Daring To Hope

Daring to Hope: Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful by Katie Davis Majors is a touching, heartfelt recollection of Katie’s struggle to trust God in the dark times of life. She writes,

“Reality would shatter my optimism, but I would realize that it was only a cheap substitute for true hope anyway. The Lord would take the darkness and make it my secret place, the place where I knew Him more intimately and deeply than I had ever fathomed possible.” (page 5)

Reading this book feels a lot like reading a well edited personal journal. You read the true stories with both happy and sad endings of Ugandans she served. At the same time, Katie does a beautiful job of including Scripture and connecting what God was teaching her to those Scriptures. It has so much truth in it that anyone who reads it would find something to inspire them. I would be very interested in reading Katie’s bestselling book from 2012, Kisses From Katie, after reading Daring to Hope.

Here are a few thoughts that I earmarked:

“As I’m tempted to wallow in guilt over all that I am not for my children, gently He reminds me that I was never meant to meet all their needs anyway. It isn’t me who can make up for all their losses and hurts. He reminds me that I cannot be what they need Him to be — Savior.” (page 43)

“To dwell in the place I have been given. To do the things I have been given. To love the people I have been given. This is not mysterious or far reaching, and yet this is the truth of a God-ordained life.” (page 98)

“The pain and the hurt are everywhere. But the joy and the hope that we find in our Savior? They are everywhere, too…. Our pain does not minimize His goodness to us, but in fact allows us to experience it in a whole new way.”  (page 138)

“I desire to enter fully into the joy He places before us and I desire to enter fully into the suffering He places before us because both can be His gifts to us. Both can be made beautiful.” (page 195)

I was encouraged to embrace interruptions in life, to not run away from hard things but to look for God in the middle of them, and to be faithful with what God gives me to do each day.

Thank you to Blogging for Books for providing me with this book for free to read and review.

P.S. If you’re a podcast listener, you can hear Katie on the Family Life Today podcast on December 19-21, 2017. Here’s a link to the December 20 broadcast here.


Amazing Stories

Tyndale Blog Network has been very patient in waiting for me to post a review of The Book of Amazing Stories – 90 Devotions on Seeing God’s Hand in Unlikely Places by Robert Petterson. They sent me a complimentary copy of the book well before Christmas. Like the title says, it is a devotional book. Each day has about a two page story most often about a person (e.g., Mother Theresa, Ted Bundy, Muhammad Ali) but also a few major events, followed by a quote, and a Bible verse.

I struggled to get captivated or inspired by the stories. It’s not the the stories themselves aren’t amazing. It was hard for me to get behind a story in just two pages and the telling of the stories felt disjointed and sometimes hard to follow for this tired mother of four young children. I also didn’t always the understand the connection between the story and the Bible verse. If you’re looking for something interesting to add into a speech or for some inspiring stories to look into deeper, this book would give you 90 of those. I would not see it as a way to deepen your spiritual walk or your understanding of the Bible.

If you’re looking for a good novel to read, I would recommend The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore. It has a wide variety of interesting characters and a great plot. You can definitely see Beth Moore personality coming out in the story, and it very well might cause you to laugh out loud and to not want to do anything else but read. I would say it’s nothing like one of her Bible studies, except that it is very good.

Home On The Range

When I reviewed Back In the Saddle, the first book in the Double S Ranch series, I guessed that the following books in the series would be about that main character’s brothers. I was right! I got to read the second book in the series, so I could review it for you thanks to Blogging for Books.

Home on the Range parallels the first book in the series in many ways, although it is very much its own story. Simply put, brothers that grew up on a ranch in Washington work through their past and current issues while falling in love with a woman who is working through her own set of issues. Ruth Logan Herne does a nice job of developing characters, and I enjoyed the way she connected the main characters from Back in the Saddle into this story line.

This is another pleasure read book that I’m sure you would enjoy. It does have some depth in a theme that looks at some hard questions. Elsa, the main female character, is working through “If God was truly present, then how could such [bad] things happen? And if man had so much free will, then why bother with prayer?”

I’m pretty sure if you read this book, you’ll be keeping an eye out for the last book in the series and you’ll consider reading other books by Ruth Logan Herne.

Summer Reading

If you’re looking for an easy summer read, Back in the Saddle by Ruth Logan Herne would be a good option for you to consider. The cover might leave you wondering if it’s a Christian novel, but I can vouch that it is and that it didn’t contain any content that I would call questionable. It did have a much better written description of a calf being pulled than I could ever write and some good thoughts on kindness, family, and forgiveness. To make it even better, the author thanks our very own Nebraska author Mary Connealy for helping her learn about raising cattle.

The story takes place on a large cattle ranch in the state of Washington. One son returns home unwillingly after working in big city, corporate America. He has two brothers who I’m guessing might be the main characters for the following books in the Double S Ranch series.

It’s not an overly deep book, but it is enjoyable. That’s why I call it good summer reading. Thank you to Blogging for Books for sending this book to me so I could review it for you.

Do Baby Bears Have Mommies? by Crystal Bowman and Teri McKinley is a great children’s book with lots of facts about animals stated in a way that little people will remember them. The title had me thinking it might be focusing on birds and bees types of information – if you know what I mean – but it’s not like that at all. It asks questions that little kids might ask about animals (How do earthworms dig in dirt? Do monkeys like bananas?) and answers them well.

The only thing I don’t like about Do Baby Bears Have Mommies? is that I think having real pictures of the animals it teaches about would be better. It does remind me of the other book I’ve read by Chrystal Bowman and Teri McKinley in that it has great rhyme and rhythm. They have another “I’ve Got Questions” book titled Does God Take Naps? that I would like to check out. Do Baby Bears Have Mommies? is a book I will enjoy reading many times over. Thank you to the Tyndale Blog Network for sharing this book with me to review it for you.

The Frightening Philippi Jail

The Frightening Philippi Jail by Gary Bower is a children’s book about Acts 16 where Paul and Silas are in prison. It’s written in a rhyming, repetitive, building pattern much like The House That Jack Built nursery rhyme. This makes it easy to read and fun to listen to. By the end of the book, you have the first part memorized because you’ve repeated it so many times. The first part focuses on the awful conditions of the prison, but in the end you read “This is the book that helps us to see how God shakes things up when He sets people free.” I wish that was the phrase you repeated the most when reading the book instead of “…the bugs and the rats and the slugs…”

Gary Bower has written other children’s books in his Faith That God Built collection using this same format. The Frightening Philippi Jail is the only one that is from the New Testament. It is very nice to have an interesting children’s book about a story in Acts since that’s not something you find easily. Young children will enjoy hearing this story again and again and will soon be telling it to you.

Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers for providing me with a copy of this book to review.

One of the Few

In honor of Veteran’s Day and the Marine Corps birthday this week, I have a book you may want to consider reading. one-of-the-fewThe author, Jason B. Ladd, asked me way back in August if I would review it for you. Reading has been very hard for me to squeeze in these days, so I haven’t been able to get it read. I do think One of the Few looks like a good book. I say this because it is Christian non-fiction and more of the autobiography type of non-fiction. It isn’t all about fighting in a war, which I would be afraid to read, but about many aspects of life. One of the Few has an average rating between 4 and 5 on a 5 point scale on both Amazon and Good Reads. If you’ve read it, let me know what you thought; and if you haven’t read it already, let me know if you decide to. I hope to get to read it someday.

A big thank you to all who serve and have served in our military. We have no idea how our lives would be different without their service.

Small Town Nebraska/My Family:
Brad decided this morning to go deer hunting. When you have family with land and live right by it, you can make last minute decisions to go hunting. Wyatt was very excited to go hunting for the first time with Brad, even though he’s too young to actually hunt and probably didn’t have a clue what he was going to be doing.  img_0450Brad got a deer, which means I have one less thing to worry about hitting when driving. Wyatt thought the best part of it was getting to touch the deer, and his second favorite part was helping Brad to gut it. Now we better start making room in our freezer.



Isaiah 61:1-2
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,

Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn…

Thankful Heart

Book: god-gave-us-thankful-heartsThanks to Blogging for Books, I was able to receive a free copy of God Gave Us Thankful Hearts to review. Of all the “God Gave Us…” books by Lisa Tawn Bergren that I’ve read, this one is my favorite so far. It teaches children the important truth of finding ways to be thankful even when something isn’t exactly how you like it to be, and it does so in a way children will easily understand.

Where the other stories I’ve read by Lisa Tawn Bergren have been with Polar Bears, this story is a conversation between a wolf pup and his mama and papa. It has pictures children will like to look at with a variety of other forest animals to look at too. God Gave Us Thankful Hearts has a copyright date of 2016, so if you’re looking for a good children’s book to give as a gift they might not have this one yet!

Farming and My Family:
Liza had a busy week last week. She got to ride in the combine, sprayer and the tractor. She was quite happy about it too as you can see. She rode along with Brad to take the combine to the field and they “filled it up with corn” one time to see how wet it was.
img_0328 img_0327 After they got done with that they rode the sprayer home since it was at the field.

img_0329 Then a few days later, she rode along to take the tractor to a field to drill some wheat. I could’ve brought her home before they got started, but she wanted to keep riding, which also turned into napping.img_0332 When I went to pick her up later, Brad trusted me with hauling this fertilizer trailer back into town to get it filled at the co-op.
img_0334 I asked him if he had any words of wisdom for me before I left. All he said was to not go too slow over the weeds so they wouldn’t catch on fire. (We’re a little dry out here.) img_0333 Nothing started on fire, and we completed the task without complication. Phew!

It’s a tough time of year to be a farm kid in school, but Wyatt was glad to get some tractor time with Brad this weekend. He also made it so Brad didn’t spend most of his birthday alone in the tractor.  img_0335 wheat drillWhat I’ve Been Thinking:
Anyone else fear that pain and suffering might be in your future or you’re tired of the pain and suffering you’re dealing with right now? I’m constantly having to remember to not worry about tomorrow. I listened to this message by Bryan Clark this week and it put my worries into such perspective. It always comes down to the question of “Do I trust God?”

Below is an excerpt from the message, but I would recommend at least downloading the transcript and reading the last few pages or listening to the whole thing if you’d rather.

“There’s nowhere where the Scriptures say, “Let’s make a deal! You be a good preacher and everything will work out. No pain and suffering, everything will make sense.” There has to be an understanding when that’s my theology, I’m not really pursuing God; I’m pursuing the best deal. That’s a very selfish pursuit. We set ourselves up for pain and disappointment when we think I’m being really good; I’m following the rules; I’m doing what I’m supposed to; now God betrayed me; God let me down. We are saying, “God, You didn’t keep Your end of the deal.” And God says, “What deal? I didn’t make that deal.”

Really trusting God is a choice of your will. You decide: I’m going to choose to trust God. I’m going to choose to believe God is who He says He is.