Nothing to Fear – A Book Review

If I had read Nothing to Fear by Barry C Black about fifteen or twenty years ago I would have liked it quite a bit more than I did.  I simply have read too many amazing books since then, and this one just couldn’t compete.  It’s a simple book about a hundred different topics.  While there is nothing particularly remarkable about this book, it is well-written and easy to read and understand.  I did not, however, enjoy this book at this time.  I couldn’t figure out what the purpose of the book was.  The title is “Nothing to Fear”, but this didn’t feel like a book about fear.  It felt like a huge brain dump of everything Mr. Black feels or thinks about God, faith and prayer.  It’s very wide in scope, which can sometimes be a good thing.  In this case, however, it felt confusing and it was difficult for me to get engaged.

Structurally the book is laid out like a series of sermons including chapter headings such as “Prepare to Be Sent” or “Thrive in a Predatory World”.  Each chapter includes several of what Mr. Black calls “fearless principles” and each chapter ends with a “purposeful prayer”.  At the end of the book there is a discussion guide.

There’s nothing wrong with this book from my perspective.  I didn’t read anything that I didn’t agree with.  I simply didn’t read anything that made me want to say “YES!” or that made me want to share the information with anyone else.  I like to read books that make me think, help me with something I struggle with, grow my faith, help me to understand someone else’s perspective, or grow my understanding of a particular topic.  This book didn’t do any of that for me.

I can see how this book could be a great resource for new pastors looking for sermon material.  It could also be a great resource for newer Christians who want to know some of the basic ideas or beliefs of the Christian faith (although I would also say that this has a very significant Baptist slant in terms of theology).

Overall, it’s well-written but very basic.  I wish Mr. Black had chosen one main theme to write about rather than trying to cover everything all in one book.  This wasn’t my favorite book I’ve read, but definitely wasn’t the worst either – kind of middle of the road for me.


Tyndale Blog Network

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Walking on Water – A Book Review

Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle was such a thought-provoking and encouraging read for me.  Not only is it beautifully written, it’s also very philosophical.  This book made me think about things I have never contemplated before.  The intersectionality between faith and art is the main theme of Walking on Water, and that concept contains so much more than I expected it to.  Thoughts on vulnerability, love, creativity, prayer, writing, holiness, truth, worthiness, faithfulness, and much more fill the pages of this book.  It raises as many questions as it answers and leaves the reader in a state of wonder, which I absolutely loved.

Madeleine L’Engle has a very mature and thoughtful writing style that is quite refreshing.  Nothing about this book is light hearted, it’s thick with deep thoughts and beautiful insights.  Because the subject matter is more philosophical and heavy, it took me quite a while to finish it.  I had to chew on much of it before I could move on to the next page or chapter.  Often I rush through books like this one so that I can move on to the next book, but this one was so good I just couldn’t.  I wanted to give it the time and attention it deserved.

I very highly recommend this book.  If you are an artist of any sort, you’ll especially appreciate it.


Some of my favorite Quotables from Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle:

“When I am constantly running there is no time for being.  When there is no time for being there is no time for for listening.” (p3)

“God is always calling on us to do the impossible.  It helps me to remember that anything Jesus did during his life here on earth is something we should be able to do, too.” (p9)

“We live by revelation, as Christians, as artists, which means that we must be careful never to get set into rigid molds.  The minute we begin to think we know all the answers, we forget the questions,” (p23)

“There is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred, and that is one of the deepest messages of the Incarnation.” (p42)

“We write, we make music, we draw pictures, because we are listening for meaning, feeling for healing.” (p47)

“I have to try, but  do not have to succeed.  Following Christ has nothing to do with success as the world sees success.  It has to do with love.” (p52)

“we are meant to be real and to see and recognize the real.  We are all more than we know, and that wondrous reality, that wholeness, holiness, is there for all of us, not the qualified only.” (p56)

“we can be humble only when we know that we are God’s children, of infinite value, and eternally loved.” (p60)

“despite the fear and unfaithfulness of his followers, Jesus’ love never faltered, for it was not dependent on the merit and virtue and the qualifications of those he loved.” (p60-61)

“In the act of creativity, the artist lets go the self-control which he normally clings to and is open to riding the wind.” (p66)

“All of life is story, story unravelling and revealing meaning.” (p95)

“to be given a name is an act of intimacy as powerful as any act of love.” (p102)

“It seems that more than ever the compulsion today is to identify, to reduce someone to what is on the label.  To identify is to control, to limit.  To love is to call by name and so open the wide gates of creativity.” (p102-103)

“We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.” (p113)

“We need the prayers of words, yes; the words are the path to contemplation; but the deepest communion with God is beyond words, on the other side of silence.” (p119)

“In a day when we are taught to look for easy solutions, it is not always easy to hold on to that most difficult one of all, love.” (p144)


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from for the purposes of this review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own



How Gilmore Girls Changed My Relationship With My Daughter


My oldest daughter was born less than two months before the pilot episode of Gilmore Girls aired in the year 2000.  I held my newborn daughter in my arms while I watched that first episode.  I was nineteen years old.

As a new mom who had zero idea what I was doing, I remember thinking how beautiful the relationship was between Lorelai (the mom) and Rory (the daughter) on the show.  Every week, while holding my little girl in my arms, I tuned in to watch these two young women and their incredible friendship.  Along with the rest of the world, I fell in love with the mother/daughter duo and dreamed that someday my daughter and I could have that kind of relationship.  I remember praying that I could somehow make that happen.

Fast forward about eight years.  Gilmore Girls is over – sad – but luckily, my sweet husband bought me all seven seasons on DVD so that I could continue watching my very favorite show whenever I wanted to. In 2008, my 3rd daughter was born.  At this point I had an eight year old, an 18-month old and a newborn – all girls.  I was struggling with understanding my eight year old.  She was independent, smart, stubborn and very much had her own way of doing things – just like her daddy.  They are both pretty much the opposite of me.  I really didn’t have any idea how to relate to her and remember thinking that there was no way we’d ever have that beautiful mother/daughter relationship that I’d always dreamed of.  Our relationship was filled with tension, frustration and a lot of misunderstanding.

One day, while I was watching Gilmore Girls, I had a weird little revelation.  My daughter IS Rory.  And I AM Lorelai.

I knew my daughter was more like her dad then me, but I didn’t understand how his personality translated into a little girl.  I didn’t know how to communicate with her.  I couldn’t figure out what she was thinking or feeling.  I was thoroughly confused.  So I started studying Rory.  I paid attention to the things that were most important to her and started asking questions of my girl to look for similarities.  My daughter was very reserved, quiet, studious and hard-working.  It was important to her to finish projects – she hated stopping mid-stride  She loved learning and reading and often disappeared into books the same way that Rory did. She loves to write – and is immensely talented.  There were so many more similarities that it was almost eerie.

Little by little I began to appreciate her uniqueness in a way that I hadn’t before.  I studied her and began celebrating the amazing ways she was different than me – praising her for the things that mattered most to her.  I became a student of my daughter and I cannot express how much that changed our relationship.

By the time she was about 12 we started watching Gilmore Girls together.  Over and over again she would see something Lorelai would do and mentioned that I was just like her.  She began to understand me through watching Lorelai.  It really sounds crazy, but Lorelai and Rory taught us about each other.  They showed us how to talk to each other and gave us common love for the town and the characters.  We have more inside jokes with each other than with anyone else on earth – and we are so much closer than mother and daughter.  We’re friends – the best of friends.

When the revival came back to Netflix, we sent the rest of the family away so that we could watch it together – just her and me.  We ordered Chinese, drank massive amounts of coffee and laughed and cried as our favorite people came back into our lives again.  It was a memory I’ll never forget.

My girl is about to be 17.  She has one more year of high school and then she’ll go off to college.  I am so in love with the woman she is becoming and couldn’t be prouder of her if I tried for a thousand years.

By the way, if you’d like to read her version of how GG changed our relationship, you can read her blog here.



No More Faking Fine – A Book Review

Many of us wonder while in difficult circumstances or trying times what the purpose is – as in, why we are experiencing what we are experiencing.  I can imagine that Esther Fleece wondered that many, many times.  I’m not certain that we ever get a full understanding of the why of our circumstances.  I’m not even certain that there always is a why.

In No More Faking Fine, Esther Fleece tells her story.  She is both a skilled writer and an emotional storyteller.  My story has very little similarity to hers, but my feelings throughout my journey echo hers in so many ways.  The desires to be known and loved are universal feelings.  The pain of betrayal, abandonment and abuse are also universal.  This book deals with all of those things in such a tender and wise way.

The title of the book led me to assume that this was a book about authenticity, and it sort of is.  But mostly it’s about lament.  Now, I should admit that before this book I knew very little about lament.  I couldn’t have defined it and I would never have said that lament was a part of my life (or even that it should be).  After reading No More Faking Fine, I am convinced that lament is possibly the most important thing I never knew I needed.

No More Faking Fine is broken into 11 chapters separated into three parts: Faking Fine, A New Way to Pray and To Sing Again.  Each chapter begins with a short scripture verse and ends with a beautiful prayer filled with more scripture references.

This book unearthed things that I had buried deep inside myself and caused me to want to deal with them for the first time in a very long time.  The themes of forgiveness, healing, and repentance are heavily covered in this book.  In fact, if there could be only one thing I take away from this book it will be the idea that forgiveness is not possible without lament.  This one concept may change my life – I pray that it does. Here are my favorite quotes from the section on forgiveness:

“I am convinced we cannot forgive offenses without first lamenting those offenses appropriately.  We need the grace of God, the example of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit to help us look favorably upon a person who has wronged us.  And we first need to lament the wrong that has been done to us.” (p160)

“Unprocessed, unforgiven hurt means we still carry it around with us.  It means it still drags us down.  But forgiveness is our invitation to process the pain so we can be authentically freed from it.  Forgiveness is a process of releasing our laments to God.  It is feeling the weight of what this person did to cause you harm, taking this offense directly to God, and telling Him exactly how it made you feel.  We have to lament it, not forget it, in order to move forward.” (p162)

I cannot say why things happen the way they do, why bad things happen, or why people hurt people, but I can say for certain that God can and will use our circumstances to bring hope to others.  He can use our stories to love people, to teach them about His character, and to lead them towards healing and wholeness.  Esther Fleece is bravely doing  exactly that with this book.  I pray that it travels well – into the hearts and lives of those who need it most and that it brings with it the healing power of Jesus over the wounds of those who are hurting.  There are very few books that I believe carry with them the power to mend broken hearts and lives – this is one of them.

Some of my favorite QUOTABLES from No More Faking Fine by Esther Fleece:

  • I should note that it took a full 20 minutes to narrow down this list.  There are so many quotables in this book that many of them could spawn new books (and I sincerely hope that they do)!

“For so much of my life, I thought sucking it up and faking away the pain showed true strength.  But real strength is identifying a wound and asking God to enter it.” (p35)

“God’s grace meets us where we are, not where we pretend to be.” (p39)

“It’s okay to not be okay.  God will never ask you to suck it up.” (p41)

“Nothing can prevent our laments from reaching God’s ears.  Even if everyone in the world ignores our cries and minimizes our pain, God hears us.  Neither our offenders nor injustice, nor even death, can silence our lamenting cries to God.” (p71)

“Falsehood does not become truth just because we have believed it for a long time.” (p94)

“My relationship with God isn’t dependent on my performance.” (p101)

“trusting His presence will require faith even in those times when we feel His absence.” (p125)

“Even in the waiting, God is powerfully present, and that can be our source of deep, unshakable joy.” (p141)

“Some of us may be experiencing God’s favor in a palace, while others experience it in a prison.  So let’s practice grace toward each other.  We must be very careful to avoid wrongly attaching someone’s circumstances to the character of their heart or to God’s treatment of them.” (p150)

“When we minimize pain, we also minimize forgiveness.  And when we minimize forgiveness, we minimize healing transformation.” (p165)

“When we fake fine, we run the risk of faking forgiveness – and in doing so, we cut ourselves off from real healing.” (p166)

“Time does not heal all wounds, but time is a gracious gift that allows for wrestling with the pain.  And not one of us made int he image of God is meant to wrestle with our pain alone.” (p171)


I review for BookLook Bloggers

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers 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 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising


Falling Free – A Book Review

“The problem with the world is that we draw the circle of our family too small.” – Mother Teresa

I loved this book more than I expected to.  I’m always wary when I pick up a book from an unknown author.  I appreciate excellent writing and, because I read so many books, I have pretty high expectations from writers.  Falling Free by Shannan Martin is absolutely excellent.  Her writing style is polished yet easy to read, funny yet emotional, down to earth yet highly informative; I am truly impressed.  Over and over again, while reading Falling Free, I found myself connecting with a story that is nothing like my own and feeling such a kinship to the author that it truly surprised me.

Falling free is a story about a life turned upside down and inside out.  It’s a story of changed opinions, new understandings and surprising relationships that grew into family.  My story is quite different from Ms. Martin’s, however there were so many of her feelings throughout her journey that echoed my own.  I found myself in her words.  The story is well written and compelling, but the true gold in this book is the lessons she learned along the way and so beautifully shares with her readers – lessons of love, compassion, worship, empathy, grief, fear and so very much more.  Every page of this book contains wisdom that can apply to any life, any journey.

Shannan’s words have stayed with me – they affected me deeply and I sincerely pray that they will continue to stay with me and work on me so that I, like Shannan, will continue to journey towards looking and loving more like Jesus.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Some of my favorite Quotables from Falling Free by Shannan Martin (this was SO hard to narrow down – there are TONS of quotables in this book!):

“We stand in worship services and sing our hearts out about things like faith and trusting God in deep waters.  We say God is all we need, but what we really mean is, ‘All we need is God, our family, the promise of safety, and money.’  … We sing like we meant it while we pray to God we’ll never find out if we really do.” (p 4-5)

“We can mend our broken places into a blanket that covers all of us and call it a family.” (p 39)

“Family was meant to live on a loop, a hazy beginning with no end in sight, the pulsing bass line that God’s kingdom on earth is alive.  Right here.” (p 44)

“There’s a difference between being too scared to do hard things and doing hard things scared.” (p 82)

“Here’s a reality check: we take up precious little square footage in the scope of God’s great kingdom.  Of all the facets of our faith, this might be one of the more difficult to grasp.  It’s also one of the most central.” (p 89)

“Jesus way of humility doesn’t align with our self-made gospel of achievement, and we’re willing to sell our souls at the corner of trying to have both.” (p 89)

“That he came to be with us when he could have kept his post at the right hand of God should send us running breathless into every busted-up city, every barred-up shack, every cave, every cell, every pain-drenched street corner we can find in order to bring the good news.” (p 91)

“God invites us to stare long and hard at our shared ruin, knowing we’ll walk away kindred.” (p 120)

“We can either masquerade as capable earners or fall needy into the arms of a Savior who makes us free.  There is no space within our souls to do both.” (p 183)

“God didn’t structure this world as a badly bent system of Haves and Have Nots.  I was never meant to save a soul, and no one was purposed as a project.  We were meant to be comrades, mutually passing around whatever we have to offer.” (p 199)

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers 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 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising


The Bad Habits of Jesus – A Book Review


To be entirely honest I’m a bit flummoxed by this book.  The Bad Habits of Jesus by Leonard Sweet is not the book I’d hoped for and was so much worse than I imagined it could be.  I struggled all the way through this one.  From the ADHD style of writing to the obsession with alliteration, I had a difficult time figuring out what the book was actually supposed to be about.  I admit that the title grabbed my attention and I wondered where Sweet would go with it, but I was truly disappointed with the book.

Each chapter focuses (sort of) on a “bad habit” of Jesus, which is really just something Jesus did or didn’t do that was different than the norm.  I was particularly annoyed by the chapter about how Jesus spit.  As I read it I wondered if I was just missing the joke or the angle entirely.  It felt a bit tongue in cheek, but in a way that rode the line between annoying and actually funny.  See, that’s the problem, I’m not sure the author was trying to be funny.  But to spend an entire chapter about how Jesus was always disappearing and how rude that was, but how we should emulate him because he’s Jesus was confusing at best and at the very least felt contrived and pointless.  I kept waiting for some profound truth to be dropped, but sadly, none ever was.  Yes, Jesus wasn’t what they expected.  Yes, Jesus did things differently than the people of the time.  Yes, Jesus had different priorities than the people around him.  Did I need to read an entire book about these three pretty obvious ideas?  Nope.

I’ve read so many books this year that were so far superior in quality of writing that The Bad Habits of Jesus was a severe disappointment for me.  Dr. Sweet wrote in circles, very rarely coming to any sort of point.  You know how preachers like to start every point of their sermon with the same letter (to make it easier to remember maybe)?  Sweet did that throughout the whole book – used multiple words with the same beginning letter.  I assume it is the way he teaches, but I found it really annoying. It felt super cheesy, like this one: “Solitude is not solo time but soul time with God.” (p47)

I very much wanted to like this book.  I believe the intentions were good, but the writing is sub-par and it felt like the author’s purposes could have been captured in a much shorter article, rather than an entire book of random ramblings.  I cannot, in good conscience, recommend this book.


Tyndale Blog Network

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

The Great Spiritual Migration – A Book Review

I have been eager to read this book since several months before it came out.  Many of the authors that I love have suggested it and raved about it, so I knew I would need to read it.  However, I’ve had several people warn me about Brian McLaren’s more “radical” views about Christianity and the Bible and have even had a few warn me not to read this book.

Since I’ve never been that good with being told what to do, I requested it gleefully.  And it didn’t disappoint.  Considering so many in my immediate circle seemed so concerned about this author, I was expecting to find some really radical things in this book.  Sadly, I didn’t.  I mean, I was hoping to have something jump out at me that I would have to yell back at the pages, “Woah, McLaren!  That’s crazy talk!”.  Nope.  Nothing like that.  Sad face.

There were, however, so many things I wholeheartedly agreed with.  Such as this nugget of wisdom:

“This nondiscriminatory love, Jesus says, is the true perfection, the true maturity toward which we should aspire: to be perfect as God is perfect is to love without discrimination because that is how God loves.” (p 43)

or this one:

“In story after story and without a single exception, we see that the driving motivation in Jesus’s life is love.” (p 44)

or maybe this one:

“God loves everyone.  No exceptions.” (p 51)

Wait, that last one might be a little radical, I guess.

The book is broken up into three parts: Spiritual Migration (from a system of beliefs to a way of life), Theological Migration (from a violent God of domination to a nonviolent God of liberation), and Missional Migration (from organized religion to organizing religion).  There is also a hefty section of Appendices at the back of the book mostly on the topic of “Just and Generous Christianity”.  Each chapter ends with a page broken into three parts (Contemplation, Conversation – which has discussion questions, and Action).  I absolutely loved the questions – I can imagine a very lively and thoughtful discussion coming from these questions.  Example: One of the questions after Chapter Three reads: “Are we more serious about teaching math than we are about teaching love?” (p 67).  I’d love to have a conversation about that one!

I don’t necessarily agree with every single thought expressed by the author, however, I found his argument passionate, compelling and well-researched.  There are so many topics covered in this book that it took me a bit longer to get through than I intended (I was shooting for a week – it took two), but only because I needed to go back to scripture and read other articles and essays on the topics to get a more well-rounded understanding.  Here’s the thing about this book: it asks a ton of questions and it makes you think.  Why do you believe what you believe?  Why do we talk about beliefs more than we talk about faith?  What can we learn from the life of Jesus about love?  What does it mean to have a broken-open heart?  I hate books that tell me that I have to think or believe a certain way.  I love books that make me think – that make me ask questions and assess things in new and fresh ways.  The Great Spiritual Migration is the latter.

A faith that has not been questioned, tested and wrestled with is a weak faith.  Questioning your beliefs does not make them weaker, but rather stronger.  Reading opposing viewpoints (although I’m not sure the author of this book and I stand that far apart) shouldn’t destroy your faith, but rather challenge it – which should lead to a better understanding of what you actually believe.

SO.  I loved this book.  There are so many things I agreed with: the call to unity rather than uniformity, the call to a radical (there’s that word again) and all-inclusive love, the focus on social justice and many other things.  There were a few things I wasn’t so sure about.  However, overall – I came out of this book encouraged, inspired and challenged and that’s a pretty great way to come out of a book!

Here are some of my favorite Quotables from The Great Spiritual Migration by Brian McLaren:

“ can learn beliefs in isolation, you can’t learn love apart from a community.” (p 56)

“We hear Jesus say ‘Follow me’ eighty-seven times in the four Gospels.  How many times does he say, Worship me?  Zero.  Name a religion after me?  Zero.  Recite a creed about me?  Zero.  Erect buildings in my honor?  Zero.  That’s not to say these things are wrong, but succeeding at them without actually forming followers of Christ is like climbing a ladder that’s leaning against the wrong building.” (p 65)

“..the less aware Christians are of how dangerous Christianity has been, the more dangerous Christianity will be.” (p 71)

“We need to stop pulling apart and start pulling together, converging and collaborating to build a more just, generous, peaceful, regenerative, and joyful world.” (p 156)

“If enough individuals are full of despair and anger in their hearts, there will be violence in the streets.  If enough individuals are full of greed and fear in their hearts, there will be pollution in the rivers and toxins in the air.  If enough individuals are full of supremacy and privilege in their hearts, there will be racism and oppression in society.  You can’t remove the external social symptoms without treating the corresponding internal personal diseases.” (p 167)

“As we work together for the common good, we are all transformed.” (p 176)

“If we simply start moving in faith, what has been impossible can become possible.” (p 178)

“There is so much right in the church, in the world, in humanity.  There is so much good.  And so much beauty.  When we see it, even a tiny glimmer of how precious it is, our hearts swell in gratitude and awe.” (p 180)



Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from for the purposes of this review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own



NIV & NKJV Journal the Word Bibles – A Review


If you know me, you know I LOVE Bible Journaling!  So, I am thrilled to review these two Journal the Word Bibles.  They are both beautiful and have similar styles and covers.  Here are some of the features of each:

First, the NIV Journal the Word Bible

The cover is a dark taupe canvas (with a bit of a blue tint) with leaves in various colors (blue, green, pink, brown).  The spine of the Bible is a beautiful dark blue.  The cover is thick and sturdy.

The margins are about two inches and are lined.  The pages are light cream colored and this is a single column Bible (meaning the text is not in columns on each page, but rather a single, wider column of text).  When you get to the Psalms, this leaves you with tons of space around the words for painting, coloring and journaling.

Now for the NKJV Journal the Word Bible (Large Print)

The cover of this Bible is very similar to the NIV one, however it has a beautiful teal on the spine and corners.  It’s the same canvas as the other, but the colors seem more vibrant and the canvas background under the leaves is more cream colored than the other (which has a definite blue/purple tint).  Because this Bible is Large Print, it’s much thicker than the other and thus quite heavy.  But I LOVE that the words are so large.  It is also single column, so there is plenty of space for journaling – it also has the same two inch, lined margins.  Here’s a comparison of the spines of the Bibles so you can see the difference in size.


Also, here are pictures of the text inside each Bible so you can see the difference between the regular print (top picture) and large print (bottom picture).


Both Bibles are beautiful, but I would love to see a Large Print NIV version with the teal colors on the cover.  If you’re interested in Bible Journaling, or know someone who is – either of these Bibles would make a wonderful gift

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers 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 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising


All the Pretty Things – A Book Review

“Come on, my sister.  Don’t wait until you’re not afraid – jump scared.” (p xii)

All the Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth is a book that will stay with you long after you read it.  I finished the book about a week ago and I find myself replaying parts of Edie’s story in my head, remembering her heart and her words.  It’s a beautiful and haunting story about Edie’s life, with her relationship with her father playing a central role throughout the book.  Memoirs are some of my very favorite books, and this one is so compelling that it almost reads like a fiction story.  I kept having to remind myself that it was real.  Edie is a superb writer, especially after you get past the halfway point in the book – it really speeds up and pulls you in.

All the Pretty Things is basically the story of Edie’s life from birth to current day.  It’s a story of grace and redemption, of grit and determination. Edie grows from a poor little girl with an alcoholic father whom she loved desperately to a successful doctor with kids of her own.  My favorite part of the book is how all along the way she loves her people so selflessly and beautifully.  I cannot imagine being a child and having to take care of an alcoholic father, going with him to bars to make sure he made it back in one piece, always feeling hungry and never really feeling safe or secure.  I also cannot imagine a way to come out of that childhood without intense anger, bitterness or perhaps even walking in the footsteps of her daddy that she loved so very much.  Miraculously, she fought against bitterness and anger and instead of resigning herself to the life she was born into, she created the life she wanted through crazy hard work and fierce determination.  Her journey is so inspiring.  The unconditional love she shows for her father, while wisely learning to create boundaries to protect herself is an incredible lesson to anyone who struggles with difficult or dangerous people.

This book is exactly why it’s so important to tell your story – even (maybe even especially) when it’s painful or difficult to tell.  Edie’s story is not entirely unique.  There are millions of people who share similar stories of abuse, neglect, poverty or hunger and who will be touched and inspired by Edie’s beautiful words.  The vulnerability she displayed by writing about her life is brave and beautiful.  I was truly moved by her story.

Some of my favorite Quotables from All the Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth:

“…however confused I felt, I clung to faith because it was the only thing in my life that made sense, the thing I could count on in a world that was always changing.” (p 127)

“Maybe hope, however frail, was taking root in the deepest places; maybe sunlight and peace really would shine in her heart after the rain; maybe heartache can be the birthplace of the most beautiful things.” (p 135)

“..the painful parts of our lies are often the very things that God will use as gifts to bless and change us and the people we meet.” (p 134)

“The sacred mystery that surrounds death is like nothing else in life, and it is a privilege to walk the last miles home with someone.” (p 208)

“I see now that the heart doesn’t settle easily for blame – it longs to be redeemed.” (p 243)

“I learned that we all have wounds, and we can either open them up to the light of day so they can heal or we can keep them buried, where they will fester and one day wreak havoc on us.” (p 244)

“Parenting and living require more faith than knowledge, more grace than rules, more trust than answers.” (p 284)


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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own.


A Mile Wide – A Book Review

“Our love of one another is the greatest measure of our faith.” (p189)

Brandon Hatmaker’s new book, A Mile Wide, is more than a call to a deeper faith – it’s an invitation into kingdom living.  It’s an invitation to live a life modeled after Jesus – filled with love, grace and mercy.

The book is broken into two parts: The Gospel In Us and The Gospel Through Us, each part including four chapters.  At the end of each chapter there are ten discussion questions, making this a fabulous book to use for Bible study, book club or even just to discuss with your family and friends.  This book is more than just a quick read filled with fun stories and interesting ideas – it is potentially life changing.  It will challenge you, encourage you, inspire you and teach you.

Brandon is a fabulous storyteller – down to earth and funny – and his stories will leave you longing for a more authentic and tangible faith.  The way that he sees people is inspiring.  As I read through this book I found myself talking back to the pages as though the author could hear me affirming his words or asking questions about things.  There were even a few times I read a paragraph and thought – man, that needs to be a whole book just for that one thought (such as the quote below in bold – I would LOVE to see an entire book on this concept).

The thoughts and ideas here are not new, but they are written in a way that might be more accessible to the average person.  There’s an easiness about this book that makes it hard to stop reading, but the words are so deep and profound that it’s necessary to stop every so often to really soak them in.  Humility and kindness drip from the pages in this book in a way that is extremely refreshing and comforting.  There are also some difficult topics here, though – loving others, showing mercy, seeing the needs around us.  Although the book is written in a very thoughtful tone, there is nothing surface-level about this book.  It’s a call to live like Jesus.  A call to authenticity, vulnerability and grace.  A call to a deeper, more meaningful faith.  It’s a beautiful book and I cannot recommend it highly enough!

Favorite Quotables from A Mile Wide by Brandon Hatmaker (I really want to just quote the entire book to you, but that would be a lot of typing):

“..our interpretive lens should always be love.  It’s like the legend on a map helping us set our course.  How then should we love?  Choose love.  Every time.” (p5)

“Jesus came to rip the scales off our religious eyes to show us the heart behind the letters.  He moves from judgment to grace and chose love over law and people over position.  His gospel was for all, his community was inclusive, his discipleship was holistic, his mission was eternal, and his kingdom was vast.  Everything about Jesus and his dream for us was bigger, wider, and deeper than we can imagine.” (p6)

“The true gospel has never appealed to the masses, nor did it ever try to.  Jesus didn’t want fans; he wanted followers.  Yes, this kingdom will save your whole life, but you have to lose the one you have first.  There is no resurrection without a death.” (p13)

“Nothing matters more than humility, teachability, and repentance, because the opposites – pride, arrogance, and obstinacy – make us blind and deaf to every goodness and truth in the kingdom.” (p14)

“True gospel community starts with true vulnerability.  It’s where we end and the gospel begins.” (p96)

“Every move toward humility is a conversion.  Killing pride involves a thousand daily deaths that are hard and hurt and will cost us something.  But every time we choose to reject the lie of bigger and instead choose little, we are more converted to the greatness of the kingdom.” (p126)

“Everywhere we look there is physical, spiritual, emotional and relational need.  If we don’t see it, we are either looking in the wrong places or we’re not really looking.” (p138)

“Missional people attempt to live lives that are attractive to those who have no context for church.  They earn their places in the lives of others.  Only then do they hold the moral authority or personal permission to speak truth into someone’s life.” (p141-142)  [*this is probably my favorite quote in the entire book]

“Loving mercy and walking humbly are inextricably linked with seeking justice.  Loving mercy is the key motivation to justice, and personal humility is almost always the end result.” (p155)

“God is just.  But his justice is expressed through his mercy.” (p164)



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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers 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 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising