Moments and Days: A Book Review

As we edge closer to the end of the year and autumn greets us with fading light and cooler days, we may begin to reflect upon the holiday season that is quickly approaching. Particularly, we may look forward to Christmas: perhaps the most well-known Christian holiday. In Moments & Days, author Michelle VanLoon, a Messianic Jew, provides insight and history about the Christian and Jewish holidays that are celebrated by many.

Oftentimes we may know of Jewish or Christian holidays such as Rosh Hashanah, Pentecost, or Lent but may lack a full understanding of how, why, and when those holidays got started. Michelle Van Loon’s Moments & Days is an informative read if you want to learn more about Jewish holidays or perhaps want to learn how you, or your church, can begin a celebration of those holidays.

In Moments & Days, Van Loon says: “I’ve heard dozens of sermons over the years about financial stewardship but precious few about how to steward time. Our sacred calendars provide us an opportunity to consider as individuals and as church communities how we’re living eternity every day” (Van Loon, 185).

Van Loon’s may serve as a reminder to us that we can choose to set aside time to reflect upon and commemorate the goodness of God who came to the world to redeem us so that we might live in eternity, completely free from the shackles of temporal time.

Those looking for new ways to commemorate and mark the acts of God may find by reading Moments & Days that they have fresh ideas on how they may accomplish that.



Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of Moments & Days in exchange for my review.


Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal

Coloring books for adults (and maybe even coloring books generally) seem to be currently popular. Maybe you’ve caught on to the coloring book craze. If so, you may want to get a copy of Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal. The pretty cover of the journal is reflective of what’s inside it. Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring journal includes scripture, illustrations to color, and prayers to read and pray.

Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal is a coloring journal that has pretty illustrations that both adults and teens would enjoy coloring. The prayers in the journal are relatively short and prayers in the book address a variety of topics. As an addition to devotions or Bible study, readers may choose to add a page from the coloring journal to their routine or daily prayer. Although I wouldn’t call the journal a devotional book, it does incorporate Bible verses in its pages, and readers might choose to color a page from the journal as a way to conclude daily time in prayer or devotion.

As the end of the year approaches and people begin considering what to purchase for friends or family for Christmas, they might consider giving Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal to adults or teens as a gift. It’s a nice journal (with a hardback cover) that would make a good Christmas or birthday gift.

*Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal in exchange for my review. 978-1-4964-1579-0



The Promise of Jesse Woods: A Book Review

If you grew up in the country or anywhere in small town America, there’s a good chance that you remember chasing fireflies on summer evenings, wading in creeks or ponds where minnows swim, or riding your bike on quiet country roads. In The Promise of Jesse Woods, Chris Fabry takes readers back to similar times when children roamed rural roads and dropped by the local store in search of treats. Fabry’s book transports readers to rural Dogwood, West Virginia where Matt Plumley, the son of Dogwood’s new preacher, has landed. It is there, in the summer of 1972, that Matt becomes friends with Jesse and Dickie. Those friendships leave Matt changed, and the promise Jesse Woods makes to him helps lead him back to Dogwood years later.

 The Promise of Jesse Woods is a book that shows that it is often the people whom we might ignore or choose not to associate with that need love, kindness, and help the most. It is through those friendships that we can become better, we can be changed. Befriending Jesse Woods who has faced abuse, loss, and poverty, young Matt Plumley forges perhaps one of the most significant friendships of his life, one that brings out the best in him and spurs him on to sacrificial acts of kindness and bravery. If you need to be reminded to love the outcast and poor as Jesus loves them, then The Promise of Jesse Woods is a narrative from which to learn.

Fabry doesn’t shy away from the dark side of what can happen when someone is hurt and abandoned by those who ought to be nearest to them. He points to the reality of the fallen world but also shows the hope that can be found even when our world is broken: We can be loved even when abandoned by those who should show us love.

Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of The Promise of Jesse Woods in exchange for my review.



Saving My Assassin: A Book Review

Virginia Prodan is no wimp. Interrogated, threatened, and nearly killed for her belief in God and the legal assistance she offered to Christians in Communist Romania, Virginia Prodan’s survival is nothing but miraculous. Educated as an attorney, Virginia came to faith in Christ during the Communist oppression under President Ceausescu’s rule in Romania. In her book Saving My Assassin, Virgian recounts her story and her experience practicing law as an attorney in Romania.

Virginia’s Saving My Assassin is a testament to God’s power to protect and provide even in challenging circumstances. For readers who need a renewed hope in the power of God to provide, Virginia’s book offers an example of God’s unfailing power.

“I had spent my entire life searching for answers–first with my family, then in law school, and now as an attorney–but no matter how hard I tried, the truth seemed to elude me,” Virginia writes in her book (106).

In a Romania church one Sunday morning, Virginia found the truth, and it set her free–changing the course of her life.

“For the first time in my life, everything made sense. I had spent years searching for the truth, but I had been looking in the wrong places . . .” (109). “I suddenly realized that the truth was not something that came from law books, but from God himself: the Creator of the universe–my Creator; the source of all life, peace and happiness,” Virginia says (109).

In a country riddled with Securitate who interrogated and threatened, where Christianity was not welcome, and people disappeared mysteriously, Virginia chose as a Christian attorney to fight for religious freedom and gained international recognition for her efforts and also faced extreme danger. Placed under house arrest, abused, and nearly killed, Virginia never abandoned her faith but chose to be kind to her enemies.

When facing her would-be assassin, Virginia chose to share about Christ rather than spew hatred for the man planning to kill her. And it saved him. It is because Christ and his power to save, we can read Saving My Assassin.


*Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of Saving My Assassin in exchange for my review.


The Colors of Goodbye: A Book Review

Grief is a strange thing. It is unlike and alike for each person who experiences it. It can pull the grief-stricken into despair and darkness that will seemingly never end. September Audrey is keenly aware of grief–having experienced the unexpected death of Katie, her teenage daughter.

The Colors of Goodbye chronicles September Vaudrey’s grief journey following the death of her daughter. Grappling with deep loss and heartache, Vaudrey is authentic in writing about her grief.

“The pit we now feel is bottomless,” Vaudrey says of her family’s emotions as Katie is lies in the hospital. “I cannot begin to comprehend better days ahead without my daughter. But I have always found God to be faithful. And I know what it takes to climb out of pits, no matter the depth” (77).

September recounts the better times and the low times as she and her family traverse what is life after the death of a daughter and sister, climbing “out of pits” (77).

“To my surprise, I realized that as my capacity to face pain had increased, my capacity for joy had grown deeper, too,” September says.

Vaudrey takes readers along on the journey of coming to terms with the death of Katie, and she allows readers to journey with her as she goes to the prepare her daughter’s body for a viewing, sits by her daughter in the hospital, and visits her daughter’s crash site.

Though experiencing deep grief and irreparable loss, September Vaudrey’s story shows that while we cannot change the past and bring back those we have lost, we can move forward into the future where new joy awaits–for those who are grieving, that is great comfort.

“Through the unfailing partnership of my pain and God’s goodness, we had settled things, He and I,” Vaudrey writes (268). “Slowly over the past 1,095 days, surrender had been sidling up alongside me, unobserved. My grieving was far from over–it’s a lifelong journey, I believe–but I had come to accept the beautiful-tragic life that is mine” (269).

Those who have grieved deeply and loss what cannot be replaced will find The Colors of Goodbye to be a balm to their soul and a story with which their own journey is likely to resonate.

*Tyn978-1-4964-0817-4.jpgdale House Publishers provided me with a copy of  The Colors of Goodbye in exchange for my review.

The Most Excellent Way to Lead

Chances are that you’ve never spent hours dreaming about how you want to be the person at the bottom of the totem pole, continually be guided and supervised by someone in leadership. If I had to guess, I would say the opposite is true–you dream about the day when you will be a leader and be able to determine how your team, your job, or career is guided. But becoming a great leader doesn’t just happen. It takes skill, dedication, and vision. In The Most Excellent Way to Lead, mega-church pastor Perry Noble makes the case that leadership should be founded upon love (in the manner of 1 Corinthians 13).

“I guarantee that the principles from 1 Corinthians 13 will help you become a better leader,” Noble claims (6). “…If we practice leadership by love, we will become leaders other people actually want to follow” (6).

Using 1 Corinthians 13 as a foundation, Noble deals with how leaders can respond in a 1 Corinthians manner, whether that be in a mode such as love’s patience, humility, or endurance.

Anecdotes from Noble’s own experience as a minister are sprinkled throughout the book and illustrate that even church leaders can struggle to be good leaders sometimes–illustrating the need for leaders to continually grow and develop as leaders. While Noble is a church leader, leaders outside of ministerial roles can still learn from the mistakes Noble has made and can use the book as way to open their eyes to areas of weakness in their leadership.

Chapters in The Most Excellent Way to Lead conclude with
questions that leaders can ask themselves and their staff in order to find insight into leadership or team-related issues that may encourage leadership or team growth.

If you’re looking for a book that deals with leadership from a leader’s perspective, then The Most Excellent Way to Lead might be the read for which you’re searching. 978-1-4964-0263-9

*Tyndale House Publisher provided me with a complimentary copy of The Most Excellent Way to Lead in exchange for my review.

Lead Me Home: A Book Review

Transporting readers to rural Indiana, Amy K. Sorrells introduces readers to Reverend James Horton, his daughter Shelby, and Noble Burden–along with a host of other characters who in Lead Me Home, live in fictional Sycamore, Indiana. Sorrells’ Lead Me Home illustrates what happens when grief and failure stare into the face of a Christian and taunts the Christian with lies.

For Reverend James Horton, the impending loss of his church and his wayward daughter are enough to leave him feeling hopeless and lost. Shelby, the reverend’s wayward daughter, Noble Burden, a young dairy farmer whose life is filled with responsibility and a dream deferred, are in need of restoration, hope, and a renewed faith in God. Sorrell takes her readers along as James, Shelby, and Noble find restoration and new dreams in ways they did not see coming.

An easy read and one that readers who lament the loss of rural small towns and small churches will likely appreciate, Lead Me Home deals with a variety of topics including the demise of small churches, the rise of megachurches, suicide, and grief. While readers will perhaps find these themes to resonate with their own views or life experiences, Sorrells’ book spreads itself thin by not fully developing all of its plot lines or stories of restoration as comprehensively as it could. Even though the main characters find their way home in the end, readers may find themselves wondering how the characters’ faith developed and was restored enough to lead them there in time for the book’s ending.

Readers looking for a book that deals with loss, struggle, and grief and points people experiencing those emotions back to faith will find that Lead Me Home offers them a read tailored for what they are looking for.

*Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of Lead Me Home in exchange for my review. 978-1-4964-0955-3

Having a Martha Home the Mary Way: A Book Review

Sometimes finding the motivation to clean can be a challenge, and that’s something Sarah Mae addresses in her book Having a Martha Home the Mary Way. Using the biblical story of Mary and Martha as an example, Sarah Mae shapes her book to help readers be both active in cleaning and ordering their homes as Martha would while still stewarding spiritual order and growth in the manner of Mary.

By using anecdotes from her own life, Sarah Mae is likely to resonate with readers who have ever felt overwhelmed by cleaning and haven’t known where to begin. Sarah Mae’s book offers a daily housecleaning challenge and offers readers some tips on how they can streamline household chores. Readers who are looking for ways to organize their living spaces will appreciate that Sarah Mae offers helpful ways for them to order their spaces.

While household chores are a focus of Having a Martha Home the Mary Way, the author doesn’t neglect the importance of spiritual tending and offers at the end of chapters Bible passages for readers to explore and respond to. Readers looking for a way to balance the spiritual nurturing of their soul with the need to have an orderly home will find Sarah Mae’s book balanced and helpful.

*Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.


I Can: A Book Review

From the whimsical artwork to the simple but truth-filled sentences, I Can by Kathryn O’Brien is a beautiful book illustrating to young children the truths of Philippians 4:13. I Can takes an approach to Philippians 4:13 that illustrates the full scope of the passage’s meaning, showing that with God, all things are truly possibly.

Using illustrations that young children can understand, O’Brien unpacks the truths of the passage and shows that God is a God who not only helps us do things through him but also loves us at the same time he is helping us. I Can points to deeper truths about God that both children and adults can appreciate.

“I can do everything through Christ, who gives…Gives grace. Gives gifts. Gives second chances. Gives life,” O’Brien’s book says (24-25).

I Can also shows young children that they have value in the eyes of God.

“There’s only one of me. No one else is like me. Unique. Special. Wonderfully made. Me. Even before I was born, He knew me,” O’Brien’s book states (29).

For the parents or caregivers of young children, I Can offers the opportunity for some quiet time reading aloud to children and teaching them truths of God’s Word. Children are also sure to be captivated by the book’s colorful illustrations.


*Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of I Can in exchange for my review.

Backwards Beauty: A book review

Shop at the mall, browse the internet, or stand in line at the grocery store checkout and you’re likely to see society’s concept of beauty on display. In the midst of our bombardment with what society pegs as beautiful or fashionable, it can be easy to lose sight of what it means to be truly beautiful and valuable. Perhaps no one feels the pull to be beautiful more than middle school and teenage girls. In her book Backwards Beauty, author Jessie Minassian addresses the topic of what it means to be beautiful, offering young women insight into what it means to be beautiful and loved by God.

Backwards Beauty: How to Feel Ugly in 10 Simple Steps discusses everything from beauty, to weight, to makeup. Minassian’s target audience is likely to be primarily tween and teen young women who might struggle with body image issues or feel as if they are not good enough or beautiful enough by the world’s standard. Pointing to the Bible to combat these types of assumptions, Miniassian offers tips for young women on how they can focus on cultivating true beauty that begins within.

Chapters in Backwards Beauty end with reflection questions for readers to consider and journal about, giving reader’s an opportunity to evaluate ways that they may be viewing themselves too harshly instead of seeing themselves as God sees them–beautiful.

Overall, Backwards Beauty is a worthwhile read for young women who struggle to see themselves as beautiful or who have trouble seeing themselves through God’s eyes.

*Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of Backwards Beauty in exchange for my review