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.

Guiding the Next Great Generation

Guiding the next generationAuthor: Jonathan Catherman

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 17, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A guide to assist today’s leaders to transition the reins to true leaders of the next generation!

Doesn’t every generation feel that the next generation is going to be a failure? Or at least that is what I have heard. Yet somehow we always seem to continue down the path. It’s easy to look at the upcoming generation and become worried about what is going to happen in the future. Why passively worry about it when we can actively do something? Jonathan Catherman has given us a simple guide of some thoughts on how we can help young individuals become reader to transition into people of influence. This is a great book for parents, teachers, Sunday school teachers, and workplace leaders. Drawing on real world examples, Catherman shows how this has been overcome in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

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

Everywhere Holy

Everywhere holyAuthor: Kara Lawler

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: December 3, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

All readers will resonate with some portion of this book!

People have a common misconception that God’s holiness is only found in certain places. Many have experienced His holiness on a mountaintop, by a rushing river, in a cathedral, and in a meadow, but perhaps it is because they expected to find it there. Kara Lawler shows readers that everywhere we look is holy. Special moments between friends or parents and children as well as moments of reflection can bring out His holiness. We don’t have to look in grand places, just look were we are. We are loved just as we are, and He wants us to know that!

If you are living through the hustle and bustle of life with a need to slow down, this book is for you. If you deal with depression, this book is for you. If you have questions about your self-image, this book is for you. Basically, whatever you are dealing with, this book is for you. I don’t think there is a better time than now for people to have a copy of this book. Many of us are experiencing the challenges of staying at home in response to the COVID-19 situation being experienced throughout the world. Many of us are facing new challenges we’ve never thought we would experience, yet at the same time, we are discovering that we actually have down time and don’t know what to do with ourselves. The answer is simple, read this book and reflect on it. Kara Lawler shares many of her personal experiences and challenges that so many women will find similar to their own stories.

The two parts of this book that really resonated with were the chapter on water and the chapter on angels. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been drawn to water, whether it is the ocean, river, stream, or waterfall. That is where I have always found the most sense of peach wash over me, just like the water is taking away my cares and troubles. I feel like I truly connected with the author at that moment. The chapter about angels made me cry, especially when she talked about how her daughter recognized when angels were watching over her. My youngest son had a traumatic accident when he was almost three years old and we had to put our faith in God and his angels when they loaded him into an ambulance to take him to a helicopter for a life flight. His angles watched over him then and they continue to do so today.

Readers will learn how to experience God in this beautifully written piece of work. I hope that you will learn to breathe and find His holiness wherever you are today!

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

3 Words That Will Change Your Life

3 wordsAuthor: Mike Novotny

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: January 7, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Who knew three words in the right context could have so much meaning?

There are three words that we have likely all heard at some point in our lives. But maybe we hear them quietly, which suppresses the meaning. God is here. That is easy to glance at and read over without having any real feeling or indication that God is actually here. But if we look at it as GOD IS HERE, just by seeing it more pronounced we take more notice and can begin to seek out that GOD is, in fact, here!

The synopsis of this book had me very intrigued and the content was good. The author begins by being easily relatable to anyone who has searched out God in the past and not received a strong feeling in return. He explains that by just reading over those three powerful words, we can be missing out on a powerful relationship because God is Here and he wants to be with us. Novotny does a good job debunking some different myths/beliefs and also throws around a lot of lighthearted humor to keep the reader moving.

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

The Art of Friendship

The art of weaknessAuthor: Kim Wier

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Release Date: January 7, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

In the day and age of Facebook friends and followers, it can be difficult to have and cultivate true relationships. The Art of Friendship explores these issues and gives the reader insight into what it really means to be a true friend, something we all desperately need.

We live in the world of Instafriends with Likes and Shares that provide many avenues at our fingertips for connecting to others. With that in mind, it is amazing to consider the fact that we are more lonely than ever before. Loneliness is harder on our minds and bodies than smoking or obesity. It’s not the fact that we have more connections than ever but that we are lacking deeper more meaningful ones. The Art of Friendship will give you an inside look at what God has meant for you in your life with meaningful friendships. There are many different types of friends we can have and each one fulfills a role in our lives to make it the fullest and richest it can be. But we can’t get that from only online friends and relationships. Through this book you will discover the friendships that can be life changing and give you all you seek.

When you first look at the title of this book you might think it’s not for you or think that you have lots of friends and don’t need help in that department. But the deeper you look, the more you will see that what you thought of as true relationships are not really that. With Facebook and the other social media platforms available, it can be so easy to get wrapped up in the world of likes, tweets, hearts, and other ways to show people you are invested in their lives. But even that lacks a heartfelt connection that a true face-to-face interaction can fill. It truly is God’s will for us to have close relationships to have a life lived to the fullest. Not only will it enrich our lives, but we can enrich the lives of those we are involved in as well. I love when Wier says, “If we want friendships that will fuel our body, mind, and soul in a way that helps us move forward, we need to fill up with the right kind of friendships.” There is so much truth in this book that we can all learn from if we keep an open mind as we read through the pages. I recommend this book to everyone, not a single person can pick this up and walk away without feeling as if they have grown.

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

Listen Well, Lead Better

listenAuthors: Steve & Becky Harling

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: January 7, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Listening is a key component of good leadership and this book does a great job demonstrating the benefits.

Listening is a crucial action that everyone has the ability to do. Unfortunately, people don’t always view the true value of it. More focus is typically put on speaking skills and other actions, but so much more can be learned through simple listening. In Listen Well, Lead Better, Steve and Becky Harling outline different areas of listening that are beneficial to everyone. In addition, they also provide personal stories of what they’ve learned from listening as well as times when they didn’t listen. Scripture is also provided throughout each chapter to support the biblical truths of listening.

My husband is a partner in an engineering/architecture firm and has had the benefit of attending leadership conferences. He also read this book and said that it contains everything that is in multiple books that he has read. However, most leadership books have a chapter dedicated to listening and he liked that there was a book dedicated to the entire topic. He agrees that listening is very crucial to leadership. To resolve conflict between employees or to have a crucial conversation with a coworker, you need to really listen to understand what is going on. Not listening to respond but to understand. I love how this book gives questions to ask people that you may be a leader of as well as self-reflection questions. Sometimes I dread getting a book like this to review because I think it is going to be a slow pace, but this moved quickly and stayed interesting. This should be a book on every current and potential leader’s bookshelf.

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

Top Nonfiction for 2019

It’s that time of year again when we reflect on our favorite picks for each of our genre categories.  We’re going to kick it off with nonfiction!  There were some new authors that brought some serious competition to this category.  Any of these will easily be a great read.

Fix Her Upper1. Fix Her Upper: Reclaim Your Happy by Beth Duewel & Rhonda Rhea

Sometimes we all need a little help finding our happy space when life tries to hide it from us. Rhonda Rhea and Beth Duewel deliver a wonderful guide to help readers reclaim the happy that many haven’t even realize is lost.  This book has the ability to give you a rejuvenation.

Check out the full review here.

 

 

 

Unruffled

 

2. Unruffled: Thriving in Chaos by Edie Melson & Rhonda Rhea

A delightful combination of wit, charm and charisma to help us deal with the craziness in life that can cause us to become unruffled.

Check out the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

Husband

 

3. 100 Words of Affirmation Your Husband (Or Wife) Needs to Hear by Lisa Jacobson and Matt Jacobson

These two books are full of wisdom that couples tend to take for granted.  Do these together as a couple and you will find things out about each other.

Read the full review here for husband.

Read the full review here for wife.

 

 

 

Power prayers

 

4. Powerful Prayers for your Son by Rob & Joanna Teigen

A wonderful tool for all parents of boys as they grow and go through the difficult times life will throw their way.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

 

 

yours truly

 

5. Yours Truly, John by Traci Stead

Traci Stead does an outstanding job crafting a story that will bring readers closer to Jesus and the miracles he performed by giving us scripture from the past and stories from the present in a thought-provoking study for all.

Read the full review here.

Words of Hope for Women

Words of hopeAuthor: Carolyn Larson

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 15, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Having hope in a world that is hard, fast and, at times, cruel can be difficult. Carolyn Larson puts a perfect tool in our hands to find hope when it can be most difficult.

Throughout our daily lives, it can be easy to let our discouragement become overwhelming. Pain from our past combined with the uncertainty of the future can be a bit too much for some to handle without the hope we can find in the Lord. God has no limits and if we will let ourselves hold true to that we will be blessed with all the glory he has writing to bestow upon us.

Each chapter within these pages provides little glimmers of hope in a hopeless world. The scripture starting the chapters can be all we need if we look close enough. Scripture has so much hope, even when we don’t want to admit it is there. There are more words of hope in the bible than hopelessness. Even the stories that start with someone in a hopeless situation end with them finding the hope God has in store for us. Words of Hope for Women is a book that will help everyday women struggling in everyday life situations see the good and prosperous future in store for them. I recommend this book to all those looking for an uplifting read that will help give them hope when they get discouraged.

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

100 Words of Affirmation Your Wife Needs to Hear

wifeAuthor: Matt Jacobson

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 1, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jared Higgins

The absolute best book for any married couple to read, no matter if you have been married a year or fifty, it will remind you of the little things you can be thankful for in your spouse.

Inside each and every one of us, we have the ability to “Speak Life”, as TobyMac says or bring others down with our words. It is important to remember that the person we share our lives with should hear those words of life from us and often. How do you speak to your wife? Is it with love? How do your children hear you speak to their mother? These are all important questions that we need to ask ourselves as we go throughout our daily lives. She wants to know what you think, but she also wants to know what you think of her.

My wife and I have been married for over fifteen years and we work to grow our relationship every day. I read through this book and agreed with everything that it had, but I realized that I don’t actually say all of these things to her.  I hope that she knows them, but maybe she needs to hear them too.  We sat down and talked about several of the items and what importance they play emotionally. She goes above and beyond for our family, but I don’t’ always tell her.  It’s the little things that can have the biggest impact.

I enjoyed the way Matt Jacobson used little examples from his life to help readers see that he isn’t trying to prove he is better than anyone else, he is showing us that we can all do better and be better for each other and our spouses. So much wisdom and truth in the pages, this is a book that will need to be read again and again to help us remember how much we have to be grateful for in who we married.

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