Friday, June 10, 2016

Wild and Free~

Wild and Free: A Hope-Filled Anthem for the Woman Who Feels She is Both Too Much and Never Enough

"For the Woman Who Feels She Is Both Too Much and Never Enough." 

I'm willing to guess that readers will pick this book up based on that subtitle alone, because doesn't it just say it all? 

Not Enough. 
Not competent enough, not capable enough, not agreeable enough, not accomplishing enough. 
And also Too Much. 
Too much need, too much want, too many attachments, too much boldness, too much attitude and personality. 

Don't we all feel it?? I do. 

In this book, Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan have teamed up to deliver hard-learned truth to their sisters. 

It's time to live without constantly measuring yourself and then feeling like the total is incorrect or inappropriate. God made us to move through this world with confidence, assured that we are his creations. We are beloved, we must respond to that truth and acknowledging that we are transformed one step at a time. And this isn't meant to be merely pleasant sentiments- these concepts have to undergird our day to day living. 

This is actually the second excellent book on this theme that I've read in the past few months. The first was "Brazen" by Leeana Tankersly. She wrote to call women back to their Created Center- that place in their soul where they know the touch of God. 

Jess and Hayley write to remind you that you live and move and have your being under the eye of your Father. He's the one who declares your value. He's the one who calls you "Mine." He's the one who speaks the last word on your existence, and it is a good word. And once you've heard and believed that word, then you can live wild and free. 

I thank the authors and Zondervan for offering me a review copy, provided through BookLook.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Dropping the Masks that Keep us Apart....

Hidden Agendas: Dropping the Masks that Keep Us Apart

I wanted to read this book as soon as I saw the title: "Hidden Agendas: Dropping the Masks that Keep Us Apart."  It's about time somebody convinced us to shuck off the obsession of maintaining an appearance and polishing an image and get down to the heart of what really matters. 

Steve, writing in his usual style, as if the book is one long conversation punctuated by jokes, is asking us to get real. He thinks we should shock all the "uptight Christians and misinformed pagans" by speaking up about what a mess we are, and then speaking out about how good Jesus is. 

That's the core of this book's message: tell the truth about yourself, and walk into the shadowy corners that you normally avoid. Then tell the greater truth about Jesus, the hard-to-believe-truth that his light has already gotten into all your dark places.  

That's the good news that would set the world free. 

I appreciate this book because each chapter builds the case for dropping the mask and exposing our real identities- we're the makers of mistakes, the bumbling fools, the confused and disturbed. We're also the utterly loved and fully redeemed children of God.

I thank New Growth and Litfuse Publicity for sending me a review copy. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Penelope Wilcock's latest books...

The Breath of Peace (The Hawk and the Dove #7)

"The Breath of Peace" is the seventh book in Pen Wilcock's "Hawk and Dove" series. These beautifully told tales invite us into the world of St. Alcuin's monastery and the various lives of the brothers who serve there. 

This particular episode focuses on William, recently married (!) to Madeleine. This is their story of fumbling along towards fuller understanding and deeper love. As with any marriage they have a common life as a couple and two separate lives as individuals, and the flourishing of the former depends on the health of the latter. 

Over the course of these chapters we see William and Madeleine struggle and hurt, drawing blood when they brush against each other's broken edges. It's painful, as conflict always is. 
And yet.... we also see them seek counsel from wise sources and excavate their own souls, bringing their memories and burdens into the light. 

It's been said that a good story will make you laugh and make you you cry. The stories from St. Alcuin's always do. I think that is because both tears and laughter are responses to life's fragility, and Penelope knows all about that. The ironic and the whimsical, the painful and the redemptive.... it's all mixed up in her tales, just as it is in the world today. 

I always come away from my literary time with the monastic brothers feeling refreshed. Each "visit" imparts a new image of the way God works, and grants me a renewed appreciation for vulnerability and tenderness. 

The Beautiful Thread (The Hawk and the Dove #8)

"The Beautiful Thread" is the eighth book in the series that began with "The Hawk and the Dove." 

If you've been following these adventures, then you've probably been on the edge of your seat waiting for this installment. Our main character is Abbott John, the man with healer's hands. Since the day he was entrusted with the community of St. Alcuin's, he has endeavored to present the heart of Christ in all his teaching and living. 

Now, John is a wee bit overwhelmed. As it often happens, it isn't a crisis that undoes him. It's just the pile of obligations, each one reasonable on its own but added up they make a man a bit unsteady. 

Taken all together, the element of humor is strong in this particular book. You'll be laughing at some of the situations the poor brothers become embroiled in. (Dear Cormac, I can't blame him for the trouble he caused in this case.) 

Don't let the comedy fool you, though. John's story- of wrestling with his own heart, which had seemed so content for so long- has something very true to say to us. What is it that draws us to another person, making us spill our story into their lap and pour our affection onto their head? How is it that the most chaste of encounters can feel so intimate? How do we enjoy the people who are special to us, without transgressing their prior commitments or our own? Can we have passion and restraint in our relationships, without being afraid of either? 

These are some of the questions raised in "The Beautiful Thread." 

I thank Kregel and Lion Hudson Publishing for providing my review copies of these books.