Tag Archives: devotional

40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood by Sarah Humphrey (Abingdon Press, 2016)

A Coloring Devotional (Book Review – 40 Days to Joyful Motherhood)

It seems much of what I’m reading and reviewing lately has to do with living the creative life and self-care to take care of what God’s given us to subsequently be able to pour out to others.

This book continues the trend.

40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood by Sarah Humphrey (Abingdon Press, 2016)

40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood: Devotions and Coloring Book to Nourish Mom by Sarah Humphrey (Abingdon Press, 2016)

From the publisher:

Nourishment for a mother’s soul through 40 days of devotion and . . . doodling!

Wouldn’t it be marvelous if mothering came with a concrete set of instructions—an easy recipe we could follow? Instead, motherhood challenges women to find their faith, their true selves, and their family through daily doses of trial and error. It is a brilliant and healing time of life that is full of joy, pain, and beauty with a small side of crisis (and humor). What mothers do not know, they learn. And through this lifelong process of learning, they nurture and care for the most precious gifts on earth: children. In a modern society where moms often have a full and busy plate, these 10 minute daily devotions focus on six key topics of motherhood:

-Reconciling with grief, hope and expectations

In addition to the devotions, these beautiful pages are adorned with handmade illustrations to help you refresh from long days or even occasional sleepless nights. So, grab your colors and a little quiet time for yourself while doodling at the kitchen table. You will be grateful you did!

My Thoughts:

I love the concept of a doodling/coloring book combined with a devotional for moms. This book meets my expectations in some ways. Each devotion begins with a Scripture, followed by a 2-5 paragraph anecdote or reflection, and then wrapped up with a short prayer. The devotions sit on one side of the page, and the doodle to color waits on the opposite side. A two-page reflection offers breaks between every five devotions plus doodles that continue a topic (like identity in motherhood, self-care, peace, etc.) throughout the week.

The devotions are short enough for a 5-10 minute study period, which is very approachable for busy moms. The doodles are varied and fun to color alone or with your children. Some doodles incorporate Scripture related to that day’s devotion, some a repeating design, and some leave room for your own doodling or hand-lettering.

The devotions encourage reflection, yet never go deep, which left me sometimes wanting more depth. Self-care is a repetitive topic, which is important and needs repeated renewal, but also limited the scope of the devotions. I found many of the devotions to be much better suited for brand-new moms or moms of very young kids, so much so that I feel this particular book might better serve its readers by being marketed as towards new moms. That said, I particularly enjoyed the devotions in the seventh week that also featured memorizing Psalm 23 over the course of the week.

For more about this book, its author, and to read more reviews, please visit the Litfuse page for this book.

sample page of doodle coloring devotional

What are your favorite ways to relax in the Word?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book via Litfuse. This is an honest review, and all opinions expressed are my own.

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“We might feel unqualified or question our abilities, but God doesn’t. He could have done it differently, but He chose to use us because He trusts us.” - quote from Searching for Sanity by Lindsey Bell

When Parenting is Both Hard and Beautiful {Book Review – Searching for Sanity by Lindsey Bell}

Parenting is beautiful. It’s also hard. It’s not easy.

But, just because something isn’t easy doesn’t mean we give up or feel we shouldn’t pursue it.

I have many challenging parenting days, and some days I desperately need even 30 minutes to just sit in a room with the door closed. But there’s sincerely no where else I’d rather be. My kids (and my husband) are some of these biggest examples God has set in my daily life of what undeserved gifts are.

It’s beautiful…and hard. Sometimes we need a little encouragement.

Enter my friend, Lindsey Bell.

I first met Lindsey through blogging, and her writing tone immediately caught my attention. It’s relatable, informative, and not at all judgmental. She willingly shows her own struggles to help the reader nod in agreement with her and figure out how to remember to turn back to God for guidance, too.

Searching for Sanity by Lindsey BellIn Lindsey’s new book, Searching for Sanity, Lindsey offers 52 one- to two-page devotions, each with a focus verse, reflection questions, a short prayer, and daily activities to practice throughout the week. This devotional is written for parents, so Lindsey intentionally kept the activities doable for busy, overwhelmed, tired parents to still concentrate on reflecting and growing. These activities also put what you’ve read into action – such an important step for growth.

The devotional overall looks at many parents from the Bible. Lindsey doesn’t spin a positive light on all those figures; she’s real with their shortcomings. We can all learn from both our failings and our successes while remembering that God offers grace and the best comfort. That’s what Lindsey helps us do in this book.

Some of the devotions that have stuck with me after reading them: Eve (Week 2), Hannah (Week 17), and Jeroboam (Week 23).

“We might feel unqualified or question our abilities, but God doesn’t. He could have done it differently, but He chose to use us because He trusts us.” – Searching for Sanity

I would particularly recommend doing this study with one other mother. (Small groups would work, too!) Having a friend who can relate for discussion and accountability can help us see a little clearer than by ourselves at times.

“He will give you hope when there’s no hope to be found.” – Searching for Sanity

Lindsey recently wrote a post about marriage here on this site. Click here to read four essentials of a healthy marriage. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway while there! Check out Lindsey’s site to read more about the book and for more giveaway opportunities.

How have you grown from the hard and the beautiful parts of parenting?

“We might feel unqualified or question our abilities, but God doesn’t. He could have done it differently, but He chose to use us because He trusts us.”  - quote from Searching for Sanity by Lindsey Bell

Disclosure: I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed on my own, and I honestly would’ve shared about this book anyway. I was not compensated in any other manner.

The Pleasure of His Company by Dutch Sheets

Seeking His Company {Book Review – The Pleasure of His Company by Dutch Sheets}

What often keeps us from noticing and enjoying the presence of God?

For me (and maybe for others), it’s usually myself – my self-imposed to-do list, my mind flitting from one thing to the next, my choices or my perspective. Even during the challenges of life, I can still choose whether or not to seek and praise Him.

The Pleasure of His Company by Dutch Sheets (Bethany House, 2014) addresses some of the ways we can redirect our focus to Him.The Pleasure of His Company by Dutch Sheets

With 30 shorter chapters (of about 8-10 pages each), this book can be used as a month-long devotional, or just a regular non-fiction read. Each chapter focuses on one part of the relationship between believer and God (examples: “The Discovery,” “The Friendship,” “The Offering”). The author uses a conversational tone combined with biblical discussion and study to look at how we can learn and apply examples within the Bible in our lives. Each chapter then ends with a page-long prayer.

The author shares the foundational premise of the book on page 15:

“Our company is what He longs for. Enlightened worshipers know this. They also know that when they approach Him, He responds; and the pleasure of His company becomes their reward.”

This author’s tone in some parts throws me off just a little bit. He offers valid points in every chapter (like “God is a Father at heart”), but occasionally comes across as criticizing in some of his stories. Some readers may enjoy his tone (which is not meant to harm, but probably more for effect), but others may prefer a different “voice.” This is personal preference, but I still think most readers will gain encouragement from this book. I wouldn’t recommend this book for those unsure about the faith or brand-new believers, but perhaps more for those who are looking for encouragement to refocus on who God is as our Creator and passion-filled God.

“Most of us don’t believe, or we don’t take the time to consciously consider, that we always have the ability to choose the simple devotion demonstrated by Mary. But we do.” – p. 77

How do you re-center and focus on the pleasure of God’s company?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated in any other way.

Awakening Faith by James Stuart Bell

Awakening Faith {Book Review of devotional by James Stuart Bell}

What do you like about daily or weekly devotionals?

Some of my favorite daily reads include A Year with C.S. Lewis, Jesus Calling, and I may add a new devotional to that list.  Awakening Faith by James Stuart Bell

Awakening Faith by James Stuart Bell (with Patrick J. Kelly) (Zondervan, 2013) includes 366 daily devotions with modified excerpts from writings of the early “Church Fathers” of the Christian faith. A sentence on the front jacket flap sums the book up fairly well:

“Avoiding dry theology in favor of spiritual insight and practical relevance, Bell’s compilation features gently updated language and an eye for modern application.”

Each daily devotion fills just one page with a topical label (ex: “salvation,” “service and stewardship,” “holiness”), a focus verse, 2-5 paragraphs from an ancient writing signed with the Church Father’s name. Authors include Leo the Great, Bede the Venerable, Clement of Alexandria, Basil the Great, Augustine, and over 50 more.

Bell makes the case in the introduction that every believer should study the Church Fathers because the Church Fathers were for every believer – in their mindsets, their actions, their focus. And I agree. With a range of writings over at least 7 centuries, this compilation boosts the reader’s thirst for (or awakening to) more knowledge of the early church founders. In regards to this book, I consider this both a positive and a slight obstacle. For a daily devotional, the general reader may not have time to study for hours more on a particular Church Father, but this desire to learn more would likely also lead to wonderful study of both history and the faith (which is likely part of Bell’s intent). This book offers no additional interpretation or study of each excerpted writing, but presents each excerpt to stand strongly alone (as they do).

I found myself wishing I knew more of the history and backstory of these authors often in my reading. This book does include one paragraph bios for each Church Father cited in an appendix in the back, which helps. This appendix also includes a listing of all the devotion numbers using that author’s writing.

Because I haven’t compared these writings to the originals, I assume the term “simple, updated language” means each excerpt is slightly modified. Even so, the reader can distinguish different voices and perspectives between writings.

These devotions provide a deeper daily study into the history and theological truths of our faith and introduction to some fantastic writings. The reader can depend on being intrigued and enlightened through reading.

“…let us visit Christ whenever we can; let us care for him, feed him, clothe him, weclome him, and honor him…” – Gregory of Nazianzus, excerpted in Awakening Faith

What accompaniment for further study would you suggest for a devotional like this one?

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Blessings for the Evening by Susie Larson

One Way to Relax in the Evenings {Book Review – Blessings for the Evening by Susie Larson}

I’m a worrier.

And in the evenings, one of the few times it’s quiet enough for me to hear my thoughts, I can easily slip into overthinking scenarios, events, and to-dos…which can lead to worry.

One of the best anecdotes to worry? Prayer. Specifically, prayer in faith.

If you’re like me, Susie Larson has written a devotional very suitable for those evenings when your mind slides way too easily to worry.

Blessings for the Evening by Susie Larson Blessings for the Evening by Susie Larson (Bethany House, 2013) is a rather lovely looking gift book-sized devotional. With just a simple one-page introduction, the author leads the reader directly into Scripture and calm, soothing devotions.

With about 90 devotions, each two-page spread includes a Scripture excerpt on the left side and a brief devotion on the right side. These devotions read like prayers and have a blend of simplicity with attention-getting truths. The author ends almost every devotion with a phrase that includes “rest” or “sleep well” or “blessed sleep,” and the reader can almost hear the prayers spoken in a soothing voice. Some of the devotion titles include “Tomorrow’s Promise,” “Through God’s Eyes,” and “Glimpses of Glory,” along with specific devotions for special circumstances like Christmas, spiritual warfare, disappointment, and more. While these devotions don’t pose deep theological questions, they do bring attention to inner reflection and, even more, reflection on God and His ever-present care.

The book’s design adds to the gift appeal of this book because each page’s background boasts a beautiful evening landscape photo (rather than just plain paper). These gorgeous photos add to the relaxing personality of the book.

Not intended to take the place of your Bible study, this devotion provides a good supplement to your personal study and a way to wrap up the day returning your focus to God.

How do you refresh your mind to God’s promises when you worry?

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free from the publisher (Bethany House) in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.