The Bible is a big book, written in ancient languages to people living long before contemporary culture. For folks unfamiliar with the people and practices it contains, it can also be confusing. It helps to read such words along with a commentary, designed to explain perplexing passages, or with a devotional, which tend to highlight one short passage at a time. One inspiring new devotional, which does just that, is Ordinary Graces: Word Gifts for any Season (Abingdon Press, 2017), by Connecticut author and speaker Lucinda Secrest McDowell.
Transformation is often hard, the dramatic change in form or appearance from one phase to another. I’m no butterfly, gracefully shifting from creeping grub to bright-winged wonder. But for me, September is all about change as my two oldest children head to college, another begins high school, and my two youngest ride to school for the first time. After two decades of full-time mothering and nearly as many years of homeschooling, this season is full of transformation. One way I prepared was by reading Everbloom: Stories of Living Deeply Rooted and Transformed Lives (Paraclete Press, 2017), by the Redbud Writers Guild, of which I am a member.
Within religious circles, there is a common mythology that as long as you are good enough or have enough faith, God will give you whatever you want. But what about when he doesn’t? That’s the question author Ann Swindell asks in her recently released memoir, Still Waiting: Hope for When God Doesn’t Give You What You Want (Tyndale, 2017). In it, Swindell, a St. Louis mom and college writing instructor, shares her struggle with trichotillomania, an impulse control disorder that causes her to chronically pull out her eyelashes and eyebrows.
Last summer, at a vibrant Christian writing retreat nestled on a New England hilltop, I met bestselling author and teacher Liz Curtis Higgs. Although I’d never read her books, I sat fascinated as she shared her personal story of brokenness and faith. Best of all, she was funny!
Higgs’ words came from a place of hard-won wisdom that helped restore my own broken places. So I was delighted several months later to win a copy of her book, 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart (Waterbrook, 2016). Each chapter focuses on a verse of scripture chosen by more than a thousand women as one of their favorites. I’ve been reading each chapter slowly, savoring one or two a month (and not always in order).
When I bought the new book, Jesus Among Secular Gods: The Countercultural Claims of Christ, by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale (Faith Words, 2017), I wasn’t thinking about Lent. But more than two weeks into this liturgical season reflecting on Christ, I couldn’t recommend it more. Zacharias, an internationally respected apologist, and Vitale, who taught philosophy of religion at Princeton University and the University of Oxford, explore Christ’s teachings in a contemporary context. In alternating chapters, the two address six modern belief systems –atheism, scientism, pluralism, humanism, relativism, and hedonism – and the way Jesus would respond to each.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, many sweethearts – or would-be sweethearts – are making plans for how to express their love. The holiday is also one of the most popular days for becoming engaged. But what happens after the chocolates have been devoured and the roses have wilted? Or what if, after years or decades of being together, you’re just not feeling it anymore? Plenty of marriage books offer activities and tips that promise to help you reconnect.