Monday, March 23, 2015

Book Review: Blessings for the Morning

I had the privilege of receiving a free copy of the book Blessings for the Morning by Susie Larson in exchange for an unbiased review from Bethany House Publishing.  I have never read any of her books before but I was encouraged by the idea of a quick read to start my morning off well as a busy homeschool mom.
This book is beautifully put together.  The pictures are breathtaking.  The layout is easy.  I love that there are no dates so one can peruse and read at their own pace.  The pages are thick and well structured.  It would make a lovely little coffee table book in that way.
There is an index in the front that allows you to see titles of the blessings and their corresponding page numbers.  While this can be helpful, it can be tempting to read the blessings that you feel you will get the most out of.  Rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you in what He wants you to read, it angles towards a self medicating, quick fix solution.
Sadly to say, content wise I was disappointed.  Each opened page has a verse on the left hand side and a prayer/blessing on the right hand side.  These blessings are very 'self' focused and lean on the side of 'self help' used primarily lift oneself up.  It praises the efforts of the self while rarely taking into account our absolute reliance on God.  The verses are often too short and do not take context into consideration.  In my opinion this book is filled with the empty superlatives that are too commonplace in the church today.

If someone is truly in thirst of encouragement, peace, joy, and faith then put aside the self-help and quick-fix crutches and dig deeper into God's Word.  Study the original source in its full context.  Allow the Holy Spirit to fill you instead.

While not a bad book, I feel the temptation of replacing books like this with true Bible study is part of the problem with the Church at large today.  We are afraid to be convicted and only want to feel good.  Read and gift with caution.  Use it as a springboard not as the source.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Book Review: Bella's Gift

I had the opportunity to read a wonderful book, really a biography of a family who has been an example and inspiration to our nation.  Rick Santorum has served his country in the political arena most notably with a 2012 presidential candidate run.  During this campaign, it was announced that his 7th child Bella was in the hospital and also was a survivor of Trisomy 18, a medically anecdote 'lethal' chromosome illness.  Bella, unexpected to survive birth, much less her first year, even less now 7 years later was the miracle surprise to the Santorum family.  In this book Rick and his wife Karen take turns sharing pieces of their story, from distinct perspectives but a unified commitment to putting God and family first in their lives.

This book is not about living with a child with special needs.  It is not about a family that attempted to run for presidential office.  It is about a family who has learned through various challenges and opportunities that life is precious, God given, and valued.  Every life is one that should be advocated, treasured, and honored.  It is a book filled with honesty, pain, love, joy, and passion.

I appreciated the different perspectives that Rick and Karen provided as they faced trials and celebrated victories through Bella.  It allowed for a deeper understanding of the situation and allowed for a 'realness' that is sometimes whitewashed over in biographical stories.  Their testimony and candor is admired.  It was easy to read, enjoy, cry along as the story of Bella and the Santorum family unfolded.  I loved the storytelling aspect of the layout- it wasn't a timeline, play by play of 'what happened' but an unfolding of a heart story that takes place in pieces over time that allows the reader to put them together to a beautiful puzzle.

I feel honored and blessed to have had the opportunity to read this book and would highly recommend to anyone looking for encouragement, a story of integrity and depth, or for unfiltered passion for one's beliefs.

*Thank you BookLook bloggers for the free copy of the book in exchange for my review.