Holy Noticing (Aka, Most Confusing Book Review I’ve Written)

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 240
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Title: Holy Noticing
Nonfiction

2

ABOUT THE BOOK

Does your life ever feel like one series of rushed moments after another?

Do you want to feel more present and connected to those you love? Do you want to be able to listen without thinking the whole time of what you’re going to say next? Do you want to feel less distracted, less busy, and more whole? Most of us spend our distracted lives longing to get to the next, better moment and fail to notice the present one. We lack space between one task and the next, one thought and the next, one email and the next. Social media, TV, work deadlines, and family stress steal our enjoyment and engagement in the moment.

Holy Noticing will teach you how to:

  • become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and environment
  • recognize Christ’s presence in the moment
  • reduce your stress by developing the ability to focus on God and people rather than tasks

Many today think mindfulness is dangerous, unchristian, or associated with Eastern religions—and often it is! But Dr. Charles Stone reveals that the art of holy noticing—purposefully paying attention to God as he works in us, our relationships, and our world—is a spiritual discipline Christians have practiced for millennia. Holy Noticing explores the historically Christian and biblical roots of this lifestyle, as well as Dr. Stone’s BREATHe model, which teaches you to be more engaged with Christ in the everyday moments that too often slip right by us.

Discover the lost spiritual discipline of holy noticing today and learn to engage the world like Christ.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

The first half of this book had me quite confused. I wasn’t entirely sure what it was talking about, or if I agreed with the author or not. I read each chapter with my skepticism rising, but also trying to keep an open mind so I could write a fair review for the book.

It wasn’t until the second half of the book that what the author was saying began to make sense to me, and I could nod in agreement and see where he was going. Because of that, I feel like my whole perspective of the book is a bit skewed. I wish the book had been set up a little bit differently without so much “introduction” type writing at the beginning. I do see why the author did that though – I think he was trying to avoid Christian’s jumping to conclusions about why he wrote what he did, and write him off as not having Biblical principles.

Essentially the book is teaching how to take time to slow down, be more in touch with the world around us, and therefore better able to focus on what God is doing.

That is something I can get totally on board with, and why I read the book in the first place. The way the author suggests to do that – his BREATHe method (and yes, the last e is lowercase) still has me slightly confused, but goes something like this:

B: Ponder and Yield Your Body
R: Review and Renew your Relationships
E: Notice and Engage your Environment
A: Label and Release Your Afflictive Emotions (Affect)
T: Be Conscious of Current Thoughts
H: Pay Attention to your Spiritual Life (Heart) and the Spirit’s whispers
e: engage the world like Christ

See why I was confused? But when I read through the second half of the book where we spend a chapter focusing on each of the letters, it’s really not that weird. Instead, the author talks about how to spend time praying about each specific thing.

For instance, when you’re on B – your body – what you do is spend three to five minutes each day thanking God for how your body works, His great design, and the various blessings He’s given you in your physical body. As you pray, you also stop to notice if you’re feeling stress, pain, etc… and if you do, then you pray about that as well.

The author mentioned how he often feels stress in his shoulders, so he breathes deeply and prays about whatever is causing the stress. This made sense to me in both physically and spiritually, because I know that I often clench my jaw without even realizing it, which can actually knock my body out of shape. The chiropractor pointed it out to me a while ago and ever since then I’ve made sure to relax my jaw whenever I realize I’m clenching it, and it actually has helped me be less stressed.

This book talks a lot about the science behind certain things – like breathing deeply, paying attention to what we focus on, and what various thought patterns (like anxiety) can do to your body, etc…. Then the author brings it all back to the Bible and shows how these principles are healthy not only from the physical and science standpoint but also spiritually.

As far as putting his steps into practice? Well, I’m still not sure what I think about that. I’ll probably try it someday and that may change my rating of the book, but who knows. 😉 As it is, I will be working at paying more attention to what I dwell on, staying focused in the moment, breathing deeply, and resting in God’s goodness.

CONCLUSION

This is one of the hardest-for-me to write book reviews, mostly because I feel like I really didn’t fully grasp what the author was saying. If any of y’all have read the book (or do read it) you should totally share your opinions with me.

RATING

I’m giving Holy Noticing three and four out of five stars – reserving my final star count until I’ve put the principles into practice and re-evaluate what I think of the book. Moody Publishers was very kind to send me a copy of this book so I could review it.

A Mom’s Guide to Lies Girls Believe

Y’all. This book is so amazing that I rearranged my schedule so I could read it before I left for vacation so I could get this review posted for you. If you’re a mom of a tween girl, then this book is one for you. If you’re not, then you can at least read my review and then buy a copy because you’re curious. 😉

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 240
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Title: A Mom’s Guide to Lies Girls Believe
Nonfiction

1

ABOUT THE BOOK

You can’t change the world, but you can prepare her for it.

Your daughter is facing challenges you never dealt with at her age! From skyrocketing anxiety rates to bullying on social media, the Enemy’s lies are everywhere. How do you help the girl you love walk in freedom?

Mom’s Guide to Lies Girls Believe, the companion book to Lies Girls Believe is your tool to come alongside your daughter in the fight against the lies the world is telling her. Based on in-depth research and focus groups led by Dannah Gresh, author of Secret Keeper Girl and Lies Young Women Believe (Coauthored with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth,) Lies Girls Believe teaches your daughter the Truth she will need to navigate the challenges she is facing. The Mom’s Guide provides research, cultural trends, and case studies about the problems tween girls face, but also offers encouragement and biblical insight to empower you to talk with your daughter about God’s truth.

Together, these books give you the tools you need to start important conversations at an age-appropriate pace. Topics include:

  • Lies about God
  • Lies about Friendship
  • Lies about the Future
  • Lies about Myself
  • Lies about Boys
WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

I really don’t remember what made me choose to request this book for review, but I’m glad I did.

Disclaimer: I’m not a mom, therefore I’m not the target audience, so my thoughts are more subjective than the average reviewer.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

I started this book on a Wednesday night, just after having a conversation with one of my tween friends at church. The conversation included her showing me her Instagram and breaking into a happy dance because her crush had voted on her story. It saddened me to see a girl – who should still be enjoying the simplicity of childhood – being wrapped up in the drama of social media.

Then I came home and began reading this book and cheered for it on nearly every single page. Y’all. This book is full of gold.

The book itself is bright, cheery, reminiscent of childhood, colorful, and interactive. It was late at night when I opened the pages, but it was so interesting I kept reading, and reading, and reading, even though I had only planned to read the first few pages. Two days later and I’ve finished the book.

This book is supposed to be read at the same time your daughter is reading Lies Girls Believe. In fact, this book includes a lot of the pages from the Lies Girls Believe, while giving the mom ideas of how to have good conversations with their daughters, as well as helping the mom see how she can model the various truths taught.

In addition to being full of truth, this book was also very interesting and kept me engaged as I read. It quoted the Bible a lot (in a different color and font which was pretty cool), added statistics, case study stories, and facts. If I had a tween daughter this is most definitely a book I’d want to go through with her.

There are twenty lies in the book, along with twenty truths to combat them. These lies/truths include a wide range of topics, from how to see God correctly, to body image, to bullying, to social media, to what it’s like to be a girl (exploring topics like periods, etc…). The book covers tons of territory in just over two hundred pages and I was very impressed.

CONCLUSION

Y’all. This book was truly fantastic. Tweens these days are bombarded by so many lies, and the best time to teach them truths is right now. I highly applaud the authors of this book, as well as the publishers to work at getting this important message out into the world.

RATING

I’m giving A Mom’s Guide to Lies Girls Believe five out of five stars – Moody Publishers was very kind to send me a copy of this book so I could review it.

In a Pit With a Lion On a Snowy Day

Y’all. This title. Can we just stop for a moment and all say that title out loud together? I like talking about this book simply for the sake of saying the title. In fact, sometimes when I’m driving by myself I say the title just because it feels like I’m telling a whole story or singing a song instead of quoting the title of a book.

Anyway. To the review.

QUICK STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 208
Publisher: Multnomah
Release Date: August 16, 2016
Title: In a Pit With a Lion On a Snowy Day
Author: Mark Batterson
Nonfiction

1.jpg

THREE PROS AND One Con

Pros:
1. You want the inspiration to get out there and do what you’re supposed to be doing? This book will give you the shove that you need while being interesting, entertaining, and full of truth.
2. With the Bible as the guide, this book talks about living the life God meant for you to live. So, it’s not the “you can do whatever you want because you’re powerful” mumble-jumble. Instead, it’s “you can do what God created you to do because He’s working through you” type of truth.
3. The author shares real-life stories – both from today’s day and age and from the Bible – that will help remind you of what the important things in life are.

Cons:
1. It does get a bit redundant, and that’s actually the only negative thing I have to say about the book. See, it really was a great book.

CONCLUSION & RATING

Y’all should probably read this book. Request it from your library or splurge to have such a cool title on your shelf. You can always pass it along when you’re done reading it because you probably know someone who needs the message the book provides.

I gave In a Pit With a Lion On a Snowy Day four out of five stars. And, I don’t have any review sites/publishers to thank for providing this gem, because I bought it instead of receiving it for review. 😉

NonFiction Books For April

As it turns out, I’ve been reading quite a bit of nonfiction this year. My goal was two nonfiction books a month, so far I’ve averaged one ever six or so days. Who would have known? Here are two snap-shot reviews of the two nonfiction books I’ve read in April so far.

I changed up how I did these reviews to make them a bit more concise. I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts. Do you like this shortened version (with pros and cons) or the longer version (with the back cover copy, why I chose the book, and a more in-depth look at my thoughts) better?

Quick STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 256
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Title: Lasting Love
Author: Alistair Begg
Nonfiction
Read The back cover Copy Here

a.jpg

Disclaimer:
I’m not married, therefore all my thoughts on this book are extremely subjective.

Three Pros and Three Pros

Pros:
*Mr. Beggs uses the Bible to back up his information – which really, is there any other way to do it? He’s also a pastor who’s been married for a long time and counseled a lot of people with marriage issues, so he seems very qualified to write this book
*Other than the beginning, I found this book to be very easy to read, grasp, and be drawn into. The information is imparted in a kind and caring way – you can tell Mr. Begg really cares about people – and yet he also stands firmly on God’s Word
*The book has good balance – showing a fairly in-depth look at both the husband and wife’s role in marriage

Cons:
*The inside of the book – as in the literal, physical inside of the book – wasn’t the easiest for me to read. I’m not sure if it was because of the size of the font or what, but it took a bit for me to get past that and into the content of the book
*Apparently this book was first published in 1997, but I didn’t know that while reading. I know that’s a little thing, but I think it would have helped the book make slightly more sense to me if I would have known that from the get-go. The con was not being aware of that – not the fact on it’s own
*The beginning of this book wasn’t my style, but as I continued reading I found a trove of great information

CONCLUSION & Rating

This is a marriage book and I don’t really recommend those because who am I to recommend a marriage book? But I most certainly don’t unrecommend it. 😉 I’m giving Lasting Love four out of five stars – Thank you to Moody Press for sending me a copy to review. Y’all are great.

1

Quick STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 256
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Title: A Cloud By Day A Fire By Night
Author: A. W. Tozer
Nonfiction
Read The back cover Copy Here

Two Pros and Two Pros

Pros:
*The setup in the book is pretty cool. The chapters are short and begin with one of A. W. Tozer’s prayers – something I normally skip in books but actually appreciated in this one. Then we have the chapter and end with a verse of a hymn that goes along with the subject of the chapter. There’s also a lot of white space which makes the book feel clean and bright
*This book does a good job of helping people learn how to find and follow God’s will. It talks a lot about the Children of Isreal wandering in the Wilderness, and how that applies to our lives today and what we can learn from them. Since I’m all for learning from other people’s mistakes so I don’t have to repeat them myself, this was pretty great

Cons:
*It just wasn’t my style. That’s lame, I know, and I feel bad saying that about a good Christian-living book. This is also an exceedingly subjective feeling that I can’t pinpoint the reasons to. Sorry, folks
*I read a lot of nonfiction books and it’s easy for me to stay focused on them, but for some reason I found my mind wandering a lot while reading this book. Again, I think it’s just because it wasn’t my style 

CONCLUSION & Rating

Although this wasn’t my favorite, there’s not anything I found wrong with it, so y’all should give it a try if it sounds good. I’m giving A Cloud by Day A Fire by Night three out of five stars – Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for this review copy. Y’all rock.

Never Let Go

Saturday might mean sleeping in for some people, but for me, it means getting up early and heading off to open the coffee shop for all those happy people who are having a laidback morning sipping a latte at their favorite table.

Full-disclosure: I’m writing this before heading to work on Thursday because I really didn’t want to get up any earlier than I had to on Saturday. 😉

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 368
Publisher: Revell
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Title: Never Let Go
Fiction

1.jpg

ABOUT THE BOOK

As a forensic genealogist, Willow Anderson is following in her late grandfather’s footsteps in her quest for answers about a baby abducted from the hospital more than twenty years ago. The case may be cold, but things are about to heat up when someone makes an attempt on her life to keep her from discovering the truth.

Ex-FBI agent–and Willow’s ex-flame–Austin McKade readily offers his help to protect the woman he never should have let get away. Together they’ll follow where the clues lead them, even if it means Austin must face the past he’s spent much of his life trying to forget. And even if it puts Willow’s tender heart at risk.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

I’m working on writing a book that includes a mystery plotline, so therefore I’ve been trying to read more books that have mysteries in them. When I saw this one on NetGalley it looked like a clean, interesting read. Plus, I have a thing for mysteries that include a cold-case abduction. (And, that’s exactly what this was.)

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

It took me a while to get into the story – I’m really not sure why this was, but for the first quarter of the book I would pick it up and set it down without really caring much about what happened. This took place over the period of about a week or two, then it was like a switch was flipped and I suddenly felt quite invested in the book. I settled in with it one evening and read the last three-quarters of the book without stopping.

I’m not exactly sure how to rate this book on the spectrum of scariness. I didn’t find it creepy (I would have stopped it if I had), but there were plenty of scary situations that the characters found themselves in.

There are a couple of mystery authors who I’ve been really into recently, but after reading/listening to a handful of their books, I’m able to predict the plotline nearly immediately. I’m not sure if it was because this author was new to me, or because she’s just really good with throwing out red herrings, but I really wasn’t sure about where the book was going or who was who until it was disclosed. That’s one of the main reasons I gave the book such a high rating. Way to go, Miss Elizabeth! (Seriously, I was barking up the wrong tree nearly the whole book.)

As always there were some elements to the story I didn’t like – including how long it took me to get into the book – but overall I really did like it. And, even though I’m about ready to get off my mystery kick, I’m interested in reading more books by this author.

CONCLUSION (With SPOILERS)

*Spoiler Alert* This part right here has spoilers in it, so stop reading the review if you don’t want to hear about the bad things that happen in the story: They found out that someone who they thought had died accidentally was actually murdered, there were a few attempts to kill the main character, there were break-ins, arson, and abductions. None of it was talked about in too much detail.

RATING

I’m giving Never Let Go four out of five stars – I’m thankful to NetGalley for providing me with an ecopy to review.

God Speaks Your Love Language (Which is Pretty Epic)

This wasn’t the post I was intending to write when I stepped on the treadmill this morning, but then as I was replying to comments someone was asking a question about this book and when I skimmed through my posts to find my review… Well, apparently I haven’t written a review yet. And folks, this is an amazing book, so I put my other posts on hold, whipped on my review cap, and here I am.

I would give what I’m trying to become the normal type of review – ya know, the  “pros vs. cons” – only, this book is too heavy on the pros and low on the cons that the aforementioned approach won’t work. 😉

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 208
Publisher: Northfield Publishing
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Title: God Speaks Your Love Langauge
Nonfiction

1

ABOUT THE BOOK

Feel God’s love more personally.

Do you realize that the God of the universe speaks your love language, and your expressions of love for Him are shaped by your love language? Learn how you can give and receive God’s love through the five love languages: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.

Gary Chapman writes, “As we respond to the love of God and begin to identify the variety of languages He uses to speak to us, we soon learn to speak those languages ourselves. Whatever love language you prefer, may you find ever deeper satisfaction in using that language in your relationship with God and with other people.”

The book includes a brand new chapter on “Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone” which will teach you the joys of speaking a love language you’re not used to with God.

No matter what love language you prefer, you will become more deeply connected with God and watch this bond transform all of your relationships.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

This is literally a book I wanted to write. In fact, at one point in time (before this book was published) I even started researching and taking notes for this book. That’s because I think it’s a really important book. So, when I saw it was published and that the publisher was willing to send me a copy to review, I jumped at the chance. (Although to clarify, this is one of those books I totally would have bought if I wasn’t sent one for free.)

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

I think so highly of this author that I didn’t think it was possible, but he actually succeeded my expectations. Yeah, it was that good.

If y’all have been around long at all you’ve probably heard how learning about the 5 Love Languages changed my life when I was in my teens. Since then I’ve read multiple editions of the books, told hundreds of people about them, and taken the test many times. Still, this book presented me with new information, giving me several great “ah-ha” moments where my life was brought into a clearer focus.

For instance, one of my top love languages is touch. I also like to dance at church. And people at my church don’t exactly dance, so as you can imagine, I’ve sometimes pondered why I do dance? Well, as it turns out, there’s a correlation between having touch as one of your primary love languages and dancing, etc… while worshiping. I would have never guessed, but it made so much sense to me. Pretty cool, right?

This book does a great job of providing a quick but good foundation as to what the love languages are, how they fit into everyday life and then showing how God speaks everyone of the love languages – which is totally wonderful. The author points out that God created languages in the first place, and He also created us to respond to certain love languages, so it makes sense that He also speaks all the love languages.

Learning about you might relate to God differently than those around you can be very helpful in helping you to stop feeling less spiritual, or maybe judging someone else as being less spiritual. It can also give you a greater understanding of how you can learn to know God on a deeper level.

The book is also super easy to read (as with all of this author’s writings), interesting and gives the most practical of tips of how to make your life more balanced.

CONCLUSION

I highly recommend this book. There might have been a thing or two that I don’t fully agree with, but as I’m writing this review only glowing positives come to mind. Y’all should read it. (And yes, it can be read even without having read any of the other love language books.)

RATING

I’m giving God Speaks Your Love Language five out of five stars and super duper highly recommend it. Also, thank you so much to the publisher for giving me a copy so I could review it and share with y’all.

Currently
Setting: On the treadmill
Listening to: An instrumental playlist on Spotify 

Question of the Day: Do you know what your love language is? 

Jesus’ Terrible Financial Advice?

It’s Spring, folks! That’s simultaneously exciting and a bit sad… Each season holds a special place in my heart and promises it’s own kind of adventure, delight, and memory-filled days.

This winter was a rather fantastic one – I am so thankful for all I learned, accomplished, and experienced during the last three months, and I’m excitedly looking forward to the next season – both of life and of nature.

And now, the seventh review of this month. (Folks, I’m kinda going review crazy this year, aren’t I? It’s rather delightful to be back in review mode.)

FIRST OFF, SOME STATS:

Find the book on: Amazon and Goodreads
Pages: 176
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Release Date: January 3, 2017
Title: Jesus’ Terrible Financial Advice
Nonfiction

1

ABOUT THE BOOK

“Jesus’ advice ruined what I planned to write.”

It was the recipe for a great book. John and his wife—both financial experts—had cut their income by 80% to pursue more meaningful lives. Within six years they had two kids, were debt-free, went on several vacations, and doubled their net worth. John was ready to share the biblical principles that made this possible.

But he couldn’t. After reviewing Scripture’s teaching on money—over 1,300 verses—he realized he had missed something big.

Jesus’ Terrible Financial Advice turns even conventional Christian wisdom on its head. While it answers many of the practical questions we have—like does Jesus want me to be rich or poor? Should I give to everybody who asks? Is it wrong to save?—it goes beyond these concerns. It asks bigger questions, gives bolder answers, and offers a more comprehensive view of stewardship. Follow Jesus’ “terrible” (shocking, otherworldly) financial advice, and you’ll have what money can’t buy: purpose.

WHY I CHOOSE THIS BOOK

That backcover blurb, folks. It intrigued me. Plus, the title. Who wouldn’t want to read a book like that? Plus, if y’all have been around for long then you know that I’m currently working at trying to learn how to relate to money well – tracking how I spend it, reading books about how to steward my money well, and seeking God’s will for how I spend, save, and give. This book seemed like a natural read considering all that.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS BOOK

For being such a short book this nugget took what felt like an inordinately long amount of time to read. In an effort to be succinct, here’s a list of pros and cons.

Pros:
*The author has done his research. He’s not only fairly over-qualified when it comes to a human standpoint (he’s a CPA with a Ph.D. in Accounting), but he also has studied the subject of money extensively in the Bible.
*He puts God’s Word above his own logic. I really liked what he had to say about that – basically, if he finds an inconsistency with what he believes vs. what he discovers in the Bible he realizes that he must be wrong somehow, so he digs in to find out the truth.
*He has a lot of good to say about how and where to place money in our lives. For the most part, I agreed with what he said and felt like he provided a good balance between the mentality and practical side of finances.

Cons:
*The biggest con for me is I simply did not relate well to his style. I’m not sure what it was about his writing but it didn’t jive well with me. I realize this is entirely subjective and even though it lowered the rating of the book for me, it’s not a bad thing by any means.
*There were several things I disagreed with – and this could very well have been a matter of interpretation, so I could have simply misunderstood him, but it bothered me a fair amount.
*Sometimes the book felt a bit redundant, despite how short it was.

CONCLUSION

The last third of the book was my favorite and where I really felt like I learned something. I didn’t agree with everything I read, but nothing was big enough for me to not recommend the book. Overall it was pretty solid and pointed out a lot of good things.

RATING

I’m giving Jesus’ Terrible Financial Advice 3 out of 5 stars. Moody Publishers graciously sent me a copy of this book so I could review it – all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Currently
Setting: Walking on the treadmill – by the time I push publish I’ll have gone a mile and a half
Listening to: The Greatest Showman soundtrack (Anyone surprised? I’m also dancing to it as I write which is tricky considering I’m on a treadmill…)

Question of the Day: What’s your favorite thing about Spring?