Category Archives: Book Reviews

Never Unfriended {Book Review}

Have you ever wished for a friend who would show up on your doorstep with a steaming latte and a hug on a rough day? Or one you could call after your heart’s been broken by bad news from home?

Maybe you feel like friendship is too risky because you’ve been wounded one too many times or misunderstood in ways that have cut too deeply.

As an extrovert, I have dozens of relationships a mile wide but I don’t always go deep with people. I’ve found that there are hurt places deep inside and fearful, jealous thoughts that keep me from being truly open and vulnerable. I knew this year that God was calling me to deepen my friendships. That’s why I’m so thankful Lisa Jo Baker, an author and the community manager at www.incourage.me, wrote the book Never Unfriended this spring.

Never-Unfriended-Cover-500First of all, Lisa Jo writes in a magical style. She makes you feel like she’s literally going to reach through the pages and hug you or offer you a tissue while you’re wiping away tears because her words tell you that she gets you and your feelings. Her timely blogs and books have always met me right where I’m at.

“We smile at birthday parties and play dates and in our cubicles. We smile at church during worship and when the pastor shakes our hand. We nod and smile and say we’re fine, the kids are fine, work is fine, marriage is fine, just fine, thanks for asking. And all the while there’s this big, messy, gaping wound bleeding raw right through our perfectly fine outfit that we hope no one notices. All the while desperate for somebody to care enough to see.”

Secondly, Never Unfriended digs deep and makes us examine all our hurt places and apply the salve of God’s truth to heal us. Because we all have relationship wounds. Sin has broken us and broken people hurt others. Maybe it’s family patterns that taught us how to relate in an unhealthy way, or a harsh friend breakup in junior high, or our own feelings of inadequacy that have projected our fears onto the way others welcome us or not. The title “Never Unfriended” doesn’t mean the book guarantees we’ll find the perfect BFF – rather, it speaks of how we can know that we are safe and secure in Christ’s friendship with us.

“It’s such an insane relief. To stop waiting for her reply…to my tentative, humiliating need for validation. To, instead, let myself fall deeply, fully, wholly into the great, insanely unlimited, bottomless tank of God’s approval…Jesus is never tired of me always needing Him. Instead, He is delighted by how desperately I need His validation and He never, ever withholds it from me. Or from you.”

Never Unfriended is full of practical ideas, searching questions, and healing truth. It’s about friendship…and so much more. Order it here today. 

 

Needing a Refill…of Jesus [Book Review]

 

“When was the last time you exhaled the craziness of life and sat before the Lord in silent adoration? Isn’t it unbelievable to think that, of all we could say to and do for the Lord, sometimes he just wants our silent presence with him?”
Fresh Out of Amazing, Stacey Thacker

Often I am more about getting something out of my time in the Word with God than I am about worshiping him for his own sake. I feel like a starving person just trying to get crumbs down my throat in the two minutes of snatched quiet time I get while the kids are watching Curious George than the person who can sit and relish a decadent dish of food and appreciate the chef who created it.

We talk so much in the church about spending time with God that it starts to feel cliché. But I find the only time it seems that way is actually when it’s not a constant part of my life. When I let my unsatiable hunger drive me to meet God in his word, I realize only the enemy wants me to think that precious time is a cliché.

fresh out of amazing stacey thacker elizabeth cravillion book review

There are two kinds of people. One who gives you advice, solicited or not, and one who lives and shares their story in a way that makes you say, “I want some of that.” I’ve read a lot of books and the ones that linger with me are the ones written by the second kind of person.

God used Fresh Out of Amazing to really work in my heart. The author, Stacey Thacker, gets real and raw about God’s work in her heart, peeling back the layers to show her how much she needed him. I knew before I read this book that I was tired and worn down, but I didn’t realize just how empty I truly was. My kids weren’t the only things wearing me down. Grief, disappointment, trials, comparison…so many things I’d been shoving under the rug were also affecting me. This book helped me peel back my layers, too.

What I realized most as I turned the pages was that Stacey let the struggles she faced drive her to God, and that made all the difference. That was how she could go so far as to write a book about being “fresh out of amazing”! Only meeting God in the stillness to pour out her heart, to listen, to worship, and to be silent could shape her.

This is what I want. And this book snapped the final barrier keeping me from pushing through all the interruptions to spend time with God. If you need encouragement, if you want to go deeper with God, if you are struggling to make it from your first cup of coffee to your pillow at night, pick up this book and be spurred on to depend on Christ. Find it on Amazon, or wherever books are sold.

Finding Hope in God’s Word {Book Review}

What does life in the trenches look like for you? What keeps you away from quality time with God in his word? As a mom, sleepless nights, screaming kids and dirty dishes are my excuse. I often feel worn down and defeated more days than I feel content and joyful.

For months God’s Spirit had been speaking to me: come spend time with me and be filled with my presence. And I’ve been doing that, one small step at a time.

When I first became a mom I discovered an early edition of the book Hope for the Weary Mom by Stacey Thacker and Brooke McGlothlin. I devoured it. I bought it for my closest mom friends. Recently the authors wrote a new edition that I highly recommend as well, full of wonderful, practical words about going to Jesus for hope in our motherhood messes. So when I saw that they had written a devotional for moms, I snatched it up. I needed daily soul food!

hope for the weary mom devotional  elizabeth cravillion This Hope for the Weary Mom Devotional takes you from just knowing, “There’s someone else who is just as tired as I am!” and “Yes, Jesus is the answer,” to drawing your heart in toward the heart of God. Instead of walking away and forgetting what I’d read, I left with a desire for God that didn’t disappear. It convinced me that I definitely needed Jesus more than coffee.

The 40-day devotional combines relatable stories of motherhood with truths about God. Truths like “He fights for you” and “He can take your truth” and “He’s holding you together.” It focuses on simple principles from God’s word that connect with you in your motherhood.

For instance, in the chapter “He never changes,” I saw for the first time what a blessing sameness is. Stacey writes, “The monotony I dread means security, consistency, and a foundation for loving my family well.” On this truth she builds, “The sameness of Jesus is an anchor for our restless souls. I want my girls to see me clinging to that anchor. I don’t want them to have a mom who is disillusioned by a monotonous life, but grateful to have a front-row seat to the littler everyday parts of life that can either be blessings or burdens. I’m praying I will allow Jesus to be the same in me and they will see that with eyes blazing over breakfast on Monday mornings.”

I know as moms it’s easy to think “I just don’t have time to read.” But that’s not true. We can make time to feed our souls. The short chapters in this devotional take 10 minutes to read. 10 minutes while feeding the baby. 10 minutes before drifting to sleep. 10 minutes while the biscuits finish baking instead of scrubbing the dishes. 10 minutes while sitting in the pickup line at school.

Make that first step toward spending more time with Jesus by hopping over to your favorite online book retailer and snatching this book for about the cost of two Starbucks drinks.

Where could you use hope today? Share in the comments! 

Not Afraid to Ask

Monday morning found me escaping to my office for my time with God, desperately calling out to him for help. I sat on my office loveseat with my face in my hands and asked God, “Don’t you ever get sick of hearing me ask for help? I would, if I were you. Don’t you want me to be like, worshiping you more? Or just talking to you for the sake of talking to you? Aren’t you done hearing me beg for help?”

He brought the phrase “the Lord heard my plea for mercy” to my mind so I opened my Bible to Psalm 116, one of my favorites. I read there,

“I love the Lord,
because he heard my plea for mercy,
and listened to me.
As long as I live, I will call to him when I need help.”

No, silly me, he never gets tired of hearing me ask for help. “As long as I live” I’ll get the privilege of coming to him. I’m the one who gets sick of asking him for help because I get tired of depending on him.

I’m strong.

I don’t need help.

I’m a tough farmer’s daughter, used to working from dawn till dusk and pulling myself up by my bootstraps when I need to.

But that mentality only leads to defeat when I try to be a good Christian girl. Truthfully, I’m not a good person. Not without Christ’s new life in me.

I’ve been reading an encouraging book called “From Good to Grace,” releasing this week. I relate so well to the author Christine Hoover’s words.

“What I really found myself asking was this: Am I a good Christian, wife, mom and minister? Because that’s what I want more than anything else – for my life to mean something in the kingdom of God, to be good at these things.”

I relate because I ask myself that question every day. Am I doing a good enough job?

What I’ve really appreciated about From Good to Grace is how Christine shares what is really means to walk by the Spirit in simple, clear terms.

“The most important thing I can do each day is not to be good or rely on myself but to trust God and acknowledge my weakness.”

See, this is something God has been showing me, too, and to read Christine’s testimony of the same truth in her life has powerfully confirmed that this is God’s truth.

fron good to grace christine hoover elizabeth cravillion bible study

She writes again, “In order to live the Christian life as God intends us to live it, we have to learn to ask for his help in everything, to rely on the power and wisdom of God rather than our own abilities or wisdom.”

Like Christine, so much of my life I’ve lived by what she calls the “goodness gospel.” Even though I knew I needed Jesus to save me from my sin and save me, somehow I’ve often lived like I could go forward from the point where Jesus saved me and be perfect in my own strength.

But that’s baloney. Jesus never said to people, “Be a good person.” Instead he said, “Come to me. I’m the way. I’m all you need.”

For a number of years now I’ve been asking God to show me how to live every day by his grace. What does it look like to let him change me? How do I rely on him rather than myself?

The answer is, by asking for help. By embracing the fact I can’t do it on my own. That is freedom from the burden of rule-keeping and constant approval-seeking. Fresh, life-giving air for the long hours of everyday life.

“Relying on the Holy Spirit isn’t loosey-goosey stuff. He is God, not a power to be manipulated according to our will and desires or for our emotional benefit. He is a Helper given by God; he is God himself helping us in our daily lives. He knows what he’s doing. We can rely on him.”


 

Christine’s book From Good to Grace is available now. Only $11 over at Amazon.com. Go check it out!