A Faith Unleashed

Author: Joshua J. Masters

Publisher: Bold Vision Books

Release Date: April 21, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

An absolutely precious and powerful book that will give readers all the feels and bring you closer to God with each new chapter.

Franklin is an abused and neglected little pup before coming to live in his forever home. He spent his youngest days in a puppy mill and was severely neglected which left him afraid of most everything life had to offer. His journey from brokenness to a life of joy and belonging is a lot like our own. Each chapter gives us a cute story of Franklin’s life and then connects it to a biblical application for our own lives. With the passing of each chapter, readers see the similarities of Franklin’s journey of being rescued and our own as we allow Christ to rescue us from our lives and give us new life in him.

I was amazed as I read each new chapter and saw the way Masters wove together how we ourselves are like a rescued pup when we allow Jesus to come into our lives and make things so much better than we ever knew possible. At the start of each chapter we get a cute little Franklin story and then see how that can apply to our lives, which made me look at things in an entirely new light. All the comparisons are down to earth, easy to relate to with nothing too crazy that the readers will have trouble believing. One of the nicest things about this book is I could hand it over to my pre-teen son and feel like he would get a closer connection to the Lord through the pages. It is a great book for new believers and especially animal lovers.

Messy to Meaningful: My Purse Runneth Over

Authors: Monica Schmelter, Rhonda Rhea, Kaley Rhea

Publisher: Bold Vision Books

Release Date: February 2, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A fun, engaging book that kept me laughing and smiling with the turn of every page and an uplifted spirit.

Do you ever feel weighed down with extra baggage, both spiritually and physically? Whether you carry a backpack, purse, fanny pack or small clutch, we all have something that holds the things we need as we go throughout the day. Some of us have everything plus the kitchen sink while others get by with the bare minimum. What we carry with us can say a lot about us and what is going on in our lives and what we value. I make sure anywhere I go I have a book in my bag, you never know when a line might be long or stuck in traffic that could allow you to get a few pages in. We also have the baggage the world can put on us, feelings of failure and a lack of peace. Each of us need to find a way to let go of the things that won’t bring us anything good and fight for what matters to keep in our bags. When we have what we need in our bags, our purse will runneth over and we will feel full inside and out!

I’ve read Rhonda and Kaley Rhea several times before and knew that anything they teamed together to write would be on my shelf. Now, with the addition of Monica Schmelter, there was so much more to love and laugh about within the pages of the book. I love when you get a group of writers that can craft a story in a way that makes you laugh but also leaves an impression with you of what they are trying to teach you. Each chapter gives a lesson with humor, one of the best nonfiction tools for me. A lot of times nonfiction is very hard for me to get through, just doesn’t hold my attention, but with these books it is easy to let the pages fly and enjoy the lessons within. I recommend this book for all those struggling with what is right and best to keep in their “bag.” No matter how big or small the bag we carry may be, we all need the right tools to help us through the crazy times we are living in.

This is such a fun book that I believe many readers will enjoy it. Find it on Amazon!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Fix Her Upper: Christmas

Authors: Beth Duewel & Rhonda Rhea

Publisher: Bold Vision Books

Release Date: November 24, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Fix-Her-Upper Christmas is a wonderful addition in this season, especially in the year we are all going through. Everyone can gleam something wonderful from this spectacularly fun book!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or the most stressful time for some. If this season of shopping, family, decorations is getting a tad overwhelming, you are not alone. Throughout the pages of this book, you will find story upon story from Beth and Rhonda of trials and struggles they have gone through and the way they worked through them with humor and faith to discover the real reason for the season was worth more than any gift they could buy. The message is clear, even in the frantic season we are in, our focus should be on Jesus, He is the reason for the season, and if we forget that, there really is nothing to celebrate. Less is more is a main theme throughout, and I love that. The devotions are spot on with just the right amount of humor and insightful tidbits to bring us joy and helpful holiday tips.

Anytime you pick up a Rhonda Rhea and Beth Duewel book you know you are going to be rolling on the floor laughing and come away feeling refreshed. This time of year, we could use with a little laughter and refreshing. No matter how hard this year has been, and for some it has been unbearable, we can all find some cheer within the pages and rely on the hope that Christmas is about the birth of our savior and nothing is more important than that. If we fix our eyes on Him, this could very well be the best Christmas we have ever had.

Walk Run Soar

Author: Dorina Gilmore Young

Publisher: Baker Books

Release Date: September 29, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

No matter your pace, whether you walk, run, or soar, this book will give you some insights for the path you are taking.

Dorina Gilmore Young, with her husband Shawn, bring a fifty-two-week devotional for people that like to be active at whatever pace.  Dorina is a runner, both for competition and for fun, and she shares many of the insights that she has gained by running.  She lost her first husband to cancer and spends time dwelling on that relationship throughout many of the devotionals.  She also spends time on learning to hear Jesus, serving his mission, and conditioning our bodies for his work.  Each chapter is provided with a short narrative called Faith Fuel, an action item called Faith Step, a short couple of sentences for Inspiration, and a word of encouragement from her husband, Coach Shawn.  I have spent time reading a devotional each day after my bible reading and have found it very uplifting.  Each devotional also gives a section to write down notes during each day’s workouts and/or runs.  My husband uses this as he is an active runner and it has helped him think through some things when he runs.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Jesus Freaks

Authors: D.C. Talk & Voice of the Martyrs

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: October 27, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An updated edition of the inspiring story of those who have stood up for Jesus and paid the ultimate price.

Around the world Christians are being persecuted for their faith; they stand for Jesus until their very last breath. The stories are inspiring can help each and every one of us in our own walk with Christ. Within these pages we can read about the first martyrs up to ones in the present day. Jesus Freaks is part of the Richard Wurmbrand’s Voice of the Martyrs organization showing faithful Christian leaders who suffered many years ago in Communist prisons. Wurmbrand has even testified before Congress showing wounds he received while being tortured for his faith. He, like so many others, have gone through hardships we can only imagine.

I picked up Jesus Freaks on a day I was feeling sorry for myself and some of the things I was going through. Reading through these stories helped me put into perspective how grateful I need to be for all that I have, including my faith and freedom to live and express my faith freely. Across the world, others are not so lucky. They profess a faith in Jesus and get tortured and even killed for it, and they do so willingly in order to share the good news of Christ. To have a faith like that and be excited about prison, torture or death is hard to imagine. I believe but going to that level would be hard for so many of us. I strive to strengthen my faith each day and reading this while going through a difficult time was just what I needed. At first, it was hard reading about the difficult and painful times these believers went through, and I have so little to complain about, but as I read, I used their stories to help me gain perspective. There are places and people in this world that are not safe for believers to go, but those are the places that these believers go and preach and bring the lost to the lord. I for one am thankful for these stories, they remind me that no matter how bad things are, if I lift my eyes I’ll see where my help is. It’s not always easy, and when it’s the hardest that’s when we will see the biggest rewards.  I recommend this to all those going through a hard time and needing a reminder of no matter the cost our faith is worth it.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Best Medicine

Author: Walt Larimore, MD

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 6, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An enjoyable look back at the life of a country doctor in suburban Orlando, Florida.

Dr. Walt Larimore was a content family doctor practicing medicine in a small town of the Smoky Mountains, but an event one day changed the course of his and his family’s life.  A gentleman was brought into the clinic after having suffered multiple yellow jacket stings.  Dr. Larimore recognized what was happening and was able to quickly treat the allergic reaction and save the man’s life.  The man and his wife just happened to be on the board for a hospital in Kissimmee, Florida and encouraged Walt to relocate to Florida and serve at their hospital.  Walt and his wife became friends with the couple but were resigned to stay in the smoky mountains.  Fast forward a few years later, and they are now in Kissimmee.  In The Best Medicine, Walt reflects on his early years of practicing medicine in Kissimmee and the impact his friends and family have had on both his practice and his life.

Memoirs are always fun to read, and this was no exception.  I thoroughly enjoyed getting a depiction of Walt’s life and how he managed his practice as well as sought out spiritual mentorship.  It was very inspiring to meet these characters and also humbling to see how many mishaps and mess-ups Walt had during his life and how he overcame these challenges with God’s help.   This would be a great gift for people going through a tough time during the holidays this year to cheer them up. 

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Finding Quiet: My Journey to Peace in Anxious World

Author: Jamie Grace

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: October 13, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Our world is loud and crazy right now which makes finding a quiet moment very difficult. Jamie Grace delivers a wonderful addition to anyone’s library of little ways to find quiet when it seems impossible.

The world we live in today is loud. There is no getting around it, there is noise all around us, external and internal. How do we find quiet when we are constantly being bombarded with noise? Not only do we have outside noise but there is also so much anxiety we live with today. Jamie Grace is a singer, songwriter and storyteller with hits on the radio and breaks down what it’s like to conquer her own anxiety in this loud crazy world, all while living with Tourette Syndrome and ADHD. With these struggles, it has been even harder for Jamie Grace to find the quiet she needs to reset and recharge in order to survive and thrive in the world. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of her diagnoses and spiraling down a “woe is me” mentality, she remembers that God is leading her on this journey and uses each moment as a lesson to grow and work on herself and help others through her music and other platforms.

So many of the things written in this book resonated with me. It can be really hard to take the time to just sit and be quiet. With so many avenues of entertainment and connectivity around us, we are rarely able to find that quiet. Smart phones and technology are a great thing, when used right. However, we can find ourselves going down a rabbit hole on social media and instead of enjoying ourselves we become depressed by what we see and hear and compare ourselves to these images. It can be a very detrimental thing to our mental health. At one point, Grace talks about taking an intentional break from social media and how good that can be for all of us. I loved the way she pours so much of her life experiences onto the pages and helps readers see that no matter your struggles it is okay to step back, take a minute for yourself and make sure you are okay before moving on. That moment of quiet, inner reflection can do better than almost anything else, and it is seldom taken advantage of like it should. Whether you are an introvert, or an extrovert, quiet time is essential to enjoy all other moments of your life. Readers that have enjoyed Jamie Grace’s music and even those that have never heard of her but are looking for thoughts on helping deal with an anxious heart would benefit from reading this. I recommend readers to take the time to work through this book and let it work for them as it is meant to. I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

365 Ways to Love Your Child

Author: Julie Lavender

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 20, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A perfect book that showcases all the little ways we sometimes forget can be used to experience love with our children.

365 Ways to Love Your Child is a book written for all parents. Within its pages, readers will find encouragement to show kids each and every day how loved they are. It doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture, sometimes it’s the simple things that mean the most. Write a letter to leave in their lunch box that says you are always thinking of them. Give them an extra hug, squeeze a little longer and a little tighter every chance you get. So many of the actions she gives as examples are so simple, I caught myself smiling and shaking my head as I read many of them thinking I should do those more often. In our world right now, we often find ourselves so busy even the smallest task added to our list can be overwhelming. When its those little tasks that can mean the most to our kids, and in turn leave a lasting impression on both them and us.

We only have a short amount of time with our children and if we don’t make the most of it, we will regret it. One thing the last few months of COVID and quarantine has taught me is to enjoy the time we have together. While things shut down and we had nowhere to go and nothing to do, playing games together and going for walks and bike rides became fun again. Eating together and talking about the day and all we had to be thankful was a nightly ritual and it didn’t go unnoticed by me or my family. Just telling someone you love them isn’t always enough, showing them by your actions and taking the time to do stuff together can often mean more than just saying the words. Lavender does a fantastic job of pointing out all the little things we forget can mean showing love to our kids. Something as simple as putting your phone away and looking them in the eye.  In the world we live in that is very rare and I think it is time we start doing more to show our kids they are more important than an electronic device to us, because when they get the electronics we know that is where there attention will be focused just as ours can tend to be. I would recommend that all parents pick up a copy of this book and highlight certain sections that are most relevant to them and can be best implemented in their daily lives together.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Fight to Flourish

Fight to flourishAuthor: Jennie Lusko

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: May 5, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

With raw emotion splashed across every page, Jennie Lusko shares her struggle with grief over losing a child.

Jennie and her husband Levi are the pastors of Fresh Life Church headquartered in Kalispell, Montana with campus across Montana, Utah, and Wyoming. They stay busy but enjoyed the life they were living with their four daughters. One fateful day before Christmas, their five-year-old daughter Lenya suffered a severe asthma attack that ended in a tragic loss. After that day, nothing felt the same anymore. Everything became a struggle. Family vacations weren’t the same. Relationships changed. Even now, several years later and the addition of a boy to the family, there are still times that Jennie misses Lenya fiercely and struggles to return to any kind of routine. But God never changes, and she knows that she can rely on him.

Jennie shares several entries of her personal journals on days that she severely struggled with grief. Everybody struggles with something, whether it’s day to day tasks, being in the middle of a large project, or relationships. I have not experienced the loss of a child, but I almost did after a freak accident left my son with a skull fracture as I watched him be airlifted away. Ironically, this occurred in Monterey, California which is Jennie’s hometown. The struggle to forgive oneself is the hardest of all. There are thoughts of “If I’d done this…” or “Why didn’t I…..” These don’t make it any easier to move on through the process of grief.

Jennie does a tremendous job laying out thoughts and ideas for people that are struggling to flourish in their life. Her emotion is raw and displayed for everyone to read, showing how vulnerable she truly is. She talks about how she may look like she has it together, but underneath she is a mess. I think we all feel that way at some point in our lives and I’m glad that someone with the courage to share her story with everyone.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Becoming the Next Great Generation

Becoming the next generationAuthor: Jonathan Catherman

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 17, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A guide to assist young adults into true leaders!

Many teens and young adults find themselves frustrated with older generations. Many of these individuals want to become leaders and are seeking the opportunity to influence not only their generation, but previous ones as well. The problem is that there is a difference between the generations in communication and experiences. Jonathan Catherman has written a delightful book to help the members of the young generation understand how to overcome those differences. He works to explain the experiences of the older generations and the obstacles that they had to overcome. Catherman does a great job tailoring his book presentation to the intended audience. Many should feel lead to accept the challenge to overcome obstacles and take the reins as the next great generation.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.