A Fresh Batch of Book Reviews #6

Enjoy four book reviews and check out my latest book, Newness of Lifefor another good read!

I Am by Michele Cushatt

Michele has an amazing testimony.  She speaks with raw transparency about surviving cancer, facing hard days as a wife and mother, and surmounting challenges in her speaking and writing career, Her personal stories have depth and richness you don’t typically find in devotionals.  I like her fresh, honest voice crackling with both laughter and tears.  Reading her devotions feels like sitting down with my favorite kind of friend–a woman who isn’t afraid to tell me the truth about herself and about me.

In this book, Michele leads you through the Bible in 60 days, showing you who God is and who you are because of Him.  She lays out the book in six sections:  Creation, Exodus, Covenant, Presence, Rescue, and Revelation.  Each section is divided into ten devotionals with affirming headings such as “I Am Accepted” and “I Am Lifted Up.”  In each devotional she shares a scripture, a personal story and application, a thought-provoking quote, and several probing questions.  I enjoyed quotes like this one from “I Am Chosen:”

Nothing stings quite like rejection. All the striving and believing and hoping to be chosen, only to be dashed in the trying…Thank heavens, God operates by a different standard.  He doesn’t hold back approval as He waits to evaluate our work.  Instead, He has already chosen.  And we made the list.

This book is meant to be savored slowly.  I intend to step into the pages each afternoon when I decompress from work, and soak up great truths about my identity in the Lord.  I also look forward to getting to know Michele better through her deeply personal stories.

I received this book as a free resource from the BookLook Bloggers program, in exchange for my honest review.

Craving Connection from the (in)courage Community

This book is a compilation of stories and devotions from the writers at the popular (in)courage blog.  If you are unfamiliar with the blog, it’s definitely worth checking out.  I’ve read it for years, and I’m very glad to see this first book from this lovely community!

Craving Connection will help you learn new ways to connect with God, with friends, and with community.  Each devotion has a suggestion for how to engage with the material through a Connection Challenge.  I thumbed through the book and the lesson “When Wounds from Women Are Hard to Forgive” caught my attention.  For about 15 minutes I read author Kristen Strong’s words, mulling deeply over her personal stories and the truths she revealed.  God spoke to me through her words.  I needed to hear godly advice on how to handle a prickly situation, and I found it in this story.

What’s even better about reading this book right now is the chance to read in community.  Every Tuesday’s blog post over the next few weeks at (in)courage will feature a chapter of the book.  Each Thursday they are broadcasting on Facebook Live with the author of that week’s chapter.  Click on this link for more information.  I’m definitely checking out the comments on the Tuesday blog posts.  It’s fun to interact with others in a virtual book club!

I won this book from a giveaway at Craving Connections.  Thank you Michele!

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines, with Mark Dagostino

About four months ago I began watching Fixer Upper on HGTV.  It didn’t take long for me to be charmed by this fun, inspiring couple who are so creative, cooperative, and family-oriented.  This book was an easy sell for a new fan like me.

What surprised me is how much Chip and Joanna’s story mirrors the story of my husband and I, in terms of being small business owners.  My husband has been a contractor for about ten years and has faced similar challenges in his business.  The story of how they persevered through their financial trials, and how they faced unprecedented problems with creative solutions, gave me a lot of hope.  Right now my husband’s company is developing its first subdivision, and we are encountering challenge after challenge.  Reading Chip and Joanna’s story of their first development truly encouraged me.

I highlighted many passages in this book, and here is one of my favorites:

Maybe getting to the bottom all those times…was some sort of a test.  A test of will maybe, a test of faith, a test of our resolve to stay the course in following our dreams and to do the right thing…All of these big, life-changing things were right around the corner for us at that moment.  And if we’d given up, if we’d walked away, if we’d crumbled when we were at our lowest, we never would have made it around the corner to see all of the blessings that were about to come due.

The Magnolia Story is one of the most positive, upbeat books I’ve read in a long time.  But it is also real, vulnerable, and honest.  If you’ve never watched Fixer Upper, you’ll quickly become a fan by reading this book.  If you’re already a Fixer Upper fan, you’ll love this behind-the-scenes look at how this Christian couple builds a beautiful life together.

The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp

I’m a fan of Ann’s lyrical writing style, deep insights, and beautiful word pictures.  This book does not disappoint.  It goes further than any of her other books, describing her struggle with cutting in a tender, poignant way.  Ann encourages us to embrace our brokenness instead of hiding from it, and even see it as a gift.  I love the story of taping a paper heart to her daughter’s chest.  When the paper heart gets torn, her daughter says, “Maybe the love gets in easier right where the heart’s broke open.”  Then Ann muses,

Maybe our hearts are made to be broken.  Broken open.  Broken free.  Maybe the deepest wounds birth deepest wisdom.

I am reading this book on Sunday mornings before church.  I’ve signed up to receive emails with a Broken Way video teaching, and I watch them every Sunday.  These videos are beautiful, powerful, and an ideal enhancement for personal or group study of this book.  I highly recommend you sign up today to access the videos, free printables, and discount codes for The Broken Way book and Bible study companion.  You can also click on the graphic below to sign up.

Which book looks most interesting to you? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comment section below!


Looking for Newness of Life in your current life season?

My book Newness of Life will help you apply Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 so you can understand God’s plan in your current season.

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV

No matter what season you are in, God is teaching you valuable lessons to grow your faith and trust in Him.  Discover what God is saying through the different times and activities we traverse.

You are also invited to join me on my current blog series, “How to Be the Wife He Really Wants.”  Visit my first post Be His Helper now!

 


Please vote 17 on this link: Click HERE! so I can make my publishing dream come true. God set me free from my fear of abandonment, and I want the world to know!

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  • I’ve heard good things about Michele Cushatt’s books. I have her first one and need to move it to the top of my stack of books waiting to be read. I’m your neighbor today at Moments of Hope.

    • Sarah

      Hi Laura, I haven’t read her first one, but I will definitely read it now since I’m so impressed with her writing in I Am. Checking out your site now!

  • Thanks for sharing these reviews. I hadn’t heard of The Magnolia Story but I have heard good things about the other 3 books though I haven’t read any of them yet. Thank you for sharing about the Ann Voskamp teaching videos- I’m definitely going to take a look at those.

    • Sarah

      Lesley, you will LOVE the videos. And you’ll love The Magnolia Story too! Hope these reviews help you make some great choices.

  • Our reading lists are so similar! I recently finished The Broken Way (LOVED It!), I am currently savoring I Am, one day at a time, and I have Craving Connection ready on my nightstand! I’m also in the middle of Rebekah Lyons coming release, You Are Free: Be Who You Already Are. (FYI, it’s fantastic!)

    So fun finding a kindred spirit in books!

    • Sarah

      Hi Rebecca, I love being a preview reader, don’t you? Receiving books for free in exchange for posting reviews is a wonderful blessing to me. Thanks for mentioning You Are Free…I will check it out!

  • All great reads! I must get them all!