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.

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*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.

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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.

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*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

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The Lifegiving Home: A book review

Sometimes it can be hard to be hospitable and create a home environment that is nurturing to both individuals inside that family and without. The Lifegiving Home by mother and daughter duo Sally and Sarah Clarkson offers practical tips and tricks for readers who want to know how to foster life, joy, and beauty within the home.

Not only does the Clarksons’ book offer practical solutions relating to how one may foster a Lifegiving home (anecdotes from how the Clarkson family did this and the traditions they created are offered in the book), but the book also points to the importance of the home as a place where God can be honored through the actions and love offered by those within the home. The book is filled with ideas about how families can creat traditions both for their family and with other people.

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The Lifegiving Home is broken into chapters based upon a month of the year and incorporates ideas for festivities within those months as well as traditions the Clarkson Family developed (sources of reference for readers considering how they, too, might structure family festivities or holidays).
While the Clarkson ladies are clearly passionate about nurturing a Lifegiving and soul-feeding home environment, reading their book filled with advice and the many references to their own traditions and lifestyle, can seem overwhelming as not every reader is likely to have the time or capacity to implement all of the ideas or traditions of the authors. However, there are traditions or ideas that every reader can take away from the book and implement regardless of their phase of life.Book cover
*Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Beginnings: A Book Review

As we look forward to the start of the new year and plan ahead for ways we want to change and grow during the next year, the book Beginnings by Steve Wiens is one that offers a biblical perspective on how to create and foster new beginnings in our lives.

In Beginnings, Wiens weaves stories of his own journey to create beginnings in with his advice on how readers can also view theirs lives and carve a fresh start. Using the Creation story as a guide, Wiens leads readers on a journey toward recognizing the seeds for growth within and then acting upon the desire to begin again. Each chapter of the book corresponds to a day of Creation and focuses upon how each day can coincide with a new day in our life.

As a writer, Wiens captures the reader’s attention with he well-written chapters and narratives. Clearly, Wiens appreciates the value of a well-written word as illustrated by the almost poetic rhythm of his book at times. This is one of the book’s strong points.

While I applaud Wien’s effort and his intention with the book, his connection between man creating new beginnings in life and the Creation story can seem something of a stretch or a narrow frame imposed upon the journey of life. However, for many readers this may be a valuable way to look at the journey toward becoming a new creation and growing into something new.

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Beginnings

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

 

 

 

The Gentle Art of Discipling Women: A Review

When I saw that Tyndale was offering for review Dana Yeakley’s book The Gentle Art of Discipling Women, I was immediately interested reading the book. As someone who is interested in discipling other women, the title and focus of the book resonated in me.

For people like me who don’t have experience discipling women, Yeakley’s book provides detailed suggestions about how to begin and structure a discipleship relationship with someone.

In The Gentle Art of Discipling Women, Yeakley shares stories and suggestions from her own experience discipling other women. By sharing her personal stories and struggles as a discipler, Yeakley helps readers gain insight and wisdom into how to approach and frame a beneficial discipleship relationship that will keep both the discipler and the one being discipled focused on the journey toward deeper communion with the Lord.

While Yeakley offers practical insight, thought-provoking questions, and Bible study information in her book, the book at times seems to lack the understanding that not all discipleship relationships will fit narrowly within the boundaries that Yeakley seems to suggest.

Overall, The Gentle Art of Discipling Women is a well thought out book that offers practical advice and encouragement for women who feel the pull to disciple other women for God’s glory.

*Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my review. 978-1-63146-382-2.jpg