Tag: book review

Can You Hear Me Now?

Ever feel like you’re not being heard? Or perhaps not being listened to? If good communication is the glue that holds a relationship together, listening could be where it’s at to keep problems at bay.

Husband and wife team Steve and Becky Harling share their advice for “Becoming the Leader People Want to Follow” in their new book, Listen Well Lead Better. The Harlings share a very common story from early in their careers of how inferior listening ended a business relationship. This relationship, perhaps, could have lasted longer, or at least ended on less bitter terms, if good listening was there.

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Listen Well Lead Better is geared towards Christians who are open to a faith-based approach to improving their leadership skills. If you’re a fan of Stephen Covey, you’ll probably like this book. The Harlings don’t hesitate to share their own stories of discomfort throughout their careers, and the stories shared are realistic. Current and aspiring leaders in various settings will benefit from this book’s honest approach to the problems that can crop up when managing people. Good questions are asked of leaders to help them examine their own behavior, instead of just looking at those around them.

DISCLOSURE: I’m a Bethany House Influencer! I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Minutes Matter by K.R. Mele (Book Review)

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Ever think about how you’re spending your time?

It’s easy for a day, a week, or even a year to slip away. We may wonder where the time went. Life can leave us feeling that there’s not enough time for all that we must do.

K.R. Mele takes a slightly different approach to time management. In Minutes Matter: Making Every Beat Count, he doesn’t ask us to plan for years, months, or even days. He urges us to examine how we’re using our minutes, those tiny pieces of time that can slip away so quickly we don’t even notice.

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This might seem like a strange way to approach time management, but it makes sense in the chapter  where he discusses the importance of exercise. K.R. doesn’t encourage us to exercise for three hours a week, or does he? He recommends 180 minutes of exercise per week. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, three hours of exercise may seem unattainable, but 180 minutes per week seems like a much more accessible goal. Making your “minutes matter” can pay off in many areas of life.

K.R. discusses some statistics of how a typical person spends their lives. This can cause some major self-examination. How many hours, how many minutes, of our lives are being spent on things that are truly useless? How are your minutes, my minutes, being spent on valuable things? How can we make our minutes matter?

Minutes Matter is a book that will be valuable for anyone who wants to lead a life that truly matters. K.R. lays out some principles that are easy to understand, and his writing has a voice that is encouraging, non-judgmental, and one that understands the struggles of everyday living. This book is highly recommended for anyone who wants to be a good steward of their time.

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

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Troubled youth meets mentor

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What happens when a young girl with a difficult past meets a retired woman ready to take on a challenge? That’s the plot of Grace & Lavender, by Heather Norman Smith. Readers will meet Grace, a youth with a good heart, who keeps getting in trouble at the group home where she lives. Colleen, who has retired from working in healthcare, has a strong propensity to help others and a desire to expand her own horizons. Colleen enjoys improving herself, setting goals, and taking on new projects. Colleen has a strong faith and good relationships with others. Colleen’s husband, Harvey, and daughter, Melody, also play their roles, as does an elderly American veteran.

If you’re looking for action or suspense, this is not the book for you. Readers should know that a lot of what takes place in this book could be described as snippets from ordinary life. Nothing would take your breath away or shock you in a dramatic fashion. However, this type of story does appeal to a lot of people, because it’s very realistic.

Grace & Lavender is published by Ambassador International, a company with a very strong faith-based mission. Norman Smith places footnotes of Scripture in her writing, and blocks of the Word within the story. If you don’t enjoy fiction that is written in this way, you may want to pass on this book.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Thank you, Ambassador International!

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Book Review – The Louder Song by Aubrey Sampson

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Have you ever been at a point in your life when you asked God “Why is this happening?”

If you’ve been filled with grief over a tragic event and you can’t understand why God would allow such disappointment, Aubrey Sampson understands. Such a point in life she refers to as lament. Lament can happen over a job loss, diagnosis of an illness, death, or a difficulty in a marital relationship. In her new book The Louder Song, she talks about her own journey of lament and weaves it with the lament stories that you might have heard in the Bible (or may not have, given that Christians are so often told to put on a happy face).

Aubrey Sampson is honest in telling her story. She knows that on the journey of grief, you can’t just get a how-to-do-grief book, and go on your merry way. You can’t just fix it neatly for yourself or someone else. You have to go through it. You have to feel the hurt and pass through it. There are no shortcuts for grief. She affirms every Christian who has asked the tough questions – why did this happen? How could God do this to me? Why don’t I have answers? She affirms that you are not a weak Christian for asking the questions and not having answers. Faith and questioning can and should co-exist in times of trials.

If you want a book that’s honest about grief, I highly recommend this book. Sampson is honest with her raw emotions and about her questions of God; I really liked her vulnerability.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review: Kingdom Single

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Depending upon the denominational circles in which she finds herself, a Christian woman might be the exception if she isn’t married by 25, making it difficult to find peers who can relate to her life as a Christian single in a world where sex before marriage and cohabitation are the norm.

There are plenty of books that tell Christian singles what not to do (don’t fornicate, wait on the Lord for a Godly spouse) and lots of books tell Christian teens how to Biblically date or court. But many of these books are geared toward the younger crowd who aren’t yet in the “career” age yet.

It was with this reality that I was really excited about Tony Evans’ new book Kingdom Single.  One of the bullet points on the back cover says that God has a mission for you to join now, as a single. You don’t have to wait until you’re married to have a rewarding life. Even if you never get married, you can still live fulfilled and satisfied as a whole person, with a happy life. This is a very different approach from any other Christian book on singleness that I’ve read, so I was really excited about it.

But it wasn’t long into Kingdom Single that the book fell flat. While it has some positive ideas, the way they’re explained falls short. One in the beginning is that you shouldn’t just wait idly in your life wondering where your mate is, but you should be busy with your mission in life. This is a powerful idea that I agree with, but the example used to illustrate it is so bizarre that it wasn’t of much help. Tony uses the Biblical example of Adam and Eve’s creation in Genesis 2. We see very clearly that God looked at Adam and said that it wasn’t good for man to be alone and from that, God decided to make a helper suitable for him. (Genesis 2:18). This is also why Eve was created – because of Adam’s lack of a suitable helper. Tony says that Adam wasn’t looking around wondering where his woman was, and that when Eve was created, she wasn’t looking for her man. And that’s correct- but Adam was only on Earth for seven days (literal or metaphorical, we could debate), and Eve was created for the sole purpose of being a helper to her husband, before sin and corruption entered the world, so she didn’t have to endure a long process of having to wonder where her husband was, if he existed, how to find him, and so on. For the single Christians wondering where their suitable partners are, this example is not the best one to look at and say that Christian singles should just be busy about their business not wondering where their suitable partners are. If anything, Genesis 2 validates a Christian single’s desire to feel loved and supported by a marriage partner. Better examples for both sexes on how to live out a calling and what to search for in a partner could be found in Proverbs 31; this passage has incredible mileage for both sexes as it gives women something to aspire to and men something to pursue. (And a Proverbs 31 woman can make some assumptions that for the virtues she’s pursuing, her man can meet her standards of Godliness as well.)

Another part of Kingdom Single that made this such a difficult book to read – and why I didn’t finish it – was the lack of practical suggestions or examples from people living today. The examples were all from the Bible, and while I appreciate Biblical examples, living examples are good too. While the premise of Kingdom Single was promising, it didn’t read as a book written for single people on how to live out their singleness in a Godly way. It just seemed to be a book on how to life a Godly life with the word “single” or “kingdom single” slapped on in various places. The content didn’t match well to what the book was supposed to be about.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of Kingdom Single from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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