soul friends by dr. leslie parrot

“Whether you are surrounded by trusted soul friends, or you are lonely and longing for deep-spirited friends, this book is designed for every woman who wants to grow in faith and friendship.”

This was an incredible book to read, ponder, and try to apply to my life.  It’s written by an author I have a lot of respect for – Dr. Leslie Parrot, a marriage and family counselor who has written many other books on her own, as well as books with her husband, Dr. Les Parrot.

I expected this to be a fun, light read, but it really was a lot deeper than that.  The book is set up to help us see our “spiritual journey in terms of four major landmarks: Quest, Calling, Crisis, and Communion”.  Each of those areas were ones she came to after study, and she gave a lot of background on how she got there.  Some of it was borderline new age, talking about the Celts and their terms for things like “soul friends”.

I appreciated that the book was divided based on those four landmarks, but I also appreciated how she talked about how many of our experiences will have parts that are in more than one category.  Each chapter (including the preface, which she called the “invitation”) ends with a section called “soul souvenirs”, a couple of questions to help you dig deeper into what you just read.  With how much depth is in this book, the theologians quoted, the books that it references (and makes you want to dig out to read for yourself!), and the numerous Scriptures quoted, I think it would make an incredible book to read through with a book club or a small group.  I loved reading it on my own, but I do think I’d get a lot more from it if I was able to work through it with a friend.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review.  I was in no way required to write anything positive – all thoughts and opinions expressed here are completely my own.

Soul Friends Cover

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NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women – Compact

This Bible is absolutely gorgeous!  With an Italian duo-tone sea glass/Carribean blue embossed cover, beautiful pale blue ribbon to mark the page you’re on, lots of blue ink on the pages, devotions on blue backgrounds, and lots of “delicate” details, this Bible is a welcome change from all the women’s Bibles that have pink covers and brown details.  It’s an NIV (New International Version) Bible, but also includes 366 devotions in it from many of the Proverbs 31 authors.  Each devotion takes up one page, and they are placed in the area where their main Scripture is located.  As someone who receives the daily devotions via email from Proverbs 31, I really thought these devotions were good.  They were long enough to have things that made you think, but not “too” long to read on a daily basis.  They also weren’t things I recognized having read before – huge bonus!

There are sections at the back with short biographies about each author who has work included, an index of devotions by author (in case you have a favorite author, or just want to see the other devotions by any of these authors), and a general topical index.  Each of these are really great information if you’re interested in finding out more.

The only thing about this Bible that could be seen as a “negative” is that with it being the compact version, the font is pretty small.  It’s the perfect size to put in your purse or into a backpack, and as I mentioned before, it’s really gorgeous, so it would be great to carry around!  I have long carried a Bible in my purse, but it’s bigger than this one and doesn’t have any devotions included in it.  I think it might just be time to change my Bibles around!

For more information (including the ability to view some of the pages for yourself!), please check out this site: http://www.zondervan.com/niv-real-life-devotional-bible-for-women-compact.

I received a free copy of this Bible from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review.  I was in no way required to write anything positive – all thoughts and opinions expressed here are completely my own.

 

Bible Cover

let’s all be brave by annie f. downs

Are you brave?  Really?  I wouldn’t say that I am.  I mean, there a lot I’d be interested in doing, but if push came to shove, I’m not sure if it would ever happen.  This author made it clear that we are all brave, and that the only thing holding us back from that is our own fear.  I saw a video about this book awhile back, and it really sparked my interest.  When I saw that the book was available for review, I was pretty excited – it definitely didn’t let me down!

The author wrote this book to show us all that we do have courage, and “everything (we) need to be as gutsy as (we) could dream”.  Her thoughts are pretty inspirational and she draws from her own life, as well as the lives of others she knows and Bible stories – each of them showing that God can (and does!) help us to overcome fears and uncertainties.  I was really inspired by this book, because in spite of being someone who can very outgoing, I do have a whole lot of uncertainty in my life at times.

I think the best paragraph was near the start of the book:

“I believe in the me God made and in the me God can make.  I believe he made me on purpose and didn’t make any mistakes when it came to my creation.  I believe he is doing a good work in me, and in you.  And that though I am flawed, God is loving me and refining me and reminding me that God in me is where I can place my trust.  And that is where I find my courage.”

Everything she says after that just reinforces her thoughts, through stories and humor… it’s a wonderful book, that is easy to read, and hard to put down.  Isn’t that what every author would love to hear?  But it’s true.  It’s written in a very conversational tone, and that makes it feel like you’re talking with her.  I ended the book feeling like I had made a new friend, and I can’t wait to see what else she’ll write later on!

On a side note, I loved the cover design for this book, and I really appreciated how the author said she loves it too.  She told us in the video that she even sent yummy treats to the designers – that’s an author with a whole lot of gratitude right there!  There’s more interesting stuff in the video, and you should definitely check it out:

http://www.faithgateway.com/author-chat-with-annie-downs/?live&spMailingID=46740366&spUserID=NTY5ODY1OTQzMDQS1&spJobID=501935813&spReportId=NTAxOTM1ODEzS0

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review.  I was in no way required to write anything positive – the thoughts and opinions expressed here are completely my own.

Lets all Be Brave Cover

 

The God-First Life by Stovall Weems

This book was seriously thought-provoking.  In the first few pages it included these “three game changers”, statements that are pretty major.

1.  God has a “way” for our lives.

2.  We don’t have to carry the weight of our life alone.

3.  Gods way is better than ours.

The book is built on these three things, and everything you read comes from an understanding of each one of them.  As simple as they seem to be, they’re actually pretty big!

The chapters dig into those statements, and the author gives some really great stories from his own life that show how he came to those conclusions.  There are a lot of questions for reflection, plenty of verses to consider, and even some sections with questions to consider as you work on each area.  Living  a life that puts God first isn’t easy, the author never says that it’s easy, but he does give a great frame-work for being able to put things in the right order… and not just in your head, or on paper, but in real life.  I appreciated that, because so often books about things like this are full of things that sound or seem good, but they don’t have easy ways to apply them to your life.  This book makes things easy and straight-forward, and it really made me walk away feeling like I had a good plan to follow.

Early in the book, I read these sentences:

To fully experience the God-first life, you absolutely must come to understand God’s unmistakable love for you and complete acceptance of you… you cannot go far in your life of faith until you come to understand and embrace this amazing reality.  Your position in God’s family is secure.

I’m sure that I wasn’t the only one who needed to read that.  This book has the ability to profoundly impact lives, and I think that it’s going to be great for many other people’s lives as well!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review.  I was in no way required to write anything positive – the thoughts and opinions expressed here are completely my own.

The God First Life

Satisfied by Jeff Manion

The idea of reading a book about how to live a “contented, satisfied life” spoke to me… not because I felt like I was overwhelmed by the wrong behaviors or attitudes in life, but because I wasn’t.  And if I wasn’t, then it could be because it wasn’t an issue for me, or it could be because it is and I just hadn’t realized it yet.  (Far more likely that it’s the latter one of those, by the way!)  This book was filled with examples, seriously thought-provoking questions, and ideas that made you take the time to truly think about how you live your life.

For example, one thing suggested was about the areas of “excess” in your life, and as the author listed things he gave away or got rid of, one thing that jumped out to me was his cd collection.  I have quite the extensive cd collection, but it’s been quite a few years since I’ve even listened to most of them.  Once I put them all the music on my ipod, I really haven’t listened to them… so why have I held onto them?  Those types of suggestions given in the book, which may seem pretty small, were actually really important things to consider.

As a result of reading this book, I’ve really started to look at my life at new ways.  Why do I have the things that I have?  Why do I feel like I need to hold onto books/cd’s/dvd’s/etc?  Now, in fairness to me, I really LOVE books (as can probably be seen by the fact that I even started this blog!), but do I need to hold onto so many of them?  I think we all have things in our life that aren’t really “necessary”, and part of being truly satisfied in life is learning how to be happy with not just have we have, but less than what we have.  We’ve been incredibly blessed in this country to have so much – why not give some of it to someone else who could actually use it instead of keeping it in a box or in storage most of the time?

This book would definitely be challenging to anyone who reads it, and like it would be great for a small group study.  The questions it includes are tailored for groups to use, and I would personally love to have a group to share with!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review.  I was in no way required to write anything positive – the thoughts and opinions expressed here are completely my own.

Satisfied Book Cover

The Jesus Bible – New International Version (NIV)

The description says (in part) that “Jesus isn’t just found in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. His presence can be felt throughout the whole Bible, even in Genesis.”  This is so very true, and what a great idea for a Bible for kids!

Specifically geared towards kids who are 9-12 (although I think it could easily be used for younger kids as well), what makes this Bible especially unique is the fact that it includes 365 devotional readings.  I expected them to be maybe a few sentences or a couple paragraphs, but each of the devotions is a full page.  That’s some serious space dedicated to the devotions!  It makes the Bible much thicker than others, but what a great reason!  This Bible uses multiple colors, and even different fonts, to make the various sections stand out from the text of the Bible itself.  The whole layout of the Bible helps you see Jesus in every book, something that I feel is really special.  As a child, I don’t remember learning about how Jesus was in each book.  I remember learning about how God was talked about, but not Jesus and how to see Him through all that we read or learned about.  Jesus was talked about in the New Testament, but not in anything else.  (For those who may be concerned about me, I do completely understand that God and Jesus are the same person, but I think it’s pretty neat that this version of the Bible doesn’t just show Jesus in the New Testament, but gives devotions that help you see where Jesus was at in the Old Testament too.)

There are all sorts of charts, checklists (a list of parables that Jesus taught, for example), an index of the devotions (so you can check them off as you do them!), and various maps at the end.  It’s a great Bible to get for kids, to help them see how the Bible isn’t two separate parts – talking about God in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament, but it’s one story that all shows you the same person.  Not different people, but the same person.  That is pretty doggone cool, especially in a Bible for kids.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review.  I was in no way required to write anything positive – the thoughts and opinions expressed here are completely my own.

 

The Jesus Bible Cover

NIV Essentials Study Bible

This Bible is a pretty amazing compilation of information from six different resources:

*NIV Study Bible

*NIV Quest Study Bible

*NIV Archaeological Study Bible

*NIV Student Bible

*The Great Rescue Bible

*The Essential Bible Companion

As someone who grew up using an NIV Bible, I was really interested in THIS Bible because so much “extra stuff” was included (especially the archaeological stuff!).  Over the past couple of years I’ve been using study Bibles almost exclusively in my study times (and for Bible reading in general, I guess!), so having one Bible that had the wisdom and thoughts from all these other books in it – what a way to make study even easier and even better, right?  The dust jacket shows pictures of each of the other books, and tells you that depending on what you liked the most, you may want to pick one (or more!) of those books up.  While that may be good, I think I can say that this Bible really does have the best of all worlds.  Why pull out six books when you can pull out one?

The start of each book includes a section with key concepts, key verses, key teachings, key terms, people to know, a great visual with “when did these things happen?”, and a picture that shows something important from that book (in Genesis, the picture is of “The Land of the Bible” and in Exodus, it’s “From Egypt to Mount Sinai”).  Each book include sections on history, large sections on the people in the book (and they aren’t always the people you’d think they’d be!), details about things that are important to know (in Exodus, you see a half a page on the Names of God), Q&A sections (in Exodus 7, you get a great answer to “Why Did God Choose These Particular Plagues?”, and in Exodus 21, you get a section on “Does the Bible Support Slavery?”), R&R (reflect and respond) sections (in I Kings, it includes a section on doubts, which gives you a portion to “read”, a portion to “think”, and a portion to “live”, and then gives you the “next level”, where it asks you to read in Jeremiah – then it even tells what page to go to for the “next devotional” reading!), and more.  Like all good study Bibles, each page has footnotes – many of the things noted are what you’d expect (and very similar to other study Bible footnotes), but they do also include portions that aren’t what you would have expected.

One thing I noticed pretty early on was related to the layout – with all the extra content included, the margins are definitely not wide enough to write much on.  If you are used to writing in your Bible (and I absolutely am!), this would make it a little bit more complicated to use as your Bible that you take to group studies.  I think it would still be great for personal use at home though!

Not related at all to the content, but I was a little bit disappointed in the cover of the actual Bible itself.  The paper dust jacket is wonderful, but the cover of the Bible just says “Holy Bible” and “NIV”.  You wouldn’t have any clue that the Bible was this really amazing grouping of books if you didn’t have the outside dust jacket on it.

All in all, this is a pretty great Bible, and one that I think could make for great study times.  It’s a wonderful compilation of some pretty amazing resources, and a great way to get access to all the cool stuff those books include without having to spread out at the dining room table with six separate books in front of you.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review.  The thoughts and opinions expressed here are completely my own.

niv essentials study bible