Click Here For Free Blog Backgrounds!!!
Blogaholic Designs

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

52 Little Lessons from Les Miserables

Bob Welch is the author of seventeen books, an award-winning columnist, a speaker, and an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of Oregon in Eugene.  His articles have been published in inspirational books, including the popular "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series.

Bob believes in changing the world one word at a time.  Read more about Bob and his writing and speaking schedule at

"There is one spectacle greater than the sea:  that is the sky; there is one spectacle greater than the sky:  that is the interior of the soul."

Whether on stage, page, or screen, few stories engage the heart quite the way Les Miserables does.  From the agony of Fantine's sorrow to the beauty of Jean Valjean's broken spirit, it is a story that reminds us only love can overcome the devastation of life's suffering.

In 52 Little Lessons from Les Miserables, author Bob Welch illuminates the spiritual themes woven throughout Victor Hugo's magnificent story of anguish, mercy, suffering, and forgiveness in the face of adversity.  Through this collection of insights, we remember Jean Valjean's transformation, the bishop's compassion, and the redemption that flows from it.  We are reminded that even the coldest heart can thaw, and that mercy can transform us all from teh worst to the best versions of ourselves.  Through the individual plights of the bishop, Valjean, Fantine, Cossette, Javert, Marus, and Eponine, Welch reminds us that Christlike love, at its purest, restores us all in beautiful ways.

My Thoughts:
One of the quotes Welch uses in 52 Lessons from Les Miserables is this one from St. Augustine:
"God gives where He finds empty hands.  A man whose hands are full of parcels can't receive a gift."
Welch has offered readers, Les Miserables fans or not, a gift.  While the title has the word "little" in it and each one of the 52 chapters are "short", don't let those descriptive words fool you on the value of the content.  Welch seems to be a man of few words, but his words count.

In the 150 years since Hugo's original book was published, there have been hundreds of theatrical productions, around thirty films and multiple written commentaries.  I believe Welch's book could be the most valuable because he pulls out the themes of death and resurrection, law and grace, wrongdoing and redemption and shows his readers this story through a gospel lens.

I highly recommend this book which would be perfect for use weekly in the new year as a devotional aid, for use with a small group, or for a book club discussion (questions are included in the book).

*I was given a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of review as part of the Book Look Bloggers group.

You can order your copy at HERE.

Happy New Years Ya'll,

Longing For More: Daily Reflections on Finding God in the Rhythms of Life

Timothy Willard serves as Spiritual Director for the Praxis Nonprofit Accelerator and coauthored the critically acclaimed book Veneer.  He is a PhD candidate at King's College London and lives in Oxford, England.  When he's not scratching poetry, chasing the scholar's craft, or carving trails on his mountain bike, he enjoys making up faerie stories about the English countryside for his wife and three pixie daughters.

You can learn more about Willard at

Catch your breath and sit for a moment.  
Now listen...

What do you hear - questions of trust, longing, disappointment, courage, and love?  In Longing for More, Timothy Willard invites us to think and pray through our deepest needs, and explores how the ebb and flow of life can be used for God's glory.  Creatively organized in 52 chapters that follow the four seasons of the year, the daily readings point the way to a richer spiritual life.

My Thoughts:
I love new beginnings.  One of my favorite things to do near the end of an old year and looking toward the new is to pick a new Bible Reading Plan along with a new journal, pens and devotional guide.  I will be using Timothy Willard's Longing for More this year.
Longing for More is organized into 52 chapters reflecting the rhythms of daily life (following the seasons) with a reading for each working day, totaling 5 days. Each day, Willard gives a focus scripture, short devotional thought and prayer with Wednesday being devoted to a pause in prayer.  Every twelfth week, Willard offers what he calls "The Long Pause" - a time of reflection on what is working or not working and an opportunity to change things up if necessary as well as encouragement to unplug for some "real time off the grid".
You may ask, "Why such an emphasis on 'rhythms'?"  Willard says...
"Why God rhythms?  Because life is anything but formulaic."
I appreciate that this devotional is a mixture of scripture, devotional meditations and quotes with a supreme focus on the truth of Christ as found in His Word.  While the book contains the author's reflections on the God rhythms he has experienced in his own life, he encourages the reader to use this book only as an addition to their own study, times of quietness before the Lord and prayer. Willard encourages relationship over a legalistic "checking off" of a scripture reading in order to somehow seek God's in the presence of God.

Published by Bethany House, the book can be ordered at by going HERE.

*I received a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of review.


Friday, December 26, 2014

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet

Sara Hagerty is a wife to Nate and a mother of five whose arms stretched wide across the ocean to Africa.  After almost a decade of Christian life, she was introduced to ain and perplexity and, ultimately, intimacy with Jesus.  God met her and moved her when life stopped working for her.  His Word and His whisper took on new shape and form to her in the dark.  Sara writes regularly about life-delays, motherhood, marriage, adoption, and finding God in the unlikely at

*If you visit the website, you can download the first chapter of Sara's book Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet:  Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things.

Shaping the bitterness of loss into a new place of Hope...

What does it look like to know God's nearness when your world stops working?

What does it mean to receive His life when earthly life remains barren?

How can God turn the bitterness of unmet desire into new flavors of joy?

Sara Hagerty has lived these questions.  Masterfully drawing from her experiences of spiritual and physical barrenness, she will help you set afire a new longing for God.  This is the story of the beautifully invasive love of God for every person.  With exquisite storytelling and reflection, Hagerty guides you to a tender place that God is holding just for you - a place where He shapes the bitterness of loss into deep,new invitations to knowing Him.

"A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet."
Proverbs 27:7

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

"The God behind it was proving Himself to be fundamentally different than what I'd supposed for at least a decade, maybe more.  But I was finding Him.  In the places I had feared most and spent a lifetime avoiding, He was meeting me.  My worst, my very worst, moments were getting rewritten without circumstances changing.  I was getting acquainted with the kind of deep satisfaction that bad news can't shake.  He was showing me Himself as strong enough.  He was letting me hide in Him, letting me find a safe place."
"No part of knowing God is passive...They reached the unreached with a life, not just a message."
"Fear loses oxygen when every moment suspends itself under the purpose of bringing Him glory, of knowing His name and His nature."
"God was working every angle to change our knowledge about who He is.  We realized that our lives aren't, in fact, a series of rewards for doing things 'right'.  They are strung-together surprises that continue to speak more of who He is than who we aren't."
And those are just a few!

Sara uses the transparency of her life to give readers a picture of the wonderfully amazing goodness of God in ALL things - the good, bad and down right ugly.  We expect things to be smooth and easy after coming to know God, but Sara helps us understand through her life's example that the greater knowing often comes through the painfully difficult.  Against the night, stars shine the brightest.

Included at the end of each chapter is a section I found most helpful titled "For Your Continued Pursuit".  In this section, Sara gives a list of Scriptures and gives the reader the opportunity to "trace any spoken declarations back to God's truth and use those as starting points for adoring Him, for making His Word part of their everyday language."

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet is a book to be read more than once.  I know I plan to read it again.

*I was given a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of giving my honest review.

Blessings Ya'll,

365 Moments of Peace for a Woman's Heart

365 Moments of Peace was written for the purpose of opening the door wide to knowing God and becoming the woman He created you to be.  When you look into His face and see your reflection in His loving eyes, you'll receive strength to overcome fears and obstacles, discover new ways of thinking, and develop the skills to walk in new and exciting paths.

My Thoughts:
As 2014 comes to an end, many of you may be thinking about new devotional materials to use for 2015.  Bethany House has published a devotional book with the purpose of directing our gaze on God and knowing Him.  365 Moments of Peace for a Woman's Heart consists of 365 short devotional thoughts beginning and ending with a focus Scripture.  The readings are short, but consistently point the reader's thoughts on finding their worth and hope in Christ.  As women, we wear many hats and fulfill many different needs in the lives of those we love and choose to invest.  This devotional helps us to focus on Christ and understanding that all we do should be an overflow of our time spent with Him.  Because of the short readings, 365 Moments of Peace would be a perfect addition to your nightstand and would give your mind the proper focus at the end of your busy days.

*I was given a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Blessings Ya'll,

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Mom's Prayers for Her Son: Praying for Every Part of His Life

Rob and Joanna Teigen are the authors of 88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates and A Dad's Prayers for His Daughter.  Rob is also the author of several joke books, including Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids (under the pseudonym Rob Elliott).
The Teigens are the parents of a son in college, a son in preschool, and three beautiful daughters in between and live in West Michigan.

Rob and Joanna Teigen give you a strong foundation to build a lifelong habit of prayer for your son with a collection of specific prayers you can use to get started right now.  With engaging stories from well-known authors such as Kathi Lipp, Pam Farrel, Lisa Samra and others, you'll learn how to pray for your son's development of character, courage, self-control, forgiveness and more.

Remember:  You may not always understand your son, but God does!  Start asking for His guidance, protection and blessings today.

My Thoughts:
Prayer is sometimes a daunting discipline to approach in view of "Who" we are coming before...the Almighty Creator and Sustainer of our lives...the Holy One; and it is even more so when we approach God on behalf of our children.  There are a multitude of things to pray for when it comes to our children.  Where do we even begin?
The Teigens have written and excellent resource to help us.  This book is not another "how to" or formula ridden guide to doing prayer better.  Rob and Joanna lead by example in A Mom's Prayers for her Son.  The Teigens cover 77 unique areas to pray over our sons by giving a couple of Scripture passages and then a prayer from those passages.  Peppered throughout the book are stories from other mothers.
I was somewhat skeptical about the book in the beginning, thinking, "Do we really need another book on prayer?"  I was pleasantly surprised!  But, instead of talking about prayer and how we should all be doing it this way as opposed to another way, the Teigens pray and through their prayers encourage us moms to do just that...pray!

*I was provided a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of review.

You can order your copy from Amazon by going HERE.

Blessings Ya'll,

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Brothers' Keepers

About the author: After an award-winning detour through journalism and marketing and a graduate degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, NLB Horton returned to writing fiction. She has surveyed Israeli and Jordanian archaeological digs accompanied (twice!) by heavy artillery rounds from Syria and machine gun fire from Lebanon. Calmly tossed a tarantula from her skiff into the Amazon after training with an Incan shaman. Driven uneventfully through Rome. And consumed gallons of afternoon tea across five continents. Her first novel, When Camels Fly, was released in May, 2014.The Brothers' Keepers her second in the Parched series, will be released November 17, 2014. The third in the series will release in the fall of 2015.

Find NLB online: websiteFacebook
About the book: 

The Brothers' Keepers | RidgeRoute Press (November 2015)

A friend's deception. A family's dilemma.

While cataloging looted antiquities in Brussels, archaeologist Grace Madison learns that her daughter has disappeared in France, and daughter-in-law has been attacked in Switzerland. But before the Madisons can save themselves, they must rescue an old friend---if he'll let them. Navigating a deadly, four-thousand-year-old artifact trail that crosses three continents, they jeopardize hearts and lives against a foe as old as time---as time runs out.

Because choosing what's right is all that's left.

My Thoughts:
I'd like to preface my comments on The Brothers' Keepers with the fact that this book is the second book in Horton's Parched series.  I did not read book one and that fact may play a part in my not connecting well with the characters or story line.
With that said, I found it hard to "get into" this book and it was difficult to finish.  The entire time I read, I kept thinking, "I'm missing something."  I would certainly recommend reading book one prior to reading this one.  Horton drops the reader in the middle of the action and takes off running.  The whole time I read, I felt like I was behind.  There is so much happening in the story that it was hard to keep up.  I would be interested in giving another try at Horton's writing, but would not make the mistake of jumping in the middle of a series.

*I was provided a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

NLB Horton The Brothers' Keepers

Happy Reading Ya'll,