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From Good to Grace by Christine Hoover

Hoover_goodtograce_wSPine.inddIn a society that tells us that good is never enough, I often wonder just how many of us have bought into that lie.  I’m quite sure we all have seasons that it is true for each of us.  Little did I know that as I was reading this book – I would enter just a season.  God certainly has a beautiful sense of timing.

Christine writes from her own experience and solid Biblical application, and delves into the areas where the “goodness gospel” lives in our lives.  It was refreshing to read that I’m not the only one…

She challenges women who see themselves as not being, doing or having enough with the truth that God believes the exact opposite.  And because He is our Creator – who are we to argue!

My heart ached during the passage of the book where she relates about a friend who leaves church feeling worse about herself than when she went in.  This is directly related to the fact that her Pastor teaches that God’s love compels us to serve, but that all she hears is what she is doing isn’t enough.  Her ability to relate to God in a more intimate way then suffers because of her feelings of inadequacy.

I loved her explanation of what Grace does.  “…grace is not lonely at all.  Grace attracts where the law repels and divides.  More accurately, grace attracts those who know their need for it, and repels those who think they’ve got it all figured out.

Grace is a concept that can be so elusive, yet the truth is – Scripture abounds with it.  God wants to abundantly share it with us, and Christine shares Scriptures that help us see that.

An excellent read – first for oneself, and then for others.  I would recommend this for individual, but also for a small group or Book Club.

This book has been provided for my independent review by Graf-Martin Communications and Baker Books.

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Finding Me by Kathryn Cushman – a book review

finding meLife has not been easy for our main character, Kelli Huddleston.  As the book opens, her honesty sees her lose her job.  This after her father and step-mother have just died in an accident.  She then learns that the family she thought died many years earlier, is actually alive, and it is she they think died years ago.

Needing to learn about the father’s past life, she heads across the county to the town they live in, and tries to keep a low profile.  She quickly finds a job, meets her mother and sister (but tells them nothing), and finds an apartment to live.  The reader is drawn into the dual life she is trying to live in a town where people think she looks like someone they knew a long time ago, and we warm to the caring relationship that develops between Kelli and her sister Beth.

When more information arrives from an unexpected source, Kelli learns that the life she knew and the past she thought was true, were not the case at all.  Then, a trusted part of her new life shares that they know exactly who she is – her plans fall apart.

I was most taken with the scene where she is learning a new song to be able to sing confidently along with the congregation in church (what a great idea for people who are not used to our repertoire).  Kelli doesn’t understand the concept in the words, but finds herself so moved, that it opens an opportunity for the truth of the Gospel to be shared.

I liked that this book didn’t feel like a formula was being followed.  I was engaged in Kelli’s quest all the way along, and found the last half of the book hard to put down – truly the mark of a well written story for me.

I am thankful that this book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The Crimson Cord, Rahab’s Story – A Review

the crimson cordAs an independent reviewer, I am thankful to Graf-Martin Communications and Revell Books for the opportunity to read this very new telling of a very old story.

Rahab’s story is one that causes most of us to be uncomfortable with.  Let’s face it – she’s not a woman that most moms would hold up as a mirror for their girls to aspire to.  Nor are we content that she is only one of a very few women to be named in the lineage of Christ.  Yet, she is an example of courage, of God’s never ending grace and the beautiful great-great grandma of King David.

Jill Eileen Smith has crafted, very skillfully, a new engaging story of Rahab, and how she came to assist the Hebrew’s fulfill God’s plan for Jericho.  A faithful, yet abused wife finds herself sold into slavery to pay off her husband’s debt.  Her purchaser has many other plans for her.  Tastefully dealing with the degradation that happens with sex slavery – we understand Rahab’s complete lack of faith in herself.

She does though, find a way to assure her safety and her that of her family when the Hebrew’s come to claim the land God has promised.  Then we “watch” as God redeems her past life, and brings her to a place of honour in history.  She is a pre-cursor to the story of the kinsman redeemer named Boaz, and gives us a glimpse that all people are loved so much that God wants them to be part of the family.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read – although I must admit I began quite skeptical at what could be done with a bible character we know relatively little about.  Bravo!  I savoured every page.

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2015 in book reviews

 

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The Beauty of Grace – A Review

beauty of grace coverI love books that will serve a greater purpose.  To teach a lesson, to tell a lasting story, to provide a story for just the right time, you know – a Greater purpose.

This book, from “today’s most popular writers” (although I must admit I’d never heard of a great many of them) filled that purpose.  Stories from their every day world, yet filled with God moments that stick with the reader are offered here for each of us to savour.  I think this would be a lovely little book to give as a supplementary devotional.

Right from the first story set in a thrift shop, with it’s subject being a man in a suit and holding a mirror – I was enchanted.  It’s timing was wonderful, as I am currently leading a Bible study that helps the students see the wonder of God.  I will be recommending this title to each and every one of my ladies.

The book has also expanded my reading list – especially on the (in)courage daily blog, where most of these ladies contribute.  It may be a simply constructed marketing tool for faithful followers, but it has done it’s job, and I will find ways to read these ladies more often.

If you are looking to be encouraged in your desire to see God’s hand at work all around you, or needing to share that with someone you care for, be sure to pick up a copy of this book.  You’ll be blessed by it.

I am thankful to Graf-Martin Communications, and Revell books for the opportunity to share this unrestricted review with you.

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Hope amid the heartbreaking reality – The DropBox Movie

DropboxA new movie is set to release the first week of March, and I was honoured to be able to view an advanced copy, thanks to Graf-Martin Communications, Focus on the Family, and Kindred Image.

Each year, hundreds of babies are abandoned on the streets of Seoul, South Korea.  Some have been discarded immediately upon birth by young, unwed mothers who can’t face the shame their family will heap upon them.  Others have disabilities that the mother feels she just can’t cope with.  It’s a staggering and heart breaking reality.

We meet a church pastor, Pastor Lee Jong-rak and his family to hear about how his deeply caring heart is saving lives.  Because of the shame attached to most of the circumstances around the birth and subsequent abandoning of these babies – he knew that if he could have a way that a child could be safely brought to his home, while keeping the anonymity of the mother, he might just be able to save lives.

A dropbox was installed at their home.  It has an alarm wired, so that when an infant is placed inside it, the whole house is alerted, and his son’s description of what it does to the family is poignant.  Pastor Lee and his wife have two natural children, but they have adopted 15 of the hundreds of children that have come to them, each with their own challenges, and each whom have come through the dropbox.

I am not a documentary fan, nor do I enjoy films with sub-titles – as much of this film has.  However, the story is so compelling, that I was completely drawn in, and soon forgot that I was reading the dialogue.  The commitment to the children that Pastor Lee, his family and the troop of volunteers have is inspiring, and challenging.

Theirs is a story of inspiration and well deserving to be heard and seen.  Pastor Lee and the filmmakers bring a voice to those who have none, and put faces to those that society would have forgotten.  If you are able to get to a theatre March 4th or 5th, take time to see this fine movie.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Great Bible character + a favourite author = a joy to read.

esther coverEsther, by Angela Hunt, published by Bethany House.

Esther has always been my favourite Bible personality. What young girl doesn’t live a story of the commoner getting to become queen! And then to have her save an entire nation…Disney could learn a thing or two about heroes.

So, imagine my excitement when Angela Hunt, one of my all time favourite authors published this rebelling of Esther’s story. Told with depth of character and setting, we hear this account from the voices of those most intimately involved.

Providing fresh insights (love the reasoning behind Vashti’s refusal to the queen, and her later plots) to the stories behind the story. Hadassah, as she grows into knowing her place in the palace, and learns to love her husband is shown to us as the captivating girl she must have been. Captivating enough to win the King’s heart.

One of only 2 books of Scripture, (the Song of Solomon is the other), Angela has very clearly woven God’s hand through the entire story, and highlights the truth of the faith that Esther was raised to honour.  It is his faith in the One True God that prevents Mordecai from bowing to Hama, and it is the ritual of fasting that Esther and all of the Jewish people in the kingdom engage in preparation for her request to the king.

This was a book to savour, I intentionally took my time in reading the story, not wanting to leave the palace too soon.

I am grateful to Graf-Martin Communications, via the Nuts About Books and Bethany House for providing this opportunity for me to complete an independent review of this book.

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2015 in book reviews

 

Like a Flower in Bloom – Book Review

I am not a typical Christian fiction reader.  I am not a fan of the Historical romance, but being a voracious reader, and knowing I was heading away on a beach holiday – I was happy to receive this advanced reading copy compliments of Bethany House Publishing.

On its journey of a story, I was engaged with a young woman I greatly identified with.  Miss Withersby is an independent young woman, who is not entirely thrilled with the expectations and limitations placed on her by Society.  She is passionate about all things Ranunculus, and entirely happy and content to be her father’s assistant – drawing and writing his botany books.

Her father though, becomes convinced that all this must end, as it is time she find herself a husband.  She sets off to do just that, but planning to find someone so unsuitable, her father will never agree.  Under the tutelage of a friend, the two begin their scheme, but when it involved 2 very different men who share our ladies’ interest, things get interesting.

When life shows it has a different agenda, and even though she can’t see it, the very man her father hired to release her from her duties at home, becomes a familiar and somewhat comfortable, thorn in her side.

I found the botany references, and our heroine’s passion to detail very familiar and engaging.  I was pleased that this book didn’t follow the typical formula for romance novels, having a twist at the end that I hadn’t anticipated.  A refreshing find, and enjoyable way to spend a holiday afternoon.

This review is an independent opinion, with the book being provided through Graf-Martin Communications by Bethany House Publishing.

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2015 in book reviews

 
 
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