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)


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.


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)



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

Greek for Everyone – A Review

I’m thrilled to be reviewing this book.  I was excited to receive it and begin to dig in to it.  I have no previous instruction in the Greek language.  I have a few Greek study resources that I use regularly, but I cannot read, write or understand Greek without help.  As a singer, I have taken a few courses on diction in other languages (Italian, French, German, Latin) – that showed me the basic rules of how to pronounce other languages.  I think I was expecting something similar with this book – although I’m not sure why I expected that.  Greek for Everyone by A. Chadwick Thornhill, is a very in-depth introductory textbook on the Greek language – it’s so much more than learning how to read or pronounce Greek.  It’s more about learning the basics of the language, grammar and words.  It says introductory on the cover, but I felt like it was more intense than just an introduction.  It has the feel of a textbook, which I wasn’t so excited about.  The information is solid and easy to understand, but it’s a very dry read.  I had to make myself pick it up and continue to read by telling myself again and again that I really want the information in my brain.

The book is broken into 18 chapters, most of which deal with grammar (verbs, nominals, pronouns, infinitives, participles, etc).  Chapter two is titled “The Big Picture of Language” and gives a good overview of how the Greek language is put together and how it differs from the English language.  Chapter 14 goes back to the big picture (after twelve chapters of grammar) and sort of puts it all together.  The back of the book includes two appendices (Answers to the “Your Turn” questions that are found throughout the book and an Appendix filled with Greek Paradigms).  There is also a Glossary of Greek Terms and indexes by words, scripture and subjects.

If you’re looking for a crash course in Biblical Greek – this is a great resource.  If you’re looking for something to simply help you understand a few Greek words or phrases, this book might be a little much to take on.  Overall, it is well-written, easy to follow and quite thorough.


Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Baker Books Bloggers.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.

The Christian Book of Mystical Verse – A Book Review

The Christian Book of Mystical Verse compiled by A.W. Tozer is just beautiful.  It’s filled with poems, hymns and a prayers by over fifty different authors including Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, Frederick William Faber, John Newton, and Gerhard Tersteegen.  The book is organized into fifteen sections including topics such as the cross of Christ, communion, adoration of God, immortality and the world to come, victory, spiritual warfare and delighting in God’s presence.

If you are not a poetry lover, this is probably not the book for you.  If, like me, you love prose you will love this book.  I keep it in my car so I can read it at stop lights or in drive thru’s.  It’s a great book to read along with your regular Bible study as there are over 100 short poems, lyrics or prayers to reflect and meditate on.  Each one, on its own, is a wonderful inspiration for worship as many of them reflect on specific attributes of the Father, Son or Spirit and all of them are beautifully written.

In the back of the book, the selections are indexed by title, author and first line.  Keep in mind that this book is filled with words written long ago and therefore the language and writing style reflects that.  Many of these selections were written in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, however there are some, such as The Celestial Country by Bernard of Cluny (from the 12th century), that go back much farther.

I particularly love the poem by Anna Laetitia Waring titled My Heart is Resting, O My God.  Here is the last stanza (and my favorite part):My heart is resting, O my God,      

My heart is in Thy care;                    

 I hear the voice of joy and health

Resounding everywhere.

Thou art my portion, saith my soul,

Ten thousand voices say,

And the music of their glad Amen

Will never die away.

For anyone who loves poetry, The Christian Book of Mystical Verse would be an excellent addition to your collection.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.

The Wonders of Creation Holy Bible – A Review

I’ve reviewed several Bibles this past year, but this is my favorite one so far!  The Wonders of Creation Holy Bible in the NIV is stunning and perfect for kids to learn to interact with the Scripture in a fun and creative way!

Here’s a list of what is included in this Bible:

  • Over 50 pages of black-and-white illustrations ready to be colored
  • Key verses called out on each coloring page
  • The full text of the NIV translation
  • Pink ribbon marker
  • Lay-flat binding made for the perfect coloring experience

This Bible is filled with pictures of butterflies, monkeys, trees, flowers, seahorses, kangaroos and even a walrus (which is the cutest!)  Although the cover has quite a bit of pink on it, I still think this Bible would be perfect for both girls and boys.  I mean, what little boy wouldn’t love coloring this awesome picture of a lion?!


I’ve been Bible journaling for about two years and my girls are always wanting to color in their own Bibles, but I’ve always had to come up with ideas for them on my own – this Bible is filled with opportunities for my girls to imagine and create alongside Scripture!  If you’re not familiar with Bible Journaling, it’s a movement of people who love to create, color, design, draw and write in the margins of their Bibles.  The idea is that the more creative we can be, the more we will want to get into Scripture.  It’s been a game changer for me.  It’s a way for me to meditate on the Word in a way that allows me to use my hands in a creative way.  I’ve always been a kinesthetic learner and the more I can use my hands, the more likely I am to pay attention and understand what I’m reading.  It’s the reason hat I read with a highlighter in hand.  I have a daughter who learns the same way and I believe this Bible would give her the opportunity to study the Word in a way that fits with her unique, God-given, wiring.

The Wonders of Creation Bible is the perfect size for small hands (it’s a bit over 5×8) and is hardcover so it will stand up to heavy use (which is exactly what you hope for in a Bible – that it will be heavily used).

I cannot recommend this Bible highly enough!

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

Finding God in the Waves – A Book Review

I’ve been anticipating this book for a while.  As a fan of both The Liturgists and Ask Science Mike podcasts, I couldn’t wait to read Science Mike’s very first book.  It did not disappoint.

Because I read almost exclusively non-fiction, I always read with a highlighter in hand so that I can mark every word I want to read again later.  After the first few chapters of this book, I put down the highlighter.  This book is almost all stories, in the very best way.  It’s impossible to mark favorite phrases or sections because it has to be taken as a whole.  This isn’t a segmented book filled with quotable phrases.  It’s more like a biography and Mike McHargue is a masterful storyteller.  This book was hard to put down – it’s just that good.

Mike took me through the journey of his story – a story of losing his faith, finding his faith and then helping others to find their own way.  Mike gave me permission, through his words, to ask questions I’ve never asked before and to not know the answers.  This feeling of not knowing everything is the essence of his book, which is ironic because Science Mike always seems to know everything.  There’s a spirit of humility and humor woven through his stories that makes the reader feel completely at ease.  It’s impossible not to be drawn into his life, his stories, his world.  It’s also impossible to not see glimpses of your own story within the pages of this book – the questions, the confusion, the seeking and wondering – it’s all there.

Finding God in the Waves isn’t just the story of Mike’s faith, it’s the story of faith in general.  Not knowing everything about everything is what makes faith faith and Mike’s book reminds us of that.  It’s okay to have questions and doubts.  It’s okay to admit that some things are just too messed up for us to swallow or accept.  It’s okay to say that there are parts of the Bible that don’t make any sense to us.  Questioning doesn’t obliterate faith, it expands it.  Faith grows when doubts are allowed out of their secret cages and into the light of day.  This book brought many of mine out of the darkness as I am sure it will do for you.

I told my husband when I picked this book up to begin reading that I was sure that this book would mess me up – that it would break things in me that needed to be broken.

It did.  And I’m thankful for that.



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 Bible for Girls: Journal Edition, A Review

I am thrilled to share with you this amazing new Bible from Zondervan.  I’ve been Bible Journaling for about two years or so and have found it to be such a fun way to meditate on scripture while allowing myself to have some creative time.  A few years back I read a book called, Writing in the Margins by Lisa Nichols Hickman, which started me on my Bible Journaling journey.

Around the same time I discovered Shanna Noel’s Bible Journaling Community on Facebook.  You can also find her website and blog here.

If you’re not familiar with Bible Journaling, here are a few examples of the pages I’ve done:

You can also check out a blog I wrote about Bible Journaling here.

Bible Journaling folk are as diverse a group as you can imagine – coming from many different denominations and backgrounds.  I absolutely love learning from these women and men and being inspired by their journeys and their stories.

So …this Bible.  It’s fabulous!  The cover is a beautiful turquoise with a gold and white circular floral pattern with touches of black and pink butterflies.  They also have a pink covered Bible that has the same pattern.  It has a sturdy hard cover and a beautiful pink band to use as a bookmark or to just hold your Bible closed (after a while of Bible journaling, this will really come in handy!).  The two-inch margins are lined.  If you are into coloring in your Bible, there is plenty of room in this one to do so and if not, the lines are perfect for taking notes as you study scripture.

I assume this Bible is meant for younger girls, but I really believe it’s age-neutral.  All of my girls have commented on how pretty the Bible is and how they’d love for it to be theirs.    If you, like me, love to write in (or color or paint in) the margins of your Bible, this would be a wonderful Bible to use.


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 is Bright – A Book Review

Every year I find a devotional book for my family to use during the month of December as we look forward to our favorite holiday: Christmas.  This year we will be using a devotional coloring book called All is Bright.

All is Bright: A devotional journey to color your way to Christmas is a beautiful coloring book and devotional for the whole family, written by Nancy Guthrie and illustrated by Lizzie Preston.  Unlike many of the coloring books out there right now (and there are a ton), this one is also a full devotional and family activity guide.  Included in the book are 31 days of devotionals laid out like the one pictured below.  Each day’s devotional is well-written and family friendly and included a lovely coloring page that could be used individually or as a family.


At the end of the book, there is a section of family activities including conversation starters and coloring pages.  For example, the first of these family activity pages include a scripture verse (Acts 20:35), three questions for discussion (one is “What do you find yourself dreaming of giving?”), and a short prayer that can be read aloud among your family.  There are twelve of these family activities.  There are also twelve kid-friendly coloring pages at the very end of the book.

Every year as Christmas draws closer, and my kids start dreaming of Santa and all the things they want to get – it’s always really important for us to sit down each night and remember why we celebrate Christmas as a family and what the holiday means to us.  We’ve used many beautiful devotionals throughout the years, but never have we done a coloring devotional, so I’m really excited to see how they respond to being able to doodle and color as we have our family time each night.

Tyndale makes beautiful coloring journals and Bibles.  You can check out my review of one of their other journals here.

You can also check out these links to see the other amazing coloring and journaling products that Tyndale offers:

·         Tyndale’s Inspire Creativity board on Pinterest has downloadable samplers and sharable coloring pages from their coloring and Bible journaling line, the Living Expressions Collection!

·         Check out for the latest news and information on Tyndale’s coloring and journaling products.


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.

Finding Your Voice – A Book Review

I have been a fan of Natalie Grant for a very long time.  I’ve sung her songs at Christmas and Easter and many, many Sundays in between.  As a singer and songwriter, I always appreciate an artist who writes their own songs – especially when they are as well written as Natalie’s.  I’ve followed her on Facebook for at least the last year, and have really loved watching her fierce love for her babies and husband and her gracious love of her fans.  She is such an awesome gift to the world of Christian music, so when I learned that she had written a book (gasp!) I couldn’t wait to read it.

In Finding Your Voice, Natalie Grant’s voice is strong and kind.  If you’ve ever heard her speaking voice, you know that she has a sweet and tender voice – almost childlike.  Her singing voice, on the other hand, is pretty much the opposite.  It’s strong, loud, forceful even – tender sometimes, yes, but mostly it’s as powerhouse as they come.  This book, Finding Your Voice, is more like her singing voice.  It’s tender when need be, but it’s mostly firm and steady and empowering.  She doesn’t mince words, but gets straight to the point – which I love.

Using tons of musical references (mostly related to singing), and pulling over and over again straight from the pages of scripture, Natalie encourages the reader to not only remember that they have a voice and that their voice matters, but also walks you through how to find that voice and use it well.

There is a vulnerability within the pages of this book that matches the vulnerability in Natalie’s songs and ministry.  It’s refreshing.  I absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it.

Here are some of my favorite “Quotables” from Finding Your Voice, by Natalie Grant:

“God knows exactly where you are and the condition that you are in.  He knows what you need to complete the journey.  And he does provide.” (p22)

“Even when we cower from our callings, God will not fault us for our fears nor will He make us face them alone.  He keeps pace and even goes before us to remind us of our truth – we have a voice unlike anyone else’s, and we are equipped with all that we need to change the world in unprecedented ways.” (p28)

“Even when you are unsure of yourself, He isn’t.  Even if you don’t know the song yet, you still have a voice.” (p29)

“Even when there is an ocean between your heart and His, He will tame every tempest, wave, and current to hold your heart close to His.” (p39)

“God knit you together.  He doesn’t make mistakes.  You are exactly who you are supposed to be.  It is now your decision to embrace and live in the fullness of purpose or to run from it.” (p63)


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

Made Well – Book Review

I read a lot of books.  Some of them I like, some I love and a precious few of them I NEED.  This is one of those books that I needed.  I didn’t even know I needed it until I started reading it.  Made Well, by Jenny Simmons, is like a soothing balm for hurting hearts.  It’s a healing book.  Jenny Simmons is a phenomenal writer whose words are filled with kindness and authenticity in such a beautiful way so that when you read them you feel like you’re already good friends.

About this time last year I read Jenny’s first book, The Road to Becoming, and it was one of my favorite books of the year.  I have been recommending it ever since!  Her latest book, Made Well, is equally meaningful.  In it, she shared personal stories of loss, grief and healing that touched my heart and made me cry.  In her stories, I hear my own stories of loss and grief – things I thought I’d moved past only to realize that moving past something and healing from it are two very different things.

There are so many layers to this book.  Being Made Well is not just about how we were created in the beginning, although that’s part of it.  This book is also about being re-created – about becoming well again after a period of hurt, pain, sickness, grief or shame.  Jesus asks us, “Do you want to be made well?”  Jenny points out that we have a choice.  We can choose to stay unwell or we can take the hand of the Great Healer and walk with Him into wholeness.  And there are so many ways to be healed.  Not just the mountain top moments that restore our souls, but the daily little things that can bring healing to our hearts if we’ll purposefully seek out and soak up those moments.

She talks about how to show up for others in their grief and how they will lead us in the best ways to love and serve them.  She talks about how healing takes time and there are no short cuts or roundabouts even though we all desperately wish that there were. Jenny also talks about how we need to make peace with our “broken bits” and how that looks different for each of us, just like grieving and healing look different for each of us.

As someone who has attended more funerals than the number of years I’ve been alive, I have more experience with loss and grief than I’d like to have.  And it always seems like it comes in waves, doesn’t it?  I suppose that’s grace too, though.  The crest of the wave is always followed by the trough.  There’s an up and down to it and the down is where the peace and healing come.  After the wave, after the thing that threatens to wipe you out, comes the calm waters of healing.  All of us need healing.  From past hurts, from loss, from the ache of a soul that has forgotten how beautiful and worthy it is – healing is for everyone.  If you want to find healing or wholeness, if you want to become well again or maybe even for the first time, I urge you to read Made Well, by Jenny Simmons.  While Jenny is A healer, she is not THE Healer.  But her words beautifully point towards the One who is.  You won’t regret a single page.

There are SO many “Quotables” in Made Well by Jenny Simmons, here are some of my very favorite ones:

“Healing happens all the time, even if a cure doesn’t.” (p24)

“Healing happens when we entrust ourselves to God’s care and become aware of the miraculous ways He is at work in our midst, binding the wounds.” (p32)

“What is most true about me is the image of God inside of me.  Imago Dei is my starting point and my finish line.  My birthmark, my DNA.” (p35)

“You were not created broken before you ever had a chance to become beautiful.” (p39)

“He bypasses my desire for cheap grace and quick fixes and does what He does best – He invites.  Jesus doesn’t assume the man wants to be made well – He knows some people prefer to stay sick.” (p57)

“Long before we are invited to be healed by God, we are invited to be loved by God.  The healing journey begins after we surrender to God’s love.  When we finally come to accept the fact that we are madly, deeply, fully known and enjoyed by our Creator God, we are set free to begin our journey toward wholeness.” (p59)

“Healing is not as complicated as we like to make it.  The steadfastness of our own hearts is enough to give us pause and mend us in tiny ways if we allow it to.” (p95)

“Good healers know that words aren’t always necessary and tears are okay.” (p104)


Disclaimer: I received a copy of Made Well from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own.


In the spirit of looking for healing in everyday things: some of my healing balms are music, snuggles with little ones, beautiful books by talented writers (like Made Well), chai tea lattes and Fall.  What are yours?