I have a special Christmas-themed batch of book reviews for you today! Enjoy these five brief reviews, and check out a few from last year too.
This is the first book I’ve read from author Melissa Spoelstra, and it won’t be the last one. I truly enjoyed her practical, down-to-earth stories and suggestions perfect for this time of year. Her book is divided into 31 brief devotions, which you can dive into any time of the holiday season. Melissa offers many ideas for how to prioritize your faith life and minister to others’ needs in this special time of year.
She asks us to focus on three key areas to focus on God’s character and faithfulness:
I think she picked three very important areas for focus. Each one is an area where I need improvement this year.
Here are the suggestions I’m using to makeover my Christmas this year:
- Go through the alphabet and think of something about God for each letter. Example: A-Alpha and Omega. (Use this in your time of personal praise and worship.)
- As Christmas cards are mailed to your home, collect them in a basket. Then at mealtimes, pull out one of the cards and pray for the individual or family who sent it.
- We can take a humble posture as we go to holiday gatherings or parties. We can walk in the door prepared to listen with understanding.
If you’re looking for a practical devotional to help you gain balance this Christmas, this book will be a good fit for you, and it will fit into your busy schedule too!
Thank you to Netgalley for a free review copy of this book!
“I want to be more intentional about remembering what Christmas is all about.” Total Christmas Makeover
I’m glad I grabbed up this great deal one day from Bookbub. An ebook download for $1.99–but I’d be happy to pay full price for it! It’s really good. (If you’re not signed up for Bookbub and you love reading ebooks like me, go ahead and sign up for great deals!)
I am a Max Lucado fan, but it’s been quite a while since I read one of his books. This one has his signature storytelling, humor, wisdom, and humility tied all together. He shares his unabashed love of everything Christmas while pointing us to Jesus. He says that in the frightening, anxiety-provoking world we live in now, we need the hope, joy, and love of Christmas more than ever.
This story keeps running through my head. Max was driving one day and got in a traffic tussle with some teen boys. This pastor, author of dozens of books, and popular speaker was sucked into a battle that he knew better than to be in.
A glimpse into the story:
And I forgot who the teenager was. In that heated moment he wasn’t someone’s son. He wasn’t a creation of God. He wasn’t a miracle. He wasn’t fearfully and wonderfully made. He was a disrespectful jerk, and I let him bring out the disrespectful jerk in me…Each one of us entered the world with a sin nature. God entered the world to take it away. Christmas commemorates the day and the way God saved us from ourselves.
His honesty struck me. Let’s be honest–Christmas can be a rough time of year. People are still rude, selfish, and disrespectful this season. Hurt feelings abound. I appreciate that this book is prodding and poking at my own selfishness so I can work on it before the actual holiday arrives.
I love video-based studies like this one, which are so convenient in this busy season. You can also check out my videos on Christmas peace by going to my YouTube channel. I plan to have weekly videos there beginning in January 2018!
This devotional is written by a thoughtful, well-versed Bible scholar. Even though I’ve been a Christian for decades and feel like I know the Christmas story pretty well, I am learning so many interesting things from Names for the Messiah.
For example, Walter Brueggemann teaches about what the cultural expectation was for a coming king when Jesus was born. A king was expected to have war victories, economic success, agricultural productivity, and social justice. Much like the reign of David or Solomon. That’s what the Jews were expecting in a Messiah.
Then he shows us how Jesus surpassed all expectations as king. He uses two passages from the book of Mark to explain how Jesus “exercises counter-power that refuses the coercive, exploitative power of Rome and instead enacts abundant power that makes life possible.” With this book, I’m digging deeper into Scripture than I ever have before with other Christmas devotionals. If you want to dig a little deeper than usual, you’ll enjoy learning from this book.
I received a free review copy of this book from Netgalley.
I don’t usually read novels during this busy time of year, but Plain Christmas is worth the splurge. Amanda grew up Amish, but her life dramatically changed when she married Alejandro, a Latin music superstar. Now a mom of three caught up in a lifestyle driven by fame and fortune, she plans to return to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania for the first time in years. Her family is not too sure about this drastic shift from their glamorous Miami celebrations, but Amanda is certain this is a change they all desperately need, maybe herself most of all.
My life in the Midwest is somewhere between Amanda’s fast-paced Florida living and the slow, quiet ways of her Amish homeland. I need to slow down this season. I look forward to this story unfolding in the snowy Northeast when I can snatch a few quiet moments here and there for myself this busy December.
Netgalley generously provided me a free copy of this book!
I don’t know much about essential oils, other than the power of peppermint oil to keep me alert. I keep a diffuser in my vehicle on road trips, and a little bottle on my desk. A few whiffs perk me up much better than caffeine.
I was excited to learn how essential oils tie into the Bible, especially the Christmas story. This book by Lynn U. Watson has a very interesting premise and a pretty design, inside and out.
What I enjoyed most were the fun facts about each essential oil, especially how they relate to biblical stories. For example, myrrh is mentioned specifically in the stories of Abraham, Moses, Esther, the lovers in the Song of Solomon, and in the Christmas story. I also learned about how to use the oil for meditative purposes.
So many interesting facts about these oils: myrrh, cedar, frankincense, rose, mint, fig, cinnamon, citron, and palm. I plan to experiment with a new diffuser and oil burner, using what I’ve learned in this book.
I like her idea of including a short, fictional account in each chapter. Her personal stories are engaging. Though the chapters could use a bit more cohesion, I learned enough new facts in each chapter to make up for the difference.
I received a free review copy of this book from the author–thank you, Lynn!
You may enjoy these other Christmas book reviews:
And be sure to check out MY Christmas-themed book: Christmas Peace for Busy Moms!
Question for you: Which book or books look most interesting to you? I love hearing your thoughts in the comments section!
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