Tag Archives: fear

A book review of What Keeps You Up at Night? by Pete Wilson (Thomas Nelson, 2015)

Fear, Focus, and Trust in our Dreams {Book Review – What Keeps You Up at Night? By Pete Wilson}

I’ve read a few of Pete Wilson’s books now, and they always blend encouragement with conviction, personal stories with biblical ones, and reminders with love.

His newest book, What Keeps You Up at Night? How to Find Peace While Chasing Your Dreams (Thomas Nelson, 2015) keeps up with Pete’s recognizable tone.

A book review of What Keeps You Up at Night? by Pete Wilson (Thomas Nelson, 2015)

This book is really about fear, focus, and trust.

Fear stops most of us from chasing our dreams, even the ones we’re sure God placed in our hearts.

Focus allows us to progress in our dreams. Focus on the tasks at hand, yes, but also constantly renewed focus on God and His heart for our lives.

Trust is a big one. Trust that God understands our hearts (He created them!) and acts for good.

“The faithfulness of God is stronger than whatever fears or challenges are holding you back.” – p. 44

Pete Wilson is a good storyteller, and he hears and experiences a lot of stories as pastor of Cross Point. He uses this skill to both notice powerful stories and then relate them to his readers as examples of biblical truths and wisdom and evidence of a present God.

This book won’t tell you what your ultimate God-given dreams are, but it does help readers see reasons to focus and trust. In a world where we’re often told we have to pave on our paths—totally on our own—Pete reminds us that God is constantly with us and community offers a solid journey.

“What if we were to think of depending on God not as the absence of strength, but, rather, as the presence of courage?” – p. 62

His approachable tone makes this a good read for people of varied situations and backgrounds. While readers may not come away with totally clear steps for their specific dreams, this book reminds us all that we play a part in a much bigger story, which helps reframe and remind us of our focus, no matter what our circumstances and dreams are.

How have you seen God’s presence in your dreams and steps in your life?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher as a part of the BookLook blogger program in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates and GrapeVine Studies. If you click on an Amazon link or a GrapeVine Studies link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

"Fear does not start to fade until you take the step that you think you can't." - from Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

Growing from the Past into the Future {Book Review – Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner}

Historical fiction is one of my very favorite genres, and Susan Meissner’s historical fiction is in the top of that list.

Her most recent novel, Secrets of a Charmed Life (New American Library, 2015), just released this week!

A review of Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

The books opens with the reader meeting Kendra Van Zant, an American history major studying for a semester in England. Kendra arrives in the Cotswolds to interview 93-year-old Isabel MacFarland, a renowned painter who, prior to this point, has never agreed to an interview about her first-hand experiences of the bombings on London in 1940.

Chapter two quickly ushers the reader to 1940 England where we meet and follow 15-year-old Emmy Downtree for quite a while, from the time leading up to the bombings and years after. Emmy and her half-sister, Julia, are very close, but Emma strongly desires to get out the mess of a home her unmarried mother has made and become and wedding dress designer. She gains the opportunity to work part-time at a neighborhood bridal shop. But, as enemy forces draw closer to England, all of London’s children are evacuated to the countryside (or beyond), including Emmy and Julia. After months under the safe and nurturing care of Charlotte Havelock, Emmy is offered a once-in-a-lifetime meeting to begin a mentorship, and in her stubbornness to return to London, gets separated from Julia during the start of the bombings. The reader then follows Emmy’s multi-year search for Julia and efforts to heal into a somewhat normal life.

Susan Meissner has a masterful use of sensory details in both description and action with strong verbs and vivid analogies.

“As I pull up on to the driveway, the crunching of tires on gravel sounds like applause…” – p. 3, Secrets of a Charmed Life

Through both actions and emotions, the reader gains a strong sense of most of the main characters in just two chapters.

Besides incorporating stunning and obviously well-researched historical detail, this book makes the reader think starting from even page 10 with a discussion of the importance of history. This book considers the events, emotions, and implications of the evacuation on the children, parents, foster families, and neighbors. Even more than a fascinating story about these effects of war, this book is about learning to let go of hurt, appropriately handle the past, endure grief, manage fear, and hold on to hope through it all.

"Fear does not start to fade until you take the step that you think you can't." - from Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

I love that Susan Meissner writes Emmy’s chapters in a past-tense perspective and Kendra’s chapters in the present tense. At occasional times throughout the book, we return to the present tense and Kendra’s interview with Isabel. The present tense structure allows the reader to easily make the switch between the two eras. This book is divided into three main parts, and Part 3 holds some surprises that intrigue and delight. Throughout reading this book, I found myself hunched in empathetic pain with the characters at times, eyes brimming with tears at times, and smiling at other times.

“…when you make a choice, even if it’s a bad one, you’ve played your hand. You cannot live your life as though you still held all your cards.” – p. 298, Secrets of a Charmed Life

If you’re not sure yet about this book, just read the first chapter (available to read on Amazon and other locations). With the very last sentence offered in Chapter 1, I can guarantee you’ll want to read more.

Also stay tuned for a giveaway of this book on Monday!

What is some of your favorite historical fiction?

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

I am an affiliate for Signing Time and Amazon Associates. If you click on a Signing Time link or Amazon and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Battling Storms - a book review of The Storm Inside by Sheila Walsh

Battling Storms {Book Review – The Storm Inside by Sheila Walsh}

What do you do during life’s storms? Do you buckle down and wait it out? Take cover? Face them head-on?

Battling Storms - a book review of The Storm Inside by Sheila WalshSheila Walsh discusses many of these storms in her new release, The Storm Inside (Thomas Nelson, 2014). Specifically written to women, this book discusses ten common “storms” we often encounter in this age and culture and how to combat the lies those struggles push on us.

“We must not let the temporary way we feel distract us from the personal truth that we all are valuable to our Father.” – quote from inside flap

I love how each chapter is formatted. Sheila starts with a personal story about experience within that particular storm, then defines the storm in more detail and its impact, then discusses biblical stories of that storm. But she doesn’t leave each chapter there. She takes the reader through the storm to a more positive place of growth. The chapters cover heartbreak, disappointment, unforgiveness, shame, regret, fear, insecurity, insignificance, despair, and rage.

Each chapter focuses on one storm and a place of (not easy) recovery. For example, the chapter on regret has a subtitle of “From Regret to Rest.” The chapter on disappointment says, “From Disappointment to Hope.” Each chapter also ends with reflection and action questions, plus a prayer.

In every chapter of this book, I found some statement I related to. Sheila continues to reiterate that we all have value to God, and our feelings do not always determine truth. Her writing is straightforward, but she also uses some unique analogies that keep the reader interested. (Example from page 3: “…as common as rain in Seattle or backpedaling from a politician.”) She tackles real issues with depth, like the church often failing those who are grieving or “deserve” versus “worthy” (one of my favorite sections). She also asks questions along with the reader, like why it often feels like God ignores some prayers but not others. While she doesn’t have all the answers (who here does?), every chapter is very Scripture-based.

This theme expressed on page 40 recurs throughout the book:

“[When we trust God], it’s not that we won’t hear the screeches of the enemy’s lies in the night, but we will refuse to chart our course by them.”

What storms have you faced lately? How do you remember the truth of God’s presence and love?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher and BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated in any other way.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate for Signing Time. If you click on a Signing Time link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

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He is There {Even Where You Haven't Been} via Under God's Mighty Hand

He is There {Even Where You Haven’t Been}

So much of our world has been developed and taken over, but land still exists where no feet have touched.

He is There {Even Where You Haven't Been} via Under God's Mighty Hand

Be it an uninhabited island or simply a tract of wooded land in mountains, there are some places we have not traveled.

Do we think God is not present in those places?

Of course not. Our all-knowing, creator God exists wherever we tread and where we don’t.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1

Why, then, do I fear the unknown future? A place I haven’t been and can’t foresee what will happen. A place of unknowns, and even unknown if it holds more good than bad.

But just like those mountain woods in the picture above, while no human feet may have stepped on those square feet, God knows it.

God is there in the leafy trees. In the wind blowing those untouched leaves.

God is there in my future, and yours. He’s been there and will be when we get there, too.

Present in our troubles.

“God is our refuge and strength,
 an ever-present help in trouble.” – Psalm 46:1

Present in our blessings.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” – Ephesians 1:3

Lord, help me remember, You are always there, and I need not fear.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:6-7

How do you remind yourself God is always present? Let’s help encourage each other in the comments.

Book Review of The Promise Box by Tricia Goyer

A Prodigal Journey and Trust {Book Review – The Promise Box by Tricia Goyer}

“God’s promises are always a mystery…He didn’t have to offer anything, but He gave us Himself, and so much more.” – p. 76, The Promise Box by Tricia Goyer

How often have you felt like you wanted to know what God’s plans or promises meant? To know the “why” behind the event? Or even if you’re past the “why,” but still wonder what the future holds or what good might come from despair.

I still struggle with trust, and whenever I lack trust, I create an opportunity for fear to barge in.

Book Review of The Promise Box by Tricia Goyer

The Promise Box by Tricia Goyer, the second in a series of contemporary Amish fiction novels, discusses some of these very issues. (Quick disclosure: I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. See full disclosure at the end of the post.)

Lydia Wyse fled to Seattle, leaving her Amish roots as she discovered a truth about her past. When she returns to her parents’ Amish community of West Kootenai, Montana to care for her father after her mother’s passing, she begins to look deeply at her faith and her choices. Enter Gideon, an Amish bachelor visiting for the hunting season and a man also looking for healing from his tragic events in his childhood. As a friendship begins, they both wonder about the future and hurt from the past, but try to seek God and heal by His faithfulness.

The author excels at putting emotion and invoking questions in the very first post, often in the first paragraph. This story is a bit of a prodigal story, but even more of a journey of trust and learning about a God of grace.

“You remind me that He’s a God of grace, and not of rules and orders only.” – p. 222

The Promise Box by Tricia Goyer I love, love, love the horse training components. Interactions between horse and (good) trainer mimic many parenting ideas, and the relationship has to be one of trust. Some of the big character’s changes felt like they happened a little quickly to me, but some people experience radical changes as described.

The author doesn’t shy away from tough topics like adoption, death, fear, and trust. She even discusses some of the bigger differences between Amish and English faith communities, including sparking discussion on how both Amish and English believers may be able to get along and fellowship together without judgment. (This novel and The Memory Jar are my first experiences with Amish fictions, so I know little about the Amish community. I’m interested in learning more from the settings described.) Examples of both the power of words and the strength of actions are woven and balanced throughout the story.

I actually cried near the end of the book, which attests to the emotion wrapped in these themes. As I’m still healing and trying to turn to God to fill my own holes, I echo Lydia’s utterance from page 172: “I believe You. I want to believe You more.”

(By the way, if you have also experienced loss, especially in miscarriage, check out my friend Lindsey’s review of The Promise Box, as well as her blog.) The Promise Box by Tricia Goyer

What verses and/or quotes have helped you heal the most? Share some of your favorites in the comments!

Tricia is also hosting a Facebook party on June 12th for a book chat and opportunity to win an Amish baking box. Check out the details here.

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