Posted in book reviews

When Jesus Answers by Loren Loving

This may be one of the most personally rewarding books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reviewing!

When Jesus Answers by Loren LovingWhen Jesus Answers: Returning to the Healing Mercies of God's Presence by Loren Loving
Published by Boyle & Dalton on January 19, 2018
ISBN: 1633371913
Genres: Christian Non-fiction
Pages: 256
Source: the author
Goodreads
four-half-stars

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Synopsis

God’s voice is the essential secret to healing and happiness. It is the answer to our every dilemma and despair.

When Jesus Answers will open your heart to hear God speak His words of truth and love so that you can truly live the life you were created to live—within the intimate embrace of His presence. With an engaging collection of personal testimony, Biblical scripture, allegory and powerful songs of hope, Loren Loving clears the path back to our faithful, and most gracious Heavenly Father.

We all need the great news of a Messiah who heals our brokenness and frees us from our bondage. In Him alone we find healing, transformation, and the refuge of eternal peace and love.

I received this book for free from the author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Buy on AmazonBuy on Book Depository

 

My Thoughts on When Jesus Answers:


The very first story Loren Loving shares in When Jesus Answers had me in tears. My husband and I began reading the book together while we processed the pain of my youngest daughter choosing to move to her dad’s, and the pain of our first foster placement leaving around the same time. Dealing with our own pain and reading Loving’s words was incredibly moving and touched my heart deeply.

By the end of the second chapter, my husband and I were both already recommending When Jesus Answers to almost everyone we talked to. We wanted to share our experience we were having reading and singing our way through the book because it was so encouraging and uplifting for us!

The most unique quality of this book is the way it uses music to connect heart and mind on the healing journey. To be honest, at first, I found it rather odd that as you read through the chapters you come across song suggestions to listen to and sing with. It didn’t take me long though to start looking forward to the next song.

Please know that the journey you are on must include music. You will miss the point, purpose, and effectiveness of this book if you do not also follow its musical path. God said we are to enter into His Presence, fight every battle, and communicate to others with songs about Him.



I only have one real complaint about the book. Most of the songs recommended in the book are supposed to be found on YouTube, where you can pull up the lyrics and sing along.  Unfortunately, there were a couple songs we had a hard time finding and it kinda pulled us out of the headspace we were in while reading.

I would recommend this book for anyone trying to make sense of a painful time in their life, or who might be struggling to see God through all their pain. I’d also recommend it for anyone who’s already made it through to the other side… so I guess I’d really recommend it for anyone!

four-half-stars
Posted in book reviews

Star Bright by Anne Richmond Wakefield

Star Bright by Anne Richmond Wakefieldstar bright by Anne Richmond Wakefield
ISBN: 1732565015
Genres: General (Adult) Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 231
Source: the author
Goodreads
four-half-stars

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Bright runs to stay alive. Her dad left before she was born, her mom died of cancer, and she’s spent years trying to numb her pain. She’s on the road to recovery when she decides to run an ultra-relay race in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It doesn’t hurt that Levi, gorgeous and nineteen, is on her team.

One terrible decision during the race changes everything. Soon, Bright must call upon strength she’s not sure she has and decide she is worth fighting for. To survive the wilds of the Blue Ridge, she’ll have to rely on the one person she's spent her entire life battling: herself.

I received this book for free from the author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Buy on Amazon

My Thoughts on Star Bright:

I LOVED this book!!! But before I go on to talk about why, there are some triggers associated with the content. While I’ll do my best to not touch on them much in this review, Star Bright does contain the following triggers and, therefore, may not be suitable for everyone: cutting, self-harm, attempted suicide, depression, severe trauma.

The Story:

Guys, this story is crazy amazing!!!

Actually, my biggest issue with the entire book is that the synopsis does not do it credit. The pages of Star Bright contain this fierce story about a teen who’s kidnapped during an ultra marathon race. The kidnapping might not be enough to make the story amazing, but add in all the stuff Bright’s been dealing with before the race: the loss of her mother, her inability to connect with her step-father, bullying at school, depression, self-harming, etc. and you’ve got to wonder – is she even prepared to want to escape??

The thriller aspect of the book has so many different levels to it! You’re not just wrapped up in the kidnapping… Because the story flashes back and forth between “before” and “after” you find yourself panicked for Bright in the past both before, during and after the kidnapping! And just when you think she’s safe…

Well, you’re just gonna have to read the book!!!

The Characters

I was immediately connected to Bright. The first chapter is only 3 pages long and by the end of those 3 pages, I knew I was fully into this story with her!

There are some books you just can’t put down because you don’t want to leave the characters alone and Star Bright was one of those for me. I drove my husband crazy for two days because I was literally feeling bad for setting the book down and leaving Bright alone.

Something I didn’t expect, was how I felt about Bright’s captor. When she’s kidnapped, you don’t feel sorry for the person who kidnaps her at first, but after a while I really felt pity for her, even though she was doing some pretty awful things!

So the characters are well-written and relatable!

Final Thoughts

I wish I could say more about Star Bright, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I’m just going to wrap up here by saying PLEASE go read this book and then e-mail me so we can talk about it!

If you’ve already read it, let me know what you thought in the comments below (and then e-mail me so we can talk about it without ruining it for everyone else!).

Thanks for visiting and happy reading! If you’ve got a book suggestion, leave me a link below!

four-half-stars
Posted in book reviews

When God Made You – a review

When God Made You – a reviewWhen God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner, David Catrow
Published by Waterbrook Press on February 28, 2017
ISBN: 1601429185
Pages: 48
Goodreads
Synopsis

YOU, you... God thinks about you.God was thinking of you long before your debut.

From early on, children are looking to discover their place in the world and longing to understand how their personalities, traits, and talents fit in. The assurance that they are deeply loved and a unique creation in our big universe is certain to help them spread their wings and fly.

Through playful, charming rhyme and vivid, fantastical illustrations, When God Made You inspires young readers to learn about their own special gifts and how they fit into God's divine plan as they grow, explore, and begin to create for themselves.

'Cause when God made YOU, somehow God knewThat the world needed someone exactly like you!

Now that my girls are older, I rarely get the opportunity to read children’s books.
Okay, that’s a lie…

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Image found on Flickr, Linda Jordon

On occasion (aka not so occasionally), you can find me sitting in my library/sewing/writing/soon-to-be-bed room reading Dr. Seuss — out loud.  (Not sure what it says about me that there’s a room in my house with an identity crisis) (Also, in case you weren’t aware…  out loud is the ONLY acceptable way to read a Dr. Seuss book!)
Since my girls are now 17 and 12, there aren’t many children’s books that I’m even willing to read, let alone take the time to re-read over and over again.  (Other than Seuss, obviously.)
For a book to achieve such an honor in my currently WAY overloaded schedule, it has got to be phenomenal.  To be honest, I would have told you such a book did not exist.
Turns out, I was wrong (again). Continue reading “When God Made You – a review”

Posted in Uncategorized

When a Runner Can't Run

I’m a runner.  
Or, I was a runner.
Sometimes, I forget I’m not a runner anymore.  And when it hits me that I can no longer call myself a runner, a wave of depression comes over me that has, on occasion, actually knocked me down.  Thankfully, it’s a short lived fit of self-pity (usually) and is often shoved aside quickly by a quick trip up or down some stairs.
The pain in my knee is a pretty good reminder that, once the pain is gone, I will be a runner again.  (Sometimes, it sends me into a downward spiral where I’m convinced I’ll never even be able to walk up and down the stairs again, but that’s not really important right now.)
I had no idea how much I associated being a runner with who I am until I couldn’t run.  There was only one other time in my life that I had such an identity crisis…
During the first date I was on with my husband, he interrupted me to exclaim (with a rather terrified look on his face), “Oh, God!  You’re a Christian!”  He actually backed away from me when he said it, as if I might somehow infect him with my Christian filth.  We had already been surprised by his being 7 years younger than me… and he had already told me that he hated kids.  To which, I responded that I had two. He didn’t so much as flinch.  (Not even when I went out of my way to try to make him. hehehe)  But when something escaped from my lips that made him realize I was a Christian, he looked a little disgusted.
Now, you might think that I would be upset about his reaction…  I wasn’t.
I was more upset that he wasn’t able to tell before our date, before I confirmed his accusation, before whatever the words were that had escaped my lips at that moment, what my beliefs were.
All I could think was, “I’m a Christian.  I’m supposed to be shining Christ’s light in this world.  Every action and reaction I have is supposed to exude love.”  Obviously, if he was that shocked by my being a Christian, then I wasn’t shining a light in the world.  He had seen me many times before our first date.  We had even gone to lunch a couple of times before that night.  If I was bringing light to the dark, it would have been obvious at this point…  but it wasn’t.
And I had to really search myself.  I had to redefine my role in this world.  I questioned whether I really was a Christian.  Did I have any business calling myself that if it was THAT big of a shock for someone to find out?
That’s pretty much how I feel now when I let the words escape my lips…  “I’m a runner.”
Writer’s write.  If I wasn’t writing, I couldn’t call myself a writer.
Runner’s run.  If I haven’t ran in months can I really call myself a runner?
It’s a pretty simple concept.  Let the identity crisis begin…
About a year ago, I fell during a race.  I sprained my shoulder and had a little pain in my knee.  I figured the knee was just scraped and once the scabs went away, it’d be fine.  That wasn’t the case.  The doctor said I’d probably torn my meniscus.  Without an MRI they couldn’t tell for sure.  I needed to have an x-ray, which they said wouldn’t be able to tell them anything really if it was a tear, but the insurance won’t pay for the MRI without an x-ray first.
I’m stubborn.
The knee pain wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t run on it, so I decided not to worry about it.  I iced it after every run and, except for the post-run swelling, it was fine.
In January, my husband and I ran a half-marathon in Arizona for our anniversary.  After the race, a pain in my stomach that I had been experiencing on and off for a few months became nearly unbearable.  It grew worse as the months wore on.  I couldn’t run.  Some days, I could barely walk. The pain eventually led to me having surgery in May.
That race was my last long run.
Once healed from my surgery, I was excited to get back out on the road.  But it wasn’t quite the homecoming I had expected.
Over the months of inactivity, my knee had gotten weaker.  It’s no longer able to absorb the shock of running.  Stairs cause me to grit my teeth.
Yes, I should probably go have the stupid x-ray.
But I’d rather build the strength back up in my knee. I don’t want to end up out for another year because I had to have another surgery (which is what the doc is pretty sure I’ll need).
The problem?
I’m a runner.
I’m a runner who cannot run.
Building myself back up to where I was is going to take time.  And a lot of patience and determination…  and I have to get over the fact that I cannot run.  Before I can run, I’m going to have to walk.
To me, running is fun.  The world just looks and feels different when I’m running.  The time passes almost too quickly.
But walking???  Walking is boring.  Time passes way too slowly.  Everything looks and feels exactly the same as if I was sitting on my front porch.
Basically, the problem is that I cannot get myself motivated to walk.  I’ve tried listening to a book while I walk on the treadmill (I hate treadmills).  I’ve tried listening to music, but it just doesn’t help.
Today, with the help of a new friend, I think I’m finally ready to say “I’m a walker.”
I woke up this morning and had no desire to go for a walk.  I gritted my teeth and grimaced at the crackling and pain as I walked up the stairs.  I was NOT in the mood for a slow, boring, walk up and down the hills I know I need to walk to get my knee stronger.
But I had someone waiting for me.  I couldn’t cancel, I was the one who asked her to go with me.  And so, I went.
And I had a great time!
She didn’t mind that I had to take it easy as we made our way not just up, but down the hills (down is a killer for me right now).  We talked and laughed, and the time just flew by…  I went much farther than what I thought I would be able to!
Without her, I honestly wouldn’t have made it there today.  I wouldn’t feel as accomplished as I do now… I’d be sitting here sulking in the fact that I can’t run, instead of joyously proclaiming that I walked today!
And eventually, I WILL run again!

Posted in So You Don't Know Me

Dear Me, Life sucks and it's gonna get worse. But after that…

Dear Jess,
So you don’t know me (yet), but you will.
First off, before you read this….  SPOILERS!  (One day, you’re gonna find that funny and pity anyone Who doesn’t get it.)
Right now you’re 18, pregnant, and scared out of your mind (and too proud to admit you have no idea what you’re doing and just how scared you are).   Things with the father of the child you’re growing are bad…  and they’re only going to get worse.  For the first time in your life, all you want is your mother (you’re too proud to admit that too).
You’re about to do something that, a week ago, you would have punched anyone who suggested it… you’re going to ask your mother to take you in.  You have it in your head that you’ll move back in and put everything in the past behind you.  You’ll finally bond and she’ll be there to talk you through all the hurt, fears, loss and confusion you have right now.  You’re clinging on to that picture in your head for dear life because you don’t have anything else to cling to…  it’s the only hope you have.
I wish I could tell you that it works out that way, but it doesn’t. Continue reading “Dear Me, Life sucks and it's gonna get worse. But after that…”

Posted in about me, faith, family

How Can I Keep My Sanity and Enjoy My Life? By A Power Outside of My Own.

Warning:  Today’s post is not going to be funny or upbeat.  I’m about to be serious (for once).

Mauerbauertraurigkeit – n. the inexplicable urge to push people away, even close friends who you really like.
I saw this word on my Twitter feed today.
My husband and I were sitting at the table this morning talking about this problem I have.  He went downstairs, I checked Twitter, and there it was.
I had no idea that this word existed…. But I should have. (I also wasn’t sure it was a real word when I read it, so I looked it up here.)
When I was in the 8th grade, a close friend died.  Almost every year thereafter, until I was in my late 20’s, I lost another friend.  At one point, I attended a funeral every month for 5 months… none of which were for anyone over the age of 24. Continue reading “How Can I Keep My Sanity and Enjoy My Life? By A Power Outside of My Own.”