Always We Begin Again by: Leeana Tankersley

alwayswebeginagain

When choosing a book, I often lean towards selecting a book that will encourage me and help me to grow spiritually. I also am drawn to devotionals. “Always We Begin Again” meets all three of those requirements! I had never read a book by this author, so I was excited to dig in.

The book is split into 100 daily readings. I read the book in a few days, so it can be a quick read, but I would recommend reading it over 100 days. This makes it easier to digest and reflect on what you are reading. Each day’s reading was about two pages, and ended with a reflection question or two. The main message of the book is that no matter what happens, each day is a new opportunity to begin again.

I found many nuggets of truth within the pages of this book, but a few of my favorite quotes were:

“God is beside, before, and beneath us. We sink back into God’s great love and provision and we choose rest instead of relentless trying.”

“When it comes to transformation, God’s wrath is not the fuel. God’s love is the fuel. God is not a divine bully. He is a nurturing, protective mother and father. God so loved the world that he sent us a way out of our own closed hoops of striving and trying. He sent us a new way: his grace. All of it, all of it, was motivated by love.”

“Your circumstances do not define you. God does. So no matter how messy the Messy Middle is that you’re in right now, I believe there is a part of you that is deeper and more essential than anything you are going through. Your issues are not your identity.”

“Stress, chaos, urgency, and panic don’t have to control our lives. We actually have a say. We can allow ourselves the dignity of responding to our circumstances, even changing our circumstances, instead of just resigning to them.”

“We come to the door with our maladies and brokenness only to be received with revolutionary love. We come to the door with our jumbled-up fear and worry and our ferocious intensity, and we are met with grace. We come to the door, and we realize Chris was there knocking, all along.”

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a daily devotional to start or end their day, and for anyone who needs a little encouragement. I received a copy of this book from the Revell Bloggers Program, in return for an honest review.

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Standing Together by: Carlos and Rosemarie Evans

standing together

Life can change in an instant. That is exactly what happened to Carlos Evans when he lost his legs and his left hand when he stepped on an explosive device while serving in Afghanistan. At home, his wife, Rosemarie, and two young daughters anxiously awaited his return, only to get news that no family ever wants to hear.

Standing Together is a story of perseverance, courage, and faith in God. It tells the story of how Carlos rebuilt his life in the midst of suffering and challenges far beyond what the average person experiences in a lifetime. It is also a love story between Carlos and Rosemarie, and how they both rose above these issues to not only survive, but thrive and help others in the process. Be prepared to be both encouraged and convicted when reading this book!

I received a copy of this book through the Read with Audra blogging program. All opinions are my own.

Carlos video

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Hindsight: Seeing Clearly Through the Veil of Deception by: Rhonda Madge

Hindsight

Warning: Do not read this book if you do not have several hours to devote to reading, because if you are anything like me, you will not be able to put it down!

As you can tell by my warning, I read this book in one day! Hindsight is the powerful story of Rhonda Madge’s life, and how the events in her life shaped her into the strong Christian woman that she is today. Death, fear, murder, divorces, miscarriages, building a family, adoption…this book has it all. While all of these elements made the story interesting, my favorite part of the book was seeing how God pursued Rhonda, even when she ran from Him. Her story is one that will be an encouragement for many, and I would love to read more books by this author in the future.

I received a copy of this book as a member of the launch team. All opinions are my own.

Confident Moms, Confident Daughters by: Maria Furlough

confident moms

Do you struggle with confidence? Check.

Do you have a daughter? Check.

Do you want to help your daughter live free from insecurity and love how she looks? Double check!

I always enjoy reading books that will help me to be the best mom that I can be, and this book definitely qualifies. Maria Furlough talks about how we need to learn to love ourselves and be confident, in order to instill those qualities in our daughters. She also discusses how we can talk to our daughters, and open the lines of communication between us, instead of just answering their concerns with a platitude about how beautiful she is to us. “When they (our daughters) are gawking and crying and feeling down because their physical beauty doesn’t match up, telling them ‘you are just as beautiful blah blah blah’ or ‘you are the prettiest girl to mommy and daddy blah blah’ or ‘honey, being beautiful on the inside is what counts blah’ are just hollow words if we don’t have anything to back them up. Or (even worse) we don’t really believe what we are saying. Or (way worse) we don’t believe them about ourselves first.”

Each chapter in this book contained an interview with someone who has advice and knowledge that pertains to the topic of that particular chapter, a Confident Mom Challenge, discussion questions, and a heartfelt prayer. I appreciated Maria’s Biblical and honest approach to this difficult topic. She was honest about her own struggles, and included meaningful personal stories to reiterate the concepts that she was teaching. One example that stuck out to me was how she talked about insecurity as a heavy burden, that is slowly weighing on our daughters too, one brick at a time. But, Jesus is our hope, and we have the responsibility to share this hope with our daughters. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

I recommend this book to anyone who has a daughter and has ever had issues with self-confidence (haven’t we all?). After all, our daughters “might not say it, but they are watching us. They are watching how we act, speak, love, argue, forgive, or resent. They are taking in all we do like a sponge. They might not even realize they are doing it, but it gets tucked away in their memory and will surface, for good or bad, when they are wives and moms.”

I enjoyed receiving an advance copy of this book for being a part of the launch team. All opinions are my own.

Lily and mama

Romans: Good News that Changes Everything by: Melissa Spoelstra

romans book cover

“Everything may seem like it’s going wrong in our world, but we have the Good News that lasts forever.”

If you are looking for a in-depth Bible study that gets you to dig into your Bible daily, Romans: Good News that Changes Everything by: Melissa Spoelstra is a book that you will want to pre-order! The book releases on August 6th. I have enjoyed having the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this study.

Romans is a 6 week study, that is split into 5 lessons per week. Each lesson tackles a small chunk of Romans, and there is a memory verse for each week as well, that is practiced daily at the end of each lesson. The 5 weekly lessons also end with a prayer, and each has a “big idea”. I really appreciated having the big idea to help me bring together every that I had learned while reading that day.

I love that Melissa didn’t shy away from explaining difficult concepts such as justification, sanctification, and glorification. I also enjoyed how each daily lesson focused on a few verses from Romans at a time, so I studied the whole book from start to finish, but did not feel overwhelmed. I understand Romans so much better now, and that helps me to further understand the Gospel and the rest of the New Testament. I read and study my Bible daily, and it can be tricky to find a study that I both enjoy and really challenges me, and this study fulfilled both needs for me. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to increase their understanding of the book of Romans, and what Jesus sacrifice on the cross means for us as believers!

romans image

Breathe Again by: Niki Hardy

breathe again

The world we live in can be a scary place filled with daily challenges that test our faith. In Niki Hardy’s case, cancer was her number one challenge. She lost her mother and sister, before finding out that she was cancer’s next victim. However, despite her pain and fear, Niki decided to fight back and enjoy her life to the fullest. She discovered that “life doesn’t have to be pain-free to be full.”

When Niki was faced with rectal cancer, and all of the discomfort and unknowns that it brought into her life, she chose to be brave and to trust God. “Choosing brave is not the same as fearless”, but instead it means to not let your fear stop you and hold you back. Once she made the choice to be brave, she made the important decision to trust God saying, “I didn’t choose to have cancer, and I bet you didn’t choose the junk you’re battling right now. But friend, we can choose to hold on. We may feel powerless, but we’re not. This choice to trust God is still firmly ours. Once we choose to trust God more than we trust the lies, pain, and ourselves, we see he is unshakeable.”

Niki also found that it was important to find a community of individuals to surround her and love her through her struggles. She realized the importance of reaching out to others, even if it was with a simple card or a hug. “When we turn our heart towards another and away from self-protection, small acts of kindness have the power to lighten their load and brighten our darkness without great cost to ourselves.” Niki chose to find things in her life to be grateful for, even when her daily life was difficult.

Each chapter contained personal stories about the author or others that she knew, along with advice and encouragement. At the end of each chapter were personal reflection questions, and a prayer. There was also a Thriver Manifesto, and another line was added at the end of every chapter.

I would recommend this book to anyone that is going through a significant challenge in their life. Whether our struggle is cancer, another health issue, trouble at work, or whatever the world may throw our way, we have a choice. Do we give in to despair, or do we fight to breathe again, and be grateful for the good in our lives?

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, through Net Galley. All opinions are my own.

breathing

 

How Happiness Happens (First 5 Chapter Preview) by: Max Lucado

how happiness happens

Would you say that you are a happy person? What makes you happy? According to Max Lucado in his latest book, How Happiness Happens, “only one- third of Americans surveyed said they were happy. In the nine- year history of the Harris Poll Survey of American Happiness, the highest index was 35 percent. This means a cloud of perpetual grayness overshadows two out of three people.” In America, the land of opportunity, there are so many who are unhappy. Why is that, and how can we make happiness happen?

Max Lucado explains that we are all seeking happiness, but many are seeking it the wrong way. People often look to things such as material possessions or affirmation on social media to make them feel happy and worthy. Instead, we should be looking at how we could bless others. “The words of Jesus are spot- on: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ (Acts 22:35). Because when you do, it has a boomerang effect. Happiness happens when we give it away.” I will be honest. I’m just as selfish as the next person. I try to make myself happy with retail therapy sometimes, look for those likes on social media, and see how many views I have on this blog. But that temporary high does not bring true happiness, while blessing a neighbor changes my life and theirs.

Another recommendation that Lucado gives to make happiness happen is to¬† “give the gift that God loves to give: the gift of encouragement”. Send a card, send an e-mail, greet someone with a smile and words of kindness, and really listen to others. It’s so easy to do, but not often our first step when trying to seek happiness.

How Happiness Happens is a guide book encouraging one to seek God and bless others in order to truly find happiness. I would recommend this book to anyone, and I am excited for the book to release in September!

I received a preview of this book (the first five chapters) from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Reaching for the sun