Five Minutes With Jesus

Walsh, Sheila. Gragg, Sheri. Five Minutes With Jesus: A Fresh Infusion Of Joy. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 2016.

fiveminuteswithjesus

SUMMARY:
Filled with hard “stuff” in life, many people don’t feel the joy that is so longed for these days. Financial woes, broken relationships, difficult illnesses and shattered dreams all surmount to rob away the joy that is yearned for. With a focus on finding and experiencing joy in everyday lives, authors Sheila Walsh and Sheri Gragg combine Bible verses and daily blessings to find a bit of happiness, no matter the circumstances. Set up in literally five minute sections, a personal connection, a brief Bible correlation and five Bible verses make up each daily devotional dose.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Uplifting, encouraging and warming yet doable in busy lives, Five Minutes With Jesus is a wonderful reminder to spend a few minutes with Jesus while remembering to breath and enjoy blessings. Packaged in a smaller book with bit-size devotional sections, each seems to correlate well with the stories and scriptures found within. Just enough to get the day going while putting a smile on your face, a skip in your step and a hug in your heart, this book leaves no excuse not to spend five minutes with Jesus. Go ahead…encounter joy!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Five Minutes With Jesus from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Priceless

Smallbone, Joel and Luke. With Hue, Nancy. Priceless: She’s Worth Fighting For- Based on the major motion picture. Franklin, TN: Worthy Publishing. 2016.

priceless

SUMMARY:
James Stevens is spiraling downward quickly after a personal loss in his life and other major setbacks. With a young daughter dependent on him, he realizes he must make ends meet yet becomes involved in situations that may have huge consequences for himself, as well as for others. Clinging to faith and discovering his strength, James finds his choices affect something deep within him…his heart…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Loving the music of for KING & COUNTRY, specifically the title song, Priceless, I was interested in the novel and major motion picture of the same title by the authors, Joel and Luke Smallbone. Having an inkling of what the story may be about since hearing a blurp on the Christian radio station, K-Love, I had no idea the deep involvement of the storyline. Evoking strong emotions, opening eyes wide, and being drawn into the story, though not an easy read, it is definitely a well written novel. Listening to one of my favorite songs just took on an even deeper meaning. (Caution- perhaps more appropriate for mature audiences due to content.)

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Priceless from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Words To Live By

Gilden, Linda J. Parker, Darlene V. Words to Live By: One Word A Week- 52 Ordinary Words That Lead To An Extraordinary Life. Franklin, TN: Worthy Publishing. 2016.

wordstoliveby

SUMMARY:
Words are powerful. Whether used to inspire, encourage and uplift or to hurt, degrade and humiliate, words can change lives. Suggesting ordinary words can have huge impacts on people, authors Darlene Parker and Linda Gilden share 52 everyday words which may lead to positive results if used to strengthen, embolden and hearten. Words such as honor, clean, barter, worship, rejoice, listen and accept are broken into sections containing 5 devotions each. With related scriptures, personal stories, and creative actions, there are enough ordinary words for a year but possible positive effects for years to come.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
While many choose a word to live by for a year, Words To Live By- One Word A Week takes that challenge a bit further. Set up in devotion form, the reader is inspired and then encouraged to share the word with others through words, thoughts and deeds. Easy to use, full of inspiration, and packaged with a beautiful cover, this devotional would be perfect for a ministry, Bible study, sermon series or personal use. Words definitely have the power to change lives depending on how they are used.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Words To Live By from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Girl Defined

Clark, Kristen. Baird, Bethany. Girl Defined: God’s Radical Design for Beauty, Femininity, and Identity. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 2016.

*girldefined

SUMMARY:
Girl Defined is about redefining womanhood according to God’s creation, not the world’s concept. Based on Biblical truths concerning the woman gender, authors Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird remind women of the importance of their roles according to God’s unique plan. Through personal stories, Biblical references, study guides and reminder points, several important and encouraging messages are shared, myths are debunked and standards are set straight. As the founders of GirlDefined Ministries, these sisters turned authors tout the significance of being women created in God’s image…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
It is about time!  This book should be shared with women of all ages, beginning with the High School age yet the messages could be shared even younger. Not so much a cheerleading book but a more gentle encouragement for women to appreciate, accept and guard their gender while following God, I especially liked the reminder verses found in the margins. “Be the woman who inspires change in others through your obedience to God.” Looking to God for clarification on gender rather than the world for gender expectations can be powerful in the success, health and happiness of women. As speakers, bloggers, mentors and authors, these sisters are right on target. Perfect for a Women’s Ministry, Bible Study, High School Youth Group or perhaps even a sermon topic, Girl Defined is long overdue!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Girl Defined from Baker Books for my honest review*

Hunting Hope

Maples, Nika. Hunting Hope: Dig Through the Darkness to Find the Light. Franklin, TN: Worthy Publishing. 2016.

huntinghope

SUMMARY:
Having been through tough times herself, speaker, educator and author Nike Maples shares the importance of hope in her own life while paralleling it to the Bible. Comparing the rough seasons of life to the cold, dreary, lifeless season of winter, she reminds us even then we are not alone and that our God truly cares and accompanies us during those times. Illustrating the many hope hunters in the Bible- Paul, Moses, Joseph- personal stories, encouragement and hope are given throughout.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
So relate-able, so well-written and so personally encouraging, Hunting Hope inspires, reminds, strengthens and embraces while waiting for the sun to appear again. Using those dark times as a means to draw us closer to Him, believing and growing stronger in faith help remind us God is always in control (as hard as that can be to understand at times). Read in snippets or straight through, it is easy to follow and become immersed in, especially given her humor at points (like trying to find a rhyme for her name). Perfect as a Bible study, sermon series or a gift for someone in the midst of a winter season, this book will remain on my own bookshelf to be reread during my own chilly frosts.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Hunting Hope from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Made With Love

Goyer, Tricia. Gore, Sherry. Made With Love: The Pinecraft Pie Shop. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2015.

SUMMARY:
madewithloveWanting nothing more than to own her own pie shop, Lovina Miller enjoys Pinecraft, Florida, where her family now resides. Positive she will never marry but instead be a young entrepreneur, Lovina’s mother has other plans for Lovina and her sisters. When Noah Yoder arrives in town to work as a carpenter, he hopes to help Lovina make her dream come true; however, there are several obstacles in the way, including his past. Full of delicious recipes, Amish Proverbs, faith, grace and forgiveness, Made With Love delivers more than fresh-baked pies…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Liking the previous books of both authors, I couldn’t pass up this combined effort. With a sweet yet involved story-line, the characters were deeper than just surface level, including possible everyday situations. Honestly reading the book originally for the recipes, the touching story was an added bonus. Trying some of recipes already (Key Lime Pie and Red-Skin Mashed Potatoes), this book will most likely find a spot on my kitchen shelf. Hopefully, the next books in the Pinecraft Pie Shop series will be written in the same style. Yum!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Made With Love from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

Launch Your Encore

Finzel, Hans. Hicks, Rick. Launch Your Encore: Finding Adventure and Purpose Later In Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 2015.

SUMMARY:
encoreAs Baby Boomers enter retirement more active than previous generations, many must decide what to do with their time. Helping readers discover how to make the next years the best years, Launch Your Encore steps through life after careers, choices which must be made while finding purpose and meaning in life, all coupled with personal stories and examples of people already launched. Everyone eventually grows older and retires but not everyone is ready when the time comes…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Retirement? Though more than a few years away, there is no time like the present to plan and save for it. With lots of time suddenly available, those moments must be filled so life can be enjoyed. Whether that time includes a second career, volunteering, mission work or striving to reach a goal, retirement will be what we make of it. I appreciated the ideas as I consider my own encore (much to my children’s chagrin…hmm…payback? LOL). I think readers will pull different aspects out of this book depending on their place in life. Definitely thought-provoking.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Launch Your Encore from Baker Books for my honest review*

The Legacy

Walsh, Dan & Smalley, Gary. The Legacy: The Restoration Series-Book 4. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
legacyLiving a different life while away at college than his family thought possible, Doug Anderson is falling…falling from faith, family, friends and focus. When an incident causes the two lifestyles to collide, Doug must face his decisions head-on, while determining his future. Though not easy, growing up can be painful and costly yet priceless in the lessons learned…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Reminiscent of the prodigal son theme, The Legacy carries a strong message of reassurance, forgiveness, faithfulness and God’s unending love. Part of The Restoration Series, this concluding novel was equally as thought-provoking as the previous books in the series (The Dance, The Promise, and The Desire). Difficult but necessary life lessons can be learned from The Legacy and the authors did a wonderful job with them. Popular authors full of faith, Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley do not disappoint; I look forward to their next writing venture.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Legacy: The Restoration Series-Book 4 from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

The Uncommon Marriage Adventure

Dungy, Tony and Lauren. With Whitaker, Nathan. The Uncommon Marriage Adventure: A Daily Journey to Draw You Closer to God and Each Other. carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers. 2014.

SUMMARY:
dungyThrough 8 core principles, along with adventures in love, faith and growing closer to God and each other, Tony and Lauren Dungy share personal stories, key Bible verses, and prayers in this inspirational devotional designed to compliment and strengthen an uncommon marriage.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Set up as a daily devotional, the 112 short devotions could be used daily, weekly or with any schedule that works. Trading between core practices (words of wisdom, thoughts, ideas) and the core principles (communication, love, support, team-work), the authors take turns sharing their points of view. I found the style very reader friendly, the Bible verses relevant to marriage, and the stories engaging but my favorite part was the application adventures- putting the principles into practice through different bonding activities/ conversation starters (discussions, spending time with the kids, reading the Bible together). Based on their earlier book, The Uncommon Marriage, this book stands alone fine but could probably be combined to make it an even stronger connection. Great as a Bible Study!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Uncommon Marriage Adventure from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review*

Next

Vanderbloemen, William. Bird, Warren. Next: Pastoral Succession That Works. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing group. 2014.

SUMMARY:
nextEventually every church has to experience change, specifically the changing of the Pastor. William Vanderbloemen and Warren Bird suggest being proactive in the succession rather than reactive. Through conversations, acceptance, reality acknowledgements, and generational difference admissions, Next leads the way to a church being truly prepared for change…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
It is going to happen…there is going to be a pastoral change in every church. Being ready, or at least cooperative, can help and/ or save a church great distress. Next is a very timely book sharing the differences in generations (half-time Pastors, career changes, Baby Boomer retirements), future options, and the necessity of honest and direct conversations. The three sections of the book clearly define important issues from planning, to being the exception and to transitioning. I appreciated the fact that the goal of this publication is to formulate an idea for the church and make sure most everyone is comfortable with the facts, allowing the church to hold its direction and experience a smooth procession. Interesting enough, these concepts could also be applied to life situations as well.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Next from BakerBooks for my honest review*