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.

Thinking Like a Boss

bossAuthor: Kate Crocco

Publisher: Baker Books

Release Date: February 18, 2020

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Are you looking to branch out into a successful business, but don’t feel like you can? Stop listening to those voices and check out this book!

Women are beginning to emerge as successful entrepreneurs all across the country and even the world. Many are feeling the pull to start their own business but are afraid that they don’t have what it takes. Maybe you as a reader fall into that category. Kate Crocco even felt that way and now her business focuses on coaching women to become successful entrepreneurs. If you feel like you can’t do this, then you have at least one lie in your life that is holding you back. Maybe more. Kate outlines twelve common lies that hold women (and many men) back from beginning this journey and steps to overcome them.

I can fully understand where the author is coming from in this book. While not a typical entrepreneur, I used to review with a community blog and circumstances eventually led to me beginning my own blog and when I started it out it was hard. I fell into several of these lies about deciding whether or not to keep it going. Years later, I’m so glad that I did. This book is a great resource even if you are just considering trying something new. I’m glad that Kate put these thoughts into print, and I love that she made it actionable. Having to write things down and make them into commitments really helps to hold yourself accountable.

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

The Successful Speaker

speakerAuthor: Grant Baldwin

Publisher: Baker Books

Release Date: February 18, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Baldwin delivers some great information for those looking to make speaking a career or just some helpful tips on those looking to speak.

It’s not hard to get a taste of the speaking bug and want more. Once that happens and you realize that this is what you want to do, you need to figure out how to make a career out of it. Unfortunately, many people fail before they ever get their careers off the ground. Grant Baldwin, creator of The Speaker Lab podcast, outlines the steps and guidelines necessary to make the transition from wanting to speak to full fledged career speaker.

Finally, a book that really provides some insight into successful speaking. Not so much on the technique, but on how to be successful getting gigs and booked. There is plenty of material on the method of speaking, so I was glad to find a book that actually helps speakers determine where they want to go. My husband speaks frequently at conferences across the nation as a subject matter expert and I asked him to read the book to get his opinion on it. He agreed with almost all of the concepts this book lays out. He fully agreed that if you want to be asked to speak, you can’t just speak about whatever you want. First you have to find a problem to solve that people are going to want to hear your thought. Then rather than trying to speak about a bunch of different topics, you need to focus on your message and get good at delivery. Then build your brand so that your expertise is recognized.

If you are looking to make a career out of speaking, then this is a great resource for you. It is easy to follow and provides several personal examples from both the author and other speakers.

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.

Eat Sleep Work Repeat

eatAuthor: Bruce Daisley

Publisher: Harper One

Release Date: February 25, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

If you’ve reached the point of burnout in your career or just don’t find it fulfilling, this book gives some tips to rediscover joy in your job.

Bruce Daisley, vice president of Twitter Europe and host of the podcast Eat Sleep Work Repeat, delves into why people no longer find fulfillment in their careers. It can range from many different things including company culture to management expectations to personal burnout. So, how does one rediscover joy in their job? Daisley breaks this down into three different areas: recharge, sync, and buzz. Most of these items are for personal ownership and common sense. Recharge includes measures as ditching long meetings for short walking meetings as the endorphins created by exercise will give you a boost throughout the day. Other recharges including getting a goodnight sleep and shortening the work week. Syncs are more of a company approach that suggest noncompany social times, knowing when to encourage people and when to leave them alone, and letting divisions take breaks and lunches together so that they can develop cohesiveness. Lastly, buzzes focus on how to energize a team. These items include making work seem like problem solving exercises instead of mundane activity and removing outside electronics from meetings to have the full team attention. Whatever the need, there is likely a subject that touches on it in this book.

Overall this book was an enjoyable read. Several of the items within it are common to other business books as well. I did enjoy getting to see the view of American work culture from the European perspective. I knew that several companies expect their employees to work long hours in order to move up the ladder, but it was alarming to discover how many different fields this occurs in. My favorite part may have been when it talked about how you can’t create company culture, it has to happen organically. So, if a company has a group dedicated to creating company culture, it has already failed. There was some foul language in this book as a result of some direct quotes, but otherwise was pretty clean. If you enjoy books on making employees feel empowered, then this one is for you.

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.