Thursday, May 28, 2020

Book Review: The Fight to Flourish by Jennie Lusko






Happy Thursday, My Lovelies!

Today I'm sharing a very inspirational book: The Fight to Flourish by Jennie Lusko.  


According to Goodreads:

How do you live a full life? Perhaps the better question is, how do you really live when life throws you sucker punches, when you face obstacles that seem to snuff out your faith, when you lose something or someone precious to you? In The Fight to Flourish, Jennie Lusko encourages women to suit up and thrive, not just in the dailies of monotony and routine but even in the most desolate of places. Using the backdrop of her second-born daughter Lenya’s passing into heaven five days before Christmas in 2012, Jennie invites readers to embrace whatever destination they’ve landed. She teaches how, through the good and the bad, they can learn to grow, be strong, draw near to God, and be a blessing to others. It is in this sacred space of pain and promise that women can begin to flourish.





One of many important biblical truths shared in The Fight to Flourish, from the chapter entitled, "The Silent Treatment."



My Review

The week I read this book, I couldn't help but notice how Jennie Lusko's story and her biblical references were dovetailing nicely with my current Bible study on faith:

"The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all."  Psalm 34:19

"So do not be afraid, for I am with you.  Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you;  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  Isaiah 41:10

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."  John 16:33

If you guessed that I have been studying the chapter about when faith is hard, then you are correct.  Faith is never easy in this world, and there are times when it seems impossible to believe in a divine God who always has your best interests at heart.  However, He is always with us, and his love for us never changes.  Jennie reminds us early in her book that since God exists out of time, he is also in the past with us, comforting us still in our darkest moments. 

In The Fight to Flourish, Jennie shares how to not only survive the heartbreaking times, but how to flourish.  I feel like I know Jennie now, and I enjoyed how she uses boxing analogies to make a point.  I also appreciated how she bravely shares excerpts from her journal.  These entries are so raw: They will break your heart!  And yet I can see God's grace and love for Jennie as she struggles with the loss of her daughter as well as the mundane, everyday aggravations, like getting four children ready for the day and out the door. 

Each chapter offers insight into how to depend on God (and his fighting for you) in order to flourish.  Of the seventeen chapters, my favorites are:  "Born to Shine," "You Can't Hug a Porcupine," and "Stir Up the Sweetness."  In "Stir Up the Sweetness," Jennie shares her struggle with how her face reveals what she's thinking.  I, too, have an easily readable face, and although it might briefly reflect my thoughts, it isn't a reflection of my heart.  Jennie encourages us to cultivate kind eyes: "This happens on the inside.  It's a heart issue.  Kind eyes get their running start from the soul."  

If we are to have kind eyes towards others, we need to first look to the One who looks at us this way.  This is where sweetness begins...[Before we were saved] Forgiveness was our biggest need because sin was our biggest problem.  If we can fully receive God's forgiveness, then forgiveness will flow from us, and from that well we will be kind and tenderhearted to those around us.

Stirring up the sweetness through kindness by making people feel welcomed, invited, loved, and appreciated helps those around us flourish.  Clearly this book isn't just for people who have suffered incredible loss: It's for anyone who wants to live a more fruitful, meaningful life, and encourage others to do the same.


Disclosure:  I received a copy of the book from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.  Thank you!



Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Above is an IndieBound affiliate link for purchasing the book.


Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Book Review: Everywhere Holy by Kara Lawler



Happy Earth Day, My Lovelies!  I hope you are enjoying God's beautiful creation wherever you are.

Today I have the honor of sharing with you a very timely memoir/inspirational book entitled Everywhere Holy from blogger and author Kara Lawler.

According to Goodreads:

“Readers who are dealing with depression, parenting struggles, questions of identity and self-image, or who simply find it hard to bring prayer into their chaotic life will find welcome encouragement in Lawler’s rejuvenating words.” – Publishers Weekly

Popular writer and blogger Kara Lawler shows women how to embrace the sacred in mundane, ordinary life--and in the process, discover themselves.

Life doesn't have to be lived on grand mountaintops for it to be meaningful. We can see God at work right where we are: in our ordinary and mundane routines, in the faces of our family and friends, and--especially--in nature.

Kara Lawler speaks to the hearts of those who find themselves lost in the midst of their chaotic schedules and weary attempts to be all that is expected of them. Everywhere Holy addresses our deepest struggles, including:


How to feel joy, despite depression and anxiety
Dealing with hardships and understanding unconditional love
How to view life as an adventure, even when that feels too hard
How to feel more connected, more grateful, and more at peace


In beautiful prose, Lawler describes the unique sacredness found in God's creation and offers fifteen inspiring insights for cultivating it day-to-day. She encourages you to make this lifestyle change through the observance of small acts. In so doing, you will discover a holy space that honors God and the life you’ve been given--and will discover yourself and your unique place in the holy that is everywhere, whether it’s in the woods behind your house or in the face of a stranger on a bus in a busy city. No matter where you are, there is holy free for the taking. 


My Review

I read this book just before the phrase social distancing became a part of our everyday lexicon.

The timing couldn't have been better.

Kara Lawler spent her early childhood in a rural area of Pennsylvania's Allegheny Mountains.  She felt God's presence in nature, especially in a beautiful clearing in the woods near her home.

Fast forward several years: When Kara was a college student studying in England, she visited Salisbury Cathedral.  She was overcome by its beauty, and she strongly felt God's presence in its grandeur.


Salisbury Cathedral

"I was only twenty years old and his whisper was there, his window was there, and I was afraid I wouldn't see it or hear it again if I left...I had felt God in that church as I had in nature, but I hadn't considered that I could meet him everywhere and anywhere if I only looked.

...and that's the premise of the book, and I love it.  Kara shares how she finds God in the mundane routine of life while mothering her children and struggling with anxiety and depression.  Kara's tips can help her readers find peace while delighting in God's presence. It's a change of mindset that can actually be practiced daily through observing small acts and living in the moment.  I'm sure y'all have heard of "mindfulness," and this book definitely applies to that process, yet is has a Christian twist: You can find that God is everywhere in your life, and in doing so you honor him wherever God has placed you.

During this lockdown, I've reflected quite a bit on this book.  I think that this time, as horrible as it seems on the surface with so many people suffering from illness, job and income loss, and anxiety can also be considered a blessing.  It's forced us all to slow down, live in the moment, and be still.  Our children are home.  College students are taking online classes at home.  Families are enjoying dinners together.  We're keeping in touch with those who don't have a full house, and we're reassessing what's important.  And in the stillness is where we can hear God's voice... a blessing indeed! 

Although Kara and I are at different stages of life, I still learned from her.  I, too, remember cleaning out lunch bags after school.  But don't be put-off by the book if you don't have elementary aged children because wherever you are in life you can learn from Kara's tips on how to feel God's presence everywhere.

And why not start at home, where we all are presently.  Where we're discovering that online church isn't a terrible thing; it isn't a horrible substitution for being present at our churches.  After all, so many people are participating in these online services: The gospel is reaching millions of people. (However I cannot WAIT until I can finally worship with my church family in person.) 

This is such a timely book, and it couldn't have been published at a better time in history.  I hope you will consider ordering it from your local Indie bookstore because like other small businesses, they are hurting now.

Below is an IndieBound affiliate link for purchasing Everywhere Holy.  


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org



Below is a book trailer for Everywhere Holy





Disclosure:  I received an ARC of Everywhere Holy from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill



Tuesday, March 31, 2020

World Back-up Day


We interrupt whatever you're doing (in my case, taking car of houseplants) for a very important public service announcement.


Happy Tuesday, My Lovelies!  Today is World Back-up Day.  I know many of y'all have precious memories (and blogs) that you would hate to lose.  So while we're having all this lovely down time, why not take a few moments to back-up your blogs and other important documents?

THE WORLD BACKUP DAY PLEDGE

“I solemnly swear to backup my important documents and precious memories on March 31st.”

I will also tell my friends and family about World Backup Day - friends don't let friends go without a backup.


Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill