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review 2020-02-27 05:00
“When we search for manna in our life, we can see God’s hand, whether we are in want or plenty.”
In Want + Plenty: Waking Up to God's Provision in a Land of Longing - McDaniel, Meredith

Whether you are currently walking through the desert place or not, Meredith McDaniel’s “In Want + Plenty” will speak to your heart. Subtitled “Waking Up to God’s Provision in a Land of Longing”, it gets to the heart of the matter, because we are all longing for something, and the only One who can satisfy us is God Himself in the person of Jesus. This book is unique and interactive, taking readers through the book of Exodus on a journey to recognizing and drawing sustenance from God’s provision. The author’s compassionate heart and counseling background shine through and coalesce as she guides readers through the Israelites’ journey, which our own lives mirror in so many ways. This connection focuses on manna: that which God provided for the Israelites in the wilderness and that which we receive today. McDaniel explains that “God’s willingness to enter in and hear the hearts of his people is a form of manna. He is God and he does not owe us that gift of his presence, yet he offers it constantly.” Indeed, this is our blessed assurance, that “when we surrender to trusting Jesus and enter a relationship with him, recognizing him as the ultimate Manna in our life, we do find peace.” Regardless of our circumstances, God is always there, “making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19).

“In Want + Plenty” has an integrative format perfect for either group or individual study. Its arrangement reminded me of a devotional. There are nine sections interspersed with questions for personal reflection, as well as re:story questions for journaling at the end of each section and a re:sound, a song meant to heal. Highlighted phrases throughout the text and quotations pulled from the text and placed in the margins appear in green and draw the reader’s attention to them while summarizing the valuable skills. Each section begins with an exploration of the Exodus journey, followed by personal stories from the author that are germane to the Biblical story and to the focus of that section. This is a great arrangement because it teaches how the Old Testament is still vitally important to our faith. Furthermore, “In Want + Plenty” demonstrates that our own journey through the desert will lead us, also, to a land of milk and honey if we accept the Manna that God sent for us in the person of Jesus.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.

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review 2020-02-26 08:43
An Introduction to Anxiety Disorders
Managing Worry and Anxiety: Practical Tools to Help You Deal with Life's Challenges - Holthaus, Jean

Ubiquitous in our twenty-first century society, worry and anxiety are a plague driven by busyness, the struggle to succeed, and an increasingly secularized culture. In a scholarly yet highly readable book, Jean Holthaus uses a combination of medical science, psychology, and Christian theology to give readers insight into what causes anxiety, how to identify different types of anxiety, and how to seek help. Whereas most self-help books promote a certain protocol or fad diet routine, Holthaus takes a multilayered approach. She not only allows for but also discusses how mental illness affects the body and mind. I appreciate that she discusses prescription medication without discounting natural remedies, as different people respond to some treatments better than others.

Graphics and charts enliven “Managing Worry and Anxiety” and make the text easier to comprehend. Even the scientific phrases and data are able to be understood by the average adult.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.

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review 2020-02-26 01:24
Onward and Upward!
Saints: Becoming More Than "Christians" - Bevere, Addison

I'll be honest, when I first saw the cover of "Saints", I made the assumption that it would be a compendium of revered figures in Church history. Then I saw the subtitle, "Becoming More Than 'Christians'", and decided to investigate further. I was sufficiently intrigued to request it for review, and I am glad that I did! Rather than a tedious monologue, I discovered an engaging and stimulating call to return to our first love, Jesus. 

With "Saints", Addison Bevere sets forth a timely exegesis of what that term actually means within the Bible's context and how we can and should strive to apply it to our lives so that it becomes ingrained into our identity. As Bevere explains, saints are those who have faith in Christ and are in a continually-deepening relationship with God through Him; "a saint is someone who brings a future reality into the present." As a language buff, I appreciate how he expounds upon the semantics of the Bible's use of the term "saints" over "Christians." Furthermore, I find his open acknowledgement and explanation of seemingly contradictory facts or statements in certain Bible passages, such as those relating to fearing the Lord and also not being afraid, wise; as such, I would recommend this book to nonbelievers, especially those with an agnostic bent. 

Bevere is in tune with today's society and its Gospel needs, accurately pinpointing some of the most prominent areas of spiritual dearth and pointing readers toward the source of abundance: Jesus. He makes it clear that while nothing can separate us from God's love (Romans 8:38-39), we can separate ourselves from God's grace because “Pride is the grace blocker.” I love how he progresses from the Old Testament to the New Testament because so many focus only on Jesus in the New Testament. "Saints" is truly where the rubber meets the road of our faith journey, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to take their faith in Christ to the next level. Onward and upward! 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.

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review 2020-02-25 04:15
Riveting Christian Suspense!
Collision of Lies - Threadgill, Tom

And the award for best thriller so far this year goes to “Collision of Lies” by Tom Threadgill! I’ve recently read a few great suspense novels, but this one went above and beyond. It’s always a delight to find a new Christian suspense author because the secular market for this genre is so full of profanity and lewdness. Another perk for me was that there was not a romantic side plot. I prefer to focus on the suspense and not be distracted by romantic affairs. Like the train wreck that forms part of the plot, I could not look away once I started turning the pages.

Threadgill builds the plot carefully, piece by piece, rather than revealing it all at once, and this approach draws the reader inexorably into the burning mystery. Three years ago, a school bus full of children died in a devastating accident. Or was it? And is there a chance that one of the children, Benjamin Reyes, could inexplicably still be alive? San Antonio police detective Amara Alvarez finds herself unintentionally drawn into investigating this closed case, with coincidence upon coincidence adding up to a shocking conclusion. Each step had me questioning how I would react or what I would do, and I felt empathetic toward Amara and the Reyes family, a sure sign of adept writing. Likewise, the camaraderie between the police officers warmed my heart; especially in times such as these, it is so refreshing to see those in blue working together in a coed environment and building one another up while doing their level best to serve the community.

Gaining insight into the inner workings of law enforcement, trying to puzzle together the truth of the 3-year-old collision and how it relates to current happenings, and even being entertained by Almara’s pet iguana all make “Collision of Lies” a must-read for suspense aficionados as well as for anyone who enjoys an intriguing, clean story that will have readers questioning everything.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.

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review 2020-02-24 06:51
Horse Sense and Contentment
Two Steps Forward - Suzanne Woods Fisher

Able to be read as a standalone, Suzanne Woods Fisher’s “Two Steps Forward” is the third and final book in the Deacon’s Family series. Having read the previous book but not the first one, I was still able to follow along without any trouble. This is one aspect of Fisher’s writing that I appreciate the most, that the characters are fluid throughout the various series, yet the books can be read out of order. Appended to the front of this story is a cast of characters list, which I always find helpful, particularly in novels like this that do have repeating figures.

Horses are among my favorite animals, second only to dogs, and I loved their presence in “Two Steps Forward.” While it isn’t, of course, unusual to feature horses in some capacity in an Amish novel, this is the first book I’ve read that dealt with the Amish running a horse-breeding farm. Sylvie King makes for an interesting heroine, not because she rebels against her community’s rules or values, but for the fact that she has a way with animals. She is a horse whisperer of sorts. Furthermore, she is a single mother and widow who can manage the animals and her little boy with patience and gentleness. She makes an interesting contrast to Jimmy Fisher, who worked on a ranch yet doesn’t have the same instinctual aptitude that she does. Edith, Jimmy’s faultfinding mother, makes life harder for Sylvie as Sylvie works to clean up the outbuildings and property of Rising Star Farm.

Through Sylvie’s story and the related stories of other characters readers will recognize from prior books, Fisher demonstrates the self-sufficiency, determination, grace, and unwavering loyalty of the Amish. Discussion questions at the end of the book take readers deeper and are worthwhile whether reading in a group or individually.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.

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