Star of Persia — Book Review

Yes, the story is the one we know and love.  The one about the beautiful Queen Ester, the Star of Persia There’s a bit more to it in this retelling. Along with palace intrigue, politics, and jealousy, add a king who can’t make decisions without others telling him what to do, a queen who wants a ‘normal’ married life, a father who finally comes to terms with who he really is, and you have an awesome, can’t put it down story.

Family relationships abound and add sometimes surprising twists. Personality traits of manipulation, arrogance, scheming, brutality, stubbornness,  and more, clash with strength, internal beauty, loyalty, and love.

Throughout the story the sense of God’s presence permeates. Might that be because of knowing the story so well? Perhaps.   The threads of the story, just like those of the Biblical portrayal, point to the fact that God always has a reason for everything that happens in the lives of His people.

Esther is portrayed as an obedient, loving, and caring person. I would love to have seen more of her internal qualities of strength, wisdom, and leadership.

All in all, this is a really good portrayal of the story of Esther, the Star of Persia.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell/Baker Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Yes Sisters ~ Book Review

Do you have people in your life who support you, love you, guide you, and help you grow into all that God intends for you to be? Do you know who you are and how others perceive You? Are you aware of the positive and negative voices that are around you, and the impact they’re having?

You have been given a unique place in God’s Kingdom. Angelia L. White in her book Yes Sisters unwraps the ‘secret’ to “surrounding yourself with women who affirm, encourage, and and challenge you” toward success as you determine to find and live out your Kingdom purpose.

With our personal relationship with Jesus as the foundation of all relationships, Ms. White discusses how mothers, daughters, grandmothers, friends, colleagues, social media, affect our actions and decisions.  Yes, even mean girls are part of life and the author addresses them admirably, without sugar-coating the issue, giving ways to deal with them in a loving manner. Her many suggestions for building and maintaining daily interactions with our Yes Sisters are right on target.

One of the outstanding parts of this book are the short stories/essays from a variety of other authors and speakers.  They provided a perspective from other points of view that enhanced and supported the narrative.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Yes Sisters:

  • Building our lives on His love and learning to look to Him for our value guides us in knowing who we really are. (p. 42)
  • God created women specially to reflect His beauty in and around us. (p. 56)
  • Dare to reach out. Dare to risk. Dare to say yes to letting others into your life. None of us needs to have it all together. We all just need to remember we are better together. Holley Gerth (p. 88)
  • Genuine truth is never meant to diminish, but to beautify. (p. 150)
  • Each individual changes history. (p. 204)
  • If I can’t think of a single way it could benefit the kingdom or give glory to God, I will most likely say no, stay silent, or look for a way to say what needs to be said with love as my motivation rather than my own interests. Candace Cameron Bure (p. 216)

This book is loaded with many suggestions and ideas for developing and supporting your own group of Yes Sisters.  I highly recommend it.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell/Baker Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Should you click on a link and purchase this book I receive no remuneration.

Chasing Vines – – Book Review

I love it when a book relates to my personal life and circumstances. (Don’t we all?) I am a farm girl/gardener at heart. I know the taste of milk straight from the cow, cracklins fresh from the hot grease, tomatoes, and green beans hand-picked. Yet, grapes, the how and why of them, and their relationship to my Christian growth, is a new concept.

Using John 15:1-8 Chasing Vines covers our growth as branches of the One Vine. She covers such topics as, personal growth, abiding, bearing fruit, pruning, fertilizing, manure, and much more. In her matchless style, she brings these eight verses to life, giving insight into the growth process of the grape as it relates to our own lives as Christians.

Beth’s comment, “I’m pretty sure most people who serve an unseen God for enough years, trying their danged hardest to obey His inaudible directions and love His confounding people with their own contorted hearts, live a quarter-inch from sheer madness much of the time,” (pg. 56) resounded with me.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re a celebrity preacher/teacher or sojourn with a small group of Believers, people are people.  They’re difficult, demanding, denying, disturbing, dusty, deliberate, defying…  I get it.

Throughout the book, the reader is made aware of the need to be a good fruit producer.  Ms. Moore contends it is not only possible but probable that the branches (believers and unbelievers, alike) can produce bitter and bad fruit.  Her solution: Galatians 5:22-23. If these 9 qualities are in any way being compromised it’s bad fruit.  If, on the other hand, they are supported, then the fruit is good.

Although I highly recommend this book, and since this is a review, I must say that I did find a bit of insensitivity to the elderly in her discussion of pruning.  From time to time I also found way more discussion of a concept than was necessary.  But as I said before, all in all, all of it, is worth it.

I want to leave you with these words, directly from Miss Beth, “If you’re in Christ, He is your true Vine, whether you realize it or not. But a whole new way of flourishing begins when you know it. When you count on it. When you live like it. When you let go of the vines you thought were giving you life.” (pg. 129)

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

 

The Promises of God – Storybook Bible – Review

The Promises of God Storybook Bible is not just another children’s Bible but one that proves God is always in control, can always be trusted, always loves His children, always provides, always cares, always…

It’s very interesting to read children’s versions of the Bible, especially after having read and taught the ‘adult’ version for so many years.  Because God’s Word is alive and active, any retelling of the story should reiterate those truths that we know so well and allow ‘new’ truths to become real.  For instance, why did Joseph cry when he saw his brothers again.  We’re often taught that it was because he missed them so much, but could it also be that even though he had forgiven them their betrayal still hurt.

God’s sovereignty is a consistent theme throughout the stories, helping children (actually, anyone who reads it) understand that God is in total control of all aspects of life.

I’m always cautious with Paul’s part of the story and presenting it in such a way that children understand that he is being used by God, through his writings, to help the Believers, both then and now, understand God’s Word, Jesus’ life and sacrifice, and how it applies to our everyday lives. Jennifer Lyell does this beautifully. Check out his quote from her words on 1 & 2 Thessalonians.

Paul wrote these letters to the church in Thessalonica thousands of years ago. But God put them in the Bible because they’re also promises for us today, and they have been for followers of Jesus from the beginning.  We are all to wait for Him to come back and not worry about when it will be because God knows the perfect time.  And we are to listen only to teachers who teach what matches the things Jesus taught.  And we should encourage one another to work hard telling people about Jesus like Paul did! (pg. 255)

I shared this book with a delightful family to read and review for me.  Their comments were very positive with only one suggestion which I found quite interesting.  They felt that sometimes the titles were misleading and should have better matched the story and the concept of God’s Promises.

I would have liked to see some of Mrs. Lyell’s stories of the other New Testament writers, like James and Peter, included in this book.

I highly recommend this book.  Jennifer Lyell is an awesome storyteller. It will be an excellent resource for family devotions, Children’s Sunday School and small group teachers.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from B & H Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Should you click on a link and purchase this book I receive no remuneration.

 

 

Fresh Start Bible Review

As a Small Group, Bible Study leader I was (and am) very excited about this new resource, the Fresh Start Bible.

There are many kinds of study Bibles. Some are historical and archeological. Some are topical. Some are word referenced, giving the reader specific guidance as to meaning usage. Some are paraphrased into modern language usage for better understanding. All are intended to point the Believer to a better understanding of His Word and how it applies to daily life. The Fresh Start Bible is no exception. Using the New Living Translation it has hundreds of articles written by various people that enhance and provide understanding. Several short ‘side-bars’ provoke deeper thought about known concepts and stories. It includes many articles about questions that both the new and seasoned believers might have. Personal comments, historical facts, and suggestions for personal, everyday use abound.

I decided to use this Bible as my main resource in preparing and teaching a series of lessons on how the Tabernacle of the Old Testament applies to contemporary worship. It was helpful and informative, leading not only me but also my fellow learners to new insights and thoughts about the subject.

In a future upgrade to this work, I would suggest more ‘side-bars’, commentary and articles for the Old Testament portion.

I highly recommend this resource for both Bible study leaders as well as learners.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a digital copy free from Gateway Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

100 Words of Affirmation Your Husband Needs to Hear — Book Review

Sometimes laughter, sometimes tears, sometimes a fervent prayer for forgiveness. Sometimes affirmation, sometimes kind remonstrances, sometimes silence.  Relationships are forged within these behaviors and so much more.

Affirmation comes from considering, really thinking about, what your spouse needs and even wants to hear.  Have you taken the time to think about those areas of everyday life that we so often take for granted? Perhaps it’s time to do so.

Such things as saying yes, being careful of the other’s feelings, pulling back when you really want to argue (and win), and letting them know you really like and care about them, make all the difference in any relationship.  Although this book focuses on wives affirming and supporting their husbands there is much that applies to all good and growing relationships.

I found 100 Words of Affirmation Your Husband Needs to Hear thought-provoking and inspiring.  Lisa Jacobson‘s life experiences and words of wisdom are timely and much needed in this season of negativity and put-downs.

Much is written in this volume about affirmation and support. Which of course is what the title implies. I would love to see, from the same author(s) what they, as individuals, want to be affirmed, supported, and thanked for. Would there be a difference?

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell/Baker Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

This post may contain affiliate links.  When you use them I may receive a small commission that helps support the costs of maintaining this blog.

Forever, Lately – – Book Review

How hard it is to find good fiction that isn’t full of steamy romance and unnecessary violence but this delightful book certainly fits the bill. It’s the perfect solution to a stormy, snowy, can’t get out of the house afternoon.  Once you get into it you’re not going to want to put it down.

It’s a love story that transcends the boundaries of time as it moves between the 1800’s and the 21st century. In a storyline that doesn’t always go where you expect it to you’ll find horse drawn carriages and cars of the modern era playing a very important role that helps tie the two eras together.
Such delightful characters fill the pages.  The protagonist is portrayed as a modern writer with no personal style whatever, but when transported back in time becomes a beautiful young woman who fits in well, except for the fact she looks like another woman. There’s even a villain or two.
Of course, in time travel, there always has to be a catalyst.  In this story, it’s a tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl. At one point it gets torn in half and… I guess you’ll have to read the story to find out what happens then.
I hope you’ll thoroughly enjoy, Forever, Lately by Lenore Rose Burkhard.  I have!

Letters To My Students – – Book Review

Teaching and preaching are much the same and at the same time different.  Preaching must always point to Jesus.  Always! Preachers are always teachers but teachers are not always preachers.

I decided to review Letters To My Students because I wanted to see how close the two are.  Interestingly, and I already knew this, they are very close.  The main difference is the audience.  Preachers to the church body, teachers to the church body, classrooms, small groups, and individuals.

To be an effective teacher there are three commonalities:

  • Knowing your audience includes building trust and relationships.
  • Knowing yourself is about the constant awareness of your spiritual, mental, and physical health.  All of who you are shows in your teaching.
  • Knowing what’s going on in the world your students are living in helps apply your lesson to their lives.

This book is packed with the wisdom of seasoned pastor/teacher Jason K. Allen.  It is valuable to the one in the pulpit and the one in the Sunday School classroom, Bible study leader, mentor, and yes, even the public/private school teacher can gain much from reading it.

Powerful quotes:

A text cannot mean something now that it never meant. (pg. 67)

Aim to inform the mind, impact the heart, and challenge the will. (pg. 85)

Great preaching (teaching) is usually passionate preaching. For every ounce of passion in the preacher’s (teacher’s) voice, there should be a pound of compassion in the soul. (pg. 136-147)

Blessings to you and your’s!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Broadman & Holman Publishers.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Always We Begin Again – – Book Review

I’ve been enjoying reading through a devotional that really isn’t a devotional.  Does that make sense? Not really, but yes, it does.  Always We Begin Again by Leeana Tankersley is a series of short essays on the many ways we start over every day of our lives. They’re not only relatable short stories but they include a guided writing prompt that can help each reader deal with their own beginnings.

Here’s what I’ve learned, am learning or have found to be true:

  • The profound yet simple concept that we are constantly starting over is part of daily life.
  • God speaks to us in many ways during our stressful, busy days. Focusing on the issue of the moment, with God as our partner, until we discover the way through, will help calm our minds and lead to a solution.
  • We are held securely in God’s arms. No matter the circumstances He keeps holding on.
  • There are multiple opportunities in our days and lives to begin again, to start over. Just as the sun rises new each day it also sets and gives us the opportunity to rest and reflect.
  • We are all addicts of some sort. Here’s the thing, we can’t pretend to have conquered the problem. Whether we eat, drink, spend, talk, criticize, complain… too much or too little, it can be controlled through God’s grace and our willingness to take each day as it is.

One of the things I really liked about this book is each short essay/story is simply numbered but not dated.  That way if I don’t read it each day I don’t have the pressure of being behind or having to catch up.

This collection is relatable and encouraging. It is reassuring and supportive. There is hope woven throughout its pages. Thank you, Leeana Tankersley, for writing and sharing.

Best quote from the book: “Growth and healing start by giving ourselves the permission to pursue them. If we aren’t willing to show up and participate, then chances are, our souls will be lost on some level. And chances are, it will affect the people who want to share life with us.” (pg. 210)

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revel, a division of Baker Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

When Life Doesn’t Match Your Dreams – – Book Review

Eve… Sarai… Hagar… Rebekah… Rachel… Leah… Dinah…

Stories we know quite well yet is there more to these women?

What happens when we insist on doing God’s job for Him? What happens when one assumes they know best and determines to go a step further? It seems each woman named above had to find out her own way and often that is/was the hard way.

There are some tremendously powerful words in these stories. Often, I could see myself and my own responses. Although I knew these stories well, I found myself re-reading and pondering them more deeply.

We’ve all struggled with the some, or all of the same issues these women have. Things like knowing what we’re supposed to do and not doing it… Doubt… Fear… Survival… Abandonment… Disobedience… Choices… Desperation… Yet deep down God is always there and always will be.  The lives of these women are changed and made better even When Life Doesn’t Match (their) Your Dreams (by Jill Eileen Smith).  Yours will be, too!

Read it! It’s worth it!

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Harvest House Books and Blythe Daniel. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”