"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion — to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."~from ISAIAH 61 Bible verse for this Blog

APOLOGY to READERS who followed a SEARCH to HERE & didn't find it

On July 18, 2017, I drafted almost 3000 blog posts that I had published since 2008 when I began blogging, rather than edit each one. So if you clicked here from somewhere else and ended up with the post unavailable or error, I am sorry but this is why. It'd be too much work for me to go back and fix them. There's an explanation on 7/19/17 as I'm still learning.

Saturday, December 31, 2016


{last day to get a post in for this past year & one that will usher in the new year}

This book review is establishing my direction for
{mine and others, I pray}

Image result for the one year book of healing - Tyndale
Dr. Reggie Anderson
Jennifer Schuchmann

... it's the rest of this book's title that captures my attention and interest to read it ...

"...Daily Appointments with God for Physical, Spiritual, and Emotional Wholeness"

Thanks to Tyndale, this is a real book, not a virtual ebook that I can
actually hold in my hands, day after day, like the beautiful one
I so enjoyed this past year by Chris Tiegreen
(also from Tyndale)
"The One Year: Hearing His Voice"
"Book of Healing"
{was waiting for me when I arrived home from MX}
is one I intend to read more meticulously for 2017

" Dr. Reggie Anderson, author of the acclaimed memoir "Appointments with Heaven," knows it can’t be predicted how God’s healing work will come to pass in our lives and hearts . . . only that it will. As a country doctor who has had remarkable experiences attending people in pain, Reggie wants you to see what he sees every day—that whatever your sickness, whatever your hurt, God is alive and active in your life. He wants you to be truly well, even if that looks different than you might expect. Rich in story and inspiration, The One Year Book of Healing will reveal the many ways our Savior heals and intervenes in the lives of the sick and the hurting—giving you the faith, hope, and patience to believe that God can do the same in your life."

Although "The One Year Book of Healing..." is the first book that I have read by Dr. Reggie Anderson, I was familiar with his previous book, "Appointments with Heaven," and had heard much about it, so I was intrigued and so ready for this book. "The One Year Book of Healing" is an inspirational book to read daily God's "prescription" for the day with encouraging, heartfelt messages that on many days give personal stories of healing or a message from Dr. Reggie Anderson. 

I enjoy the set-up of this devotional. Each month starts out with a monthly "Checkup" and a "Booster Shot" - God knows I need the 'check-up' part more than the 'shot'. So the book is clearly divided into the twelve months, with a devotion and reading from God's Word each day. The monthly checkup is an overview of common experiences: such as October, where I started, sharing gifts of kindness and setting goals; whereas January realistically speaks of our interior life, because January can be gloomy but gives us a time to prepare our hearts for renewal; or what we might expect that month physically or emotionally.

Each monthly "Checkup" introduction gives us a spiritual monthly challenge "to enhance our relationship with God." I really like this motivation and the various sound ideas given. Dr. Reggie Anderson clearly does give us what his objective is: "to help us see God through fresh eyes". I look forward to giving these a try but he also leaves us free to adapt or replace his suggestions if they don't work for us. The "booster shot" is meant to encourage us to better and healthier lifestyle - "greater health and wellness" (are his words).

Each day before the devotion, the book gives us a Scripture and we are encouraged to have our Bibles to go further and read in context to get more understanding. The personal stories from his own life and  medical practice are all true but, of course, the identity and privacy of the patients are protected. I appreciate that Dr. Reggie hopes that these stories demonstrate that "God is always present in our pain and suffering" and that his patients will amaze us with their "stories of how their faith has grown, even when their prayers weren't answered the way they hoped."

After each day's devotion, Dr. Reggie writes a daily Rx ... offering us a "suggestion for something we can do or consider" to feel better, grow stronger, or draw closer to our Father. Then as I love, he closes in prayer. {you know that's my favorite part in any daily devotional, it serves to focus my prayer and I use them usually as a prayer starter} ... 

I am sure that reading this daily will inspire me and encourage me; after reading this for an entire year page by page, that these rich stories will bring testimony to God, hope in healing, and most definitely "reveal the many ways our Savior heals and intervenes in the lives of the sick and hurting" - this most certainly will give my faith a boost, stir up my hope and teach me a bit more patience to believe that God can do the same for me and my loved ones as HE has done for the others in this book. 

I truly believe that this book - "The One Year Book of Healing" - holds the hope and the healing that I desperately need, even still and now in my life journey, of God's healing touch on my life. I'm only giving it 4 out of 5 stars on my recommendation, yet by the end of 2017, I should probably give a post review to see how this book has served its purpose of inspiration and healing that I can share with others, who also need a touch of God in their circumstances ... and the increase of my faith and hope in God, our Healer, Jehovah Rapha, for HE is alive and active in our lives (even if and when we don't feel or see healing) God is undeniably at work, for He most certainly wants us to be "truly well, even if that wellness looks different from what we expect". As I pick up this book, look at the beautiful cover of flowing, healing water and in colors that invite me to turn the pages and find the testimony, scripture and prescription that promises to do a deep work in me as I'm challenged to allow God's healing. 

In fact ... I have decided that this


is the




{but we'll see more about this WORD, after I start my year with
40 Days of Prayers}

with LifeWay Women

40 Days of Prayer
[image credit and link]

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book through their Tyndale Blogger's Network. 

Disclosure: I received this book free from Tyndale Blog Network blogger's review program. 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

... and the ending of this blog post is in no way a part of Tyndale nor is this book part of LifeWay Women. They are not connected except by me.

Friday, December 30, 2016

"Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely"

Lysa TerKeurst

Back in August, Lysa TerKeurst released and launched her newest book "Uninvited..." and Proverbs 31 Ministry announced that this was going to be their fall Online Bible Study, so more than anything I wanted to be a part of this and read yet another one of one of my favorite author's amazing books, knowing full well "Uninvited" would be another best selling book of hers. I chose this book based on how Lysa, the author, seems to speak personally to me and touches me deeply in every one of her books that I've read, because she writes so honestly and her vulnerability tends to help me glean from her life experiences, struggles and ways she finds answers in God's Word that will point me in the right direction, giving me tools to grow. This book does not fail. In fact, that is part of the reason it has taken me this long to write my review, added to my transition of returning to home after 20 yrs. in Mexico and all the situations I've encountered since choosing to read this book. 

From the title, "Uninvited..", I did not think this book would be one for me, although "...living loved..." and the rest, seemed more like it might interest me. I really did not understand why "uninvited" was her title until I caught that this was dealing with the roots of rejection. Her personal stories, as always, shows how Lysa deals or dealt with this in her own life or others close to her and overcame, giving me a reason to pay closer attention and look more deeply into my own life. 

It could not have come at a better time for me, but also an inopportune time for me to have time to read. {not an excuse, just the truth} So I was unable to read right away as I normally do and participate along with the Online Bible Study. I was less than half way when I made the move home from Mexico and finally I have been able to sit down and read the Kindle version. I certainly have dealt with my share of rejection, being a people pleaser. 

Book Description:
"The enemy wants us to feel rejected . . . left out, lonely, and less than. When we allow him to speak lies through our rejection, he pickpockets our purpose. Cripples our courage. Dismantles our dreams. And blinds us to the beauty of Christ’s powerful love.

In Uninvited, Lysa shares her own deeply personal experiences with rejection—from the incredibly painful childhood abandonment by her father to the perceived judgment of the perfectly toned woman one elliptical over.
With biblical depth, gut-honest vulnerability, and refreshing wit, Lysa helps readers:
  • Release the desire to fall apart or control the actions of others by embracing God-honoring ways to process their hurt.
  • Know exactly what to pray for the next ten days to steady their soul and restore their confidence.
  • Overcome the two core fears that feed our insecurities by understanding the secret of belonging.
  • Stop feeling left out and start believing that "set apart" does not mean "set aside."
  • End the cycle of perceived rejection by refusing to turn a small incident into a full blown issue.

I could not have been more wrong about this book not being for me. Each chapter became my new favorite. Each one of the 16 Chapters spoke louder and louder to my heart and my spiritual condition. And the Bonus chapter "What's It Like to do Life with Me" assessment along with "Corrective Experience Chart" as well as the rest of the last portion of this book, go far beyond in speaking to the reader like no other book of hers has with me. I appreciate her personal "Note" to us but each chapter is like a personal note or time spent with a dear soul friend working through our "stuff" together. No, it's not meant to replace a professional counselor, yet this self-help book digs deep into God's Word and helps us apply much to our own life and situations. One of the biggest bonuses for me was seeing how to change our experiences in our life and our past, whether it's rejection or something else that hurt us, that damaged us, that left us "feeling" left out, less than and lonely"; which can inflict more on our relationships today if left unresolved, so we can come to fully grasp what it looks like to "Live Loved" - turning our rejection into redemption; our messes into His miracle in the Masterpiece He is refining us to be. Lysa has gone a step beyond in this book for me! So much so, I am doing her DVDs of this book, which are so beautifully done in the Holy Land and I love this added touch and also I purchased for Christmas her Study Guide to do this entire book all over again with these added resources. I have felt, as Lysa even writes, that indeed she has come along side me, "taken my hand as a trusted friend" to help me "enter a place of powerful healing and a new perspective."

"Uninvited is the beautiful reminder you need to believe you are destined for a love that can never be diminished, tarnished, shaken or taken - a love that does not reject or uninvite. With Jesus you are always invited in."

I held off writing this review because, honestly, I was not sure how I could express the impact of this book in the way that it changed me and will change me still. "Uninvited..." is a challenging book filled with scriptural and personal wisdom. I thought when I arrived at Chapter 10 "Ten Things You Must Remember When Rejected" --- which alone makes the book worth getting, that it couldn't get any better, but as I've written each one spoke more and more to me like these: "The Enemy's Plan Against You", "Miracles in the Mess", "I Want to Run Away" (as I have done so often) to "Moving through the Desperate In-Between" and the final chapter (you think) 16 "What I Thought Would Fix Me Didn't" ... and then after the book supposedly has ended all the extras at the end, especially a summation of the Scriptures and "All the Things I Don't Want You to Forget" (which you know is all the highlights and notes you've made or needed)! Excellent!!! 

I cannot recommend this book enough.
(even if you don't think "rejection" is your problem)

"Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely"
provokes much thought and reflection
- not at all a light read -
challenges, encourages, uplifts
and above all
draws you into digging deep
into God's Word
and your life.


Thank you Lysa TerKeurst
for being brave and bold enough
to write this book and help others once again
in truth, love, honesty, wit and understanding with gentle words
inviting us
to be like the
"Olive Tree"
(what a beautiful analogy)
Image result for olive tree in gethsemane
[image credit: Bible Places]

May we grow through each season we walk through
as you have and share.
Bless you Lysa!
{and sorry to you, your publisher, and BookLook Bloggers for my late review}

So there you have one of my two reviews  
(working on my other one)

I received this book through the BookLookBloggers Program

Disclosure: I received this book free from Book Look Blogger's Review program. 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

Saturday, August 13, 2016

"UNashamed ...

"Unashamed ...
Drop the Baggage, Pick up Your Freedom, Fulfill Your Destiny"

Book Description
{I don't share book descriptions often but this one captures many points}

"Shame can take on many forms. It hides in the shadows of the most successful, confident and high-achieving woman who struggles with balancing her work and children, as well as in the heart of the broken, abused and downtrodden woman who has been told that she will never amount to anything. Shame hides in plain sight and can hold us back in ways we do not realize. But Christine Caine wants readers to know something: we can all be free.

“I know. I’ve been there,” writes Christine. “I was schooled in shame. It has been my constant companion from my very earliest memories. I see shame everywhere I look in the world, including in the church. It creeps from heart to heart, growing in shadowy places, feeding on itself so that those struggling with it are too shamed to seek help from shame itself.”
In Unashamed, Christine reveals the often-hidden consequences of shame—in her own life and the lives of so many Christian women—and invites you to join her in moving from a shame-filled to a shame-free life.
In her passionate and candid style, Christine leads you into God’s Word where you will see for yourself how to believe that God is bigger than your mistakes, your inadequacies, your past, and your limitations. He is not only more powerful than anything you’ve done but also stronger than anything ever done to you. You can deal with your yesterday today, so that you can move on to what God has in store for you tomorrow—a powerful purpose and destiny he wants you to fulfill.
Join the journey. Lay ahold of the power of Jesus Christ today and step into the future—his future for you—a beautiful, full, life-giving future, where you can even become a shame-lifter to others. Live unashamed! "

How does one begin a review on a book dealing with "shame" and your personal take away of the impact and effect "Unashamed ..." has on you as God reveals the hidden parts of your life that you have faced or face as God goes deeper personally with you through the words written by Christine Caine, as she unveils through her own life, how she moved from a "shame-filled" to a "shame-free life" inviting God to walk with you through this same process of "dropping the baggage, picking up your freedom, to fulfill your destiny"? It's not all that simple, yet knowing how Christine Caine not only has done this for herself, other women like you and I that read her words, but also because of her living testimony, she has become a powerful advocate, recognized teacher, preacher, author, activist as a founder of "The A21 Campaign", where I'm sure she puts to practice over and over again for those rescued from human trafficking, that desperately need to know God can do this for them too, which certainly lets the rest of us know, that in our own "shame" journey, we too can "live unashamed". 

It's interesting to note that perhaps "shame" may not be an issue for you as such, but as you read through these 11 chapters, you notice that your problem or issue quite possibly relates to "shame"{as Laurie McClure found out and shares as she prepares for the upcoming study at Faith Gateway with the Study Guide of this book and honestly lets us know her revelations 'brick by brick'} even by looking at just the Introduction and examples of "shame", we can see ... 

"...Shame is “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging" . . . Guilt says, ‘You’ve done something bad.’ Shame says: ‘You are bad.’  – Brene Brown" - "Christine summarizes it this way: “Guilt is about my do. Shame is about my who.”

We don't have to live "shackled by shame"!

It's my understanding that the Book (with 11 chapters that I read) and the Study Guide (with 5 sessions that are part of the 5 week Study at Faith Gateway - sign up) pack different lessons and additional ones from Scripture. As I have mentioned often I prefer books that include the study guide in the book, not as separate purchases, but in this case, the study guide implements more of what the book describes. 
Since I have read Christine Caine before and heard her speak, I am better acquainted with her story and like her powerful style. She writes from experience and from her heart with true honesty, and a gift of putting her ideas and feelings in words that inspire and are easily understood. You can identify with her and her journey even if your own is not as intense or if it is as heavy-ladened and find a God-given response. 

The best part for me was about the "power of choice" that even though I cannot change the past, "neither what has happened to me, nor what I have done", I can make decisions that will change the future. The key to becoming shame-free is choosing to change your perspective and not allow the enemy (or anyone else, not even yourself) to convince yourself that you or I, are not victims in any way; telling ourselves "I am not voiceless, powerless, helpless, useless, meaningless, etc.", Jesus Christ came to set me free (which I knew) but now I learned that it is a choice to focus more on what Jesus has done than on what others have done or said, God has given me a good plan and purpose with a destiny, so that I will have faith to stand up, start moving forward and live free from shame or anything else that hinders me from walking in the freedom Jesus won and gives me to live abundantly and un-ashamed, (or whatever) unshackled, unleashed, unwavering, undistracted, uncluttered, unmasked, unmistaken, uncovered, unafraid, undaunted, (another of Christine's books) and on and on (taken from part of the ending of this book) understandable in our choices ... This is the new image that I will take away from reading all Christine shares in how to inspire others like myself to live in the fullness of God's promises, shining brighter, able to "BE ME", and live unashamed.

unashamed study christine caine

Also Christine Caine did this as a Book Club back in May 2016  with the Propel Facebook group. I can't wait for the upcoming study with the videos and chats where I am sure to glean much more. There's even a peek of the first Session "Run, Don't Hidehere so you can find out if this is suited to you and your life better. The 10 day reading plan available through You Version gives a very good glimpse into "Unashamed".

Disclosure: I received this book free from Book Look Blogger's Review program. 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

Saturday, June 18, 2016

"The Longing in Me - How Everything You Crave Leads to the Heart of God" By Sheila Walsh

"The Longing in Me - How Everything You Crave Leads to the Heart of God" By Sheila Walsh 

To me, one of the marks of a good book, an exceptionally good book which this is, seems to be how well does it resonate in your soul and changes something within you as you read, and as in this one, "leads you to the heart of God". It not only inspires you and strikes a chord deep within, but reading the book helps you "change the way you respond to life's stresses" {boy, do I need this} or life in general, and your perspective is awakened in a fresh way. That's what Sheila's "Longing ..." book is ...

Sheila Walsh not only states in her intro that this is part of her prayer for this book, but that it helps the reader (me, in this case; or you, if you're bold, brave and bright enough to read it) "find the one true Source who can meet your deepest longings so you can change..." and "give you tools to heal from the past and find joy today." And no one can do this as well as Sheila, with her honest and vulnerable style of writing, weaving her own personal life story and testimony, with a well known biblical figure of a man "after the heart of God" - as she walks us through David's life and worst choices, her life and the life of other women, like me and perhaps you, to study the "Longings" and "learn how to channel those to know God more" and help us "determine what to do when we lose our way", as often we do and have yet realizing that "Longings are part of life." ... not just good or evil.

... "We long to be seen.
We long to be chosen.
We long to be loved.
We long to know that we matter."

"When those longings are left unmet, what do we do? Where do we go?"

Sheila shows us in 10 chapters that she "believes it is a sacred ache, a longing for the very heart of God" and I couldn't agree more. In fact, Sheila's life story is one I can relate to ever so well and I find myself reading and rereading the parts that sound so familiar and have to pinch myself trying to remember she is writing about her life (or David's) not mine, still she tells it so remarkably well "I get it", which is why it resonates with me every step of the way and each longing or vignette touches my heart in a way that changes me, awakens me and illuminates a light in what use to be darkness or dark moments. So I nod as I read along, knowing that this book is making an impact and a difference in me in ways that only God knows. 

Those 10 chapters touch on our longings: the longing to be chosen, the longing to be protected, the longing for what use to be, the longing for control, the longing for your rights, the longing for that one thing you think you need :) - the longing to make everything right, the longing for what would glorify God, the longing to share the grace and mercy we've received from God and the longing for God alone. Each chapter starts out with a Scripture verse and of course, elaborates on a portion of King David's biblical story with the sharing of Sheila's own life experiences, some parts never written about before this book. "The fact is, your longings are built from the blueprint of your needs: for protection, for love, for God. And those needs aren’t going anywhere. You vowed you’d never repeat the same mistakes—yet you find yourself right where you started. What is it that keeps drawing you back into the same old traps?" Sound familiar? well, it sure does to me ... "If you keep reaching out to the wrong people at the wrong times in your own life, "The Longing in Me" will help you understand that your cravings are not the problem. It’s where they lead you that makes all the difference." (parts of the actual book description)

"It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them." - George Elliot

Both the DVDs and the Study Guide
enhance this book greatly!

I so enjoyed watching Sheila in the beautifully chosen scenes of these DVDS and listening to her speak with us
in the 6 sessions that Study Gateway made available to us during the online study at Faith Gateway.

However, just reading this book alone will help anyone
but especially those hurting from their past
and trying to fill the voids in your life with anything
leading you to long for the wrong thing;
to fill what only God can fill
and He will
you read this book

Great for individual or small group studies with the Study Guide.
{although I prefer the Study Guides included in the book}

Sheila Walsh
"is known as a powerful communicator, Bible teacher, and bestselling author"
however she goes far beyond this 
in this newest release
of heart-wrenching
life experiences
as she is gifted in the art of 
retelling parts of the Bible, especially about King David
 and making each one come alive and become real for us today
as she applies the lessons to her and our own life
in a fresh, honest and eye-opening way
that touches your heart and brings 
everything you crave to lead
you to the heart of God

I can never say enough about
Sheila Walsh and this book
the lessons that Christ continues to teach her and me
on our life journeys
especially how her honest words help me become more aware
of my "longings" in the past and even now
with a kind healing and peace
that only God can give
and has
as is/was
Sheila's prayer
to receive healing and find joy
which helps me as it did her
to "understand the past", "fully engage in the present" 
and "find hope in the future"
with this truth:



I will treasure this book and quite likely return to it often!

especially when I long for God and need to be reminded of how 
He longs for me.
{another mark of a good book "returning to read it again"
besides the turned down, well worn pages, 
 which in a Kindle ebook converts to bookmarks and highlights}

Disclosure: I received this book free from Book Look Bloggers and Thomas P. Nelson Publishers in return for an honest review. 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

And if you are not totally convinced that this is the book for you to read yet, see this and you can even check out some others linked below that are longer...
"The Longing in Me..."

"The Longing in Me Small Group Bible Study by Sheila Walsh - Session One"
"The Longing In Me Online Bible Study Kickoff "with Sheila Walsh

The images all belong to Sheila Walsh
{and she has more images with really wonderful quotes on her book's page 
down at the bottom}

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"LifeGrowth Guide - You're Already Amazing" by Holley Gerth

Gerth_AlreadyAmazingLifeGrowthGuide_3D 250+Gerth_AlreadyAmazing_3D 250



combination of 

"embracing who we are, becoming all God created us to be"

written aMazingly from the heart of

Holley Gerth

which truly is such a personal encouragement from this

best selling writer, certified life coach, speaker

and co-founder of (in)courage


I had the added advantage of not only reading simultaneously both books {due to the precious heart of Lori Schumaker who had a giveaway, but also decided to give actual hands-on copies to me, not even the winner} but actually working through the LifeGrowth Guide along with Holley Gerth and other readers through Holley's aMazing Online Book Club and exceptional resources made available on her website. Although the LifeGrowth Guide actually can stand and be read on its own with excerpts from the original "You're Already Amazing" included in it, if you are like me and missed out on reading the first one, it's so much better to read them both together as instructed at the beginning of each "session" of the "LifeGrowth Guide". 

There are only 6 sessions in the "LifeGrowth Guide" and the book "You're Already Amazing" actually has 11 chapters plus a "Go Deeper Guide" which makes both of these great for small groups at church or individual or with an actual counselor, although Holley's gifted in "counseling" and the exercises in both show her very qualified expertise plus the heart of a sister in Christ speaking frankly and openly with you throughout her books. She's as real as they come and a genuine kindred spirit that really cares! which shows in her writing in her books and on her blog (and in case you did not know on some very special cards that she's created at Dayspring). These 6 sessions – each with a section in the workbook also have a video session that’s about 10 minutes long are: 1)Who God Created Us to Be, 2) What’s True No Matter How We Feel, 3) Our Amazing Journey with Jesus, 4) God’s Plan for Our Relationships, 5) God’s Purpose for Our Lives, 6) How We Can Thrive for a Lifetime. The LifeGrowth Guide has sections in the workbook to answer specific questions, journal your thoughts and prayers, and do other creative exercises to help you GROW. Each section ends with a part called "Your Life Coach" and that is who Holley has become to so many of us struggling with our self esteem or believing we are aMazing. Her charts, tips, notes and wisdom from her own life and God's Word add so much to this edition.
Holley has gone a step beyond with this new "LifeGrowth Guide" of "You're Already Amazing". 

If you were privileged to have read "You're Already Amazing" best-selling book (published in 2012) and participate in the (in)courage online book club of this original one, then you have a definite sense of how Holley dares and empowers you, the reader, to discover our God ordained potential within ourselves then this "LifeGrowth Guide" will move you onward as a wonderful interactive means to engage fully in this process. Either way, reading the "LifeGrowth Guide" with or without having read the original, you'll find new information and more applicable exercises and questions to help you know who God created you to be and become. I believe this book would be ideal for a new believer or a weathered believer, who has yet to grow in ALL the ways of knowing who we are in Christ Jesus and to further develop our abilities, and reaffirm us by reminding us all who we are and encouraging us to become more for ourselves and then for others better. 

Reading the "LifeGrowth Guide ~ You're already aMazing" challenged me and stretched me in new ways! Holley writes as if she really is sitting down with us and talking to us individually with her own and other's life examples in a clear, understandable fashion. I cannot say enough good about all Holley has put together to further us in believing that we already are amazing and have all it takes within us to grasp how God sees us and made us. 

I requested this book originally from NetGalley from Revell Publishing because I was afraid that I would not be able to afford getting both and I wanted to participate in Holley's Book Club {but as you have read, Lori Schumaker made it possible for me to receive both books in their soft bound edition, which I simply love to page through and hold in my hands with adequate space to journal and make notes or answer.} I will go back to this book as an excellent resource over and over again as well as continue reading at both Holley's and Lori's blogs. 

Disclosure: I received this book free from NetGalley and Revell 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

*You can go back on this blog on "aMazing Mondays"  from March - May or search for "Already Amazing" to see links to Holley's and some of what I shared during the Book Club in 2016. "aMazing Mondays" started here because of Holley's books! She and her books are really "aMazing"! I am so sorry that the review of this book and another just as wonderful book is so late (the other will somehow have to be inserted somehow during my summer book club either on Weds. or the weekend so it is not even later). My apologies to these authors and their publishers that gave me review copies but this was out of my control.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

"40 DAYS of DECREASE ... " by Alicia Britt Chole

{I really meant to publish this review right after the 40 days of Lent}

or like the title


but you can't even read the cover and the rest of this title

"40 Days of Decrease
A Different Kind of Hunger. A Different Kind of Fast."
By Alicia Britt Chole

Book Description: "...40 Days of Decrease guides readers through a study of Jesus’ uncommon and uncomfortable call to abandon the world’s illusions, embrace His kingdom’s reality, and journey cross-ward and beyond.

"40 Days of Decrease... A Different Kind of Hunger. A different Kind of Fast" by Alicia Britt Chole 'is a beautiful invitation to prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection in a more meaningful way than ever before' so this is why after reading a 6 day sampling with You Version reading plans, I chose this book for this past season of Lent ... to really reflect more deeply in the entire experience of the "40 days" leading up to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. I hoped this season of preparation of my heart might be different, with the discipline of reading and participating in these "40 Days of Decrease" which is meant to "guide readers through a study of Jesus’ uncommon and uncomfortable call to abandon the world’s illusions, embrace His kingdom’s realities, and journey cross-ward and beyond" so that I might be "awed" as I read [40fast(dot)com]. {I even subscribed to the author's blog} ... I really hoped I might experience that 'full embrace' as I read in the author's gift of eloquence and thoughtfulness with words ... I wanted what she experienced to be what I might experience minus perhaps the suffering. Perhaps I did not put forth as much effort and intensity as she clearly has in this well documented, researched and thorough book on fasting, lent and "decrease". Her words are poetic and profound. Her insights and deep thoughts are amazing. But for me, it was a bit overwhelming. I guess my "awe" was more in the many facets of her writing and information than the "awe" that I desired during my 40 days. 

Honestly I have mixed feelings about "40 Days of Decrease" with more of a sense of overload after each day's devotional part of the reading for that day. Perhaps it's just me, but Alicia Britt Chole definitely writes on a higher level than I am at, and I found there is so much 'content', that it was hard for me to simply read, focus and understand. Often I would have to read and then re-read until I could understand what was written. Alicia Britt Chole is definitely a gifted wordsmith and clearly this "40 Days of Decrease" took much research and time as well as a genuine heart of seeking all God has ... she even started off with a very personal prologue of a "Grand Reduction" in her life.

"... Lent had come half a year early. God asked me to fast mental and physical strength. He invited me into holy weakness. 
I found Jesus there. 

We often think of Jesus’ fast beginning when He stepped into the Judean wilderness. But the fast actually began three decades earlier when the Glory of heaven was wrapped in plain paper and given as a gift to mankind. 

        The Grand Reduction had begun. 

Jesus fasted omnipresence and clothed Himself with flesh. He fasted being worshiped by angels and accepted the disregard of man. He fasted the Voice that birthed planets and submitted to the silence of thirty hidden years " ...

{See what I mean!}

{This is fantastically written and quite profound just to tell us of Jesus' great sacrifice and humble beginnings. Or am I missing something much deeper?}

Don't get me wrong. Though I started out with some of my own quirks and complexities, I truly value every day of Alicia Britt Chole's "40 Days...". I just had a difficult time making them mine and reflecting because there was so much in each day. Although I'm sure I highlighted a great portion of the book, when I found myself enlightened by her ever so much. You really have to be in a thinking mode and beyond, this is not light stuff, you need a very studious mode as well. Each day of the "40 Days ..." was packed. I guess I allowed myself to get too bogged down with it all. 

I really should have started with the good and then weighed in on the problems I had with reading this after I describe how each day goes. Trust me, there was no "decrease" except the wonderful teaching on what should become less in our lives so that Christ may BE more in us. Alicia Britt Chole put much thought into each day's "fast"; devotion and reading plus an extensive portion of the history of Lent and fasting. 

Each day or chapter of "40 Days of Decrease features a devotional based upon Jesus’ life, guidance for reflection, suggested (and occasionally surprising) daily fasts, an inspiring quote for prayerful meditation, an optional and somewhat academic sidebar chronicling the historical development, practices, and images of Lent, and a suggested Scripture reading with journaling space" per the author's own words in her introduction. I probably would have been better off if I had waited on the optional part until a different time. The suggested Scripture at the end of each day basically took us through the Gospel of John sequentially on most days starting with chapter 12. At times this and the quote of inspiration, in my opinion, seem to have just been added. In her actual writing, Chole uses Scripture that goes along with what she is saying ... but the reading in John after all the rest did not really tie into the discussion of that day. On the other hand, the Daily Fasts, were well-connected with the theme of the day's devotion. I thought that in my review I would be able to choose which "fast" was personally the best for me or the most needed, but frankly, they all are. The Reflections really made you stop and examine your own thoughts and helped to prepare you for that day's FAST. 

It truly is a challenge that we can pursue in other parts of the year for a week or even a month as she suggests also in her introduction. Alicia informs us that the 40 different fasts are offered "in the hope that collectively they will prepare us to be duly awed by Christ’s resurrection by being duly available to daily crucifixion." Trust me, they were!

I believe that this book is truly profound for a real experience during the 40 days of the sacred season of Lent and preparing our hearts, softening our hearts ... as we enter in to experiencing 'the holiness of loss and less in Jesus’ journey cross-ward,' so that 'our hearts open vulnerably to a greater commitment to love and be loved by the Savior'. Even though I took all of the 40 days and then some to soak in and digest this book, it indeed is a great collection that I can go back to the many exceptional highlights and points, graphs, charts and a formidable dissertation on Lent ... but I really believe that Alicia Britt Chole wanted more for us than just the knowledge gained by her. I believe that she would like to know that we came away from this Lenten experience CHANGED. That our lives somehow were deeply impacted beyond the weaving of her poetic words. 

"We are duly thankful, challenged, and inspired by Jesus’ forty-day fast from food in the Judean wilderness. Perhaps we should likewise be grateful, awed, and humbled by His thirty-year fast from praise, power, and potential in Nazareth. 

It takes a great deal of strength to choose weakness."

for the weak of will power or mind.

"When He calls us to fast strength—when He drafts us into decrease—God’s purposes are clear

"Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD." (Deuteronomy 8:2–3

"To humble us, to test us, to know what is in our hearts . . . such is the sifting power of helplessness. In our daily lives, we may prefer self-reliance. But perhaps utter dependence is the truer friend of our souls "

I find
"40 Days of Decrease..."

Simply profound and breath-taking!
I must admit that "fasting" Lent as a project
entering this "40 Days of Decrease" as an experience
most definitely was my blessed gain 
as I learned and sojourned with Our Savior.

The days during Holy Week were actually my favorites!
Alicia Britt Chole
captured and retold the events
in such a way that I will never see those readings 
in the same way.

Alicia Britt Chole
truly has written about
"a different kind of hunger and a different kind of fast"
in such a phenomenal way
even if her chosen compilation was too intense for me
I think all of society would do well 
if we would "fast" some of her wonderful suggestions 
ranging from apathy to hypocrisy; 
addictions to self-confidence;
intimidation to "guarding tombs".
Each one very unique.

When I "fasted" my voice,
the world stood still for that time.
Although I have done this traditionally on Good Friday
this time I truly listened and sensed silence
 beholding Jesus in His death.

I will go back to this book again and again
hoping that it will continue to reawaken
the "Awe" of both Majesty and Mystery
in Jesus' Resurrection.

This is not a book to enter in lightly.
I encourage anyone to read this that wants a better understanding of Lent 
but also for those who want to really experience a
"different kind of hunger", grow profoundly and BE CHANGED.

I recommend reading the academic portions separately
and focusing on the "fasting"
so that when
"Father God calls us to fast increase, decrease will purify our souls."


I can see why
Alicia Britt Chole
walked those who wanted to join her
through this book on her Facebook page.
I'm sure with her personal guidance
she made each day come alive
like Jesus and with Jesus
to be understood in a freshly anointed way.

Disclosure of material connection:
I received this book free from the publisher Thomas P. Nelson through the book review blogger's program BookLook Bloggers. 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

Some people have a gift of reviewing concisely, I try to give you a true sense of what I encounter as I read and am blessed by the greats like Alicia Britt Chole, even if my review was not as favorable, I was truthful and true to my simple but lengthy way.

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all of you who spend your valuable time here with me
I do appreciate you so much!

Thank you for taking your time to visit!

Love, Sweet blessings & Hugs!