Monday, July 30, 2012

Book Review: Remember Me by Penelope Wilcock

Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Crossway (July 6, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10:1433526638
ISBN-13: 978-1433526633
Price: $12.99
Purchase: Amazon




Description

Remember Me is the third of a trilogy of books focusing on the character of William de Bulmer, his conversion of life and heart, and the flowering of his ability to love. After the brothers of St. Alcuin take William into the abbey (in the Hardest Thing to Do), he falls in love with Abbot John's sister (in The Hour Before Dawn), and now has accidentally lost all of the abbey's money.

Seasoned author Penelope Wilcock unlocks the story of one man's struggles, mistakes, and heart's longings, and traces the possibility of what it means to get things wrong and begin again. As with each novel in series, the reader is encouraged to explore a universal aspect of the Christian faith--in this case, the cost of allowing God to do what is necessary to make one whole.

If you would like to read a chapter excerpt of Remember Me, go HERE.

Review

I must admit, I don't usually read books like ​Remember Me​, but I was delightfully surprised. What a gem of a book!
 
Penelope Wilcock is a wordsmith. She writes beautifully and descriptively. I was able to envision the various characters and feel everything they felt.

My favorite character was William de Bulmer. I felt compassion and sympathized with him a great deal. I was able to put myself in his shoes and identify with his dilemma.

He was vexed in spirit and seemed to have come from an abusive past which haunted him. He was also in love which just added to his inner struggle, turmoil and guilt.

I was experienced a gamut of emotions while reading this book. Remember Me made me think deeply and reflect on my own life. How many times have I failed and been judged ruthlessly by others?

This excerpt especially touched me:
"It is as we are faithful, as we are gentle, as we are humble and kind, that we remember the human and open the way for the kingdom of Jesus.  So I--or you--can be the good thief in our fragile and faltering humanity, begging him: 'I am lost, I am broken, I am done for. Please put me back together again. Please heal me. Forgive me. Please remember me.' And in so doing we also open the way for the kingdom to begin." (Page 143)
​Remember Me​ is about love, loss, regret,  forgiveness and redemption.

I highly recommend this book to young adults and adults alike.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Bonnie S. Calhoun and Crossway for the opportunity to read and review an advanced copy of this wonderful book.

PENELOPE WILCOCK is a full-time author living in Hastings, Sussex, on the southeast coast of England. Her blog, Kindred of the Quiet Way, is about a simple and spiritual Christian lifestyle. Her other books in The Hawk and the Dove series are The Hawk and the Dove, The Wounds of God, and The Long Fall.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Book Review: Passages by Brian Hardin

Passages by Brian Hardin

ISBN-13: 9780310329190
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 11/28/2011
Pages: 224
Price: $14.99
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | CBD










The journey is the destination.

Description

Many of us would love to read the Bible more often, but we rarely make time for more than a few verses on the run.

But the Bible was never meant to be read in short segments here and there when you can fit it in.  The Bible is meant to be experienced in sizable chunks--in passages--and read daily.  It is not a book of mystical incantations, but the story of God's passionate love--for you.  It is not a distant relic, but a best friend offering counsel and companionship--for today.

Through his own remarkable story, Brian Hardin shows you how reading through the Bible in a year changed his life and how it will change yours too.  Passages goes beyond exploring how the Bible was meant to be read, providing three distinct Bible reading plans to help you get started doing it right now.

Hardin, whose daily podcasts has more than a million listeners a month, guarantees you a life revolution, if you will only commit to a few minutes a day to read through the Bible in a year.

As you rediscover the joy of reading the Bible, visit www.dailyaudiobible.com and join a community of fellow readers to share your thoughts on your new adventure.

Review

I read Passages in two days. As soon as I read the description, I was hooked.  I can't tell you what an incredible book this is.  I have read many books on this subject, but Passages is in a league by itself.

Brian Hardin begins by explaining how he came to read the bible everyday.  He gives his testimony in Chapter One entitled "The Olive Couch".  Chapter Two talks about the reasons why we don't read our bible.  This was one of my favorite chapters.

Our number one excuse for not reading our bible is lack of time..
"Time is always an enemy.  Reading Scripture is always on our perpetual to-do list; but as the day goes by, it ends up at the bottom of the list, and by the time we fall into bed, we're just too exhausted to read anything that requires serious thought." (Page 32)
Can you relate?  I know I can because I struggle with this myself.  The other is understandability which Brian Hardin discusses as well.
"The Bible is written as a story, a story that has not yet reached its conclusion. The story has wound its way through battlefields and wedding nights, through birthing chambers and funeral parlors, from transcendent pleasure to utter hopelessness.  This is the unstoppable story of God and his profound love for humanity." (Page 35)
 Chapter Six was extremely interesting for me.  The chapter discusses "Lectio Divina: Divine Reading".
"Lectio divina is an unhurried, contemplative reading of a portion of Scripture.  The practice of lectio divina includes four steps: Lectio, read; Meditatio, meditate; Oratio, speak or pray; and Contemplatio, contemplate or rest." (Page 103, 105)
Brian Hardin also writes that reading the Word of God out loud has remarkable power and authority.  I admit, I never read the Bible out loud to myself.  However, after reading this book, I will now apply this new practice to my daily bible reading.

Brian Hardin has a unique, creative and eloquent writing style. Passages inspired me so much. I am now listening to his daily podcasts and also joined Daily Audio Bible online community.

If you struggle with reading the Bible, I highly recommend this book.  Passages is full of wisdom and inspiration.  I especially loved reading people's testimonies throughout the book.

In conclusion, I want to thank Brian Hardin for writing this book.  I also want to thank Litfuse Publicity and Zondervan Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of this book to read and review. 


Brian Hardin is a speaker, photographer, record producer, and an ordained minister.  In 2006, he created the Daily Audio Bible, an online podcast that now delivers 1.5 million downloads a month.  He has produced over 150 albums and works with artists and the arts extensively.  He is married to Christian musician Jill Parr.
Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Heart Strings

I have had the blessing of traveling a great deal in the past. I went to various countries and have seen poverty at it's worst.  But nothing breaks my heart more than witnessing homeless and hungry children, especially orphans.

Photograph by Chan Kwok Hung

This photo speaks a multitude, doesn't it?  This world can be such a cruel place. How I wish something could been done to help save every child and preserve their innocence.

There are times I feel helpless and overwhelmed, like tonight for instance. I was walking crosstown on 42nd Street to catch my bus home.

As I was walking, I took in my surroundings; the rhythm, activity and energy of rush hour.

Until something caught my eye that caused me to stop in my tracks. I remained frozen, watching, pondering whether I should go do something.

This moment reminded me of an incident I read in Jeff Goins' new book, Wrecked. I knew I had to make a choice.

Suddenly a man spoke and snapped me out of my trance. I guess he noticed my struggle. He tells me, "Your heart strings are being tugged, huh?" I said, "Yes."  He nodded in understanding.

Right then, I decided to walk over to her. This young woman who was pregnant sitting on the hot concrete floor with a toddler. She must have been no more than twenty-five years old. I asked her if she needed help.

She didn't speak English. She said something which sounded like Spanish.  However, when she responded again, I realized it wasn't Spanish, but more like Portuguese or Italian.

She wanted me to give her money. I told her I didn't want to give her money. She said she needed diapers. I said I would go buy her diapers if she wanted. She agreed for me to get her diapers.

I asked, what size, she tells me size four. For the life of me, I don't know how we were able to understand each other, it had to have been the Holy Spirit.

She tells me she would wait for me in the same spot for only twenty minutes. So I take off in a hurry to the nearest place I could find and bought diapers. I also bought her a few other items so she could feed her child who looked dirty, hungry and tired. I especially felt compassion for her child.

The city was so hot. I'm sure this poor child was outside all day in the heat while her mother begged.

When I returned she was there waiting. I handed her the bag and she thanked me.

What was most beautiful to me was the reaction on the little girl's face. She pointed to the bottle of water and looked up at me with a big smile. She seemed genuinely appreciative. I grabbed her little hand and smiled at her too. My heart swelled with love for that child. I so badly wanted to protect her.

I looked into the pregnant mother's eyes and told her Jesus loved her. I also told her to be careful and to take good care of herself and the baby. I just hope she really understood what I said.

I arrived home very somber. I began thinking about all the homeless mothers and children living in the streets of New York City and around the world. My heart hurts for them.

This tug never goes away. I guess it serves as reminder to never forget.

I wonder how things would be if every Christian from around the world stopped to help and encourage one person each day?

What do you think would happen?  I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Wrecked by Jeff Goins


I barely made it out of bed alive this morning. Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit. But seriously, I am dead tired and it’s all Jeff Goins fault.

It's his fault because I couldn’t stop reading his new book last night. I literally had to peel myself away and get some sleep.

Thus, I rolled out of bed, as we say in New York City, mad tired.

I began my daily routine by turning on the water to take a shower. Guess what, there was no hot water... again.

Needless to say, this isn't what I would call an ideal way to start your day. However, the cold shower definitely jolted me awake. Seriously, you should try it some time.

While taking my cold shower, I was thinking of Wrecked. My thoughts brought me back to a time where a group of us from Times Square Church went on a short missions trip to Guatemala.

I remember when we first arrived to the mission, it was hot. We all wanted and needed to take a shower.  But, there was one little problem, there were no bathrooms or showers.

Thankfully, it began to rain. We knew this was our opportunity to take a shower.

Now keep in mind, I'm from New York City, ok? I’ve only camped out maybe a few times in my life and poorly at that. I've never taken a shower in the middle of nowhere before, much less in the rain.

But there I was in the mountains of Guatemala, in the rain, with a bunch of people I didn’t know and a major decision to make. Shower or no shower, is the question. I felt gross, so I decided on the shower. The next dilemma was to figure out how and where?

The shower situation definitely took me out of my comfort zone. I basically was forced to use my imagination and pray... a lot.

Thankfully, the Lord had mercy on my poor soul and answered quickly. There, hidden in view, was my salvation... a small cascade of water falling off a tin roof. When the water hit my skin, it was as cold as my shower this morning.

The only difference is, I actually enjoyed it.

This experience definitely wrecked me and so is reading this book.

Wrecked is stirring me in a major way. Jeff Goins is a prolific and amazing writer. His writing is like eating your favorite ice cream, you don't want to stop.

But whatever you do, don't buy the book yet. You don't want to miss out on this: http://wreckedthebook.com/.

Jeff Goins is a part-time blogger, speaker and author. He works full-time for a nonprofit organization called Adventures in Missions, where he serves as the Communications Director. In his free time, he writes books and shares ideas worth spreading.

Originally from the suburbs of Chicago, Jeff graduated from Illinois College with a double major in Spanish and Religion. There, he spent a semester in Spain, which opened his eyes to different cultures and stretched his worldview.

After a year of travel and long-distance communication, he moved to Tennessee to chase the woman who became his wife. In 2008, he married her.

Since 2006, Jeff has worked out of his home, overseeing marketing, communications, and innovation teams from afar. He is passionate about not only telling great stories, but living them, as well.

His blog, GoinsWriter.com, is one of the fastest-growing blogs on the web and is a well-respected resource for bloggers and writers. In 2011, it won the Top 10 Blogs for Writers award on WritetoDone.com. Each month, he receives over 80,000 visitors to his website.

Jeff's work has been published online and offline in a variety of publications, including RELEVANT Magazine (which has a circulation of more than 150,000 readers), Copyblogger.com (voted by Ad Age as one of the top marketing blogs online), and ZenHabits.net (one of Time Magazine's Top 50 Websites for threes years in a row).

Jeff and his wife, Ashley, live just outside of Nashville, TN with their son and dog.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Faith and Other Flat Tires

Faith and Other Flat Tires
by Andrea Palpant Dilley
 
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (February 6, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10:031032551X
ISBN-13: 978-0310325512
Price: $14.99
Purchase: Amazon | BN | CBD







Sample Chapter

Description

At age twenty-one, Andrea Palpant Dilley stripped the Christian fish decal off her car bumper in a symbolic act of departure from her religious childhood. At twenty-three, she left the church and went searching for refuge in the company of men who left her lonely and friends who pushed the boundaries of what she once held sacred.

In this deeply personal memoir, Andrea navigates the doubts that plague believers and skeptics alike: Why does a good God allow suffering? Why is God so silent, distant, and uninvolved? And why does the church seem so dysfunctional?

Yet amid her skepticism, she begins to ask new questions: Could doubting be a form of faith? Might our doubts be a longing for God that leads to a faith we can ultimately live with?

Review

Faith and Other Flat Tires​ is as unique as its title. The subheading reads, "searching for God on the rough road of doubt".

I have a penchant for memoirs, and this one is especially captivating.

Andrea Palpant Dilley was the daughter to Quaker missionaries who served in Kenya most of her childhood. She had grown accustomed to living in Africa, that when she returned to the States, she had difficulty assimilating into the American culture.

While living in Africa as a child, Andrea Palpant Dilley was exposed to a great deal of suffering and death.  Those early experiences planted a seed which germinated into doubt and her crisis of faith.

As we traverse this earth, sooner or later, we will face doubt. We will wrestle, as Jacob did, with an invisible God, we can't see or touch. Doubt will inevitably be our companion or foe on this sojourn.

The following excerpt encompasses the beauty and brilliance of this thoughtful, philosophical and superbly written memoir:
"To me, longing for God was like hearing music from an open window on the street or seeing mountains off in the distance. The yearning felt almost like grief.  A cry born into my heart before the human heart ever existed. A desire so deep and far back that it seemed almost prehistoric. I sensed the imago Dei, the image of God within me. I was Plato's child searching for the lost language of my origins. I was a homing bird traveling with my outspread wings, carried by the innate compass and crossing a thousand miles to get back to the place where I began." (Page 235)
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Faith and Other Flat Tires and highly recommend it to adults struggling with doubt and faith.

In conclusion, I want to thank Zondervan and Handlebar Marketing for sending me a complimentary copy of this book to read and review. 


Andrea Palpant Dilley grew up in Kenya as the daughter of Quaker missionaries and spent the rest of her childhood in the Pacific Northwest. She studied English literature and writing at Whitworth University. Her work as a writer has appeared in Rock and Sling, Geez, and Utne Reader, as well as the anthology Jesus Girls: True Tales of Growing Up Female and Evangelical. Her work as a documentary producer has aired nationally on American Public Television. She lives with her husband and daughter in Austin, Texas.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

You Are A Writer by Jeff Goins

    Print Length: 77 pages
    Publisher: Jeff Goins; 1 edition (April 27, 2012)
    Sold by: Amazon Digital Services Language: English
    ASIN: B007YJEIAS
    Price: $4.99 (Kindle)
    Purchase: Amazon
     
     
     
Description
 
You Are a Writer is a book about what it takes to be a writer in the 21st Century.

Author Jeff Goins shares his own story of self-doubt and what it took for him to become a professional. He gives you practical tips for freelancing, how to get published in magazines, and what it takes to build a platform that brings the gatekeepers to you.

This journey of becoming a writer begins with a simple but important belief: You are a writer; you just need to write. Readers will learn the importance of passion and discipline and how to show up every day to do the work.

Here's what else you will learn:

  • How to stop waiting to be picked and finally choose yourself
  • What it takes to build a platform
  • Why authors need to brand themselves (and how to do it)
  • Tips for freelancing, guest blogging, and getting published in magazines
  • Different ways to network with other writers, artists, and influencers
  • The importance of blogging and social media and how to use it well to get more readers and fans of your writing
You Are a Writer is a book that will help you fall back in love with writing and make the connections you need to build your brand as a writer. It's about living the dream of a life dedicated to words.

And it all begins with you.

Review

I have had the pleasure of following Jeff Goins' blog for over several months now.  I was first introduced to his writing through friends on Twitter.  I was completely blown away.  I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that I love every single thing this man writes. 

Jeff Goins is an incredibly gifted writer and communicator. He creates what Michael Hyatt calls in his book Platform, a "Wow" experience. Everything Jeff Goins does and writes is remarkable.  I have learned so much from him by following his blog and participating in his writing challenges.

One of the things I love most about Jeff Goins is his heart.  He is kind, generous and a servant, which makes him such a great leader.  I am blessed to be a part of his tribe.

You Are a Writer is a brilliant book.  I started to read it and couldn't put it down. This book goes step by step on how to make "You Are a Writer" a reality in your life. The first step is by confessing, believing, accepting and then acting upon it.

The way I did it was by first looking at myself in the mirror and saying to my reflection, "You Are a Writer".  I confess I had to say it more than once to let it sink in.  It's incredible how much resistance I was faced with while doing this simple exercise.  Those unrelenting negative voices kept trying to convince me otherwise.

After I did this, I took it a step further by confessing it to the world on Facebook, Twitter and my co-workers.  I was surprised and happy to get a lot of positive responses, which was encouraging.

If you ever dreamed of being a writer or if you are one and not really pursuing it, I highly recommend this book.  You Are a Writer will definitely help, inform, inspire and encourage you!

About The Author
 
Jeff Goins is a part-time blogger, speaker and author. He works full-time for a nonprofit organization called Adventures in Missions, where he serves as the Communications Director. In his free time, he writes books and shares ideas worth spreading.

Originally from the suburbs of Chicago, Jeff graduated from Illinois College with a double major in Spanish and Religion. There, he spent a semester in Spain, which opened his eyes to different cultures and stretched his worldview.

After a year of travel and long-distance communication, he moved to Tennessee to chase the woman who became his wife. In 2008, he married her.

Since 2006, Jeff has worked out of his home, overseeing marketing, communications, and innovation teams from afar. He is passionate about not only telling great stories, but living them, as well.

His blog, GoinsWriter.com, is one of the fastest-growing blogs on the web and is a well-respected resource for bloggers and writers. In 2011, it won the Top 10 Blogs for Writers award on WritetoDone.com. Each month, he receives over 80,000 visitors to his website.

Jeff's work has been published online and offline in a variety of publications, including RELEVANT Magazine (which has a circulation of more than 150,000 readers), Copyblogger.com (voted by Ad Age as one of the top marketing blogs online), and ZenHabits.net (one of Time Magazine's Top 50 Websites for three years in a row).

Jeff and his wife, Ashley, live just outside of Nashville, TN with their son and dog.