faithcounts

Following God One Step at a Time

Just Open the Door

Cover JustOpentheDoor

Just Open the Door by Jen Schmidt

I am going to make this quick, because I haven’t had much time lately to post any book reviews (showing a house and moving)

This book deserves a mention. 

Although Jen Schmidt’s book is about hospitality, or throwing parties, or entertaining… whatever description you normally use, it is NOT the normal book on this subject.  Books I have read on this topic before were boringly about recipes and decorating. 

This book is different!

Jen Schmidt grew up in a family that always welcomed people into their home.  There were always lots of people sharing food and sharing their stories, and their lives.  So she is the perfect person to write this book!  She carries on the same tradition now in her family.

This book is encouraging – telling how gatherings in your home can be relaxed and fun and pretty easy.

This book is funny – sharing stories about parties gone wrong or ones that are good despite the things that go wrong.

This book shares the author’s philosophy – Just invite people over, open the door, and enjoy!

Jen sees this as her ministry, and she fully enjoys it!

This book is worth the read even if you don’t want to host parties all the time.  I definitely don’t.  But this book was interesting, and did convince me that a gathering at my home can be possible without a lot of stress.  I may try a couple get-togethers, just to see if I can enjoy them and not stress out. 

Don’t give up on the idea of hosting a party, until you read this book.

–> Get your copy here 

Just a note so you know that I got a copy given to me from the publisher B&H/Lifeway.  This is my honest review after I read the whole book.

Advertisements
Leave a comment »

The Rock, the Road, and the Rabbi

TheRockRoadRabbi

The Rock, the Road, and the Rabbi is a new book by Kathie Lee Gifford.

Kathie Lee has her usual easy conversation with her readers just as she does on her morning television show with her viewers.  She takes the reader on a tour of ancient Israel when Jesus walked those paths.  She writes this as an autobiography about her experiences on the tour and what she learned from it.

I found the color pictures in the book helpful.  I felt like I was actually there looking at the places on the tour.

I learned some things about Israel and the Jewish religion and Jesus too.  Kathie gives us some interesting information.  She talks about various places along the tour: Mount Carmel, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Capernaum, the Sea of Galilee, and of course Jerusalem, and more.  Anyone familiar with the New Testament in the Bible will recognize these places as being important in the life of Jesus.

I did not like some of the commentary by the Rabbi Jason Sobel.  He discusses some things that are far-fetched explanations and theories, with numerical meanings.  For me that reduced the authenticity of this book.  I did find his insights on the practices of the Jewish religion helpful.  For example the Rabbi explains the Jewish Passover Seder.  He describes the four cups used and how they fit into the Last Supper with Jesus.  He also discusses the significance of the title “Christ” in the Jewish religion.

This book is also a bit of an advertisement for tours in Israel called “The Rock and Road Experience”.  I was put off by the sales job.  The testimonies for the tours were 15 pages at the end of the book.  You might want to skip over those, or read only a few.

Overall I think the book is worth reading, but it’s not a favorite.

–>Click here to get a copy of this book!

I did receive a free copy of this book from BookLookBloggers.  This is my honest review.

 

 

Leave a comment »

To Be Educated or Not

Well, here is another disappointing book… “Educated” by Tara Westover.

This book is depressing.  This is a memoir of Tara’s life.  It is one bad situation after another.  I kept reading thinking, surely she will get out of that situation soon.  But no, she keeps circling back even after she finally tries to leave.  Her parents are abusive.  Her brother is abusive.  A couple of them are crazy, literally.  I question her sanity for putting up with all this and keeping it a secret for so long.  

I finally reached 80% done, with no hope in sight. I gave up!  The book was messing with my mind.  I was getting depressed from her story.  How could her family be so mean? How can she be so enabling?  I don’t want to know what happens next, because it will probably be bad.  Enough!

No one in this family is educated.  Tara attempts to get some education, but she never seems to learn anything useful for her life.  She is lucky to still be alive.  

The negativity goes on and on and on…  There are better reads out there.  I am on to my next book!

–>Click to read other reviews of “Educated”.  

I received a free copy of this book from –>NetGalley.com so I could write an honest review.

Leave a comment »

Dynamite Hill

Dynamite Hill

Today I am telling you about a book in honor of Black history month —

“The Gentle Giant of Dynamite Hill” by his 2 daughters, Judge Helen Shores Lee and Barbara Shores.

Dynamite Hill is the name of the area in Birmingham, Alabama where the Shores family lived for several years.  It was called “Dynamite Hill” because there were so many bombings of Black families’ homes in the area, using dynamite.

“The Gentle Giant” is the civil rights lawyer Arthur Davis Shores. The authors are his only children.  They lived in Birmingham during the riots and civil rights movement in the 1940’s and 50’s.  The authors write about the history of that time, and their memories of their father and mother.

I chose to read this book, because it was about the civil rights movement, and I did not know who this man was, Arthur Davis Shores.  It seemed that I should know him.  He was a lawyer for Martin Luther King, Jr.  He was a lawyer who fought for Black voter registration and other civil rights and won many cases.

Being a civil rights lawyer in Alabama in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, was a dangerous job.  Mr. Shores did not do it for money, he did it to help people.  His daughter Barbara quotes her father who said, “I am working hard so that when you grow up, you as well as other boys and girls will be able to go anywhere and not be turned away because of the color of your skin.”

Because of the danger of his profession, Mr. Shores always wore a gun.  His home was reinforced with metal posts.  Neighbors guarded his home all night every night during a particularly dangerous trial.  Even with all this protection, his family home was bombed twice.

I enjoyed reading this book, learning more about the civil rights movement’s history from the Black person’s view.  There were amazing historical pictures in the middle of the book.  They show the look of Birmingham back then with one building’s entrance labeled “white”, and the other entrance labeled “colored”.  There is a picture of a segregated bus, with its seat sign “white” for the front seats.  The Blacks are standing in the back of the bus.  There are family pictures of the two authors and their mother and father.  There is also a group picture with Martin Luther King, Jr, shaking Mr. Shores’ hand.  

This is an important book, about a man who was a normal family man, who wanted what every husband and father wants for his family.  He wanted a safe, peaceful home, and a good education for his children, a good job for himself so his family would have nice clothes and plenty of food.  He saw injustice, because Blacks did not have these things, and so he went to work fighting legally to get those things for all people of Alabama.  He was a brave man.  He was an educated man.  He could have moved to a state where it would be safer, and he would make more money. Instead he chose to stay in Alabama to make a difference.

This is a great book to read!  The authors have many interesting memories that are rich in history.  I feel enriched from having read it.

This is definitely a book worth reading for Black History Month!

–>Click HERE to get the book and find out more about it!

You can get the Kindle version immediately. Go back and click for it.

 

 

Leave a comment »

Stronger Than the Struggle

StrongerThanTheStruggle Havilah

Today I am telling you about “Stronger Than the Struggle” by Havilah Cunnington.

If you have never heard of her, neither had I.  I decided to read her book based on the description at –>BookLook Bloggers.  I got a free e-book so I could tell you about it.

First let me say as a warning, if you are uncomfortable with prophesying or the Holy Spirit speaking, you probably want to skip this book.  Havilah believes that she has given prophecies.  I was hoping to get more insight into this Biblical phenomena, but other than a few examples from her own life, the book didn’t explain much about that.

This book is mostly about spiritual warfare.  You know, fighting the devil.  There is a chapter on using God’s Word to fight temptation.  I believe in the power of God’s Word, and I am aware of spiritual battles with the devil, so I didn’t learn anything new here.

The author did refer to one of my favorite Bible passages that I use almost daily —

“Submit yourselves then to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and God will come near to you….” (James 4:7-8a) Powerful Scripture!

This book is about spiritual warfare, the devil, God, and some examples from Scripture and from Havilah’s life.  She also gives us encouragements that we can find courage, purity, peace, and rest by following Jesus.  Havilah believes that everyone is in spiritual battles all the time, even if they don’t realize it.

I did find a few truths I highlighted, so this book was helpful to me as encouragement.  I think it is important for Christians to know about the devil and how to fight him.  If you don’t know, then you could get a lot of good information and direction from this book.

–>Click HERE to get her new book!

Havilah is a pastor at Bethel Church, teaches Bible studies, is married with 4 kids, and has been a speaker in ministry for 20 years.

 

Leave a comment »

In Bloom

InBloom

Today I am reviewing the book “In Bloom” by Kayla Aimee.  

I am writing this review only because I received a free copy through >Netgalley.com so I could review it.  I really hate writing reviews like this one, because I really did not like this book at all!

I could not find anything of interest in this book.  I pushed on reading it, hoping it would improve, but it did not.  All of a sudden I reached the end of the book, and I thought “that can’t be the end, there is no conclusion, nothing to remember.”  I re-read the last few pages to be sure I had not missed something.  There was just nothing there.

I rarely read a book that leaves me feeling that I have wasted my time. Unfortunately, this is one of those rare times. To be fair, there are women who have enjoyed this book.  For that reason I am giving you the link below where you can buy 1 book and get 1 free, a BOGO!  Perhaps you will like it better than I did.

–>Click to get your BOGO!

 

 

2 Comments »

Top 5 Books in 2017

My Top 5 Books For 2017–

  1. The most fun book I read was “Beyond the Castle” by Jody Dreyer.
  2. The most amazing turn around life story was “Break Out” by Jed Lindstrom. He is drug free and running a ministry to help others.
  3. The most truthful life story that gives hope for the future was “Convicted” by Jameel McGee and Andrew Collins. This book is unusual because it gives both sides of the story, from the convicted man’s view, and from the policeman’s view. 
  4. The best life example to mentor us to be a better parent and to trust God more was “My Heart” by Julie Manning. Every new parent should read this book.  I wish there was a parenting class that taught the principles Julie demonstrates through her own life as a mom, even while facing a serious illness.
  5. The true story that is the best teacher of how to be forgiving was “The Way of Letting Go” by Wilma Derksen.

These books truly challenged me, and helped me grow in my faith.  I am in awe of the truthfulness of the authors in sharing about their own lives, their weaknesses and the things they learned by walking through their problems.  Although the authors’ problems were very different (drug addiction, deception, anger, serious health problems, and even murder), they all came out stronger in the end.  They all wanted to share what they learned, to help other people. 

The only book that was not about difficulties, was “Beyond the Castle”.  It is about fun, having a positive attitude, good leadership, and the Disney Company.  I really enjoyed reading this book.

I highly recommend that you read one or two of these books.  I know that any one of them will teach you new ways to tackle life, grow stronger, and increase your faith and trust in God.  They will challenge you to grow and change.  To me that is the highest praise I could give for a book.

I thank each one of the authors for sharing their story with all honesty, and for giving us direction in how we can learn from their experience.  I hope I never stop learning!  For me, reading is an enjoyable way to learn, especially when reading a true story.  I am honored to be able to share information with you about these awesome books!

Beneath each book’s cover below, there is a link to my book review on the book, and a link to purchase the book.  Enjoy!

BeyondTheCastle

–>Book Review

–>Amazon

 

BookCover BreakOut

–>Book Review

  –>Author Book Website

  –>Amazon

 

Book Convicted

–>Book Review

–>Amazon

 

 

My Heart Cover

 –>Book Review

–>Lifeway Purchase

  –>Amazon

 

LettingGo

>Book Review

–>Amazon

I did receive a free copy of each of these books so I could do an honest review.  I picked these 5 favorites from a list of over 40 books that I read in 2017.  If you are interested in receiving free books so you can write reviews on your blog, you can go to –>BookLook Bloggers or –>NetGalleyI also get books directly from authors, from B&H Publishing through Lifeway, as well as from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing.

 

Leave a comment »

They Came For Freedom

TheyCameForFreedom

I wanted to read this book, because there has been a lot of discussion about the United States being a Christian country from the beginning, and many want to go back to those values.  I wanted to read a history book that looks at the factual events, so I could decide for myself whether I agree with the statement that this country started as a Christian country.  

The 1600s were a difficult time of monarchy rule, monarchy chosen religion, with riches for royalty, but only hard work for little benefits.  The common people were very poor, worked hard 6 days each week, and paid taxes to royalty.

This book is about the Pilgrims, and as the title suggests,

“They Came For Freedom”. 

I really enjoyed reading this book!  The author, Jay Milbrandt, did a good job of research and filled in many gaps in what I remembered about the Pilgrims’ history.  The story begins in England, because that history sets the stage for why the Pilgrims went to America. 

Of course it wasn’t even America yet.  It was a new world, still being explored for how other countries could use its resources to make money.  Spain, England, and France were all sending ships to bring back a bounty of animal furs, sassafras, and fish.  They were hoping to find gold and silver, but that didn’t happen this early in the history.

The people that later were called Pilgrims, were called Separatists in England.  This meant that they separated from the Church of England.  That was illegal.  They had to worship in secret.  The law in England said that everyone had to worship at a Church of England every Sunday.  Breaking this law would end you in prison.  Many of the Separatists did go to prison.  Some died there. Some survived.

First a group of Separatists left England to move to Holland, where people were free to choose their own religion.  It was illegal to leave England without permission.  Once again, they had to be hidden to avoid going to prison.  Some were caught and did go to prison.  Life in Holland was still hard.  At least they had their own church.  When England got word of the Separatists in Holland, they were in danger of prison again.  This time they decided to go to the New World.

By the time the Pilgrims arrived in the New World, explorers had already mapped the coastal areas all along the East coast.  There was already a settlement established at Jamestown.  They definitely were not the first to arrive.

The Pilgrims and the other settlers that came from England in the Mayflower ship, were going to the New World for different reasons.  Many were seeking their fortune. The Pilgrims mainly wanted religious freedom.

 In 1636, all the men on the Mayflower signed a document laying out the rules of law that they would follow.  This document was called the “Mayflower Compact”.  They decided to separate church and state, to guarantee religious freedom.  They gave land ownership to all men, and inheritance to all sons, not just the first son.  They made marriage a government function, not the church. These three decisions were in total disagreement with the ruling classes in England, France, and Spain.  There was to be no king.  There would be a governor, chosen by the people.  This was the first self-government of the common people.  None of these are really Christian based.

The book continues the story of how the Pilgrims lived and where they settled in the New World.  It covers their relationship with the Indians in the area.  It also covers the first thanksgiving feast.  Their lives were still very hard.  Many died. 

About the same time as the Pilgrims settled in the New World, the Puritans also arrived.  Although they both had Christian beliefs, they did differ, and did not live in the same towns.  The Puritans later became well known for the Salem witch trials. 

I believe, knowing our history, gives us good knowledge that can help us avoid some pitfalls.  Unfortunately, most people ignore history, and they are then doomed to make the same mistakes.  Some of the things Christians did after coming to the New World were good and worth following, but some things are not.  Even as Christianity exists today with many different churches and beliefs, the same was true in the day of the Pilgrims. 

People tend to want others around them to believe like they do.  Some Christians even want the United States government to legislate based on Christian beliefs.  This would be directly counter to the freedom the Pilgrims came here to find.  They wanted freedom of religion, and separation of church and state.  If we want freedom, we must give that same freedom to every citizen!

The story of the Pilgrims is complicated.  It is not clear from their story alone whether this country can be called a Christian country from the beginning.  I believe instead, what we can say is that it is a country with freedom of religion to all, and should stay that way.

If you would like to read the history, and make up your mind on this issue, this is an excellent book to read.  Just remember that the Pilgrims are only one part of the story.

–>Click HERE to get “They Came For Freedom”.

 

Jay Milbrandt also wrote the book “The Daring Heart of David Livingstone”.  If you enjoy history, you may want to read it too.

–>Click this to get the book about David Livingstone.

I am supposed to tell you that I got a free copy of “They Came For Freedom”, from —>BookLook Bloggers so that I could write my honest review of the book for you. Enjoy!

Leave a comment »

Penned Without Ink

PennedWithoutInk

“Penned Without Ink: Trusting God to Write Your Story” by  Sarah Lynn Phillips is an interesting book!  It tells the true story of how one family trusted God to get them through tragedy.  The title tells why they must trust God — He writes our story from beginning to end. (But God does not write it down; no ink is used.)

“Penned Without Ink” is about a normal family with a Christian faith.  One day they had a horrific car accident that brought them near death.  If they were going to recover, they needed to hold on tight to God.

Sarah, the mother and wife, tells the story.  I was riveted on her words about how the family dealt with everything after the accident.  Their story is compelling.

 Their story is also teaching us how to trust God through the worst things in life — unexpected tragedy.  (Did you catch that in the title it says — “trusting God to write YOUR story?)

Sarah does a very good job of writing down their story.  I did wish that she had put the story down all in order from start to finish.  The parts of the book where she reflects on an event out of sequence, or has the reader reflect, were interruptions to the main story I was most interested in reading.  But in reflection is where we grow in our faith and trust in God.  In reflection we see the answered prayers.  In reflection we see how God arranged the details to bring about the help we needed.

I suggest you read this book, especially if you find it hard to trust God sometimes. Sarah is a strong woman to have dealt with everything she had to do, but she did not do it alone.  She walked with God through it all.

–>Click HERE to get a copy of this book!

If you have never read a book from this publisher before, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, then you are in for a surprise!  Many of their books are available in Kindle format for free or 2.99 cents or less.  You can sign up to get regular emails from them, that will list the titles available for free.  I get lots of books from them!

–>Click HERE to get access to free books!

 

Leave a comment »

River of Doubt

Although the title might suggest a topic about how to deal with overwhelming doubt, that is not the case at all.  The book I am reviewing today is an amazing adventure story that is all true!  The people in the middle of the action are brave and reckless, standing up to all odds against them to explore a large river in the Amazon jungle of Brazil, a river that had never before been explored! It is amazing that any of them survived. Even more surprising is who was on this 1914 expedition.

RiverOfDoubt

The book, “The River of Doubt” by Candice Millard is about a dangerous exploration trip set up by the former President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt.

I had heard a few comments about Teddy Roosevelt’s bravery, but this book really opened my eyes.  I would never expect a former President to ever go on such a dangerous trip, let alone be the first person to travel a large river with many unknown white water rapids.  This river was called the River of Doubt, because it was doubtful that it even existed.  In fact, many people thought Roosevelt was making the story up when he returned to the States, but he proved them wrong!

The author Candice Millard did an excellent job of research to write this book! Bravo to her! Luckily she had access to some journals that some of the men wrote in almost daily during their trip.  This first person witnessing of what happened on the river helps make this story riveting!

The book is long, but it is filled with history, mystery, bravery, intelligence, physical endurance, and determination.  Making it even more exciting are the treachery of long hidden local Indians, poisonous snakes, unbearable heat, malaria, betrayal, even the loss of food, equipment, and canoes!  

I love action movies!  I wish this book was turned into a movie.  It would be a blockbuster!  The book is filled with so much history I did not know about, that I am very glad I read it.  It would have been a tragedy not to have read it, especially since I am a history fan, and love to read true stories.  Not even Teddy Roosevelt himself could have written a better book about his trip through the Amazon Jungle!

I borrowed this book from my local library.  It is also available at bookstores.

–>Click HERE to get the book!

I just want to share a little bit about the author, Candice Millard.  I am grateful to her for writing this book, making this part of history available to us all.  Candice was a writer and editor for National Geographic Magazine.  That experience helped her do the research necessary to write this book, and gave her the interest in real life exploration. Thank you Candice.

Candice Millard has also written two other historical books,  “Destiny of the Republic” about President Lincoln, and “Hero of the Empire” about Winston Churchill.

–>See all her books HERE!

2 Comments »