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.

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.