February 10, 2017

Julie Manning’s journey into the medical field led her to a career in nursing and caring for others. Eventually though, she found herself on the other side of the stethoscope when she became the patient diagnosed with a heart condition. Manning shares her diagnosis, surgeries, and heartache, both physical and emotional, in her first book, “My Heart.”




“My Heart” gives a play-by-play recount of Manning’s experience with heart failure. Her autobiographical take is not only told from a nurse’s perspective, but also from that of a Christian, wife, and young mother. All of these roles help to mold and shape her as she deals with near death experiences and subsequently, living with an on-going medical condition.




Manning’s love for her children and her desire to teach them through her experiences is solidified with an open letter to them at the end of each chapter. This teaching doesn’t end with her children, but is eventually extended to readers. By the book’s end, Manning offers an invitation to readers to be brave enough to tell their own stories. Much of her story involves learning through suffering.




While Manning did not have a choice in the physical condition she deals with, she does emphasize the choices she has in living each day to the fullest. “We have a choice. We have a decision to make. Remain or hope,” she writes. And her hope in Jesus is infectious. Readers will likely discover a renewed gratefulness in their own lives and a hopeful lens with which to view through struggles.




“For God who said, “’Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6 




February 10, 2017

 Ah, mid-February. The time of year when New Year’s resolutions often fall to the wayside. Goals are dumped and expectations are lowered. No matter the time of year, we can keep on keeping on, especially if we have a plan in place and some well-placed encouragement in our lives.




In her book, “5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit,” Nicki Koziarz provides the motivation to spur readers on to fulfilling their obligations and staying faithful to tasks and roles. Koziarz takes readers on a journey with the Biblical character Ruth who perseveres through difficult times in life. In the book, Ruth’s journey parallels with Koziarz’s own trek of buying and running a fixer-upper farm.

Koziarz’s honesty and humility concerning her own struggles with quitting (everything from diet plans to Room Mom responsibilities) ensure that she is writing from a real-life perspective. Her transparency provides humor and practical ideas for overcoming a desire to quit.




“5 Habits” is an easy read with plenty of features to keep readers engaged and on track. Many pages include a box with a sentence or two highlighting main ideas. Each chapter ends with two sections. First, a “Make it Stick” section reiterating the chapter’s theme. Secondly, a “To Be Honest” area which offer questions and/or motivators that urge readers to challenge themselves.




Anchoring the book’s concepts are Biblical truths of faithfulness and perseverance. The habits are reinforced with Scriptures and a go-to verse guide is included at the book’s end. Readers are left with the reminder that as God is faithful, we are to strive to be. Koziarz reminds that “Momentary feelings will always try to convince us to forfeit our faithfulness.” Her habits, which include accepting assignments and following through, call for us to remain faithful when all we want to do is quit.



February 4, 2016


“Because this is war. The fight of your life. A very real enemy has been strategizing and scheming against you, assaulting you, coming after your emotions, your mind, your man, your child, your future. In fact, he’s doing it right this second. Right where you’re sitting. Right where you are.” (p 2)





No, you aren’t on the front lines of a war with bombs and a visible enemy, you’re in the midst of your life. Yet many believers go through days without acknowledging that their plans to live for Christ are in direct opposition of the enemy’s goals.



In her book, Fervent, Priscilla Shirer offers a battle plan of sorts, a practical guide to strengthening our prayer lives and in turn, our lives as a whole. Written in a conversational style, Shirer presents areas where our lives are often targeted and offers strategies to gain victory in them.



Shirer’s tone relays the seriousness of utilizing the power of prayer while encouraging readers with practical methods and most importantly, Scripture, to enforce her thoughts.




The book is challenging in that Shirer stresses the importance of having a plan, but she is a cheerleader for prayer and its power throughout. The 190 page handbook reads as easily as listening to her over a cup of coffee. Each chapter is dedicated to an area of life that may be targeted for spiritual warfare. Further, each is organized with examples, Bible verses, and a challenge to commit the principles to prayer.



Chapters range in topic from fighting for our passion, focus, confidence, relationships and rest. Shirer decided on these areas of focus after surveying a large number of women concerning the ways their lives are targeted, thus leading to the book’s subtitle, “A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer.” The subtitle’s specificity to women brings my only criticism because this book would be an asset to all believers, women and men. Young and old. Veterans and novices of prayer.

Add Fervent to your library. Keep it in a handy place. You'll reference it often.



“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”   Ephesians 6:18





Contest is now closed.

Win your own copy of Priscilla Shirer’s Fervent!

Leave a comment in the comments section below to enter.

Contest runs through Friday, February 12 at noon (Eastern Standard time).

Contest open to US residents.



*I received a copy of Fervent courtesy of B & H Publishing. Thoughts and opinions in the review are my own.



November 10, 2015


I stared at her from my seat. Flawless makeup. Hair that had made its way through a flat iron. Maybe she had even perfected the art of blow drying with a brush. A feat I have never managed to conquer. Jewelry accented her fall sweater.


I sat there with my hair pulled back in a ponytail for about the fifteenth day in a row. I was wearing the cardigan I had worn as a preschool assistant that day. It had glue stuck on the sleeve and possibly the remnants of a little one’s runny nose.


My one thought: “I bet her house is clean.”


It was just a thought. An assumption actually. I didn’t know one thing about this lady. Not even her name.


But what I did know was how much of a mess I was compared to her. I had passed by the mirror and the stacks of laundry and the supper dishes in the sink on my way out the door. And herding three noisy, bickering boys into the minivan seemed to add to the messiness of it all.


So there I sat in a Bible study. The Word of God opened before me and yet somehow overcome by the lies of comparison.


How often are we as women and especially as mothers hoodwinked into believing we’re in a race, a competition of sorts to see who can appear to have it all together? Who can appear to be the mom with the well-dressed kids, decorated homes, and polished nails? All the while never breaking a sweat or losing her temper?




I’m not downing any strengths or gifts some possess. In fact, I’m striving to better myself in many areas. I’m on the lookout for ways to jazz up lunchbox contents, skills to improve my daily cleaning routine, and methods to organize our schedules. But the success of another does not equal a failure of my own.


In the newly released book, “Hoodwinked: Ten Myths Moms Believe and Why We All Need to Knock It Off,” authors Karen Ehman and Ruth Schwenk urge moms to seek the Lord in their mothering, not the myths based on a Supermom mentality rooted in comparison.




 They remind readers to live out their roles as daughters of the King. Who we are as mothers will flow from that reality.


And isn’t that what we desire for our kids anyway? To be rooted in Christ. To find their identity as His children. To seek out His wisdom. Not to follow the trends and morals of an unchanging world and its priorities.


We don’t want them sitting in their school desks wearing ketchup leftover from lunch staring at red marks on their history paper and thinking that somehow all of those factors have anything to do with their worth.




And yet, as moms we do it. We focus on our waistlines and dust bunnies. We dwell on the misses and the messes.


We neglect to remember the hours we’ve spent on our knees for these kids. The memories made in the backyard with them. The truths we have planted in their hearts.


Those are the reflections of who we are as moms. Those are the examples we want our kids to follow.


One of the lines from the book that will stay with me and serve as a reminder in the day-to-day scenarios of motherhood is “Our aspirations for our children should be measured against God’s Word and not the standards of the world.”


So the next time I’m sitting in Bible study or the bleachers or at my table thumbing through the boy’s graded papers, I’ll remember, this isn’t a competition.




This is a calling.


Motherhood. A calling with an impact to reach far beyond tomorrow’s report card or the latest video gaming system. A calling that impacts eternity.