Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist (Book Review)

A mouth watering, soul satisfying read…
 I toted this delicious little number along with me on my family vacation this year, and I am pretty sure everybody is reading it, wants to read it, or should read it. ASAP. Bread and Wine A love letter to life around the table with recipes by Shauna Niequist is a book you will want to keep in the kitchen. Or by your bedside. Or in the Living Room. Definitely take it to the beach and along on your next vacation. But be prepared. It will change you. It will make you brave. This is the first time I have read this author but she has a wonderful writing style that is both candid and refreshing.

The book is broken up into four main parts and include a collection of vignettes which end with a recipe (most times). The combination of heartfelt storytelling, fellowship memories and fabulously detailed food, stirs the soul as well as the appetite. My mouth waters as I leaf through the pages. The connections Shauna makes with memories, food, people and life around the table, as she calls it- will leave you desiring to cook, fling open your doors and throw caution to the wind. This book is dangerous-in a good way.

She shares bits of her life along the way, with lessons, challenging us to live a little more freely by shedding our tendencies to wait for perfect timing, circumstances and dwelling spaces. She longs for us to share it all with those God has in our lives and savor each moment to the fullest. The food, people and places -the tender times, painful times of our lives all combine to create a pot of precious memories. Shauna brings these delights together somehow and has shared beautifully, everything from painful losses to celebratory vacations and more.

Both the stories and recipes shared are written in a way that feel Shauna is talking to you right from across the table or side by side at the counter. Also included is a four week book club/cooking club discussion guide.

I’m hungry as I write this review…
I ‘d give this read 5 Stars or bars…of chocolate. Melted, drizzled over um, say
shortbread with a side of espresso. Or maybe I could whip up some Gaia Cookies! Join me?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the® <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Love No Matter What by Brenda Garrison (Book Review)

I loved the title of Brenda Garrison’s book, “Love No Matter What”,  and decided right away, since this is the goal for most Christians, especially Christian parents, that I should and would devour whatever wisdom was presented in the pages. 
The book is written for parents of children, especially that are in their teen years and beyond. In ten chapters Brenda shares not only her own story but also a dozen other families stories to share insights, and practical help for parents dealing with children who don’t fit into a cookie cutter Christianity and refuse to do so. 
Using the Prodigal Son story from Scripture as a base model, Brenda sets up camp at Luke 15:11-32 and she continuously returns there throughout the book. 
Brenda along with her daughter Katie share their perspectives of the same circumstances in Katie’s life, when she began to make choices that challenged and confronted her parents faith, belief systems and convictions. The outcome, learning and journey are the heart of this book. 
Some of the things I loved about this book were that she addressed reality for Christians who are dealing with kids who may not fit into, nor want to fit into the accepted Christian mold. 
With more than half of kids leaving the church after they graduate perhaps it’s time to take a step back and consider where the heart of Christianity lies these days. The Christian community needs to listen better if they really want to minister with grace and truth to kids who are presented with an overload of opposing, confusing viewpoints daily. Brenda deals with some of the issues of “unsafe” Christian youth groups, individuals, and church communities (aka “prayer groups” etc.) and how to guard yourself and your child from being a spiritual casualty by keeping healthy boundaries and being careful of sharing too much. Sad fact in any church community but the fallout that we see now is partially caused because of callous hearted, careless Christians with loose lips and insensitive words, gossip and slander, disguised as “prayer, and spiritual conversation. 
Practical advice for keeping communication open, loving continuously and not compromising God’s standard. Also the examples and variety of situations presented from the many families in the book offer almost every possible situation from bad choices, to outright rebellion and how parents got through the circumstance. Real life advice for we who need it. 
Practical, encouraging, honest and real.
I’d give this read 5 stars.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion in the back of the book make this an excellent book for shared study and prayer with a partner or small group of parents struggling with the same circumstances (or who have had and are able to lead/encourage others in the journey).

Book Description (From the Publisher) 

How will you respond when your child makes a decision you don’t agree with?
Parents and kids will never agree on everything but what can mom and dad do when that decision—whether a matter of preference, spirituality, or morality—is something they think is totally wrong? Author and speaker Brenda Garrison knows all too well that how parents respond will either build a wall or a bridge between them and their child.
Brenda and her husband were forced to answer this question when their oldest daughter Katie abruptly moved out of the house with no means of support. It was not an illegal or immoral decision, but it was one that wasn’t good for her. Their determination to keep an open door of communication is documented not only by their story, but by comments from Katie in each chapter as she offers insights from her own perspective.
Also included are other family scenarios—everything from matters of preference to foolish, immoral, and even illegal decisions—as well as insights into different styles of parenting such as servant, checked-out, gotcha, scared, and controlling parents.
With practical tips and relatable stories, Brenda shares how to model God’s parenting style and explains the difference between the parent’s responsibilities and the child’s, then helps mom and dad discover ways to develop and nurture a relationship with their child that will last a lifetime.

I received this book in return for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed are completely my own.
I review for BookSneeze®

Lifted By Angels by Joel J. Miller {Book Review}

When was the last time you felt awe with regard to the spiritual reality of and in your daily life?
I trudged slowly through Lifted By Angels- The Presence and Power of our Heavenly Guides and Guardians for a number of reasons. This book, although only 7 Chapters and 152 pages is quite an interesting read, packed with meat to chew on and ponder long after the reading is done. Consider 30 pages of referenced notes! I was awed by some of the details I came across while reading Lifted By Angels. I woke up to the reminder of the angels among us like I never have before as I journeyed through time and history with some of the most respected leaders, thinkers, theologians, philosophers, pastors, artists and teachers
Seeking to clarify the presence, position and potential of angels and angelic activity from the beginning of time to our current period, Mr. Miller pulls back the veil of the unseen spiritual realm and draws our eyes to see what Christian history confirms and recognized readily.
Reading this book was eye opening, and a little bit sobering. Siting, reminding and recalling the numerous angelic interactions with humans throughout the Bible and beyond reminded me of the realm we so often forget in the daily bustle of life. That our great cloud of witnesses includes an angelic, always present, host. That these beings are designed and designated specifically by God, as guides, guardians, protectors, meddlers of the divine conspiracy in the best of ways! 
I am excited to consider all the more the reality of our invisible to the naked eye cheerleaders and co laborers in Christ. Be prepared to be awed. Awaken within your soul a new sense of wonder. 
In this way you too, might just be lifted by angels!

Published by: Thomas Nelson
Book Description:Explores the relationship between people and angels, through the eyes of the early church. Heaven is closer than we realize. Its boundaries overlap our own, and angels move in and out of our porous present, this moment that seems to us so solid and concrete. If that reality seems dim to us now, it beamed for the early Christians. Through their writings, sermons, songs, and art, the ancient faithful confessed a powerful and vivid belief that angels help carry us on our journey to God.

I received this book from Booksneeze in return for review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

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Everything by Mary Demuth {Book Review}


What You Give and What You Gain to Become Like Jesus

By Mary DeMuth 
Published by Thomas Nelson

I applaud Mary Demuth’s candid and honest sharing in Everything: What You Give and What You Gain to Become Like Jesus. Although Mary has written a number of other books, this was the first time I read her writing. I felt as though I was sitting in the presence of a wonderfully honest sister in Christ who was not afraid to tell it as it is and boldly go in those places many fear to tread. 
Mary takes us through her own journey through discouragement leading us into understanding why that path is a place that ultimately brings joy and intimacy with the Lord when we allow it.
Mary asks us to consider our options in difficult times. We can turn to the Lord in our brokenness and pain, growing in intimacy and relationship with God or we can hang onto our  dismal position, growing in bitterness, anger and resentment toward God and others. She does not make light of trials but beckons us to lean into the One who longs us to lean hard on Himself. She advises us in three realms our head, heart and hands. In each of these parts of the book she tackles how we can best live out our faith instead of leaning on our own understanding. She directs us to the deep tenets of our own Christian view through questions for reflection and discussion. The goal is radical obedience and trust. Transformation by grace has never been an easy path. Challenging the easy, breezy gospel of success and  happily-ever-after with truth is what shines through in Everything. If you are ready to stop accepting the superficial Christian life and want to feel affirmed in God’s will for you as a real life believer, right now, then read on and be sharpened , friends. 
Practical and challenging.
If you are ready for Jesus to be your Everything, you are ready to read this book!
I received this book from Booksneeze for the purpose of review.
All opinions expressed are completely my own!

I review for BookSneeze® 

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Book Review: Heaven In Her Arms by Catherine Hickem

“God’s personal selection of Mary to be the mother of His Son is worthy of our faithful attention.”
~Catherine Hickem
I have to admit when I first saw the title of Catherine Hickem’s book, Heaven in Her Arms- Why God Chose Mary to Raise His Son and What It Means For You, my interest was peaked. I have always been drawn to the faith of this unassuming, young woman of the Bible who has through various denominations been deified, defended, glorified, minimized, scrutinized and idolized. 
As for me, I knew if there is one lady in scripture who could teach me something, it is Mary.
Mary, the Mother of God.
Mary, the Maidservant of The Lord.
Mary, the humble Jewish girl.
Mary, the wife of Joseph.
Mary the Virgin Mother.
Mary, the tender, submissive, faithful mother to Jesus.
Mary, a woman who both inspires, intimidates and baffles.
Mary, an Icon.
Indeed, I had no problem being drawn to this book, like a moth to flame.
But here is the clincher. 
I did not anticipate that this would be the most encouraging book
 I have ever read on motherhood.
Catherine’s years of experience as a licensed psychotherapist, 
background in social work balanced with solid doctrine and faith mingle 
together to birth wisdom, truth and inspiration for Moms.
She peels back the skin and helps us connect to the real life lessons and invaluable truths that unfold in scripture in the life of our heroine. She empowers us in our calling and equips us with wisdom that is translatable to our unique circumstances. 
Catherine’s book is full of quotable quotes and I found myself  carried along into the life of Mary, in the stable, in the synagogue, at the Wedding of Cana and at the side of Jesus throughout His life and ministry. 
So often we look at the life of the disciples. The twelve.
Yet there is much to learn from this young girl, chosen by God.
So often she is either made holier than intended or dismissed due to a variety of misunderstandings and misguided perceptions.
Mary is no more than the Mother of God, but she is also no less.
As Catherine states in the Prologue-she is worthy of our attention.
I believe you will gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of Mary through this well written book.
I especially want to invite moms to check this fine book out.
Catherine excels at speaking to the hearts of moms who have children who have unique challenges as well as those who want a closer connection to God with regard to their role as a mother.
“God is always looking for a woman who will let Him come in and redeem her past mistakes, heal her heart, and make a new future for her family”
~Catherine Hickem
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
I review for BookSneeze®

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