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Seeing Beautiful Again–encouragement

Seeing Beautiful Again

by Lysa TerKeurst

Are you going through a hard time, something that is devastating and you have no control over? Do you wonder if you’ll ever “see beautiful” again? Lysa TerKeurst experienced three of those, two physical and one relational, in a short period of time. She has written several books that describe her journey. In Seeing Beautiful Again, she has drawn from her experiences and writings to compose a devotional book to guide readers through fifty days of their struggle. The goal is to give hope and demonstrate that by clinging to God’s promises, readers can stay the course and trust God.

Seeing Beautiful Again is divided into sections and each section begins with a letter to the reader from author Lysa TerKeurst. Each devotional begins with Scripture and ends with a prayer. In between Lysa shares her thoughts on the topic. These passages sometimes include parts of her personal story and always draw the reader to God’s truth which can be applied to a personal situation.

TerKeurst’s other books like Forgiving What You Can’t Forget examine in depth our response to hurts. This devotional is a daily dose of encouragement to fight the good fight and to remember God’s love and His promises in the middle of the trauma.

I would like to extend my thanks to Edelweiss and to HarperCollins Christian Publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Religion, Christian Life, Women’s Issues

Notes: Devotional

Publication: March 30, 2021—Harper Collins Christian Publishers

Memorable Lines:

Their victory never hinged on their ability or any of their well-thought-out plans. It was solely dependent on their unwavering obedience offered to a loving and mighty God.

My job is to be obedient to God. God’s job is everything else.

Father God, thank You for reminding me I can trust You in the waiting. I know I can entrust every season of my life into Your hands. Thank You for being present in every moment, strengthening me in the places that I feel inadequate to keep going. When I feel uncertain about what’s ahead, remind me of who You are. I know it will get me through. In Jesus’ name, amen.

God Will Help You–overcoming the hard times

God Will Help You

by Max Lucado

Even in the best of times, we all have troubles, difficulties to face. In this pandemic, many are overwhelmed by the chaos, the darkness, the isolation of lockdowns. For some, the depths of despair have led to suicide, but Max Lucado has a better answer for this “winter of our discontent”….God. In God Will Help You, Lucado says “No matter the challenge or the question, by God’s grace you can face it. He is up to the task. And he will help you.”

Lucado is, by nature, a storyteller, and he uses stories, both from the Bible and from encounters he has had with others, to demonstrate some of the ways God can intervene in our stories. In each chapter, he addresses a different issue and then provides questions for reflection and Bible verses to remind you of God’s help. He closes each chapter with a prayer that you can pray in those circumstances, because sometimes we are so overwhelmed that we just don’t even know how to frame our petitions. Lucado has a way with words. In talking, for example, about God’s grace, he says we have been “doused” with it. What a perfect description!

So, if you’re feeling anxious, fearful, stuck in your circumstances, lonely, sick, or filled with grief, Max Lucado can’t fix those problems, but he can direct you to Jesus. You see, God already knows about your unsolved problems and your struggles to negotiate everyday life. He sees your heart and understands your needs. He is there to give you guidance. In his book God Will Help You, Lucado shows how God will come alongside you each and every day.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Christian, Self-Help, Inspirational

Notes: Having gone through a lot of changes in my life, especially in the last twelve years, I found this statement particularly meaningful: “So make friends with whatever’s next. Embrace it. Accept it. Don’t resist it. Change is not only a part of life; change is a necessary part of God’s strategy. To use us to change the world, he alters our assignments.”

Publication: December 29, 2020—Thomas Nelson

Memorable Lines:

The presence of anxiety is unavoidable, but the prison of anxiety is optional. Anxiety is not a sin; it is an emotion. (So don’t be anxious about feeling anxious.)

…celebrate his goodness, faithfulness, and forgiveness. These characteristics of God remain true no matter what you are going through.

But if you see your troubles as opportunities to trust God and his ability to multiply what you give him, then even the smallest incidents take on significance.

Had Jesus chosen to do so, he could have proclaimed a cloud of healing blessings to fall upon the crowd. But he is not a one size-fits-all Savior. He placed his hands on each one, individually, personally. Perceiving unique needs, he issued unique blessings.

Stay: Discovering Grace, Freedom, and Wholeness Where You Never Imagined Looking

Stay: Discovering Grace, Freedom, and Wholeness Where You Never Imagined Looking

by Anjuli Paschall

A spiritual journey is such a personal adventure. Anjuli Paschall shares hers in the book Stay. She also reaches out to other women encouraging them to lean into God through the irritations of daily life and the times of actual trauma and to stay with the pain of hard places because you’ll find God there. She suggests that, instead of building up walls of protection and withdrawing from the fray or working harder to force things to happen, we need to stay with Jesus and “drink life-giving water.” With intriguing chapter titles like “The Guard Shack: An Invitation to Make Mistakes” and “Old Spaghetti Factory: An Invitation to Hold On,” this book is filled with anecdotes and Paschall’s descriptions of how God led her to grow spiritually.

Paschal is a good writer and very effective at drawing the reader into her frame of mind as she navigates the various circumstances in her life. I highlighted many passages and agreed with most of the things she said. I am amazed at the number of turns in her life journey. She is the mother of five, wife of a pastor, photographer, founder of a social media site that helps other moms in truly desperate straits, and a spiritual counselor. Now add writer to that list.

Realizing that I am isolating statements that come from a rich context, I feel I must point out what I perceive to be a major conflict. Towards the end of the book, the author states “My one and only purpose in life is to be loved by God.” I disagree with that and she does too as earlier in the book she states: “We all have one calling. One deep, right, true, foundational calling in life—to love God and to love others.” That philosophy is found in the Bible in Matthew 22 in the New Testament and in Exodus 20 and Leviticus 19 in the Old Testament.  Although, I have a few points of disagreement, in general I find this book to be refreshing in the author’s honesty and transparency. She doesn’t try to appear to have it all together. She shares her fears and vulnerabilities as she also shares her hopes and dreams. She encourages women to abandon shame over never being enough and stay the course resting and trusting in Jesus.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Bethany House for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Christian, Self-Help

Notes: Discussion questions are included.

Publication:   March 31, 2020—Bethany House

Memorable Lines:

I’m learning to be okay with my mistakes. They don’t define me or determine my worth, but simply direct me to God.

I believe we all can be placeholders of heaven for others. We can create a seat at a table, offer a single cup of coffee, leave bread on a doorstep, or clear an hour in our schedule. God will continually bring us people who are desperately in need of home. If we can embrace each other’s differences, move toward the disabled, welcome the foreigner, laugh with a child, talk with the elderly, all kinds of heaven can burst open like a flower in bloom here on earth. Even the tiniest spaces can become a place for others to taste eternity.

No amount of getting, accomplishing, or achieving will ever satisfy the soul. The soul focused on gaining power, influence, and admiration will only grow hungrier.

Where I End–A Story of Tragedy, Truth, and Rebellious Hope

Where I End

by Katherine Elizabeth Clark

Where I EndIn Where I End, Katherine Elizabeth Clark shares a chance accident, a moment in time, that altered her life and the lives of her family members forever. She describes and analyzes the event and her journey to healing from the viewpoint of a Christian. Although she did not have a “leap to her feet dancing” experience, she did eventually regain the ability to walk, which her surgeon regarded as a miracle: “I can take no credit. God did this.”

Although Kate is left with residual, fairly dramatic difficulties and constant pain, her progress has been remarkable. As she shares her story, she relates how God worked in her life through family, friends and strangers who ministered to her. She tells of the humiliation and frustration of being unable to do even the simplest things for herself. Before the accident Kate was employed as a writer by a Christian organization so her prose is excellent and well thought out and her ideas are clearly expressed. She backs up her theological positions with Scripture references and quotes from Biblical scholars. She shares her story not to put a focus on herself, but on Jesus, who was and is with her through the trials and pain of the accident, surgery, rehabilitation and daily renewal of her hope and trust.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Moody Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Memoir, Christian

Publication:   January 2, 2018—Moody Publishing

Memorable Lines:

In that moment, my steady world, where bodies work in harmony with brains, was bartered for an unrecognizable universe, something resembling a Salvador Dalí painting; I felt as if I had slipped into a surreal, disorientated dream.

Yet though our Father promises to hear the cries of His children, He has not promised to exhaustively reveal His mind or plans. We must trust Him, and sometimes in the dark.

When Scripture speaks of not being afraid, it is always cloaked in the presence of the Lord. Be not afraid, not because the situation isn’t terrifying, but because you’re not  alone. You have a Good Shepherd who hides you beneath His wing.

It is a great mercy of God that we cannot see the future.

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