 40-day devotional for women.

Experience healing, change, and growth within the sacred space of your heart. Let these compassionate and insightful reflections gently guide you into a tender spiritual embrace.
* Reflect on meditations that illuminate the love of Jesus in the everyday hurts of life
* Find tender scriptures, hopeful prayers, positive questions, and silent moments with God
* Receive thoughtful affirmation as you search for peace

Hold hands with Jesus as you contemplate this peaceful garden of comforting reflections. Be renewed, refreshed, and spiritually transformed.

This gentle daily devotional is ideal for individual or group reading, self-help, and as a Lenten or other resource for Christian living.

Enfolded in God's Arms was a finalist in both the Voice Arts Awards and the Next Generation Indie Book Awards.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lisa Are Wulf is an award-winning women's devotional author. Her print, audio, and e-books have been finalists in the USA Best Book Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and Voice Arts Awards. Publications across the country have featured Lisa's articles on Christian living and spiritual growth. She is a recognized speaker who shares her faith journey with transparency and authority.

A graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary, Lisa also holds two degrees from the University of Colorado. She is an adjunct accounting professor, a retired CPA, served in elected public office, and was a professional musician.

Lisa lives in Colorado with her husband, Calvin, and enjoys the beautiful mountain scenery. They have four children and are happy empty nesters.


MY THOUGHTS: When I am going through times of grief and am in need of healing, I often don't feel like reading weighty stories or spending long periods of time having to focus on any one thing. This book is perfect for such times. Each of the 40 devotions is quite short (less than two pages) and includes scripture, vivid examples and word pictures, questions to make the reader think a bit about what was just said, a short prayer, and space for notes or journaling. Every ten days, the focus shifts a bit, moving you from healing to change to spending time with Jesus, and finally ending with growth. These devotions don't delve into difficult or emotionally taxing topics, although they are substantial and pertinent. I appreciated the light feeling and was able to reflect back on what I'd read throughout the day.

DISCLOSURE: I received a free copy of this book to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of The CWA Review Crew.

Dance With Jesus: From Grief to Grace, by Susan B. Mead

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Grief hits each one of us and can come from so many different directions…

Have you lost someone dear to you? A brother, sister, parent, grandparent, family member, friend or a child? A relationship? A body part to cancer or an accident? Do you want to experience the joy of moving from broken to blessed? From GRIEF TO GRACE? Do you want God to take your hand and teach you how to dance…with Jesus? Yes?

Then devour the words in Dance With Jesus: From Grief to Grace! Expect to laugh through the tears and experience a deepening of your faith.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan B Mead is a woman in AWE of God and how much He loves each one of us. Her desire - share stories of hope so we can see God's hand at work in our lives. Dance With Jesus: From Grief to Grace was written as her answer to "What does God want you to do right now?" in the Experiencing God Bible Study.

Susan spent 22+ years with Johnson & Johnson prior to losing her youngest son. She realized that things get broken, discarded or replaced, yet people matter. She chose to retire early to make time for the people who matter most to her, including you, a dear reader.

Susan's credentials include BS, MT(ASCP), MBA and IFOC Sr. Ordained Chaplain. She holds certification from the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) for Individual Grief, Group Grief and Grief following Trauma.



MY REVIEW: This little book actually has 22 chapters, but each chapter is only a few pages long. Written as an encouragement to others in similar circumstances, it leaves out details that might otherwise bog the reader down and, instead, gets right to the point. We meet the author in the first chapters and learn that she has experienced deep grief in the death of her son.

Each chapter opens up a new window in what their family went through, in tiny little snippets small enough to keep the attention of someone who may not feel like heavy reading material. At the end of each chapter are discussion questions, sometimes quite deep and sometimes light, but always meant to inspire the reader to think about where in the grief process he might be and where he can see God at work.

To be honest, there were parts of this book that left me feeling like I'd been abruptly interrupted. I wanted to know more. I wanted longer chapters that filled in the details. But I realized that in the midst of grief, one's attention span is not as long as normal, and sometimes getting bogged down in someone else's story is too much. The short little chapters could be perfect for someone in that situation, someone who just needs to open the pages and find hope.

DISCLOSURE: I received a free copy of this book to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of The CWA Review Crew.

God's Book of Prayers, by M.A.R.

God's Book of Prayers: Each and Every Prayer in the Bible
BOOK DESCRIPTION (from the publisher): Each and every prayer in the Bible is now available, together and categorized. God’s Book of Prayers and The Lord’s Prayers both contain all the prayers of the Bible. God’s Book of Prayers separates each into nine categories for convenient reading, while The Lord’s Prayers lists them in biblical sequence, with an exhaustive concordance of major words or phrases. Both versions have some elementary analysis of all the prayers for better understanding of the whole of the prayers in God’s Book, including the most common words in biblical praying. These volumes will help you to easily be able to pray God’s own words!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: M.A.R.’s love for God and God’s Word and his belief in prayer radiates from this volume. Being a believer for more than 30 years, ordained to the ministry, and licensed in 1984, he has never lost his fascination with all things God, especially His Holy Book. Via military service, retired U.S. Air Force, M.A.R. and his wife ministered in several churches worldwide. Toward the end of his military career, God planted the seed for this prayer book, and thus has been in progress for over a decade. He declared 2011 “The Year of the Book of Prayer in the Bible,” and with God’s arranging of his schedule, M.A.R. was able to finally mine the (hopefully) final prayers from the Scriptures. This is the third book he has compiled, along with two games, one being a Bible Book-by-Book card game. Also a former certified Texas public high school math teacher, M.A.R. and his wife of more than three decades reside in a small south Texas town near San Antonio with several animals.

MY THOUGHTS: This book contains every prayer in the Bible, except those spoken in second- or third-person. The prayers are very well-organized, not only divided into categories (blessing, confession, insight, petition, praise, response, statement, thanks, worship), but within each topic, the list further divides. For example, there are prayers about thanks, and then prayers that include the word thanks.

Introductory material includes explanations of what prayer is, to whom we pray, unanswered prayers, how to pray, and examples. Several eye-catching charts point out interesting facts about the prayers of the Bible, such as the most common words and a comparison of the different types of prayers.

God's Book of Prayers is a great resource for topical searches. I recommend it to anyone looking for inspiration as they lean on ancient conversations with God to enhance their prayer life.

**I received a free ebook copy of this book from BookLookBloggers in exchange for an honest review.

ESV Journaling Bible, by Crossway

BOOK DESCRIPTION: The ESV Journaling Bible provides the perfect way for you to keep a journal of your spiritual life right inside the Bible that you read and study every day. With covers and formats that look like the finest journals, the Journaling Bible features two-inch ruled margins for writing observations, reflections, prayers, praises, and journal entries. This unique Bible makes a great gift and lasting keepsake for anyone who values God's Word.

Features:
  • Cream-colored paper
  • 2" ruled margins
  • Book introductions
  • Ribbon marker
  • Smyth-sewn binding

Wanting to enhance my Bible study time and find a creative outlet for expressing what I learn, I got a new Bible. This one has extra space along the outside of each page so that I can take notes or illustrate what I've gleaned from that page.  I did lots of research about the different types available and found that I wasn't the only person thinking along these lines.

There are one-column, two-column, blank pages between the scriptures, leather covers, hardbacks, and the list goes on. The Bibles come in NIV, ESV, NASB, KJV, and NKJV. You can even choose between blank margins, lined margins, and margins that already have some graphics included, which you color in and then add your own personal touches. So many choices!

Thankfully, artistic Bible journaling is pretty popular right now, so there were tons of places I could lurk before making my choice. I found blogs and Facebook groups, pinterest boards and youtube tutorials. This is great news for a non-artist like me who WANTS to make beautiful things but doesn't quite know how.

I finally decided on the one-column (meaning there is only one column of scriptures per page) ESV from Crossway, with a solid cover and an elastic band that keeps it closed when not in use--and also flattens the pages I've just drawn on.

There are several theories of how this should be done, but I've found that within the communities of journalers, there is surprisingly little judgement and tons of encouragement. Some choose to only use the margins and never cover the actual scriptures. Others cover portions or all of the scriptures, usually in a background color that enhances the illustrations or words they've chosen to focus on. Still others do their study in the Bible then illustrate in a separate drawing pad. So far, I fall into the first category. I have chosen to highlight or underline the scriptures I'm focusing on but I don't cover them. Those who do, obviously use other Bibles for reading or study, and this artistic version serves as a creative journal only.

I've been pleasantly surprised at how many options there are for using this Bible. Of course, I can write my notes without fear that the little yellow sticky paper I had available at the time will fall out later. These notes are permanently attached to the page! I can use pens and simply letter a verse that stands out to me. Or I can take a giant leap and draw along the sides, top, and bottom of the page, since there is so much space for expression. I'm careful to date each entry so I can look back and see where I've been on this spiritual journey.

Many of the illustrations I've found are shared from people just like me--okay, more artistic versions of me--who choose to make their work available. They are gracious to allow copying, so that's pretty much what I do right now. When a verse stands out to me, I generally have an idea of what it "looks like" artistically, so then I google away until I've found something close. Sometimes I trace it onto my page, and sometimes I just use it as a guide. I'm quite thankful there are so many artists out there who are okay with this.

Here are a few resources for those who are interested in getting started.

Ideas from Pinterest (You could get lost here, digging through the bazillion boards devoted to bible journaling and #illustratedfaith!)

One of many Facebook groups dedicated to sharing ideas and asking questions

Illustrated Faith, an official page with products, message boards, and events

A series of blog posts about doodling, with daily projects and step-by-step instructions

A large collection of Youtube videos specific to journaling in your Bible

Happy arting! I'd love to see how you illustrate your Bible in the comments below.

The 30-Day Faith Detox, by Laura Harris Smith

The 30-Day Faith Detox: Renew Your Mind, Cleanse Your Body, Heal Your Spirit
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION (from the publisher):  A reset button for your body, mind and spirit!

In this new, groundbreaking total-being cleanse, wellness expert and certified nutritional counselor Laura Harris Smith takes on not only your body but also your mind and spirit.

Day by day, prayer by prayer, you will confront 30 universal faith toxins like doubt, discouragement and anger. And flush them out.

Each day offers a simple body detox that associates specific body organs with the faith toxins you are flushing out, and by the end of the 30 days, you will have a total body detox.

Using ingredients right from your own kitchen, you'll get delicious recipes for colorful smoothies, juices, soups and entrees. There's even a section for veggie-haters! Make the connection between physical health and spiritual health, and start feeling better physically, mentally and spiritually.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laura Harris Smith founded Eastgate Creative Christian Fellowship with her husband, Pastor Chris Smith, and is the Director for the Eastgate Creative Arts Conservatory, where among other things, she mentors young writers all over the world in her online creative writing classes. An actress, playwright, poet, and media dynamo, she was a TV host on the Shop at Home Network and is the author of multiple books. With one foot in ministry and one in media, Laura and her husband have six children and reside near Nashville, Tennessee.

MY THOUGHTS: Healthy eating, detox teas, and purposeful nutrition are all the rage. There are books, websites, videos, programs, and groups for every nuance within the spectrum of taking care of yourself. What makes this book stand out are several things.

1. The information is presented in bite-sized chunks. After a two-chapter introduction walks you through the basic premise behind detoxification of your body's major systems, you start 30 short, easy-to-follow daily challenges. I have found other resources to be quite wordy and hard to understand, even though I have lots of experience in health care and probably know more about human anatomy and physiology than the average reader. I tend to get bogged down in the gorey details of exactly how certain nutrients work inside our bodies and what some common toxin does to each of my systems on the cellular level. Just give it to me straight and in everyday language, or you've lost me. The 30-Day Faith Detox is a straight shooter, getting right to the point and then moving into the daily challenges.

2. The premise of the book is a holistic approach to healthy living. The author explains early on how the connection between our minds, our bodies, and our spirits leads to poor health in one or more of these areas when they are not properly cared for. Each day begins with a spiritual toxin and the corresponding emotional toxins. After an explanation of common things that we know cause us harm but probably don't notice or think about normally, we are presented with the cleansing diet for that day and a short explanation of how it works in our bodies. So while you are working through what you've learned about yourself from that day's devotional section, your body is cleansing itself of built-up gunk.

3. The plan is easy to follow. Okay, let me clarify that. If you're not ready to deal with these spiritual topics--social influence, financial, health-related, relationship, and purpose/identity toxins--then you could hit some roadblocks to moving forward. However, the author is very direct and specific in exposing danger zones and how to move past them. And since you only get one issue per day, you have time to stew a bit on each topic before moving on the next day.

4. The recipes use ingredients you probably already have and can find in any regular grocery store. There's no need to find a specialty market or get online and order an array of products to carry out this cleanse. And when you finish the 30 days, you will have learned some new recipes and sustainable habits you can continue to use to equip your body for optimum health.

Still not convinced you can stick with this for 30 days? You will find accountability and encouragement through the offical Facebook groupfree recipe cards and a signed copy of the book if you order from LauraHarrisSmith.com, and 30 free videos as part of the faith detox challenge (code included in the book).



I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung

What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: In just a few short years, massive shifts in public opinion have radically reshaped society’s views on homosexuality. Feeling the pressure to forsake long-held beliefs about sex and marriage, some argue that Christians have historically misunderstood the Bible’s teaching on this issue. But does this approach do justice to what the Bible really teaches about homosexuality? In this timely book, award-winning author Kevin DeYoung challenges each of us—the skeptic, the seeker, the certain, and the confused—to take a humble look at God’s Word. Examining key biblical passages in both the Old and New Testaments and the Bible’s overarching teaching regarding sexuality, DeYoung responds to popular objections raised by Christians and non-Christians alike—offering readers an indispensable resource for thinking through one of the most pressing issues of our day.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kevin DeYoung (MDiv, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan. He blogs at the Gospel Coalition and has authored or coauthored numerous well-known books.

SOURCE: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via netgalley.com in exchange for my honest review.

MY THOUGHTS: If ever a topic has caused confusion and division among Christians, it is how to view and react to homosexuality. I was curious about this short, 160-page book, and happy to find that it cut through the cloudiness of the issue and went straight to the source of all truth, the Bible. However, he holds Christians to the standard of loving those who experience same-sex attraction and seeking to understand and reach out to them.

In the introduction, the author points out three classes of readers he expects to be speaking to--those already convinced that homosexuality is wrong, those convinced it is right, and those who are confused by the voices of our culture and their understanding of the Bible. With this audience in mind, the topic is dealt with in a direct yet compassionate way throughout the book.

The first section delves into what the Bible says about homosexuality, from the early laws of the Jews through the churches being established in the New Testament and including word studies in the original languages.

Part Two answers common objections heard within communities that are affirming homosexuality among Christians. The author presents solid Biblical proof against the arguments popping up all over social media and in sermons and blog posts across the country.

The conclusion sums up what is really at stake if the Church changes its stance on sexual sins. Appendices briefly address cultural topics such as same-sex marriage and attraction, and include ten commitments for Christians and churches to take into consideration.

I found this book to be a very thorough resource, concise and conclusive.  Considering the relevance of the topic in today's world, I would certainly recommend it for any person in ministry, and I think it would make a great book for small-group study.  A free study guide can be downloaded from the publisher.